Getting Along In Thailand

Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace Photo Gallery
Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace Photo Gallery

Thailand is known for its tolerance and hospitality, and the average tourist will have no difficulty in adjusting to the local customs All the same, as when coming into any unfamiliar society, a visitor may find it helpful to be aware of certain do’s and don’t’s, and thus avoid making accidental misunderstanding. Basically, most of these are simply a matter of common sense and good manners not really all that different from the way one would behave in one’s own country but a few are special enough to be pointed out.

Dress & Nudity
Shorts (except knee- length walking shorts), sleeveless shirts, tank tops (singles) and other beach-style attire are not considered appropriate dress for anything other than sport g events. Such dress is especially counterproductive if worn to government offices (eg when applying for a visa extension). The attitude of ‘This is how 1 dress at home and no-one is going to stop me’ gains nothing but contempt or disrespect from the Thais.

Sandals or slip-on shoes are OK for almost any but the most formal occasions. Short-sleeved shirts and blouses with capped sleeves likewise are quite acceptable.

Thais would never dream of going abroad and wearing dirty clothes, so they are often shocked to see westerners travelling around Thailand in clothes that apparently haven’t been washed in weeks. If you keep up with your laundry you’ll receive much better treatment everywhere you go.

Regardless of what the Thais may or may not have been accustomed to centuries ago, they are quite offended by public nudity today. Bathing nude at beaches in Thailand is illegal. If you are at a truly deserted beach and are sure no Thais may come along, there’s nothing stopping you – however, at most beaches travellers should wear suitable attire. Likewise, topless bathing for females is frowned upon in most places except on heavily-touristed islands like Phuket, Samui and Samet. According to Thailand’s National Parks Act, any woman who goes topless on a national park beach (eg KO Chang, KO Phi Phi, Ko Samet) is breaking the law.

Many Thais say that nudity and topless sun- bathing on the beaches is what bothers them most about foreign travellers. These Thais take nudity as a sign of disrespect for the locals, rather than as a libertarian symbol or modem custom. Thais are extremely modest in this respect (Patpong-style go-go bars are cultural aberrations, hidden from public view and designed for foreign consumption) and it should not be the visitor’s intention to ‘reform’ them.

Special Advice
1. Beware of unauthorized people who offer their services as guides. Contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s counters for all tourist information. The TAT’s counters are located in the Arrival Hall of the Bangkok International Airport; at Terminal 1 Tel: 523-8972-3, or at Terminal 2 Tel: 535-2669 from 08.00 to 24.00 hrs.; at the main office on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue Tel: 281 -0422 during working hours of 08.30 to 16.30 hrs.

2. Visitors are advised to use the hotel taxi service at their hotel if they do not know their way around or cannot speak the local language.

3. Observe all normal precautions as regards to personal safety, as well as the safety of your belongings. Walking alone on quiet streets or deserted areas is not recommended. Be sure that all your valuables -money, jewellery, and airline tickets- are properly protected from loss.

4. Use the service of only registered travel agents.

5. Visitors needing assistance relating to safety, unethical practices, or other matters, please call the Tourist Assistance Centre immediately (Tel: 281 -5051, 282-8129) or contact the Tourist Police (Tel: 678-6800- 9 or 1699)

6. Penalties for drug offences are very severe in Thailand, do not get yourself involved with drugs.

7. Please drop your garbage into a waste container. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is now strictly enforcing the law in an effort to keep the city clean and healthy. The fine (maximum 2,000 baht) will be imposed on a person who spits, discards cigarette stubs, or drops rubbish in public areas.

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