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    Travel Tips - Thai Culture


    Thai Dancers

    As I mention elsewhere on the site, Thailand is known as "The Land Of Smiles". One reason for this is that Thais smile at just about every moment. They do that not because they are always happy, but they do it to put you at ease. Most of the time they are very happy and they are very friendly. Thais are also a little sensitive, even though you may not notice it. Most Thais try to be polite and they appreciate it when people are polite to them. I am going to list some travel tips and culture tips below. I am going to list them in no specific order - just as they come to me.


    Always use khrap and kha when you speak
    Never touch a Thai on their head - It is considered the highest part of the body - Usually only children get touched on their head
    Do not be alarmed if you are traveling with your children and Thais want to touch them or hold them - That just means that they like you and it is a very friendly jesture
    Never put your feet up on any furniture - Never point with your foot - Feet are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body
    When going into someone's home ALWAYS take off your shoes
    ALWAYS negotiate with Tuk Tuk drivers BEFORE you go for a ride, they are notorious for trying to overcharge tourists
    Unless you are traveling outside of Bangkok (e.g. to Pattaya), always make sure the taxi driver uses the meter - Don't let them quote a price
    If you get in a disagreement with a Thai, never raise your voice - even if they do - stay calm - that is considered a sign of power in Thailand
    If you are a single man - stay away from girls under 20 years of age - even if they agree to go home with you - you could have trouble with the police - and don't believe the ID cards that show they are 20 - use good judgement
    Don't ever, ever, ever buy drugs here - and don't bring them here
    Don't make fun of the buddhist religion - they take that seriously
    Don't make fun of the Royal Family - EVER - They are treated like living gods here and the Thai people genuinely love them
    Only change your money with authorized money changers - that way you will not get stuck with counterfeit money
    Never change money at a hotel unless it is an emergency - the rate that they give you will be very poor
    Thailand is filled with ATM machines that accept cards from the USA - it is really the easiest way to travel
    Unless you have a VERY strong stomach - do not buy food off the street - sometimes it is very dirty - trust me - I have been a victim!
    If you ever have a problem at a restaurant or a bar - pay the bill - then call the tourist police and resolve the issue - but pay the bill first - trust me
    If you have a problem do not deal with the regular police, always deal with the Tourist Police - They are not the same - The phone number for the Tourist Police is 1155
    If someone is giving you a hard time (hardly ever) use your hand to make the sign of a telephone and say "nung nung haa haa" - which means that you are going to call 1155 - the Tourist Police
    Thailand tries very hard to preserve its reputation as being very tourist friendly, and Thais know this, so the Tourist Police will help you out and the Thais (bad ones) don't want to mess with them
    A "wai" is when someone puts their hands together and bows their head to you - fingers generally at the chin and then the head comes down
    Waiters, massage girls, bar girls, will "wai" to you thanking you and showing your "higher" status in Thai Culture - Do not wai back - Thais will think that you are ridiculous - a simple head nod will be considered polite
    If you are meeting an elder person - or the family of a Thai friend - they might wai to you - you should wai back as a sign of politeness - The Thais place a lot of respect on age and status in society
    As a general rule watch the well dressed Thais - if they wai - you can - if they don't - you shouldn't
    Always wear long pants or conservative clothing for a woman if you are going to be visiting a temple - NEVER wear your shoes in a temple
    Thais place GREAT importance on polite dress - It has changed over the years where Thai men will now sometimes wear shorts on weekends - you should dress very comfortably because the weather is hot - but make sure your clothes are clean and a collared polo shirt is better - DO NOT wear tank tops and swim suits in Bangkok - save them for the beach
    If you don't have any polo shirts - don't worry - you can buy a knock off Polo or other named shirt on the streets in Bangkok for about $3-4, the quality is not spectacular but neither is the price!

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