Thai Culture : A Brief Guide
Thai culture is a unique culture that is very different from traditional Western culture, and some of the common and traditional practises in Thailand may seem strange at first. However, you should find that you will become familiar with the key Thai practices very quickly, and that some of them are not dissimilar to Western and British culture.
One way in which every day Thai culture differs from traditional Western culture can be found in the people.
The country is referred to as The Land of Smiles and you will see people smiling at every turn in Thailand. However, people in Thailand do not always smile for the reasons that we do in the West. While you can expect people to smile when they say hello or to say thank you, they will also smile when making a request of you, when they have to apologise, when they embarrassed or trying to minimise any bad feeling.
Always treat Thai royalty and religion with the highest regard
In Thailand, respect is extremely important and you should be aware of the high regard that Thai people have for their King and for the main religion in the country. It is important for foreigners to treat the King with respect and there have been instances of foreigners being arrested for showing a lack of respect to the Royal family. This stands in contrast with the attitude that many people to the Royal Family in the United Kingdom, so it is important that you show a higher level of respect in Thailand.
Always look to respect Buddha, Buddhism and Monks
There is also a high level of respect for Buddha, Buddhism and monks. This is best exemplified by the need for people to wear respectable clothing in temples and many temples require people to remove their shoes when visiting. It is also important for women to not touch a monk as this is considered to be highly disrespectful. With respect to touching, you should look to avoid touching anyone on the head, as the head is considered sacred in Thailand.
Even clothing washing has a tradition in Thailand
There is also a culture around the way that people wash their clothes. This derives from the fact that Buddhists believe that the top part of the body is sacred (following on from the point about people’s heads) while the bottom half of the body is unclean. This means that top half clothing is washed separately from the bottom half, and should be dried separately as well.
One element of Thai culture that is extremely different from Western culture is the way that white or pale skin is revered. In Britain and Western culture, a tan is celebrated and sought after by many people. In Thailand, having a tan is associated with poor people, as they are the people who work outside exposed to the rays of the sun. This is why having pale skin is considered to be the preferred style or look in Thailand.
In recent years, there has been a slight shift in Thai culture, with the impact of Western culture becoming more notable in much of the regular way of life in Thailand. The key aspects of traditional Thai culture remain in place, and it is important to be aware of the key elements and component of Thailand culture.