The last thing we Americans want to do is offend someone. Although some gestures may mean nothing to us, they can be a big deal to others. Sometimes, such misunderstood gestures might end up in serious confrontations. So, what actions do we consider normal could be considered rude in Thailand?
Don’t put your feet up
Placing your feet on a chair or a coffee table is considered offensive in Thailand. It’s also rude to point your feet to someone. Worst of all, you should not step over other people’s feet or walk around them as it’s considered impolite. As a rule of thumb, you should let the feet hit the ground since they are the dirtiest part of your body. This is part of their etiquette. Although it might be hard to forget the habit immediately, you must train yourself before you leave for Thailand.
Don’t point with your finger
If you have to gesture to something, use your four fingers. Many cultures in Thailand consider pointing as being rude. You are required to point with your hand or by lifting your chin to that direction. On the other hand, you’re not supposed to call someone with your fingers pointed upward. Instead, you should make a patting motion on the ground. The only things you are allowed to point are animals or objects. This may feel awkward, but it’s the right thing to do.
Don’t get angry
Getting angry will only make the situation worse. If you show any signs of anger, you’ll get an equal amount of anger from a Thai. In most cases, the anger is reciprocated with extreme violence. As difficult as it may appear, try to be calm and polite. Here, people are soft-spoken and mild-mannered. Always keep your voice down in restaurants.
Don’t touch other people’s heads
Thai’s consider the head as the most sacred part of their body. You should never touch someone’s head unless you are in a close relationship with that person. This culture applies even to children. When you touch another person’s head without their permission, other people will feel uncomfortable. It’s considered rude and disrespectful.
Don’t expose yourself
Whether you are in a bar, hotel or on the beach, you should keep yourself covered. For example, you cannot sunbath when you’re topless or wear clothes that reveal your body. Here, girls cover their cleavage, shoulders and knees before entering the temple. If you are a breastfeeding mother, you should not do it in public. As for men, no matter how hot it is, you have no excuse to go shirtless.
Don’t get dirty
Cleanliness is important in Thai culture. Nobody likes associating with a dirty person.
Never hug a monk
While men are at liberty to contact other monks, they cannot hug women or hand them something directly. They always keep a respectful distance.
I’m sure this article has answered your question. One downside of foreign travel is that you can easily offend the locals in that foreign country. Thankfully, Thai people don’t get uptight when things go wrong. This makes it one of the attractive countries to visit. Now that you understand their culture, you don’t have to embarrass yourself.
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