My church asked me to put together a list of tips that would help a team coming to Thailand to know how to relate well with this culture. I decided that it might be easier to just make a page with do’s and don’ts about Thailand, so that they can refer to it, I can edit it as I learn more about culture, and others can potentially use it as well.
Do’s and Don’ts:
DO wear a smile all the time. Thailand is known as the “land of smiles” and a smile goes a long way in keeping peace.
DON’T use your feet for anything other than walking. The head is a sacred part of the body. The foot is disgraceful. If you drop a coin, don’t use your foot to stomp it to a standstill. Coins bear the face of the King of Thailand, and to put your foot on his face is disgraceful.
DO try the food. It’s different, but you’d be amazed at how delighted Thai people are when you try their food. I like a lot of the stuff that foreigners don’t like, and so when Thai people realize that I eat that kind of stuff, I can see mini-explosions in their minds.
DON’T say negative things about their culture. You wouldn’t want people making fun of your homeland, would you? Don’t do it to them.
DO dress respectfully. If you’re going to a wat, or Buddhist temple, you should dress accordingly. Ladies, this means a modest skirt or pants, and close-toed shoes. Guys, pants. No shorts, or you may not be admitted to the inner parts of the temple – either that, or the monks might make you wear a skirt. Who really wants that? Just be respectful in the first place.
DON’T EVER EVER EVER make fun of a person’s English. I had this happen to a friend once, where a visitor made fun of her English. It set her back a good bit, and was deeply hurtful. Have you ever tried to learn a foreign language? It’s not easy. I’ve spent three years working on Thai, and still sound really stupid sometimes. The Thai people are super gracious, and help me out. We should extend that same courtesy to them, especially as they are trying to learn our language.