Thailand Travel Tips
The local Thai greeting is known as the "wai" (why).
It is an insult not to return the wai if it is offered, so learn how to do it. It is done by placing your hands together like you are praying, holding it at chest level close to your body and bowing slightly. A wai can be used to say "Hello," "Goodbye", "Thank you," or "I'm sorry,"
Within the Thai culture the wai is also used to reinforce status and show respect. A wai is only offered to a person of equal or greater status. The person of lower status will usually initiate the wai. The higher the hands are held the more respect is shown. However the tips of your fingers should never be above eye level.
Foreigners are not expected to initiate the wai gesture. If a wai is not offered to you, shaking hands with men and a nodding smile to women is acceptable.
Normally used with the wai is the term sá-wát-dii (so-wad-dee) which is the Thai phrase used for hello, welcome or bye. If amongst friends you can just use sá-wát-dii (so-wad-dee) by itself. For new or more polite introductions you add khráp (crap) or khá (kah).This is the Thai equivalent of saying sir or madam. In Thai it is the sex of the speaker that determines which one you use, not the sex of the person you are speaking to. So if you are male you say sá-wát-dii -khráp (so-wad-dee-crap). If you are female you say sá-wát-dii -khá (so-wad-dee-kah).
Whilst there is no mandatory requirement to tip in Thailand small gratitude's are always appreciated.
The Thai people will rarely ask for a tip or stand there with their hand out. Remember that the majority of hospitality workers earn very little so a small tip goes a long way and will ensure you are remembered and receive enthusiastic service.
Most restaurants and hotels include a 10% service charge on your bill.
This acts as a sort of tip as it is supposed to be shared amongst all employees at the end of the month. In all restaurants it is expected that you leave any coins you receive in your change as a tip. If you have received exceptional service from an individual staff member then tip them personally 5-10% of the bill.
Public taxis are metered.
However it is common practice to round the fare up as a tip, i.e. a 61 baht fare rounded would be rounded up to 70 baht.
60 baht is around $2 Australian.
A tip of 30 to 120 baht is an acceptable tip to leave on your bed for the cleaning lady or to give to a porter. If you have received individual service such as a masseur, hairdresser or a personal guide then a 5-10% tip is appropriate.
The minimum Thai wage is 300 baht, ($10AU) per day.
The average Thai hospitality worker will earn $10-$20AU per day. So a 60 baht ($2AU) tip is a small amount and goes a long way helping a family.
The King and the Royal Family are highly regarded by all Thai citizens.
Under no circumstances say anything disrespectful about the King or the Royal Family. You will find photos and posters of the King all across Thailand. Anything that bears the image of the King is considered sacrosanct including banknotes and coins. So if you drop a note don't stamp on it the stop it from blowing away. This is additionally disrespectful as you should never touch or point at things with your feet.
Before movies, theatre shows and sporting events the Thai national anthem is often played. You must stand whilst it is played or it will be considered disrespectful to the King, Royal Family and the Thai people. Some places will also play the anthem every day at 8.00am and 6.00pm.
You will be subject to the ordeal and penalties of Thai Law if you say or do anything disrespectful in regard to the King or Royal Family.
The feet are considered the dirtiest and lowest part of the body.
Do not point your feet towards anyone or anything. When visiting a temple do not sit with your legs pointing forward, sit cross legged or with your feet tucked underneath you.
The head is considered sacred and where the spirit lies.
This is common across many Asian cultures. Do not touch or pass anything over someone's head as it is considered a personal insult.
Holding your hand with fingers up or pointing is considered rude.
If hailing a taxi keep your hand horizontal with your fingers facing down.
Find out more before you travel at smartraveller.gov.au's page for Thailand.