In recent years, Thailand has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. This is no surprise as it is home to some of the most beautiful and picturesque scenery that the world has to offer.
From white sandy beaches to deep dense jungle…Thailand has it all. And that’s why we have fallen in love with the place. 🙂
Booking the holiday of a lifetime to Thailand is no doubt exciting and exhilarating.
However, with any holiday it requires some research and planning. Browsing through websites, comparing hotels and resorts is all part of the excitement and can leave you counting down the days until you are lying pool-side with a fruity cocktail in your hand!
Apart from looking up the best restaurants and bars that await you, it is equally as important to be aware of the cultural differences that you may experience during your visit to Thailand. We have all been in them situations where our mouths are wide open thinking “what’s that about?” or “what do i do now!?”
There can be a few things that may leave you feeling that way during a visit to Thailand so read on to “get in the know” of just some aspects of Thai customs that may get you out of that dreaded jaw dropping moment!
On arriving in Thailand, one of the first things that become apparent is the friendly and welcoming manner of the Thai people in general. They are very gentle and polite in their nature and this explains why it has been labelled “the land of smiles.”
The wai is something that you will encounter countless while in Thailand. It is a gesture where you press your hands together at nose or chest level and bow your head slightly.
It’s used to show respect and can be done to express a thank you, hello or goodbye. It is something you get used to very quickly and I even find myself doing it sometimes instead of saying “thank you.” I always feel a bit silly after I’ve done it though!!
Even the Thai Ronald McDonald does it!!!
Thailand is a constitutional monarchy and the King and royal family are worshiped throughout the land. Evidence of this can be seen everywhere you go in Thailand.
There are pictures and shrines set up in honour of the King everywhere from the side of mountains to billboards in the cities. Even a trip to the cinema requires you to stand up to the national anthem and show your respect to the King.
Munching on pop corn throughout this is not permitted either as I have found out through personal experience! (On my behalf…i had a mouth full of pop corn before the anthem started!) People often set up little shrines on roadsides and passing traffic will beep their horns just to say a quick hello the man himself!
We have nearly crashed the scooter numerous times where Carlo had to get “the beep” in!
Bad mouthing or showing signs of disrespect to the King is deemed as unacceptable and should be avoided at all costs….(if you want to make it home in one piece that is!)
So you look at this heading and think what could be so different about going to the toilet? The answer is ALOT!
In most hotels and resorts in Thailand, there will be no difference in your toilet experience there in comparison with the one you’re used to at home.
However, once you venture out of the resort and city areas, squat toilets are the norm. This is basically a glorified hole in the ground and is flushed by pouring water from a bucket into the hole.
If you are travelling in these areas, as strange as it sounds, a roll of toilet paper will become your number one accessory. If you are lucky enough to have remembered to bring one with you, never put it in the “hole” as number one, it won’t flush and number two, the plumbing is not designed to handle toilet paper.
Usually a bin is provided to put the used paper in….(disgusting as it sounds!) The art of “holding it” can become a great skill when faced with a situation like this!! However, sometimes you just gotta go so be prepared and have that toilet roll in your bag…I have learned my lesson and never leave without a roll!
Signs like this one can be seen quite often warning you of what will happen if you disobey the rules and try and flush that toilet paper…(maybe this one is just a tad dramatic about it!)
Sexual Tolerance and Lady-boys
Thailand has become famous for it’s reputation for sexual tolerance. It is well known for its laid-back attitude towards its reputable sex industry.
No matter what time of the day or night it is, the bars and massage parlours are packed out with Thai females (or males!) offering their services to the foreigner who is willing to part with their money in return for whatever is on offer!
Choirs of “hello maaaaaassage” can be heard everywhere and a trip inside a massage parlour can be a experience when in some cases a “happy ending” is offered! The massages can be quite good though and are extremely cheap.
There is no denying that Thai women are beautiful and in some cases Thai men make beautiful women too! Lady-boys are everywhere in Thailand and it can be very hard to distinguish what gender someone belongs to.
In most cases, the deep voice or the rather large hands and feet give the game away. Or there’s the scary looking ones who basically are men who just wear makeup and throw on a sparkly hairband! Although…you will be fooled in some cases as some lady-boys are well and truly ladylike, both in looks and mannerisms. It can be fun trying to point them out!
There is evidence of the sex industry almost everywhere in Thailand and what you take from it and how you let it affect you might just determine how well you enjoy your holiday! We don’t let it bother us and take the attitude of “each to their own.” 🙂
An overwhelming 95% of Thais practice Buddhism. It is important to respect their Religion by covering both your shoulders and knees when visiting the amazing temples that are spread throughout the country.
I have found that keeping a scarf in my bag can come in handy for situations like this. Shoes must be removed when entering a religious temple or building. Counting how many pairs of shoes outside of a place is a clear indication of how busy it is inside!
Everytime we have visited a temple, we haven’t stayed longer than five minutes because Carlo is always worrying about someone stealing his shoes!!
Based on Buddhist beliefs, the head is the most highly valued part of the body and it is considered highly disrespectful to touch someone on the head. As well as this, raising your feet or pointing them at religious objects is considered a definite no no, so think twice about putting your feet up in front of that honored temple!
And so based on my personal experience, I think those are five important things I think everyone should know about before taking a trip to “the land of smiles!” If you take a relaxed approach to the whole thing and respect the difference in culture, you will have the time of your life. 🙂