Etiquette & Customs in Thailand
. The wai (as mentioned above) is the traditional form of greeting, given by the person of lower status to the person of higher status.
. Thais generally use first rather than surnames, with the honorific title Khun before the name. Khun is an all- purpose form of address that is appropriate for both men and women
. In general, wait for your host and hostess to introduce you to the other guests. This allows everyone to understand your status relative to their own, and thus know who performs the wai and how low the head should be bowed.
Gift Giving Etiquette
. If invited to a Thai’s home, a gift is not expected, although it will be appreciated.
. Gifts should be wrapped attractively, since appearance matters. Bows and ribbons add to the sense of festivity.
. Appropriate gifts are flowers, good quality chocolates or fruit.
. Do not give marigolds or carnations, as they are associated with funerals.
. Try to avoid wrapping a gift in green, black or blue as these are used at funerals and in mourning.
. Gold and yellow are considered royal colours, so they make good wrapping paper.
. Only use red wrapping paper if giving a gift to a Chinese Thai.
. Gifts are not opened when received.
. Money is the usual gift for weddings and ordination parties.
If you are invited to a Thai’s house:
. Arrive close to the appointed time, although being a few minutes late will not cause offence.
. Check to see if the host is wearing shoes. If not, remove yours before entering the house.
. Ask another guest to confirm the dress code.
. Step over the threshold rather than on it. This is an old custom that may be dying out with younger Thais, but erring on the side of conservatism is always a good idea.
. A fork and spoon are the usual eating utensils. However, noodles are often eaten with chopsticks.
. The spoon is held in the right hand and the fork in the left. The fork is used to guide food on to the spoon. Sticky rice, a northern Thai delicacy, is often eaten with the fingers of the right hand.
. Most meals are served as buffets or with serving platters in the centre of the table family- style.
. You may begin eating as soon as you are served.
. Leave a little food on your plate after you have eaten to show that you are full. Finishing everything indicates that you are still hungry.
. Never leave rice on your plate as it is considered wasteful. The words for food and rice are the same. Rice has an almost mystical significance in addition to its humdrum ‘daily bread’ function.
. Never take the last bite from the serving bowl.
. Wait to be asked before taking a second helping.
. Do not lick your fingers.