Thais have a robust value system and a very conservative community; they are very proud of their long history and enjoy talking about it with visitors. They are usually calm (smiling for many different emotions) and discreet about displaying emotions in public. Mai Pen Rai (never mind) is the Thai Expression which describe its general sense of life.
The head is considered sacred, so avoid touching anyone on the head, either children or adults, unless they are an intimate friend. Feet are considered the least sacred part of the body should not be pointed directly at anyone or used to move anything.
Shake hands is viewed as a taboo among the older generation, Wai; where the hands are joined and raised towards the face, while the head in bowed slightly; is the habitual form of greeting, it can mean “Hello”, “Thank you”, “I’m sorry” or “Goodbye”, Wai is given by a person of lower status to a person of higher status. Wai is generally accompanied with the word "Sawatdee krap" (if you are a man) or "Sawatdee kah" (if you are a woman). Buddhist Monks never return a Wai. Many Thai women prefer just to exchange smiles on being introduced.
Some habits that foreigners should observe
- Thais adore their King and have great respect to the Royal Family, so the worst thing you can do is to defame the royal family;
- Thais in general consider touching an invasion of their privacy;
- Strong emotions should not be displayed, you shouldn’t show affection in public, touching someone of the contrary sex is taboo;
- Respect towards elders and superiors is fundamental;
- Thais expect visitors to dress properly in formal public places. Shorts, bare shoulders, and sandals are only for sports and for the beach;
- Ladies may not enter a bot (the restricted area of a Wat) and must not touch any part of a Buddhist monk’s body or clothes, even accidentally;
- Never point with your hand and never with one finger;
- Do not put your hands in your pockets while talking to someone;
- While eating never blow your nose of lick your fingers.