When you visit Koh Samui or any other part of Thailand, it is vital to be aware of the culture you’re about to face. While tourism has had an impact on culture, you still shouldn’t go there completely ignoring the practices of the locals.
To avoid offending anyone and even getting yourself in trouble, here are four things about Thai culture you must understand before going to Koh Samui:
1. The “Wai”
If you’re from a more westernized culture, you’ll likely shake a person’s hand when you greet them, which is actually still a foreign concept to the Thai people. While they know the existence of shaking hands, the Thais would “wai” instead. If you’ve seen any Thai-related ads or have interacted with some Thai people before, you’ll notice that they fold their hands flat on each other, place it on their chests, and bow down. This is their form of greeting.
There are many intricacies when it comes to doing the “wai.” First, the higher your hands on your body, the more respect you show. Furthermore, you don’t have to “wai” someone that’s a younger age to you. If you’re a foreigner, the simple act of folding your hands on your chest, followed by a quick bow, is enough for the locals to understand that you’re greeting them.
2. Physical Contact
Even today, Thai people aren’t accustomed to getting into physical contact with one another, especially if they’re the opposite sex. This means that you shouldn’t be going around touching people, such as holding their harms or resting your hands on their shoulders while you talk to them. Try your best not to place your hands on the heads of the children, and do not ever do so on older folk’s heads.
While you might feel like gestures, such as pointing isn’t rude, it’s different for the Thais. For example, if you want to point at something, flatten your hands and indicate that way instead. If you’re calling someone, do so with your fingers pointing down because pointing upwards is extremely rude.
If there are seniors around you, you’ll have to be a bit more careful. While keeping the pointing situation in mind, there are additional practices to avoid doing as well. Don’t sit on tables, and don’t put your feet on them. If you’re passing things around, you might be excused for doing so with your left hand. However, in formal situations, do so with the right hand.
Always talk calmly and collectively. Try to keep a smile and avoid becoming confrontational. If you find that things are going wrong and you’re getting the short end of the stick, say “Mai Pen Rai,” which means “don’t worry about it” or “no problem.”
Also, avoid talking about specific topics, such as politics or even the royal family. If you do so and unknowingly offend someone, you might find yourself in serious trouble. Lastly, remember to handle the money properly as well because the king’s image is there.
Thai culture can be quite overwhelming if you consider every aspect. From dressing well in temples to avoiding physical contact with other people, all these rules might make you feel like your vacation is rigid. However, if you want to simplify everything you’ve just read, just remember to be respectful of others, “Wai” when you greet others, and don’t be aggressive. If you don’t know what to do, keep an eye out on what the locals are doing around you. For example, if you see people taking off their shoes, do the same!
If you’re looking for a place to stay on Koh Samui for an enjoyable experience, consider staying with us! We’re more than happy to help you enjoy the best time on this beautiful island. From wonderful activities, such as cooking classes and Thai massages to facilities, such as kids’ clubs and fitness centers, you’ll feel right at home with us. Visit our website and book your stay today!