Make Your Life Easy In Thailand By Becoming Aware About The Culture
There are a lot of things that seem odd when coming from a different culture. You only need the light of culture to understand things clearly. The same goes for the Thai culture. To make your life easier in Thailand, you need to understand the Thai culture. This will not only help you understand the way things are done, it will also help you relate well with the locals.
The wai is the default way of greeting in Thailand. Thai people use it to show respect and to determine social hierarchy. You can perform the wai by clasping the palms in a praying position. After clasping them, you put them somewhere between the head or the chest. The higher the position of the hand, the more reverence you give to a person. So, if you put the Wai close to your chest, it means that the person is either an equal or a mild superior. When people meet, the junior person gives the Wai first and then the senior person follows.
The predominant language spoken in Thailand is the Thai language. There are also other minority languages like Chinese, Khmer and Malay. But the Thai language is the predominant one. This language has different regional variations, as you would expect in most languages. Thai language is part of the Tai Kadai language family and is quite similar to Laotian. The similarity is such that both languages are mutually intelligible.
The Thai language has its own specific script. This script has about 44 consonants and 15 vowels. The script is believed to have evolved from early Khmer alphabet, which is what is also used in Laos.
Thai society is quite traditional and has a respect for hierarchy. At the top of this hierarchy is the royal family. As such, the Thai people do not tolerate any form of insult to the king and other members of the Royal family. The people also deeply revere the monarch, as you would see from the pictures of the royal family everywhere.
Thai culture is one where people appreciate gifts. When you give gifts, you should be careful of the colors you use though. Some particular colors like green, black, or blue are associated with funerals, so it would be unwise to wrap your gifts in these colors. You should also avoid giving marigolds and carnations as gifts, since they are also associated with funerals. You can use colors like gold and yellow to wrap your gift since they are associated with royalty.
It is Thai custom not to open gifts when they are given. So, when you give a gift, don’t be offended that the receiver doesn’t open it in your presence.
Also, when a Thai gives you a gift, you would do well not to open it in their presence.
Thai society deeply respects hierarchy. The status of two or more people determines their interactions. So, if two people meet, the junior person is expected to give the wai first. Also, those at the top usually make the decisions in Thailand, so you shouldn’t get agitated when decision making takes quite a while. In Thai society, parents are superior to their children, bosses over their employees, and the king over everyone else.
Don’t Be Rude
Thai culture is one that is deeply rooted in the idea of “saving face”. What this means is that people avoid public confrontation as much as possible. It is not acceptable to raise your voice in public or to criticize someone in the open. Thai culture also embeds a deep reverence for elders and superiors. So, if you are in Thailand, don’t get into a heated argument with your friends out in the open. It might be acceptable in your circle, but Thai society generally frowns on it.
Thai society belongs to the Theravada branch of Buddhism. About 95% of people in Thailand are Buddhist. Buddhism has a lot of influence on Thai culture. You can easily trace the elements of politeness to the Buddhist influence on Thai culture.