Respect and etiquette have always been an integral part of Thai culture. Just as their cuisine is a blend of various individual elements, they believe that progress can only happen when people bond with each other. Hard working, yet content, the Thais are extremely proud and protective of their cultural heritage.
If it’s your first visit to this amazing country, the first thing you should pay attention to is body language. The minute details when following Thai customs can make all the difference between a happy host and an angry one.
When being introduced, men say “Sawatdee-krap” and women say “Sawatdee-kah”. A shorter variation is “wai”. This, when used in context, could also mean thank you, sorry or even goodbye. When it comes to greeting a person of greater stature, “wai” is accompanied by joining the palms of the hand at chest level with the fingers close together and pointed upwards, along with a slight bow.
The Thais believe thoughts and personality are of far greater value than gifts. However, that does not mean that they don’t appreciate a token of gratitude. When it comes to gifting, there are a few pointers.
Firstly, when it comes to selecting a gift, choose between flowers, chocolates or fruits.
Secondly, use brightly coloured wrapping paper in hues of gold or yellow as it signifies royalty. Green, blue, and black are a strict no-no as they are symbolic of death and grief.
And thirdly, don’t expect the gift to be opened immediately. Similarly, upon receiving a gift, never rip apart the wrapping to see what is inside. Instead, just keep it aside and save the eagerness for later. If you are really keen on impressing your Thai hosts, give them three gifts. Three is considered a lucky number and this could start you off on the perfect note.
By following a simple list of customs and rituals, Thailand’s beauty and richness becomes all the more enjoyable. Thais are extremely tolerant, homely, and welcoming. The least we can do is respect their rich culture and heritage.
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