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Local Customs in Bangkok

Welcome to the bustling city of Bangkok, where the aroma of sizzling street food dances with the scent of incense from ornate temples, and vibrant tuk-tuks vie for space with golden Buddhas.

Hang on to your hats, folks – or swap them for a traditional Thai pointed hat.

It’s time to dive headfirst into this effervescent metropolis’s local customs and traditions, where ancient and modern mix like coconut milk in a Tom Kha Gai soup.

Buckle up and prepare for a journey of epic proportions through the city that never sleeps – unless, of course, it’s during the nationwide afternoon siesta.

Local Customs in Bangkok

Certainly, Bangkok is a vibrant and culturally rich city with unique customs and traditions.

Here are some local customs and etiquette tips to keep in mind before visiting:

Greetings and Respect

The traditional Thai greeting is the “wai,” where you press your palms together in a prayer-like gesture and bow your head slightly.

The higher your hands are placed, the more respect you show.

Elders and monks should receive a higher wai. It’s also polite to return a wai if someone greets you this way.

Dress Modestly

While Bangkok is a modern city, it’s respectful to dress modestly, especially when visiting temples and religious sites.

Avoid wearing revealing clothing or beachwear in these areas. Women should cover their shoulders and knees, and men should avoid wearing sleeveless shirts.

Shoes Off

You should remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, a temple, or certain shops or businesses.

Look for a pile of shoes near the entrance as an indicator.

Monks and Temples

When visiting temples, show respect by dressing appropriately and behaving quietly.

It’s considered disrespectful to touch a monk, especially if you’re a woman, so maintain a respectful distance.

Feet and Head

The feet are considered the lowest part of the body and the head the highest.

Never point your feet at people or religious images; avoid touching people’s heads, even children’s.

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Public Displays of Affection

It’s best to avoid overt displays of affection in public areas, as this is considered inappropriate in Thai culture.


Be polite and respectful while bargaining is common in markets and small shops.

Don’t push too hard if the price isn’t dropping – remember that haggling is a part of the cultural experience, but not at the expense of being rude.

Gift Giving

When giving or receiving gifts, use both hands and show appreciation even for small offerings.

In Thailand, it’s common not immediately to unwrap a gift when received.

Eating Etiquette

Thais typically use a fork to push food onto a spoon rather than putting the fork in their mouths.

When dining with locals, it’s customary to share dishes rather than ordering individual meals. Don’t take more food than you can, as wasting food is disrespectful.

Respect for the King and Royal Family

Thai people have a deep reverence for their monarchy.

Always show respect when passing images of the King or Queen and during the playing of the national anthem.


Tipping is not widely practiced in Thailand, especially in local restaurants and markets.

However, leaving a small tip is appreciated in upscale restaurants, spas, and tourist areas.

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Public Behavior

Public disturbances, raising your voice in anger, and disrespectful behavior are frowned upon. Maintain a calm and composed demeanor in public.

By being mindful of these local customs and respecting Thai culture, you’ll have a more enjoyable and enriching experience during your visit to Bangkok.

In conclusion

So, there you have it, folks – your brief yet comprehensive guide to navigating Bangkok’s vibrant cultural maze.

Channel your inner calm when you’re overwhelmed by the bustling markets, remember to point with your chin and not your toes, and always treat a wai like a high-five – it’s just rude not to respond!

But remember, this is just the tip of the temple.

For a truly immersive experience and to ensure you don’t commit a cultural faux pas, I highly recommend reading my other guide – ‘Do’s and Don’ts in Bangkok – A Comprehensive Guide.’

Strap in for a journey that’s as spicy and satisfying as a bowl of Pad Thai. Because, in Bangkok, every day’s an adventure.

Happy travels, future Bangkokians!

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Matan Cohen
Matan Cohen

Hi, I'm Matan and I'm passionate about exploring the world. Bangkok is my favorite place - the sights, sounds, flavors and hospitality there are truly captivating! I'm an adventerous spirit who loves discovering new cultures and immersing myself in different environments. When I'm not traveling, you can find me reading a good book or enjoying some outdoor activities with friends.

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About Me
About Me

Hi, I’m Matan! I’m a world traveler passionate about exploring the beauty and culture that cities around the globe have to offer.

My favorite city in the world is Bangkok – it’s truly a magical place with its vibrant nightlife, fantastic food, diverse culture, and fascinating attractions. Whenever I visit Bangkok, I find something new and exciting to discover!

It’s my favorite destination worldwide, and I always look forward to my next opportunity to explore this incredible city.

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