Local habits and travel information


Greetings
Thai are very friendly and will greet you by saying 'Sawadee kha'(women) or 'Sawadee krap'(men). You can greet them by joining your hands together in front of the chest and bow slightly. Take off your hat or cap to show respect.  Always respect elders. If someone is older than you, you can address them as 'Pee'.

Behaviour
Thai people are kind. It is considered improper to lose one's temper or show emotion in public. According to Buddhist custom you shouldn't touch someones head, also not one of a child. Spiritually the head is considered to be the highest part of the body.

Language
Thai is the official language with a unique alphabet and script. In tourist areas most people speak English, but in more remote areas not everyone speaks does. 

Temple habits
As a woman, don't touch a monk or shake hands. When visiting a temple or the Grand Palace, wear appropriate clothing, covering knees and shoulders. You shouldn't point your feet at anyone or at a Buddha statue. Footwear should be removed upon entering temple complexes, and it is polite to remove footwear when entering a house. Buddha statues are 'washed' by pooring some water. You should do this to the Buddha statue of the day you were born. 

His Majesty the King
Thai people have a true and deep feeling of love and respect for their King, especially for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) who passed away oktober 2016. For this reason, never tear a banknote or step on a rolling coin as Thai money features pictures of the revered monarch. Always stand when the national anthem is played in the morning and early evening on the sky train platform, in public parks, on the streets of provincial towns, and at the start of movies in theatres. There is a strict law for insulting the King, this also applies to the present King, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, officially also known as King Rama X.

Beach wear
Do not sunbathe nude and females should wear suitable swimwear, including a covered top. This is particularly important on some of the southern islands and beaches where local Muslim populations are more prevalent. The fact that it’s highly unlikely that any Thai person will actually reprimand a foreign woman for sunbathing topless doesn’t make it right.

Plugs and voltage
Thailand uses 220V with the majority of sockets having two pins. It is therefore advisable to bring a universal plug adaptor.

Internet and mobile phones
Internet cafes are widespread in major towns and cities. Besides computer use that is timed by the minute, users can also purchase pre-paid international phone cards to make international calls. Wi-Fi hotspots are widespread in hotels, shopping malls, fast food outlets and cafes. Many hotels have business centres with PCs connected to the Internet or in-room broadband access. Convenience stores such as 7-11 and Family Mart sell local pre-paid and top-up SIM cards and these offer cheaper rates and international calls, as well as Internet access. These are far cheaper than using your home-based service provider’s roaming service.
Shopping
Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise, with huge, glitzy shopping malls, department stores, and an abundance of street markets. The capital Bangkok and the northern city of Chiang Mai have excellent night markets.  Good souvenirs include Thai silk, pottery with celandine green glaze, painted umbrellas, lacquer ware, pewter ware, bamboo and wood artifacts and bronze ware. Duty free shops are located throughout the country and items can be purchased and picked up from the airport when departing the country. Value Added Tax can be refunded on goods bought in shops labeled “VAT Refund for Tourists”, when there is a minimum transaction of 2,000 baht including VAT. The shopper must fill in a refund application form and provide their passport number in the store. Cash refunds can be collected in international airport halls.
It's forbidden to take Buddha statues out of the country, as it is disrespectful to the Lord Buddha to use it as a souvenir.

Street stalls and markets
Stalls on the streets of Bangkok and the main tourist destinations sell everything from food, jewellery, T- shirts, watches and DVDs. The largest concentration of street stalls is at Patpong Night, packed with tourists. Here you can negotiate, starting at a third of the asking price and work your way up. The weekend market at Chatuchak has hundreds of stalls stocking items ranging from antiques to clothes, furniture and even animals. Shipping agents are on hand so purchases can be sent back to the purchaser’s home country. The expensive riverside Asiatique has an abundance of stalls and more upmarket fancy shops.

Entertainment and night life
Thailand is one of the most exciting places on earth for entertainment and nightlife. From the sophisticated nightclubs and pubs of Bangkok to the laid back charm of beach bars in the island resorts – Thailand has something for everyone. Nearly every country on earth is represented in the capital with American sports-themed bars, Australian steak houses, British pubs, German beer houses, and Japanese karaoke bars. Movie theatres are first class and situated in nearly every shopping mall. Live music is also available in many establishments, so opportunities for fun-filled nights are in abundance. 

Tipping
Tipping is quite common in Thailand. Salaries are still low and tips are much appreciated for additional income.


Opening hours
Shops: 7 days a week
10:00am – 21:00/22:00pm
Museums: mostly Tue-Sun 10:00am – 18:00pm
Authorities: mostly Mon-Fri 8:30am - 16.30pm
Banks: 9:30-15:30pm
On some hours/days, sale of alcohol is prohibited.