Thailand Culture – Tourists You Should Know …

Thailand tourist map

Thailand Culture – Tourists You Should Know …

Thailand Culture – Tourists You Should Know

As a Thailand tourist, you should know the following information about Thailand’s culture to avoid being unintentionally rude or embarrassing.

Hello or Good-Bye

Saw Was Dee –  Females sa-wa-dee- ka.  Males sa-wa-dee-kap  … is a polite hello and goodbye. Gays (ladyboys) will say Saw Wa Dee Ha.

Thank You

Women – Kap Kuhn Ka, males – Kap Kuhn Kap is thank you. Gay men ( ladyboys) will say Kap Kuhn Ha.

Alcohol Sales

You can purchase alcohol between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm and after 5 pm. Alcohol is not available during the other hours of the day nor is it available during the  3 or 4 annual Buddhist days and nor during any election. Having said this most any little store that sells alcohol will ignore these non-sales hours and bootleg you booze especially if you bring in with you a concealing bag into which the booze can be put. The exception being the Buddhist days when it is very difficult to find a bootlegger.

Thailand’s population

is 66 million people. 44 million females and 22 million males. Thai women give birth on average to two females for every male born.  This leads to some very different ideologies from western culture especially when it comes to monogamy. Near 16 million people reside in Bangkok.

Wedding rings

Rings are seldom a part of the process of marriage.  Therefore you can not say a Female or Male is single if they are not wearing a ring. Thai culture still incorporates a dowry system given by the male to the father of the bride for the daughter.   The dowry typically represents 1-month wages of just as it does in western culture engagement/wedding rings. The fact that there are no diamonds involved means 2 things. 1) all the diamond-related problems of the world are created by western culture and 2) DE BEERS the company with a diamond monopoly controlling diamond prices the world over did not push their early ( a diamond is forever) 20th-century market campaign on Asia.

Minimum Wage (April 2020)

is 40 baht per hour adjusted up in the past 15 years from 20 baht per hour!  The average unskilled workers will work a 10 hour day 7 days a week for 12,000 baht. So when you receive good to great service, please tip well.

Raising your voice

is unacceptable in Thailand, and considered rude and impolite.  Being humble and calm is always the best approach in Thailand.

Head, Shoes and Feet

Thailand’s culture considers the head as high and the fee low.  DO NOT touch a Thai male’s head there could be consequences if you do! DO not touch a Thai female without their permission not even just to get their attention like a tap on the shoulder. Never face the bottom of your feet towards a Thai as it is an ultimate insult. You must remove your shoes upon entering someone’s home and for most buildings and stores. Even if you get a “mai pen rai” (no problem/it’s okay), still take them off!


is a no-no in Thailand. Particularly don’t point at monks or pictures of any of the Royal Family, and as a general rule don’t point at people to make reference to them.

Royal Family

is highly respected and all-powerful. You are visiting Thailand at their discretion. Verbal disrespect of the royals is 50 years in a Thai prison.


are highly regarded as they live a life of poverty and freely giving of their knowledge. The first seat behind the middle door of every bus is reserved for monks and you are sitting in this seat when a monk enters the bus you need to give it up to the monk. It is OK to buy a full-body art of a monk. It is frowned upon to purchase just ahead. Past violence in Thailand has resulted in the beheading of monks and worse.

The Wai Greeting 

The Peer-to-Peer Wai is the lowest setting of the together hands

The More Respectful Wai is the 2nd lowest position of the hands

The Monk Wai is the 2nd highest position just below the

The Royal Wai which is the highest position and usually includes a bow to one knee.

Do not Wai children instead you can bow your head if a child should wai you.

Thai Police emergency phone  number

is 191 – Don’t expect to have a police officer speak English or any language other Thai. Corruption is rampant and if you are stopped for some infraction you will most likely be asked if you want to pay the fine now to the officer(s) present or go down to the station.  A common reason to be stopped is suspicion of possessing drugs (marijuana in particular) for which the usual on the spot fine for minor amounts is 20,000 baht (the equivalent of two months of the police officers’ monthly salary). Cannabisasa prescription was legalized a medical prescription late in 2019. Foreigners can obtain a prescription for the liquid drops. As of April 2020 smokable weed is not available as a prescription.

