Thai Culture

Greetings

  • In both a formal and informal situation, Thai people greet each other with the word ‘sawadee’ followed by ‘kah’ for females and ‘kraap’ (soft r) for males.
  • It is normal to refer to someone of a perceived higher status by the title ‘Khun’ (Mr/Ms) followed by their first name. For example, a shop assistant would refer to their customer through the term ‘Khun’.
  • People of the same age or who are close friends will omit the use of the title khun.
  • Generally, nicknames are only used when invited to do so.
  • When making introductions, Thais will tend to introduce a man to a woman and a younger person to an older person.
  • In an international context, a handshake is an acceptable greeting. However, a male may only shake a female’s hand if she extends it to him first.


The Wai

Greetings are accompanied by the gesture known as a ‘wai’, which is the placing of two palms together, with fingertips touching the nose. A wai indicates the level of respect for another person and is an acknowledgement of seniority. A person should bow their head with their palms pressed together to indicate respect. The depth of the bow and the level of the hands represents the level of respect. Whilst this form of greeting is still widely used, the younger generation are not as rigid in their adherence to the customary wai.


  • A senior person may politely wai in return to a person who is younger or subordinate to them. This is usually done with their hands at chest level (fingertips not touching the face) and only a slight bowing of the head, resembling a nod. This wai, known as a ‘rap wai’, is an acknowledgement of the other person.
  • To indicate respect for parents, teachers and the elderly, the pressed palms of the wai should be higher so the thumbs come into contact with the nose and the fingertips sit between the eyebrows.
  • Young children bend their knees when they wai; adults should not do this.
  • There is a wai reserved for Buddha images, monks and the royal family that involves prostration. This wai is only for religious or royal contexts.


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Thailand
  • Population
    68,200,824
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Thai [official] (90.7%)
    Burmese (1.3%)
    Other (8%)
    [2010 est.]
  • Religions
    Buddhism (94.6%)
    Islam (4.3%)
    Christianity (1%)
    Other (0.2%)
    [2015 est.]
  • Ethnicities
    Thai (97.5%)
    Burmese (1.3%)
    Other (1.1%)
    [2015 est.]
  • Cultural Dimensions
    64
    20
    34
    64
    32
    45
  • Australians with Thai Ancestry
    70,235 [2016 census]
Thai in Australia
  • Population
    66,229
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Thailand.
  • Average Age
    31
  • Gender
    Male (32.7%)
    Female (67.3%)
  • Religion
    Buddhism (73.6%)
    Catholic Christianity (4.2%)
    Baptist Christianity (4.7%)
    Other (10.6%)
    No Religion (6.9%)
  • Ancestry
    Thai (67.0%)
    Chinese (8.2%)
    Karen (4.1%)
    Other (16.9%)
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Thai (65.5%)
    English (8.3%)
    Karen (5.2%)
    Other (7.6%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 77.6% speak English fluently.
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (38.6%)
    Victoria (23.7%)
    Queensland (15.4%)
    Western Australia (12.5%)
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2001 (38.3%)
    2001-2006 (23.1%)
    2007-2011 (32.8%)
Country https://dtbhzdanf36fd.cloudfront.net/countries/174/th.svg Flag Country Thailand