are friendly and charming.
They sincerely like tourists, and appreciate others sharing their
love of Thailand and all things Thai. They are
broadminded, tolerant, and liberal and usually
overlook the tourist
faux pas. However, most of us would like to
avoid embarrassing moments, so please note the following hints
on dealing with situations in Thailand.
Since smiling is contagious, you will be smiling more and more.
In Thailand smiling is used in various situations
and not only to show pleasure. Thai people will smile
when they try to to do something but it fails. It is not meant to
be disrespectful as they smile with you, rather than at you. If
you are in such a situation, just SMILE.
Smiling is also used to excuse someone for doing something wrong.
It is the mechanism for repairing minor breaches of etiquette.
Thais can smile their way out of any situation. There is no words
spoken, so anything said that may be regretted later is avoided.
The smile could be translated as "Sorry -- no comment".
A smile can also be a show of
embarrassment. If a Thai has made a mistake,
they will feel guilty and will be pleased to make amends even if
they are smiling.
Smiling can also show your appreciation. For smaller services
a smile will be accepted as a "thank you" or "you are
The Chao Le, the so-called "Sea
Gypsies", are sea-faring nomads with a
language and culture distinct from that of the mainstream Thai.
Their permanent residence of these people is on Koh Sire, about
4 kilometres east of Phuket Town.
The longtail boats are managed by another clearly different ethnic group,
the Muslim villagers that dwell on the islands such
as Koh Raya Yai. Many originally came up the
coast from Malaysia, bringing with them a tradition of small-scale
These people find other ways to add and improve their incomes. Look
for ropes and bamboo scaffolding on cliff faces in the area, especially
around Phi Phi Island. These have been left there
by local people who brave dizzying heights and caves to collect swiflet
nests to supply a lucrative Chinese market for birds'
A number of Chinese people were the first group arriving on
the island in the early part of this century by the tin-mining
industry. It has influenced in everything from town architecture
to the many festivals. While the Muslim pioneers from the south,
most of them fishing folk, tended to build their own villages
along the coast, the Chinese have been residents of the interior
of the island.
Indians, Arabs and Europeans
are among those who have also left their influences. Portuguese
traders and merchants settled here and vestiges of their presence
is still to can be seen in many pleasant Sino-Portuguese style buildings, particularly in Phuket Town. Today
there is a large community of expats, along with an international
school and an English-language radio station.
Some words of advice
Please treat BUDDHA
IMAGES with utmost respect. If taking a souvenir photo,
do not lean or climb on the image. Never point your feet in the
direction if the Buddha. This is considered extremely rude.
When ATTRACTING ATTENTION,
use your hand and beckon with the palm downwards. This avoids
pointing your finger at the body, which is impolite. Neither clap
or snap your fingers.
Restrain from showing overt AFFECTION for your partner in public, i.e. fondling
or kissing. This causes embarrassment. (Times may be changing
somewhat, especially in Bangkok, but it's best to err on the side
of conservatism -- be considerate of your host culture.)
It's fun to BARGAIN
for souvenirs with good humour. Sometimes a smile could be worth
a great deal.
Do not touch another's Hair
or Head. If you do so accidentally, it's polite
to apologize. The top of the head is inhabited by the khwan (spirit
essence) and is considered the most important part of the body.
The feet are the least important and the dirtiest.
Remember to keep your FEET
to yourself. Do not rest them on tables and do not step over anybody
or their food. Never point your feet at anyone.
Women should never touch
a MONK or the robes he wears. If this happens,
he must follow an elaborate purification ritual. A woman should
not hand any objects directly to a monk. Instead: give it to a
man to hand over to the monk; or set the object down and let the
monk pick it up; drop it into his bowl; or place it on a piece
a saffron cloth, which the monk keeps for this purpose.
essential value in Thai culture is remaining calm and keeping
a cool heart, or jai yen. Displaying impatience or anger entails
a loss of face. Remember, smiles can work wonders!
Always remove your SHOES
before entering the main building of a temple or when visiting