Thais are generally very understanding and hospitable, but there are some important taboos and social conventions (even on touristed Phuket).

  • Monarchy It is a criminal offence to disrespect the royal family; treat objects depicting the king (like money) with respect.
  • Temples Wear clothing that covers to your knees and elbows. Remove all footwear before entering. Sit with your feet tucked behind you, so they are not facing the Buddha image. Women should never touch a monk or a monk's belongings; step out of the way and don't sit next to them.
  • Modesty At the beach, avoid public nudity or topless sunbathing. Cover up going to and from the beach.
  • Body language Avoid touching anyone on the head and be careful where you point your feet; they're the lowest part of the body.
  • Saving face The best way to win over the Thais is to smile; visible anger or arguing is embarrassing.