Thai Culture

Other Considerations

  • Persons that identify as transgender, ‘kathoey’, are more public about their presence and are generally accepted in Thailand. However, structural inequalities and discrimination mean they continue to occupy a marginalised role in Thai society. Avoid referring to kathoeys as ‘ladyboys’. This is a term created by the tourism industry, yet it is highly offensive to those who identify as a kathoey.
  • A common stereotype attributed to Thai people is that they are complacent and always smiling. While the Thai demeanour is quite warm, this stereotype is problematic as it can characterise them as ‘pushovers’.
  • In terms of dress, singlets with thin straps that expose your shoulders, shirtlessness and skirts that sit above the knee are sometimes considered too revealing in Thailand. As Thailand becomes more cosmopolitan, this attitude is shifting to incorporate a larger variety of fashions, but consideration should still be made if you are visiting a school or house. You will not be allowed inside a temple if your shoulders or knees are exposed.
  • In Thailand, the question "bai nai?" ("where are you going?") is sometimes used to enquire about one’s well-being (i.e., "how are you going?") and is not a literal enquiry about your destination. An acceptable response would be ‘just down the road’.
  • Certain colours have distinct associations. Typically, the colours green, black and blue are associated with funerals and mourning, whilst gold and yellow represent royalty.

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