The common Thai way of salutation, the “WAI”
Thai wai is not just for a greeting but also use for other things as well.
Reasons for giving a wai can be for greeting, showing respect, making an apology or thanking someone.
Types of many types of wai such as wai to Buddha or monks.
To wai a monk at temple you must get on your knees. Men will sit on their heels and women sit on their legs to one side. Then bend your head and body low. When your head is almost down to touch the floor then you have to place your palms on the floor and rest your head on top and then straighten up back to the seated wai position. To wai image of Buddha you have to repeat this 3 times.
To wai someone higher status you need to bring your hands up higher this time, and lower your head so that your fingertips reach above the tip of the nose.
Wai to someone lower status
Pull your hands close to your body and your fingers reaching to neck level, then keep your head straight or very slightly down.
Family matters a lot in Thailand
In Thailand family always comes first you can see that many families they live close by each other and very strong link. Lot of children stay with grandparents or relative while their parents move away for work.
Status is very important thing in Thai culture. When talking together Thai use words indicate a person’s age i.e use pee before an older person’s name and use nong for someone younger than them. When Thai see each other they will do wai. Younger will start wai first to respect the older but sometimes wai is depending on a person’s status like they do wai to younger person in case that person is a higher level in society.
Religion in Thailand
Most of Thais are Buddhist, monks are highly respected in Thai culture. If you see monk on the public transport you should offer your seat to a monk. Females should be careful to not touch or sit near the monks. The way to speak with the monks have to be very polite as Thai uses special words to talk to the monks.
When travelling to temples please show respect. You will need to wear long pants and long sleeves especially women. Also when you make conversation in the temples you must decreased your level of voice as Thai people use the temple for pray so you need to talk nice and quiet to respect the place.
Don’t touch the head of a Thai person
The head is the most spiritual part of the body for Thais and you should never touch the head of other person.
In case you need to walk pass when people taking you should say something like “excuse me” and then you walk pass with head lower than them.
The feet are low for Thai culture you should not touch or point things with your foot while you are talking or sitting with Thai people.
Take off your shoes
You must take off your shoes when you are entering someone’s home as Thai don’t wear shoes in the house. You can see some office they put the sign for take off your shoes as well.
Don’t step over someone’s legs or feet
In Thailand people do not step over someone’s outstretched legs or feet as it considered to be very rude and impolite.
Respect the King
Thai people have great respect for the king and the royal family. You must always show respect as well. You can notice most of Thai families have picture of the king on the walls in their homes or at government offices.
Thai people use special words to talk or to mention the king as the King enjoys a very high respect in Thailand.