Thai TOURIST Police

The short number to call is 1155. They’re often different phone numbers for different towns or cities and within large cities such as Bangkok, there may be area-specific numbers for each district. You might expect tourist police to have the English language but once again you will find very few tourist police with any language other Thai.  Go figure. These are the people you would call to settle a dispute where there is no specific law broken such as a taxi driver charging you 500 baht for a 100 baht ride. If you are being ripped off by a taxi driver here’s a suggestion.  Pull out your telephone and tell your driver: “I call tourist police, wait till they come or take (your offer).” It is extremely unlikely that the taxi driver will want to sit and wait for the tourist police to arrive, then discuss and perhaps further fined by them and you will likely get your reduced fare.


Contracting mosquito-related diseases (Dengue Fever, Neighborhood disease, Malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, Filariasis) are rare but it does happen. Thai mosquitoes are very small and make no noise on approach. They instinctively avoid light (white) colors as they are very visible against a light color risking being killed. They are attracted to dark colors where they are invisible. They love to hide in plants and under tables. A common and easy to do solution to mosquito bite itch is to make an X across the top and center of the bite with your thumbnail. Another easy but seldom-used itch stopper is slap the mosquito bite as the brain only registers the highest center of pain and the slap pain outweighs the itch.

English Language

is seldom used by Thai nationals and thus what little is learned in school is quickly forgotten.  English in the school system is not a priority and is often frowned upon by the Thai teachers. Thai school system is one where no student ever fails and thus there is no incentive to learn. A grade 6 English teacher can expect 50 students in a class and will have 25 students that can’t say the A B C’s, 20 students that are between grade 1 and grade 5 and 5 students that can read and write paragraphs. It’s sad but the vast majority of Thai will never earn enough money to get a visa to a western culture country. As they have absolutely no need for English on a daily basis teh question: “why should they learn English is a justifiable question?”.

The School System

is corrupt as in Foreigners as required to have a work permit to work in Thailand and teaching English requires a University degree and a course in Thai culture.  All of which is ignored by the schools who are paid by the dept. of education for each foreign teacher.  A fake university diploma is available on the street in Khao San Rd Bangkok for 100 baht.  The dept of education does not insist on the teacher’s work permit number to pay the schools.  Foreigner teachers are paid in cash.  For this system to work, the immigration officers checking on work permits ignore the situation. The foreign teacher is treated as a second class citizen by school management and staff. Some of this has to do with the fact that the first time no degree 2nd language foreigner English teacher will be paid $1,000 U.S. and it takes a Thai national university graduate specialized in teaching 20 years of teaching to earn the same income.

Barter System

You, a foreigner, will be ripped off, paying anywhere up to 500% more than a Thai person would pay for the same item or attraction, every time you want to purchase anything from food to taxis. It is legal for Thai nationals to charge what they want of a foreigner except for taxi they are legally required to run the meter – see Bangkok taxies page.  It is up to you to negotiate a price you are willing to pay. A rule of thumb is you will be asked to pay 100% more than will be accepted so your first counteroffer should be less than 50% of their asking price settling somewhere close to 50% of the original asking price. You can elect to buy only from merchants displaying their prices then you are paying the same as a Thai would pay. Thai’s will often barter down the merchants displayed asking price for a 10 to 20+% discount off asked prices.

Bangkok Transportation

Airplanes, trains, sky train, underground train, riverboat, canal boat, buses, vans, song tauw, tuk tuk, taxi.


within Thailand can be had last minute for 1 hr flights such as BKK to Chiang Mai or Phuket for $50 U.S. return. Kho Samui is a captive airport meaning it’s owned by one airline and only one airline can go there making it, by comparison, an expensive flight.


travelling air-conditioned – sleeper trains is considerably cheaper than airline travel but is 10 hrs instead of 1 hr. If going on a long ride such as Bangkok to Chiang Mai you will want to take an overnight air-con train with sleeper bunks (the seat you sit becomes a bed) and has an overhead bunk as well.

