Touching Heads, Bangkok
The must Do:
-dress properly when visiting a temple
-treat monks with the highest respect
-try to learn a few Thai phrases
DON'T EVER TRY TO:
Don't show disrespect towards the Thai Royal Family
Don't touch a Thai woman without consent
Don't touch a Thai person's head or ruffle their hair
Don't take Buddha images out of the country
Don't point your feet towards other people
Just a couple of quick ones. Never touch a Thai on the top of their head - it is a huge insult. Also, even though the Royal Family in Thailand is almost invisible (unlike Britain) the Thais revere the King and Queen. NEVER deface anything with their image - do not even step on a coin. Seriously, it could put you in jail or fined. The Thais are the nicest people in the world, this is just one little thing that really bothers them.
Taboos exist on some parts of the body that have little significance in Western culture. For example, the head is regarded as the highest part of the body and you should never touch another person on the head.
By contrast, the foot is regarded as the lowest part of the body and you should take care never to point your foot towards anyone. This is an extremely insulting gesture! Try to get into Thai habits of sitting with your feet on the floor or tucked away under you. Even moving objects around with your feet is seen as very uncouth.
Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body, literally and figuratively. Therefore, touching people on their head is considered rude. In contrast, feet are considered the most degraded part of the body. Thus, using feet to point something to someone is regarded very rude for Thai people.
Journalists and guide books have written a lot of nonsense about the subject of touching the head of a Thai. The truth is that we don't touch the head of anyone anywhere in the world unless we know them quite well. To do so is an act of over-familiarity. It's no different in Thailand. Sure, for the Thais the head is the most sacred part of the body, but that doesn't mean that you can't ever touch the head of a Thai person of equal or lower rank. In particular, it is NOT considered bad behaviour to touch the head of a child or a baby, so long as your hands are clean.
In a spiritual as well physical way the feet are the lowest part of the body. That means you better do not put your feet on a table to slouch in a chair. Also donot point your feet to people's direction around you. And Thais believe in the same context (like Indonesians), the head is regarded as the highest part of the body; the most sacred part of the body! So, refrain from touching the head, even not ruffling their hair!
That's why it is strange to see people (tourists ofcourse ...) touching the head for some luck of the famous fat Buddha statues. Mostly located in museums these images can be in parks, too. I saw locals do touch the feet, or his belly and, preferred to do the same. I really do not know where the luck will come from ... ;-)
Thai people have a number of customs and taboos which the visitor should respect. They are uncomfortable with very public displays of affection between both sexes although holding hands is now more accepted. They also see the head as being literally and figuratively as being the highest part of the body and therefore do not approve of touching the head of anyone.
In Bangkok, it is unethical to point your foot on someone. It is also very impolite (actually, rude might be a better term) to have your foot higher than someone else's head. Also, it is customary for anyone to remove their shoes or other footwear when going inside a house, palace or museum.
While in Thailand or bangok, you should respect the way other Thais treat each other. Here are a few Thai etiquette tips
- respect religon
-respect the King and the royal family. Never say anything that could be construed as criticial about them.
-the government plays the Thai anthem on every day at 8 am and 6pm. Before all sporting events and movies the anthem is heard. Please stand up for this.
-Please dress respectively
-never point toes at a Buddha image
-women should not approach or talk to monks, unless stated somewhere (like monk chat or they come to you)
-Don't touch anyone's head
-Don't pass things with your left hand
-Always keep cool and never loose your temper. You and the person you are talking to will loose face. Losing face is a major issue in Asia. It's very disrespectual.
-Don't wear shoes in a long Thai's houe or in a bot (at a wat).
1. Always greet people by saying sawat-dii khrap if you are a male say sawat-dii kha in case you are a female (Thai people always greet before starting any conversation...)and this is an all purpose greeting(and farewell)
2. Don't point your feet at people or at things
3. Don't touch a thai person on head
4. In temples go neatly dressed (no shorts or sleeveless shirts) and u'll have to take off your shoes to enter the temples
5. Budhha images are sacred objects , don't pose in front of them for pictures and definately don't touch them
6. Monks are not to toch and nor touched by females !!!
7.When in a temple keep your feet away from buddha's image or monks ( see how the monks are sitting in the photo u'll know)
Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body, literally and figuratively. Therefore, avoid touching people on the head, not even as a friendly gesture.