A guide to Thai customs
Thailand is a very friendly and welcoming country, but the customs are very different to Western ones, so it pays to know a few dos and don'ts in advance. Here is a handy guide to some of the customs that you should observe when you visit Thailand.
Bargaining is common practice in Thailand. Usually, you can expect to haggle the price of something down by between ten to forty percent depending on the shopkeeper and your bargaining skills. However, aggression is unlikely to be rewarded – a smile and a sense of humour are necessary if you want to get the best deals. However, do not expect to be able to haggle down the prices in department stores.
You are not, as a general rule, expected to tip waiters, bartenders, or taxi drivers in Thailand, although of course the gesture is always appreciated. The majority of restaurants and hotels in Thailand include a ten percent service charge as part of the bill.
Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country. When visiting a place of worship, be sure to show the utmost of respect. Avoid talking loudly, laughing, or wearing revealing clothes if you do not want to be asked to leave, and under no circumstances should you interrupt a service that is in progress. It is perfectly acceptable to wear shoes around a Buddhist temple, but they are forbidden inside the chapel where the image of the Buddha is kept.
Every image or statue of the Buddha, whether it is large or small, is held to be a sacred object, so don't pose with one for a photograph or do anything else might be taken to be disrespectful. It is forbidden for Buddhist monks to accept anything from, touch, or be touched by a woman. If for any reason a woman has to give something to a Buddhist monk, it must be done through a male intermediary.
|| The Thai Wai, used by Thai people to greet each other.
It is not customary for Thais to shake hands when they greet one another. Instead, they press their palms together in a prayer motion, known as a wai. As a rule, it is always the younger person who initiates the greeting. In Thailand, the head is regarded as the highest part of the human body in every sense, so avoid touching people on the head, and whatever you do, do not point your feet at people or religious objects, as it is considered insulting.
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