• Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    Indonesia
    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

  • Nepal!

    Nepal: Phewa Lake. Go Now!

    Nepal
    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Mongolia!

    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    Mongolia
    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

  • Qatar!

    Qatar: Dhows in Doha Bay. Go Now!

    Qatar
    Although little more than a deserted peninsula, Qatar has a thriving culture based on technology and immigration, with Doha (pictured) taking the lead. Explore Qatar!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    Kyrgyzstan
    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Social Life in Thailand

Behavior

The Thais are somewhat conservative in most aspects of their lives partially due to their Buddhist faith, which preaches modesty. However, they are well aware of the world around them as well as the differences in opinions and behaviors. Because of this they are quite understanding of various cultures and foreigners so odd behaviors are generally accepted, but not encouraged.

Behaviorally, the most important issue to be aware of is in regards to local politics. The Thai people are divided on political issues and in political allegiances so don't begin or spark a political debate. This may be very offensive if the individual has differing political beliefs than you and it may even be illegal, especially if you put down the royal family.

Also be aware that the Muslim minority (found especially in the south) refrains from drinking alcohol and from eating pork products so it is best to avoid these foods when in their presence. However, the majority of the population is Buddhist and they have no eating or other behavioral restrictions. The only thing to be aware of is that it is best to "save face" with the Thais. In other words, don't insult or put down a person in any way. It is better to say nothing than to confront, offend, or insult a person; even turning down an offer or invitation can be an insult if done in the wrong way. If you must turn down an invitation, thank them for the invitation, explain you have a prior engagement that cannot be broken, and request the invitation be delayed to a later date or time.

Dress

The Thais have made the shift to western clothing and today most of the population dresses in this way. In some towns and villages there are people who still dress in more traditional clothing, but this is rare. Most of these clothes are styles particular to a region or time period, but there are also a number of similarities. For women, the dress tended to be colorful and usually loose-fitting on the bottom, but varied on the top as many dresses were tight and rarely were there long sleeves, if the clothes had any sleeves at all. For the men, the style and colors were similar (often reds and yellows, but can come in nearly any color), but historically the men wore little more than loin cloths.

Today many of these traditional styles are still common for formal events and occasions, but few people wear these clothes on a daily basis as western-styled clothing has taken over. Today dresses are still seen, but long pants are more common on both men and women. Shirts are also varied, but tend to be western-styled.

As a visitor to Thailand, there are few dress restrictions in the country. Although few locals wear shorts, there is no discourtesy involved in wearing them as this is a cultural norm, not a religious rule. Of course if you're visiting temples or other sights of particular religious or political importance you may be expected to cover up with long pants and shoulders should be covered at a minimum. Lastly, sunbathing naked or women sunbathing topless is rarely permitted; check with locals before doing so.

This page was last updated: November, 2013