Thailand50 - Culture Language

Thai Culture

Thailand's culture is about more than music and paintings. It arises from a complex system of mutual respect and politeness that binds the country's people together.

Of course, the vast majority (approx 95%) of Thais are Buddhists. Although there are many Malay decent Muslims in the south, and even hill tribe (Karen) in the north and western Burmese border area. The traditional Thai greeting is the "wai" (like putting your hands together to pray, but higher and lowering your head). And all Thai's love their King and find any detrimental action or word against either him, or their religion particularly offensive, even provocative. So you should always pay utmost respect to both. Thais lead simple lives and are easily pleased. While Thailand is an up and coming economic wonder based to UK finance database Motley Fool projections, Thais remain rooted to their simple and quiet lives.

Thai culture is based on respect for seniority, whether in terms of age, status or wealth. However, monks receive absolute deference and it is common to see healthy young monks sitting on buses while elderly passengers stand. Seniority has different forms: younger people respect elders, the poor look up to the rich, and common citizens defer to politicians and high ranking military personnel. Seniority in years is sometimes unclear, so Thais often ask a personís age. With seniority established, the older person may address the younger as nong, and the younger person may address the older as pii.

A traditional greeting is the wai, made by pressing the fingers and palms together at chest level while slightly bowing the head. The wai serves several functions: saying hello, showing respect to a senior and asking forgiveness. A wai is always returned, unless it is from a child.

Keeping calm is important, and outward displays of anger are unwelcome. People generally overlook minor misdeeds, and even major offences are dealt with as discreetly as possible. Patience is a virtue.

A Few tips:

Smile. Thais smile for all occasions: To say hello or thank you, to apologize, to make a request, to smooth over bad feelings. And even because they're happy.

Dress modestly. Thais now understand that Americans may show up in shorts and tank tops in public, but would never do so themselves. Wearing long pants, and clean, neat clothes, will gain you an extra measure of respect.

Don't wai unless you know what you're doing. The wai ó the slight bow with fingertips touching in front of one's face or chest ó is a greeting, and a way of showing respect or thanks. But it's more complicated than that. If you return a wai to someone of much lower social status you may well cause both yourself and them embarrassment. in most cases a westerner can just smile instead of doing a wai.

Show respect for religion, for the Buddha, and for monks. Donít wear shorts or tank tops to a temple. It's considered improper for women to touch a monk. Don't arrange a comical pose of yourself with a Buddha; tourists have been arrested for such offenses.

Do not touch anyone on the head, a spot which is considered sacred.

Do not point your feet at anyone. (Itís easy to do so unthinkingly when you sit cross-legged in a chair, or sit on the floor.) Feet, located at the opposite end of the body from the head, have an opposite status. Don't use your feet for anything except walking, and keep those feet off the furniture. (If you're studying to become a Thai kick-boxer, you need a more exhaustive website.)

Do speak quietly and gesture softly. Loud voices, calling attention to yourself, pointing at people or things, throwing things, and making big hand gestures, all seem graceless to the Thai sensibility. In the U.S., making a scene might get results. Here, it gets you avoided.

Do not lose your cool. At times, everything will move more slowly than you think it should. To show irritation or frustration will only make things worse.


Thai is the national language of Thailand, spoken by around eighty percent of the sixty million residents of the South-East Asian country. Thai spoken language is believed to have originated in the area which is now the border between Vietnam and China

The written Thai Language was introduced by the third Sukothai period king, Ramkamhaeng, in 1283. This writing system has undergone little change since its introduction, so inscriptions from the Sukothai era can be read by modern Thai readers. The writing was based on Pali, Sanskrit, and Indian concept.

Within Thailand, there are four major dialects, corresponding to the southern, northern ("Yuan"), northeastern (close to Lao language), and central regions of the country; the latter is called Central Thai or Bangkok Thai and is taught in all schools, is used for most television broadcasts, and is widely understood in all regions. Nowadays, English is also taught in all public schools.

Thai is tonal, unlike English. This means that each word has a certain pitch characteristic with which it must be spoken to be properly understood. The Thai language uses five tones, called mid, low, high, rising, and falling.

The grammar of the Thai language is considerably simpler than grammar in Western languages, and for many students, this makes up for the additional difficulty of tones.

Many westerners do not make time to learn written Thai, focusing instead only on speaking. If this is the way you proceed ensure that you start you learning from an accredited source so that the pronunciation you start to learn is the correct one.

Thai is a great language to learn and you will fine that the Thai people will smile and give you great respect for taking the time to learn even a few simple sentences.

Handy Phrases

The phrases below will help you on your initial visit to Thailand, you will be surprised at the response you will get for having taken the effort to learn a few simple Thai words and phrases

Thai Phrases. Click the play button to listen to the sounds
English Thai (Phonetic) Listen
Hello / Good Morning Sawasdee  
Thank You (male) Khorb koon Khrap  
Thank You (female) Khorb koon Kha  
Sorry Khor Tort  
No Problem Mai Pen Rai  
Thats Right (male) Chaiy Laew Khrap  
Thats Right (female) Chaiy Laew Khrap  
My Name is Chan Shoo (your name)  
What is Your Name Khun Shoo Arai (Khrap / Kha)