Thai Culture

Do's and Don'ts


  • A welcomed topic of discussion is one’s occupation. Inquiring into the type of work one does is quite a good icebreaker.
  • Be sensitive to maintain the of yourself and your Thai counterpart. To do so, avoid embarrassing someone by criticising or correcting them in public.
  • Show gratitude through reciprocating favours or good deeds. This helps build trust in relationships.
  • Be considerate towards Thais’ zealousness for their recently deceased king. Thais have the utmost respect for the king (see The King in ‘Core Concepts’) and defaming the king may offend your Thai counterpart.
  • Show the utmost respect towards elders. Thais place a high value on observing social .
  • Remain cool, calm and collected when interacting with Thais. Raised voices, anger, worry, stress and other heated emotions are thought to lead to a loss of in Thailand. If possible, be moderate in the displaying of unpleasant emotions.
  • Try not to be offended if your Thai counterpart makes frank comments about people’s body shape. Unlike in Australia, it is not considered taboo or rude to make comments such as, “Oh, you’ve put on weight”. Such comments are not intended to be hurtful, invasive or offensive.


  • Avoid standing or looming above a figure of Buddha or an image of the king. Always bow your head as a sign of respect. Furthermore, do not point your feet at any image or depiction of the Buddha or the king. Using a single finger to point at the king or an image of the king is also disrespectful.
  • Avoid directly criticizing people. Thais generally temper any negative comment with an apologetic statement (i.e. ‘I don’t mean to be frank, but…’).
  • Approach questions about income, standard of living or things that would often be considered personal in Australia with sensitivity. These topics are not always welcomed in discussion. However, it is not uncommon for Thais to ask questions relating to age, work and level of education to ensure they address you correctly in future interactions.
  • Avoid speaking loudly or raising one’s voice. It can lead to a loss of .
  • Females should avoid physical contact with a monk. If a woman must pass an object to a monk, it is best for her to hold the object with a tissue or handkerchief.
  • Avoid insulting the king or the royal family. Not only is it disrespectful and inappropriate, but it can have legal consequences in Thailand.
  • Do not assume all Southeast Asian peoples are the same. There are a variety of distinct countries and cultures across the region. Thus, avoid homogenising those from Thailand with people from neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia or Myanmar (Burma).

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