Thailand Gestures and Greetings

How do you greet someone in Thailand?


The traditional and most common greeting in Thailand is called the "wai". How the gesture is performed depends entirely on the relationship between the people, and there are many variations. Generally a person places the palms of the hands together, with fingers extended at chest level, and bows slightly. A younger person will greet first, and an older person will respond with a "wai" in a lower position. The higher one's hands are placed, the more respect is shown. Bows and curtsies are also more pronounced to show greater respect.

Thai typically address each other by first name and use last names for more formal circumstances.


Items especially gifts, are passed and received with the right hand only, never the left. Never raise your fingertips higher than your face. Do not step on a door sill when entering a building because Thais believe that a deity resides in the door sill and stepping there will offend that deity. When passing in front of someone in Thailand, especially an elderly or more senior person, lower your upper body slightly.


The person of highest social rank or age is treated with the greatest respect. In all cases, how one sits, walks, or otherwise interacts with others depends on the status of each person present. It is customary to remove one's shoes when entering a Buddhist temple or private home. When visiting one does not need to bring a gift, but it is not uncommon for guests on extended stays to present their hosts with a gift of appreciation. One does not stretch out their feet in front of them. Women generally tuck their legs to the side and behind them and men sit cross-legged.

Cultural Attributes

Traditionally, success is measured by a person's wealth and education. Wealth is generally looked on as a reflection of virtue. Thais are a reserved people and usually consider criticism of others to be poor taste. A sense of humor, laughter, and a pleasant, smiling attitude are highly regarded.

Wealth can be described in the following classes: Upper class: Can buy a big house downtown, have a European car or many cars, they can travel out of the country every few months for vacation. The medium wealth class can buy a house, have an SUV or sports car. Their children can attend an international school and they can travel up-country once a year. The poor typically rent a house in the "slum" community.

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Bangkok Thailand Statues in Thailand Woman delivering fruits and nuts in the market place Wat Prah Kaew Temple Imperial Palace in Bangkok Wat Run Temple Streetside shop sells dried squid The Kings Palace- Bangkok, Thailand Wat Arun Temple, Bangkok Mass transit near Poipet Man sells various brooms- Bangkok A monk rests near Bangkok Wat Pho Temple- Bangkok, Thailand Inside Wat Pho Temple Street merchant in Thailand Damnoen Saduak Floating Market A broken Tuk Tuk Taxi Buddhist monks, Bangkok, Thailand Dancers in Bangkok, Thailand Palace in Bangkok Coastal waters of Thailand A boat sits along the coast of Thailand. Elephant rides for the tourists. Floating restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand Stores sell goods along the water. Marketplace in Bangkok, Thailand Local artist, Bangkok, Thailand Taxi in Bangkok, Thailand A Buddhist temple in Thailand Tourists get an elephant ride. Thai Buddhist monks visit Khao Yai National Park Khao Yai National Park Young Thai monks at Buddhist monestery, Phitsanulok, Thailand Parade at Loy Krathong Festival in Sukhothai, Thailand Ko Phi Phi in southern Thailand Ko Phi Phi in southern Thailand Buddha image at Wat Phra Keo, Bangkok,Thailand Wat Urun at sunset, Bangkok, Thailand Thai women gather at Loy Krathong festival, Sukothai, Thailand Bangkok Train Terminal Taxi Dash -- Bangkok Bangkok Airport A man giving baby a bath 2 houses on stilts, Hill Tribe area of Northern Thailand A young girl with carrier Family Kids 2 youths on bench - neck rings

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2019 edition