- What are the basic do's and don'ts ?
- What are Thai people like ?
- What sort of clothes should I wear while I'm there ?
- How difficult is to talk with the Thais ?
- Is it okay to go topless / nude on beaches in Thailand ?
- If I want to take presents for the Thai people I meet, what should I bring ?
- Am I allowed to take Buddha images out of Thailand ?
| What are the basic do's and don'ts
Though there are many cultural errors it is easy to make inadvertently in Thailand, people are very tolerant providing it is not insulting towards the monarchy or religion.
|What are Thai people like ?
Many visitors leave with a very positive impression of Thais in general, as they are friendly, smile a lot and are rarely confrontational. Unfortunately, some (but by no means all) of the Thais who spend a lot of time working with tourists can hassle you and lie if it'll make you buy something. Try and make contact with ordinary Thais outside of the tourist industry, and it's likely to be a very rewarding experience.
|What sort of clothes should I wear while
I'm there ?
Generally, the more conservative your clothes the better. This is mostly true in rural Thailand, where tourists are relatively uncommon. In very touristy places such as Phuket and Ko Samui, the locals are used to tourists and you can basically wear whatever you want. In Bangkok, this is true for Khao San road and Sukhumvit road but you may start to feel self-conscious if you wander elsewhere. The best guide is to emulate locals in the area where you are.
What is perhaps most important, however, is that the clothes are clean. Unwashed or dirty clothes will lose you a lot of respect, and the Thais have a none-too-complimentary phrase (farang kee nok) for some of the low-budget tourists who dress like this.
|How difficult is it to talk with the Thais ?
It's perfectly possible to take a long trip around Thailand without being able to speak a word of Thai, but it's certainly helpful to be able to. Places that get a lot of tourists, and Bangkok in particular, have English speakers everywhere but this is not the case in other parts of Thailand. The more off the beaten track you go, the more speaking some Thai becomes necessary. The Thai people are generally very appreciative of any attempts to speak their language, not least because so few foreigners are able to.
Check the Thai language section for words and phrases in Thai.
|Is it okay to go topless /
nude on beaches in Thailand ?
This is frowned upon in Thai culture, and you will almost never see a Thai doing it. Nevertheless, going topless on some beaches on Ko Samui, Phuket, Ko Pha-Ngan and other very touristy islands is commonplace. The locals here are used to foreigners and don't care so much.
In less touristy places, particularly where there are Thai families on holiday, it is considered rude and offensive. Going nude at beaches is illegal in Thailand, and is impossible pretty much everywhere. If you really want to do this, your best bet is to find somewhere remote where you are not sure not to be seen.
|If I want to take presents for the Thai people I meet,
what should I bring ?
Basically, anything representative of your country that is difficult to get in Thailand is a good idea, even things such as photos and postcards of where you come from. Fancy chocolates are also a good idea, as these are next to impossible to get in Thailand. Bringing flowers as a present to any Thai person is not really a good idea, as the type of flower given is very significant - you may well end up inadvertently offending them.
|Am I allowed to take Buddha images
out of Thailand ?
Small amulets and the like that are worn on the person can be taken out without any problem, but there are restrictions on anything bigger by non-Buddhists. It requires a permit if you want to take one out of the country, the store you buy from should be able to help you with this.