While there are as many awesome things to know and understand about getting acquainted with Thailand, there are just as many adverse things to avoid while visiting the land of smiles. It's easy to feel right at home here simply because the social aspect and relaxed lifestyle is so alluringly addictive.
By all accounts, the Thai people are extraordinarily friendly and exceptionally helpful. They are also graciously civil and amazingly tolerant too. It's all about stepping a little bit more out of the box.
Avoiding offensive behaviour can generally be achieved through simple courtesy and common sense. Losing your temper is a definite no-no and one of the worst mistakes you can ever make is to raise your voice. This only leads to frustration.
No matter how bad you might feel about the toilet not working properly in your room, a dishonest deal at a go-go bar or a Tuk Tuk driver taking you for a ride and not the one you expected. Keep a cool heart or as with Thai, Jai Yen. After that, use your charm to obtain your objection. And a little luck won't hurt either.
PS: If the toilet refuses to operate as it should, simply go down to reception and discreetly describe the problem to the staff. I am sure that any offending bits will soon be taken care of. It's best to be very genteel as an outburst won't help matters. Vulgarity will get you nowhere, politeness will get you everywhere.
Go-Go Bars and Tuk-Tuk Drivers
While most go-go bars in Thailand are fairly honest in their dealing, some clearly are not to be trusted. Because it's not easy to give you exact whereabouts of all the unscrupulous dens of dishonesty, I can point out some of the shortcomings you might encounter but you need to pay close attention.
The most important things to know are that no matter what bar you visit, do not rack up any tabs. Pay for drinks every time as they arrive. Also, don't entertain bars advertising sexual antics on stage, but omit to state the prices or cover charge.
One notorious place you should avoid is the upstairs bars at Patpong Night Market in Bangkok. Touts cruise up and down the narrow streets there waving little pamphlets in your face for what you might think are erotic ping-pong acts with sexy young Thai girls. These shows couldn't be further from the truth.
If you decide to take up the offer, you're going to be in for a nasty surprise. After the less than entertaining acts, you'll be presented with a drinks bill for an extortionate amount and that's not all. You won't be allowed to leave until you pay up. You can complain all you like, throw all your toys out of the cot and go ballistic. The only real solution is not to go up the stairs.
Tuk Tuk drivers have a notoriously bad reputation for extorting outrageous fees from unsuspecting tourists who have yet to become accustomed to life on the streets of Thailand. There's a good possibility that you'll be entrapped first time round. As one philosopher put it - once bitten twice shy. You'll soon graduate.
The lesson to learn here is to always negotiate the fare up front before you begin your journey and only pay once you are satisfied that you have arrived at the correct address. If you are not sure what the going rate is, ask someone at your hotel or guesthouse. Good things to know before starting your journey.
Taboos and Dress Codes
While the Thai's are generally tolerant of foreigners breaking a couple of cultural taboos, more profound taboos do exist too, though most are in reference to the Monarchy and Buddhism. This is where leniency for disrespectful behaviour is wholeheartedly disapproved. Thai's are devoted to the royal family and show their utmost respect to both king and queen as well as their children.
Though such acts as standing to attention when the national anthem is played in cinemas may seem inconsequential to westerners, they are considered courteous to others. However, it's extremely unlikely that you'll be penalised for any misunderstanding, whether it be through innocence or ignorance.
Though respectful attire should be worn whether in the city or the country, you must be particularly careful of your choice of clothing and behaviour when visiting the temples in Thailand. It is customary not to wear shorts, sleeveless skirts and sandals to any of these places of worship. General rules also apply when visiting sacred Buddha images.
If for some reason you do arrive inappropriately dressed, you will be asked to cover the offending bits. But in most cases, temple staff will provide you with the proper apparel so it's highly unlikely that you'll be turned away. There's a small chance that you might have to pay a modest fee for the service.
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