Sky Train

Is a fast way of getting through the city if the Sky Train goes near your destination. The cost depends on the distance to your destination and starts at 20 baht per person and if travelling alone it is cheap and fast. If travelling two or more person you likely can go by taxi for near the same cost and actually end up at your specific destination.

Underground Train

The underground train travel to different destinations than the Sky Train making it possible to use it or combine the sky train and the underground train to get to a particular location.

River Boat

Commuter boats and tourist boats are both a great way to see BKK from the river. The difference is the commuter boat is half the price and goes the entire length of the river piers (60 piers) for near 20 baht while the tourist boat is near 40 baht and only goes pier 1 – 30. The tourist boat has English explanations for what is coming up next and is wider, therefore, easier to get up and move around for photos.

Canal Boat

Commuter boat – Is a great experience. Chef LeeZ cooking class Bangkok recommends it as an after-class alternative to a taxi to your next destination.  Just as with the riverboat it offers non stop photo ops. It is not easy to board and get off therefore it is not recommended for the aged and those with poor coordination. It travels from Near Khao San Road to the middle of Seri Thai Rd. It is an option for after a Chef LeeZ cooking class to return to your room or to go to your next destination. It is not recommended as an option to come to class as it can take a couple of hours from departing your room to arriving at the school.


The average Thailand Bus is super cheap travel but is slower than trains and the busses are generally old and may not make the entire trip without breaking down.

City Buses

Are the cheapest way to travel within cities having these buses and can be faster than a taxi especially during rush hour traffic. The cost will depend on the destination.  The set immediately behind the middle doors of the street bus are reserved for Buddhist monks.  If you are sitting in this chair and a monk enters he stand there expecting you to give up your chair. Failure to do so is very poor manners.

Song Taow

is a truck with the box fitted with seats and a rain and sun cover. They do not operate in BKK city center.  Generally sit on the side the women are sitting on as that will be the shaded side. Thai culture the men do not sit on the same side as the women. You will see these on the city outskirts but not in downtown centers.


Reserve this for an experience and a short ride as you will surely be taken on your tuk-tuk ride. A foreigner can go in an air-conditioned taxi, on the meter 100 % OF THE TIME, cheaper than you will be able to negotiate for a ride on a tuk-tuk. GUARANTEED!  If a tuk-tuk offers you a cheap ride he will drop you by 2 or 3 or more shopping sites where high-pressure salespeople will be all over you, also GUARANTEED as he receives gas vouchers and commissions for bringing you by their shop.


See our taxi page ways request the meter and if you accept a non-metered ride, have an agreed-to price before getting into the taxi.  Know without the meter you will pay up to 500% more than with the meter.  Expect to have to ask 5 or 6 taxis to run the meter before finding one that will obey the taxi law and offer you, a foreigner, a metered ride. Know where you are going and know how long it should typically take (in rush hour and non-rush hour) as 30 minutes in a BKK taxi on the meter, non-rush hour (after 9 am and before 3 pm and after 8 pm weekdays), will cost 80 to 100 baht.

Medical Services

Minor injuries (scrapes) can be handled by doctors’ offices, food poisoning by Gov’t hospitals, serious injuries such as head injuries or broken bones go to an international hospital. Food poisoning is common in Thailand and the cost to get hospital fixed is 1,000 baht in a Gov’t hospital and 30,000 baht in an international hospital for the same treatment   including the DR. interview, in-hospital meds, overnight hospital bed, at home meds. International hospital service will likely be quicker to attending to you but that’s the only difference when it comes to minor stuff. Recently I had an ear infection (from the poorly maintained swimming pool). My first visit to a gov’t hospital took near 2 hrs to register and wait for my queue. The Dr. took 5 minutes to make a referral within the same hospital for the next day as the hours were different the cost for this first visit 80 baht $2.50 U.S. The next day (two hours to file paperwork and queue up) before I saw the ear specialist. He sucked stuff out of my ear (total 5 minutes). Medication, Dr fee and hospital fees total cost was 180 baht ($9 U.S.). The taxi cost to and from the hospital costs 200 baht each way ($12 U.S.) making the taxi service more expensive than the Dr. fees and medications.