Thailand is pined after by many for its tranquil beaches, lush greenery, exotic islands and  ancient grand temples. But the locals’ charm is one reason Thailand is so adored. Thailand, known as the Land of Smiles, is an extremely welcoming country with locals that love to share their culture with visitors. What should you know about Thai Etiquette? Read on for the ultimate guide to Thailand’s do’s and don’ts.


Learn to Wai

A “Wai” is a polite and respectful way of greeting a Thai person. The action consists of your hands in a prayer-like position and a slight head bow. Make sure to do this when saying hello or goodbye, “Sawadee Ka”, and thank you “, Khop Khun Ka”. Remember to smile!

Take off shoes

You should always take your shoes off before entering a temple, but this also applies when entering a home and even sometimes shops, cafes and restaurants. A good indicator of this is if there are shoes outside already.

Dress Appropriately

You must dress appropriately in temples and government or official buildings. This means dressing modestly by covering your knees and shoulders. It is shown as a sign of reverence for the place and the people there. 

Be Respectful

Respect and following the rules are essential when in Thailand. This applies to every part of life, particularly when in temples, towards Buddha and to Monks. Aside from religious places, you should also be aware that Thailand is very hierarchical, which means showing respect to your elders or those of higher status. This is seen in Thai, as how you address people changes depending on their age.

Learn Thai

Try and learn Thai and practice simple phrases when communicating with locals. Don’t worry if you say something wrong; Thai language and tones are complex, but Thai people love to hear you try, and you build rapport.

Eat with a spoon

Get used to eating with a spoon and fork (instead of a knife and fork)! The Thai way to eat is to use the spoon in your right hand and the fork to guide the food onto it.


Disrespect Monarchy

One of the most detrimental rules is not to disrespect the monarchy in any way. This includes speaking, writing or expressing negative feelings towards the monarchy. Disobeying these laws can result in imprisonment. Similarly, you should show respect for the Thai national anthem. Every Thai is brought up to stop what they are doing and stand to attention when they hear it playing. 

Touch or disrespect Monk

The most highly respected people in Thai society are Monks, and tourists should follow suit. They give so much to the community, so it is essential to show gratitude and respect. When around a monk, you should be aware of respectful body language, always Wai and never touch them (especially if you are female). Many Thais try to stay lower than the monk to show their lower status. 

Touch someone head

The head is considered the most important part of the body and is seen as sacred. Touching the top of a person or statue’s head, especially Buddha, is disrespectful. 


Pointing directly at someone is also considered rude in Thailand. It is preferred to use your whole hand in a gesture instead. It is not only hands that you shouldn’t point with, but feet too! 

Act inappropriately

Thai culture has a laid-back attitude, so Thai people are mostly calm and collected. It is seen as highly disrespectful if you lose your cool, act aggressively or shout. You should always try and maintain harmony when visiting Thailand.

These are just some essential dos and don’ts for those visiting Thailand. The locals have an abundance of love and hospitality towards tourists, but to make your trip a little easier, you should follow these guidelines. Most of all, remember to have fun, smile and enjoy the beautiful country and the culture that comes with it. 

Article by Ellie Herron
Photo by Aliya Iriskina