Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand are some of the travel destinations that Singaporeans head to the most. It is not surprising to hear someone speaking in Singlish in these places but it is, indeed surprising to know that many Singaporeans who frequently travel there has no clue as what are some things that they should never do when they are in Thailand.
If you’re heading to Thailand soon, here’s a concise guide on what you should not do.
1. Disrespecting the Thai Royal Family
This is a given. Although the Thai Royal Family no longer governs the country, they are still being held in great respect by the people of Thailand. Once, a journalist was sentenced to 11-year imprisonment for defaming Thailand’s monarchy in an article. You may not be writing articles for Thai newspapers anytime soon but be careful, because defacing the Thai bank note or sending a text message badmouthing any member of the Thai Royal Family also counts as disrespecting them.
2. Disrespecting Buddha
The above is also applicable to statues and photos of Buddha, large or small. Needless to say, climbing onto statues of Buddha at temples for a photo opportunity is also a sign of disrespect.
3. Disrespecting Monks
You ought to realise by now that there are two groups of people or objects that you should not disrespect when in Thailand. The first being the Thai Royal Family and the second being Buddha-related people or objects which include Buddhist monks.
Buddhist monks are highly respected in Thailand and they are bound by oath to not touch women. As unbelievable as it may sound to you, women are also not allowed to make any offerings directly to the monks. Items to be given from a woman to the monk should first be given to a man before being passed onto the monk.
4. Excessive Public Displays of Affection
Although some younger Thais are becoming increasingly westernised, public displays of affection (PDA) is generally frowned upon in the conservative country. The furthest that a young Thai couple would go would be to hold hands and that’s about it.
5. Pointing with Your Feet
Didn’t see this one coming, did you? Feet are considered to be the dirtiest and the lowest part of the body, symbolically and physically, to Thais. Hence, pointing with your feet at a person or an object is a sign of disrespect.
If you can manage this, you should know that it is also disrespectful to raise one’s feet higher than their head.
6. Touching the Head of a Thai
If the feet are the dirtiest part of a person’s body then naturally, the head would be regarded as the highest, again symbolically and physically, part of the body. It is seen as the home and soul of one’s spirit, so touching a Thai’s head or passing things over it is a definite no-no.
7. Walking When the National Anthem is Playing
Every day at 6:00 p.m., the National Anthem will begin playing at various locations all over Thailand. You will notice that when the anthem starts, the whole of Thai (at least where you can hear the anthem) will come to a complete standstill.
Out of respect, you should also do the same even if you are rushing off somewhere or if you need the toilet urgently. It won’t take too much of your time. After all, anyone who has been through the army would have experienced that.
8. Sunbathing Nude
Even though this is something that most Singaporeans would never do, we should still put it out there that sunbathing in your birthday suit is considered rude in Thailand. It may be a common sight at Patong Beach, but it is definitely not something one should do in the country.
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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com in 2015 and revised on 28 June 2017.
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