Don’t get too hung up about learning a huge list of do’s and don’ts! Most social indiscretions will be forgiven without you even realizing. Thais know that foreign visitors have their own customs and different ways of doing things, but if you are aware of some of the do’s and don’ts you will earn respect from your Thai hosts
• Do respect all Buddha images. Buddha images are held sacred and sacrilegious acts are punishable by imprisonment even if committed by foreign visitors.
• Do dress properly when visiting a temple.
• Do remove your shoes before entering a temple, somebody’s house and even some shops.
• Do treat monks with the highest respect.
• Do try and keep calm no matter what the problem or provocation may be.
• Do eat with a spoon. Use the fork to load food on to the spoon.
• Do lower your body slightly when passing between or in front of people.
• Do try and learn a few basic phrases in Thai
• Do smile a lot.
• Do ensure that you have a visa if you need one.
• Do make sure you have adequate travel insurance.
• Don’t show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family.
• Don’t be overly affectionate in public. This has changed in recent years and younger Thai couples can be seen holding hands, but snogging your boyfriend or girlfriend in the middle of the shopping mall won’t win you too many friends. As with many things, Thais know that behaviour in the West is different to Thailand so you won’t be chased out of town for holding hands with your partner, but resist the temptation to do so inside temple grounds.
• Don’t sunbathe nude. This is offensive to most Thai people although nobody is likely to say anything to you if you do so.
• Don’t touch a Thai person’s head or ruffle their hair. Apologize if you accidentally touch somebody’s head. There are exceptions to this standard of behaviour; for example, it doesn’t apply to lovers in the privacy of their room. Thai people will also sometimes pat a child on the head, but as a Westerner it’s best not to do this to any child to prevent any embarrassment.
• Don’t place your feet on the table while sitting, don’t point to anything with your feet and don’t touch anybody with your feet.
• Don’t raise your voice or lose your temper; try and be jai yen.
• Don’t take Buddha images out of the country. Strictly speaking it is against the law to take or send Buddha images out of the country unless special permission has been granted.
• Don’t overstay your visa.