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Dos and Don’ts in the land of smiles

thailand culture

To most Thais, the King and his family are the living embodiment of their nationhood. Always speak respectfully about the royal family, they are deeply respected by the Thais and this is not without reason, they were the first ones to start sexual education programs against H.I.V as well as promoting the use of condoms in Thailand, sexuality in Thailand is still a taboo subject, they also started many successful programs to replace opium farming by vegetable farming . Be prepared to stand up whenever the national anthem or the royal anthems are played. Thais also regard Buddhism with the highest respect. They consider all Buddha images as sacred and so are the monks. Therefore, you should not wear shorts, short skirts and sleeveless shirts when visiting any temple and shoes should always be removed at the entrance. Despite Thailand being known for its thriving sex industry, the majority of the population is actually fairly conservative. A modest way of dressing will gain you more friends than baring your flesh. The head, being the most sacred part of the body, should never be touched (do not attempt to pat even the heads of children). The feet, being the lowest, should never be pointed at other people, much less to a Buddha image. Avoid touching Thai people, it is too intimate a gesture and an invasion of personal space. When you consider that shaking hands, and kissing, are perhaps the easiest means of passing germs, the wai, is in fact a suitable greeting. Lastly, avoid losing your temper and showing any sign of anger. You should also avoid initiating confrontation. Thailand isn’t called the ‘Land of Smiles’ for nothing. Keeping yourself cool is essential. The Thais have a special expression for that jai yen, which translates to ‘cool heart’, they also have the phrase mai pen rai which means ‘no problem’, which could lead you to a better understanding of sanook, the quintessential Thai word for ‘fun’. Modest appearance A neat, clean and conservative look is absolutely necessary when dealing with Thai officials, immigration staff, customs clerks, police, and whatever kind of bureaucrats. A great deal of ill feeling has been provoked by tourists dressing immodestly. When in doubt, look at the locals around you and try to dress in a similar way Shorts are considered improper and low-class attire in Thailand, only acceptable for schoolchildren, beggars, and low class workers …not wealthy travelers! Except at beach resorts, are in very touristic areas you should never wear skimpy shorts, halter tops, low-cut blouses, or anything else that will offend the Thais. Long slacks and a collared shirt are recommended for men in urban environments. Women should keep well covered. Swim-wear is only acceptable on the beach or at your hotel swimming pool, you will probably never see local girls bathing with bikinis, tongs or even worse topless unless they are married to foreigners but even so, other locals would still very much look down to them for this culture breach. Everyone that has watched the news or had a friend that has been to Thailand is aware of the booming sex industry, as a man arriving in the country you are a prime target for prostitutes. For some men, this is the primary reason why they boarded onto a plane here, and sleazy, illicit fun with a young and good looking female is all that they are after. The Vietnam War was when prostitution in Thailand began, when U.S service men enjoyed their time off into the red-light districts near their military compounds in Thailand, especially in Pattaya, which is known as the center of the Thai prostitution In reality most women are very conservative prudent about their sexuality, and issues of an intimate nature are very private and discreet. If you are looking for an honest and emotional relation, then you must be aware of the dating culture in this country and the way local women expect to be treated. By the time Americans went back home, A lot of tourists were descending into Thailand to replace them, so the sex industry continued to flourish. Unfortunately this element of the land of smile has given the country and local women in particular a tarnished image. Personal advice: Weather with a working girl or not, do always protect yourself, Thailand has a really hi rate of H.I.V. Beautiful Phuket is the province with the most cases, and Patong has the highest concentration of people in the province contracting the virus. Avoid local brothels as most of the girls are not tested, unless you would like to come back home with an incurable souvenir. Drugs and alcohol are big issues in Thailand, and when on a date, a lady will be very conscious to see whether you have such problems. A Thai woman will be watching closely that you exercise self-discipline and self-control, and she will expect you to dress nicely and make an effort for the occasion. Aggression is seen as counterproductive in South East Asian culture, and it is of complete ignorance and lack of courtesy to show any volatile emotions in public. Even if you are a hot tempered kind of person with a loud voice and strong personality, try to tone it down when you are out with a Thai lady, as what you would think of as normal, she may consider overwhelming. As is still traditional in most countries, it is the Male’s role to ask the woman out on a date. In recent years however research has found that women are now taking the initiative to invite men out on dates especially as in the 19-27 category, women are currently earning more money than men. Both men and women wear nice clothes, perfumes or colognes, so they really do take account if you smell good. She will also be checking that you are clean and tidy. If you are having strong feelings for a lady straight away, try and keep them discreet, as it is not polite and smothering to tell her too soon after you have met. Thai women like to take things slowly as they are very traditional and composed. Even if she is feeling strongly for you too, she will definitely keep it quiet for the first few dates. Do not talk about sex even in jest, as this will most probably embarrass her and make her feel very uncomfortable, as Thai women although intimate with their lovers, do not discuss sex in public or with people that they hardly know. Be prepared for the fact that if you go to meet a Thai girl’s family, then they along with her will then expect you to propose marriage. In Thai culture, if a girl brings home more than one man in a year then she is frowned away. Thai dowry It must be one of the most discussed problems on Thailand web boards and directories. The Thai dowry system is known as the ‘Sin Sod’. Traditionally, the groom will be asked to pay a dowry or sin sod to the family, to compensate them for the loss of their daughter. The dowry or sin sod is also to demonstrate that the groom is financially stable and able of taking care of their daughter. The idea of “paying” for your bride is deeply embedded in Thai culture and is considered absolutely normal. Most Westerners however find this idea somewhere between distasteful or an absolute scam. The concept of dowry is not a Western concept as many Westerners believe in romantic love and that money has nothing to do with it. Usually, the dowry is symbolic and will normally be returned to the couple after the wedding.

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