LIFESTYLE IN THAILAND: a few things to know

Thailand is a fascinating country for several reasons and it sends images, thrills to the one who knows how to capture the atmosphere.

Many contrasts between rural landscapes and the city of Bangkok. Between tourist sites and more rural and traditional places. A red thread, however, is the rules governing the Thai society which it is important to integrate if one wants to deepen its relations with the Thais or have a chance to be accepted, integrated without making a mistake. These interpersonal relations govern a highly hierarchical, open society, but defending a strong national identity that is united around the Monarchy and Buddhism.

It is interesting to know some rules of knowing how to live, postures and life in society if you want to worst live peacefully during your stay and at best to discover Thai society, Thais who will give you a lot in return.

The first thing to understand is that the Thais will show very rarely dissatisfaction. It is up to you to decode and understand emotions, gestures and conversations.

The Thais know us much better than we can know them and they leave with a real advantage.

Appearance is very important for Thais for whom hygiene and body care should be taken care of. Even if you are not blamed for it, a neglected outfit and a questionable hygiene are flippers for our friends and will close any outline of social relationship. The Thai will in this case seek to get rid of you rather than paying any attention to your request.

Of course, all these considerations must be relativized according to the regions and the condition of the people according to whether they live in rural or tourist town.

Body Language:

It is very important in Thailand. The video made the buzz early 2017, taken by a Thai, on a bus. The passenger, behind him, had the good taste to put his feet on the backsplash of his chair, carrying them to the level of his head (with the smells that go with it). The western youth had everything wrong and she made the shocking buzz of many Thais (and Westerners) by her inadequate and disrespectful behavior. Perhaps by knowing some rules better (at least 2), she would have avoided shocking our hosts.

The Head and the feet:

The head is considered the most sacred part of the body and the feet the least honorable, the most messy. One does not touch the head of a person and even less that of a child.

The younger ones will arrange to not dominate a monk, an elder.

We do not point a person with his feet, we watch for example by sitting, meeting or with friends, on a bus or a Tuk Tuk. Though many Thais will tell you "it does not matter," they will notice and be embarrassed.

Pointing a monk or a Buddha statue is a very rude or even rude.

Body language :

Overall, Thai people in public places do not speak loudly, do not laugh strongly, do not make abrupt or violent gestures to explain or demonstrate anything.

In a restaurant, you will quickly understand who is who, from where they come according to the noisy mode of conversations. It is very nice to have lunch or dinner with Thai people so everyone is careful not to raise their voices, laugh loudly or express themselves strongly.

Thais really feel embarrassed and deeply disapprove of these behaviors, and even more so when they are compatriots.La


This is an important point in any relationship you may have with the Thais and more generally in Asia, whether professional, friendly or in love.

The Japanese say we have 3 faces:

The same is true of Thailand, whose people attach great importance to their image and dignity.

Everything is done keeping in mind the look that others will have on themselves and the need to keep face.

We can not say in public certain truths at the risk of seeing your opponent live it as a humiliation, a shameful exclusion. This can be experienced very difficult by the person and must be kept in mind, even if, for us Westerners, this attitude is sometimes destabilizing. Loss of face can lead to extremes like explosion of violence, passional crimes or other sudden and brutal eruptions.

Kreng Jai is a reverence in fear of hurting a respected or loved person who may involve a sacrifice of his own interests to save those of the respected person (also having more power or more influential).

Understanding Kreng Jai is essential for understanding global relationships, interpersonal relationships in Thailand. This can be, again, confusing for Westerners because differences of opinion are little or not expressed face to face contrary to where everything is pretext for this kind of exercise, face to face or in public.

A person will not tell you the truth because she will be afraid of making you unhappy or hitting you. She prefers to say nothing, nothing to confess rather than to annoy you or generate dissatisfaction. This is a crucial point in the understanding of human relations in Thailand.

The WAI:

The Wai expression consists of joining the palms of the hands against the body followed by a short inclination of the head and then the body (in order). But it varies according to who is addressed and establishes a hierarchical link.

The basic rule is that:

The subaltern introduces him by joining his hands to a higher height than that of his superior. He will take care to bow more than his superior.

If you sometimes see Thai people respond with a simple nod, it is not compulsory for the hierarchical superior to respond with a Wai.

Thais are not very comfortable with physical contact (even if it changes as well) and the WAI rules that.

Overall, the hands at the chest are sufficient to address the youngest, to make sure to place them at the level of the chin or even the nose to address it to his elders or to a hierarchical superior.

The highest mark of respect is to bow or even squat long and join his hands to the front.



The society is highly hierarchical and the Thais evolve from that very young age in this system.

The distinction between boss and employees is strong in Thailand. The boss decides, the employees perform faithfully (or not).

This may be confusing for a new expat who is accustomed in the West to negotiate, convince, delegate and await initiatives of his teams who are on a more egalitarian level.

This attitude can also cause problems in the functioning of the teams because the Thais will not necessarily and openly express a disagreement preferring to say what the boss wants to hear. It is not a lack of frankness but the expression of the Kren Jai seen above and which preserves the face of his hierarchical superior.

Giving too much freedom to their teams can also be seen as a lack of authority where people will prefer clear guidelines.


Here you know the basics that are important to interpersonal relationships in Thailand. The Wai and all its variants are perfectly the expression of it. Always approach this with great simplicity and humility, keeping in mind to always keep calm and .... his smile.

TIPS: for those who would like to have a complete guide. I can send it to you by mail (leave us a message). Very interesting, it was edited by the Thai authorities to educate tourists about the customs and customs in Thailand and covers all aspects of life in society.