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Thai Social Etiquette: 10 Things Expats should not do in Thailand

Thailand is a country with a culture of intricate social etiquette. Expat families living in Pattaya will agree that it is essential to respect the social rules, which are often very different from the ones they have grown up to feel most familiar with.

Every year Regents International School Pattaya welcomes several new UK qualified teachers into its community. As expats in Pattaya, they are introduced to Thai culture by our Head of Thai, Anyanist Gossett, who has agreed to share her top tips of social ‘No-Gos’. The Thai people will appreciate you for respecting their traditions and thank you with a smile.

  • Don’t show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family.
  • Don’t point your feet at people, places or things. Pointing your feet facing toward Buddha images or monks is especially rude and unacceptable.
  • Don’t touch monks. It is forbidden for monks to touch women. While men are allowed to be in contact with monks you will still usually see them keep a respectful distance.
  • Don’t touch a Thai woman without consent.
  • Don’t touch someone’s head unless you’re in a very close relationship with them or are with a child.
  • Don’t raise your voice. Thais are usually mild-mannered and soft-spoken. Raising your voice or yelling won’t help the situation and causes everyone involved to become embarrassed or ‘lose face’.
  • Don’t be overly affectionate in public.
  • Don’t sunbathe naked or take your clothes off in public. Thailand’s humidity and heat are no excuse to go around with your shirt off – you do not see Thais doing it.
  • Don’t wear your shoes inside Thai people’s houses. Be aware before entering a place if you need to remove your shoes or it is okay to leave them on.
  • Don’t be offended by questions about age, marital status or what you do for a living. These are subjects that will often come up in conversations. You do not have to answer. You can just smile.