Thai Culture and Value
Living and working in the Kingdom of Thailand can be a fascinating experience. Among the most intriguing aspects of life in Thailand is experiencing Thai culture.
While it may be said that Thais are generally easygoing and open-minded in many ways, there are certain written as well as unwritten rules in regards to social conduct in Thailand that should be respected. As a foreigner, it is important to be aware of these when interacting with Thais.
Below are some examples of social customs in Thailand:
- It is customary to greet elders, superiors, government officials, business partners and clients by placing your hands together “prayer-fashion” (Thumbs finger tips to the tip of your mouth this action is known in Thai as ‘wai’). The wai is both a sign of respect as well as a greeting. Respect and courtesy are demonstrated by the height at which the hands are held and how low the head comes down to meet the thumbs of both hands.
- Like any nation, many Thais are patriotic – they take pride in being Thai. It is disrespectful to ridicule anyone’s nation or culture, and Thais are no exception to this.
- Thais are as (and often more) loyal to the Royal Family of Thailand as they are to their nation. It is very disrespectful to speak of any of the members of the Royal Family in a slanderous or derogatory manner, and it is against the law.
- It is expected that visitors remove their shoes before entering a person’s home and, in many cases, place of business.
- Posture is important for many Thais, particularly when it comes to one’s feet. Avoid pointing at people or objects with our feet. It’s also considered impolite to put your feet up on a table or other piece of furniture or to sit on a table or desk.
- Many Thais believe it is disrespectful to touch a person on the head. It can also be considered impolite for a male to touch a woman (even casually) in certain business and social situations. Be mindful of these perceptions.