Things to avoid

  THINGS NOT TO DO IN THAILAND

Thai people are rather pleasant at first, they are generally smiling and polite, and prefer dodging to confrontation. On condition that they do not touch what is sacred to them: the Nation, the monarchy and Buddhism, which are the three pillars of Thai identity.

Be careful, however, not to misunderstand the "Jay Yen" attitude (cold heart, which basically means I don't get angry, I always remain calm) which doesn't necessarily correspond to the idea that a Westerner can have, largely for cultural reasons.

For Buddhists, a moderate (Jay Yen), non-confrontational emotional approach to life is synonymous with reward in a future life.

Thai people therefore very rarely show strong emotion in public.

If you are involved in a situation where a Thai loses his or her temper, the situation can quickly become uncontrollable, and extreme forms of violence can occur.

A word of advice: leave your grumpy and quarrelsome temperament of farang (practical, the word means both French and foreign... and guava) in the cloakroom in case of conflict.

14 things not to do in Thailand


  • Get angry and scream as soon as something goes wrong. This is an attitude that will not help things in Thailand. In general, it is better to choose negotiation than confrontation. Once again "when the smile is gone, the knife is not far away"

  • Try to cross anywhere, anyhow. In Thailand a pedestrian does not have the same rights as in Europe, and especially not the right to force the passage in front of a car, or even worse a bus. The golden rule: buses, trucks, trucks, etc. always have priority.

  • Laughing at Thais, or criticizing Thailand. Thais are very sensitive and do not like to be criticized for their country. Second degree humour is not their strong point either.

  • Not to respect Buddhism. In a temple where when you meet a monk, you have to show a form of respect. You must stay away from a monk (do not touch him) and do a wai with your thumbs on your forehead: it is a form of respect. A monk will never give you back a wai: he is not rude, it is just a matter of hierarchy.

  • Criticizing the monarchy or disrespecting the king (even in pictures). The king is protected by very strict lèse-majesté laws in Thailand. A Swiss man has already been sentenced to 10 years in prison (and pardoned by the king) for smearing a picture of the king with paint.

  • Pointing: it is a very inappropriate gesture in Thailand. When Thais want to designate someone, they do it with a chin or eye movement.

  • Drug use: Regardless of the quantity and type of drug, Thai law is very strict and prison sentences are frequent even for a small amount of seizure. The notion of "personal consumption" does not exist in Thailand. 

  • Do not wash or smell bad: even if you take the BTS at rush hour you will never have the same sensations as in the RER in the Paris region. Thai people are actually quite modest: in small villages girls swim in shorts and t-shirts, almost never in a bikini. This is even more true when we approach the south with a Muslim majority.

  • Pointing your feet at someone: it is very rude because the feet are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body. When you sit in a temple before a Buddha or a monk, do as the Thais do. They are always on their knees or sitting so that their feet are turned to the side opposite their gaze.

  • Don't take off your shoes at someone's house. Taking off your shoes before entering a guest house is a form of courtesy. Similarly, when you enter a temple, you will be asked to leave your shoes at the entrance.

  • Not respecting the length of stay of your visa: this is an offence that can be costly (500 baht per day of delay) and is taken seriously by the immigration police. In case of excessive overtaking you risk 1) prison 2) expulsion 3) permanent prohibition to return to Thailand.

  • Thinking that you can do anything because you are a foreigner (farang). Thais have never been colonized and have no complexes about Westerners. It would be quite the opposite: in Thailand, you are the scoundrel!

  • Go through the prison box: Thai prisons are not a recommended resort. In the land of smiles, when the bars close behind you, another facet of the country is discovered. Just for the information:ailand prisons-welcome-to-fer

  • Fighting with a Thai: even if you're not at fault, even if your opponent doesn't seem to be doing well, it's a very bad idea. First of all, Thai boxing is the national sport in Thailand, and most Thais have at least some knowledge of Thai Muai. Then even if you can get the upper hand on a Thai, you will have no chance against the other ten who will arrive instantly to rescue him. No hesitation at all: when you can beat up a farang, you generally go there willingly in Thailand.