Thailand Information

Thailand Information

Traveling in Thailand


Social Customs & Etiquette in Thailand 

Naming conventions

  • The first name is usually preceded by the word ‘Khun’ (pronounced ‘Koon’) which is used as a blanket term to refer to Miss, Mrs or Mr – for example, Khun Daisy or Khun John
  • People of importance, such as teachers, professors or monks, the first name should be preceeded with ‘Ajarn’
  • Surnames are reserved for very formal occasions or written documentation
  • It is not uncommon for Thais to assign nicknames to each other

Meeting & Greeting

  • The ‘wai’ is the traditional form of greeting, given by the person of lower status to the person of higher status
  • The wai is the common form of greeting and adheres to strict rules of protocol
  • Raising both hands, palms joined with the fingers pointing upwards as if in prayer, lightly touching the body somewhere between the chest and the forehead, is the standard form
  • The wai is both a sign of respect as well as a greeting. Respect and courtesy are demonstrated by the height at which the hands are held and how low the head comes down to meet the thumbs of both hands
  • The wai may be made while sitting, walking, or standing
  • The person who is junior in age or status is the first one to offer the wai
  • The senior person returns the wai, generally with their hands raised to somewhere around their chest
  • If a junior person is standing and wants to wai a senior person who is seated, the junior person will stoop or bow their head while making the wai
  • If there is a great social distance between two people, the wai will not be returned
  • If invited to a Thai home, then allow your host and hostess to introduce you to the other guests This enables other guests to understand your status relative to their own, and thus know who performs the wai and how low the head should be bowed