Thai Social Etiquette: The 'Dos and Don'ts' of Thailand
Any culture has it's book teaching the official version of 'good manners'. In Thailand, this book was published by the Royal Thai Ministry of Culture. Unfortunately, the booklet is hard to get. Therefore, we publish it's content here. This publication is remarkable in more than one way, not only for its level of detail (you might miss the advice to
brush your teeth daily when in Thailand, however). This booklet is also seen as evidence for the
spirit of cultural bureaucracy and education in Thailand.
It doesn't need a long stay in Thailand to recognize that these behavioral rules are those of formal upper classes, rather than those of Mr. and Ms. Everyman on the market place. It's well worth reading, and you will find the one or the other thing that makes you smile. It's an interesting publication, anyway. In this sense, we are very glad to support the Ministry of Culture in spreading the word on the right education in Thai culture.
Chapter I: Greeting
The way how Thais greet each other based on mutual relationship is well defined, but it's not difficult to learn for foreigners.
Chapter V: Theatre
There's more than a ringing cell phone that can spoil the atmosphere in a theater or concert.
Chapter II: Visit
Avoid the typical pitfalls foreigners when you are invited into a Thai family's their house.
Chapter VI: Table Manners
When attending a Thai social event, rules are a bit different than they might be at your breakfast table.
Chapter III: Ceremony
Birth, graduation, marriage, ordination, death, propagation of fertility and auspiciousness, and religious ceremonies have their rules.
Chapter VII: Correspondence
Formal invitations need formal reaction. Invitations to receptions or weddings, or publicly announced invitations to events you have to attend anyway.
Chapter IV: Meeting
Other than in western cultures, the word 'meeting' comes with some behavioral rules, especially within civil administration.
The book 'Thai Social Etiquette' is intended to inform visitors from abroad, as well as Thai persons who may come in contact with foreigners, to ensure them warm welcome, and to enable them to get an insight into Thai codes on social behaviors on various occasions and at different places.
The book is divided into chapters, the subject mailer of which ranges from greeting to everyday etiquette. It is intended, more or less, to be a manual, or guidelines of thinking. understanding and practicing. It is suggested that recipients of this book read through the whole book first, in order to get inside the whole scenario and the dual roles of themselves as hosts and visitors, at different places and on different occasions.
Thus, whenever occasions require, each relevant chapter can be consulted. For example, when visiting a Buddhist temple and going inside the Ubosot or Chapel, the 1" level wai for the Buddha image (Chapter I Greeting) must be observed.
This book has not actually been created only to be read, but also to be observed and put into practice until some behavior become, automatically, one's own natural thinking, awareness, words and behavior. For example, Chapter VI Table Manners and Chapter V Everyday Etiquette should be observed at home first. Children should be taught and supervised to enable them to behave properly.
Prof. Khunying Maenmas Chavalit
Pensri Kiengsiri, Sudchit Bhinyoying, Malithat Promathatavedi, Thai Social Etiquette, Ministry of Culture, Bangkok 2007, ISBN 974-9681-45-2
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