The country of Thailand has been a common destination of many Westerners most notably Americans mainly because of its unique blend of natural beauty, religion and culture. However, just like you would in any other trip, it is important to adequately plan for your trip to Thailand so you do not get caught up in issues that can turn your holiday into a more than just a slight inconvenience.
We’ve put together these tips for US citizens traveling to Thailand so you do not expect to find architecture schools instead of Buddhist temples. A bit of realism, practicality and wide-eyed wonder will do your more good than being caught completely unaware and dumbfounded in a country as colorful, majestic, awe-inspiring and inviting as a refreshing Keratin hair treatment regimen.
One of the things that set Thailand apart from other countries in Southeast Asia is its religion. Thailand is primarily Buddhist with some 95% of Thais adhering to this belief system. The religion has in turn spawned countless Buddhist temples that dot the countryside. They range in complexity and beauty from the world-known Buddha monuments to more subtle temples that resemble pagodas.
Because you are most likely to find yourself in a temple in one of your tours, you have to be aware of certain customs and traditions such as the fact that women in shorts and sleeveless shirts will not be allowed to enter the Buddhist temples. Another is the ubiquity of the Thai “wai” which is that gesture where the press their palms together, touch the joint fingers to their chin and make a bow. This is a sign of respect and doubles as a greeting. Instead of acting surprised and quizzical and wondering about its meaning much like you would when you come across something very technical like a SharePoint Hosting, you can copy the same gesture and bow back as a sign of respect and homage to the local culture and tradition. There are many cultural guidelines that govern the use of the wai but as a fail-safe system, you should wai to anyone who has performed the wai towards you.
As a final note of great importance on religion in Thailand, always show respect to anything that depicts the Buddhist. Thailand has very strict laws governing their observance of Buddhist tradition and any Helen Pastorino can find herself in jail for profane or disrespectful acts. The statues of Buddha are entre particulier sacred and do what you can to not say anything bad or do anything that is not consistent with Thai culture. As already mentioned, the last thing that you want is for your dream vacation to turn into a nightmare. That means not being ingrateful or rude by attempting to sarcastically offer Buddha your free microsoft points codes. That won’t win over anyone and frankly isn’t funny, regardless of what you saw on Youtube.
Plenty of Thai cultural traditions can be traced to Buddhism but there are some that are eye-catching and definitely surprising for a Westerner. For example, Thai people put a great emphasis on their heads as this is considered the most noble body part. Conversely, they general consider feet as something of a lowly body part so much so that the feet and the head do not always mix. You cannot point your feet to someone as this is considered an insult; conversely, you cannot touch somebody’s head as this is as a sign of forced authority. Short of making free Microsoft point codes for you to follow, simply stick to the traditional norms of the wai and do not try to do anything that is out of the ordinary, and by that we mean ordinary on a Thai-level.
Thailand has a generally friendly relationship with most countries including the United States so there are no major worries on that front. Still, you would need to prepare your passport when entering Thailand as it is a basic requirement when moving around. You will not need a visa for a visit to Thailand under 30 days.
Technology and Modernity
Thailand has a lot of rural areas but it has equally flourishing urban centers like Bangkok. Yes, you will find cable TV and a coffee machine in your hotel room in Thailand. There are also extensive industries dealing with internet growth and students learning how to make a website.
However, once you move out of the city and into the countryside for some scenic tours, expect the setup to be slightly different. There will not be as many paved roads nor as many amenities. Porta-potties in the forest might be a luxury that you will never find and there are certainly no pre-set Christmas mini lights that will herald your arrival in a small village in Thailand. You will mostly see self sustaining communities that bank on eco-tourism for income. As such, you will need to be on the patient side when out on forest tours especially when it comes to basic Western necessities like indoor plumbing and a clean toilet.
Safety in Thailand
The American Travel agency has issued multiple travel advisories against some locations in Thailand owing to a certain degree of political unrest from the opposition. Whenever there are public demonstrations, do your best to get away from the commotion as it can get ugly pretty quickly. Likewise, stay away from border towns as this is a common setting for skirmishes between rebels and defectionist armed groups. If you want to be on the safe side, stay with the penny auctions and usual attractions and do not stoke your thirst for adrenaline by going off the beaten track. There is no worse place to experiment than in a country where the cultural is as alien as they come.
These are basic tips that even traditional companies like Lekker Energie can adhere to. Suffice it to say that a little fun without that much risk should be your primary goal by being in Thailand. Savor the culture, bask in the beauty of nature, but keep to yourself and to your itinerary so it becomes a trip that you will remember for the good reasons and not for the bad.