A couple of Thai cultural questions

Old Nov 10th, 2015, 08:09 AM
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A couple of Thai cultural questions

When I travel, I like to be respectful of local customs/culture. Is it appropriate for a tourist to use the wai gesture, and if so, in what circumstances? Also, I know that temples require appropriate attire, no bare shoulders, knees covered. However, I read in my guidebook that Wat Phra Kaew/Temple of the Emerald Buddha, doesn't allow sandals. Is this true, and is it true of other wats as well? I had the idea that you might be asked to remove your shoes. I really want to be able to wear sandals but don't want to be denied admission anywhere. Thanks.
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 11:32 AM
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>Wat Phra Kaew/Temple of the Emerald Buddha, doesn't allow sandals. Is this true, and is it true of other wats as well

You can walk around the temple grounds in any footwear. It is only when you are actually entering the wat itself you need to remove your shoes. It's easy - you will see an area where everyone put their shoes. And when you enter, stay low, don't stand up.

>Is it appropriate for a tourist to use the wai gesture, and if so, in what circumstances?
The complexity of who and when you 'wai' is something you will learn along the way.

Two easy ones:
1. Definite _never_ wai a child.
2. Wai back if someone wai at you, except if they are a waiter/waitress/taxi driver
3. Don't wai everybody
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 11:32 AM
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can't count - 3 easy ones.
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 12:11 PM
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Thanks, Phil. I thought it seemed strange that they want you to remove your shoes but yet would not allow sandals.
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 06:19 PM
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No footwear allowed in the actual temple.

This is pretty standard cultural practice in Thailand and includes removing your footwear before entering the house.

Sandal is footwear.
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 06:27 PM
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Dress code: Visitors are required to dress appropriately. These following clothes are strictly not allowed as outer garments for both ladies and gentlemen:
1. Shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, tight fitting trousers, and tights
2. See-through shirts and blouses, as well as culottes or quarter length trousers
3. Sleeveless shirts or vests
4. Sandals (without ankle or heel straps)
5. Rolled-up-sleeved shirts
6. Sweatshirts and sweatpants, wind-cheaters, pajamas and fisherman trousers
http://www.tourismthailand.org/See-a...and-Palace--52
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Old Nov 10th, 2015, 09:11 PM
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>4. Sandals (without ankle or heel straps)

Hmmm... sandals are not sandals if they don't have heel/ankle strap I would have thought. Maybe they mean thongs/flip flops. Thais are notoriously bad at translations.

Although now, when Googling I see some women's sandals without straps.

Not sure how strict they are with enforcing the sandal thing but they are definitely strict on the shorts/see through clothing etc
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Old Nov 12th, 2015, 05:05 AM
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My sandals have a strap, so I guess I'm safe.
I did think you had to remove footwear to enter the temple, which is why I didn't understand the no-sandal thing. Thanks.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 04:08 AM
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At various Thai temples i have seen only barefoot and socks. Nothing else on the foot. A good policy, IMO. And at many temple toilets you will need to swap footwear for the offered ones, freely available. Don't forget, many, maybe all the monks may go around barefoot most of the time, so why should they walk on the roadgrime you bring into their temple.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 06:39 AM
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jobin, I have no problem with the practice of removing shoes. I just didn't understand why sandals weren't allowed, meaning you had to have close-toed shoes, if you were going to remove them anyway.
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Old Nov 13th, 2015, 09:37 PM
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here are some updated paragraphs from a post I made some years back...

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...g-thailand.cfm

Most people "wai" incorrectly and end up "wai-ing" themselves!

17. MANNERS - Check up on Thai manners and customs – this will earn you more respect from the locals. - Keep up some dress sense – how you dress in Thailand is quite important. Don’t go topless without checking out if it’s acceptable where you are – usually it’s frowned upon. You’ll notice that Thai women (even sex workers) are very modest in public – they usually swim fully clothed.

Table manners – Thais tend to eat from communal dishes in the centre of the table – don’t just pour everything onto your own plate!

Body language - Don’t point your feet at people – the body is seen as hierarchical and the feet are the lowest part and should not be waved about (this is like a “fingers up” sign). Before entering someone’s home you must take off your shoes; this also applies to some shops and businesses. - Never take a shoe off and wave it at someone – this could lead a serious altercation. It is also impolite to touch people on the head.

18. The King - Don’t knock the royal family – even in jest.


19. Greeting - Wai - as a foreigner, it’s not really necessary to “Wai” people - the Thai greeting - as you’ll probably get it wrong. If they “wai” you, you might try a wai back.

20. SMILE! - Remember, this is the Land of Smiles and you will find everything goes much better when you have a smile on your face - whatever the situation….
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Old Nov 15th, 2015, 02:13 AM
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The sandal issue at the Emerald Buddha is really just flip-flops - for some reason, these are considered disrespectful. (Several of the restaurants for which I made online reservations this trip specified no flip-flops.)
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Old Nov 16th, 2015, 05:17 AM
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Thanks, Kathie, mine aren't flip flops, so I should be OK.

Thanks, khunwilko, I had read a lot of what you listed, so I will keep those things in mind.
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