Travel is full of amazing new experiences, absorbing new cultures is just one of those life enhancing new experiences.
Think positive! Learning cultural differences makes travelling exciting. If you stepped outside Koh Samui International airport and and saw everyone wearing the same old clothes and doing the same things as back home. Would you be satisfied? I think not…
Thai’s are very forgiving of cultural ignorance, but you should try as hard as you can to respect their cultural practices.
Be modest and respectful. Thailand is a conservative place and you will find it much easier to make your point and get things done if you dress tidily and be calm and polite in your actions.
Patience is definately a big virtue here, I can tell you right now, YOU WILL BE FRUSTRATED at some point during your stay in Thailand. The Thai mind is just wired differently to a normal westerner, what is completely rational and logical to you may well be perceived as quaint and most unusual. So, take a deep breath, flash your biggest, cheesiest smile, keep your voice down and try to explain your need in a different way. Eventually you will succeed, but it will take longer to get things done here, trust me.
Feet Faux pas?
FEET can be dangerous for Westerners in Thailand. I’m not talking about a nasty case of Athletes foot here! In Thailand, the head is sacred and the feet are the ‘dirtiest’ part of you. Thai people can be really offended if you make the wrong move with your ‘plates of meat, feet’.
Be careful when sitting down not to cross your legs and point your feet at people. Take your shoes off when entering temples and other important buildings.
You should also be very careful walking along busy beaches – stepping over people, or even their food is considered very rude.
Royalty are almost religious icons in Thailand. It’s a criminal offence to insult or joke about the King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit, or to damage any images of them. Tempted to stamp on a coin to stop it rolling away? DON’T! It amounts to kicking the king in the head! That applies to bank notes too, and to licking stamps.
The national anthem is played at 8am and 6pm every day in most towns. It’s also played before movies when you visit the cinema. When you hear it – you should stop and stand with your arms at your side. Finally – don’t throw things – it’s rude to throw something to a Thai person.
Another common mistake in Thailand is throwing things. A game of catch may seem completely innocent and normal to a westerner, but this is a rare game indeed in Thailand. I learnt this mistake quite innocently, when playing golf in Thailand caddies are mandatory everywhere. Being a sporty westerner it’s quite normal practice to throw your balls and occasionally a club to a western caddy. Here you will be most likely met with an evil eye, and the poor lady you throw the ball to will start wondering what she did wrong….
Keep this in mind when passing items around and do not ever be tempted to save a few steps by throwing something!
Well I hope you now feel equipped to have an even better time on your next holiday in Koh Samui or indeed anywhere in Thailand. And please don’t forget… if you have any great tips that I have overlooked please share them with the world through our comments below!