Thai Restaurant etiquette. How to dine Thai style?

People do things differently all over the world. What some people find offensive, others find polite. These differences are what make life so interesting, but there are times when it’s important to respect cultural differences and not make any social faux pas’. Thailand is a place of tolerance, but that doesn’t mean that you should take advantage of the patience of Thai people. Wherever possible it is best to adhere to Thai etiquette, especially when dining.

Here are some tips on how to dine Thai style.

  • If the check comes to you, pay for it, unless of course it’s exorbitant. In Thai culture, the check is given to the richest looking person at the table. Conversely, don’t offer to pay if the check is given to someone else.
  • Don’t take too large a portion when dishes are handed around. Leave some for others.
  • Finish everything on your plate, whether you liked it or not, it lets the chef know you enjoyed the meal.
  • If there are old ladies in your midst, let them order for everyone, it’s tradition.
  • Wait until your host tells you to start. No one will mention it if you dig in before others, but they’ll be thinking about it.
  • If you’re the one ordering, get a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy dishes. Thais always go for that balance.
  • Don’t leave your chopsticks in a bowl, for some reason it represents death and no one wants to be reminded of that when they’re eating.
  • Thai meals are always shared, so don’t be possessive with your meal.
  • In Thailand, forks are for shoveling food onto spoons, so don’t use them to put food in your mouth.
  • Don’t expect a knife, most meals have been cut up to be bite size and spoons are usually used for cutting larger pieces.

These are just a few tips for dining with Thai people. There are probably plenty more ways to do things wrong but most Thai people are too polite to tell you.

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