Well renowned as one of the world’s tropical paradises, Thailand is rich with natural resources, modernized infrastructure, service-minded people, technology and flawless hospitality. Nowadays, Thailand has become a new rising star in medical tourism. According to Tourism Authority of Thailand, the number of foreign patients accounted for 2.5 million, making Thailand the leader of ASEAN medical tourism. By the way, Thailand is a country with long history and unique tradition. To make the most out of your visit, there are sensible things to know before commencing your journey here.
There are nice things to do and great tips to know. Right when you meet people, extra respect or polite gesture should be concerned particularly with the elderly. Thais do not shake hands, but instead, they usually wai (putting palms together like a prayer gesture and slightly lower the head). Entering into someone’s house or a Buddhist assembly hall strictly requires you to take the shoes off. As you dine with Thai friends from a good social class (or at a luxury eatery) and the meal features several dishes to be shared, using the ‘communal spoon’ placed at each dish to transfer a spoonful amount of such food into your plate before eating is highly recommended.
Unlike some European countries, Thailand highly respects the monarchy. Generally people only talk about the royal members in a positive way. If you want to initiate a discussion on the monarchy, try mentioning the royal graces of the late King Bhumibol (King Rama IX) and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, who have contributed so much to the country. Most Thais are happy to talk about it.
Another thing that Thai people pay respect is Buddhist priests and temples. Visiting temples requires polite attire. Ladies must avoid shorts and skirts, as well as all types of revealing tops. Pants or skirts must cover the knees. Men should avoid all sorts of singlets and ripped jeans. Trousers must cover the knees. Ladies must not touch a monk in all circumstances.
Sitting in the public requires a little manner. Putting the leg or foot on table is considered rude and dirty. According to Thai customs, mind the feet as you sit on temple floor, because they are considered the least respectable thing in human body. On the contrary, head is the most sacred and should not be made fun of or played with. In case of anger, avoid pointing the finger into someone’s face as things can get worse. As you shop at markets, do not negotiate the price if you don’t really want the item.
Beside these, Thai people are easy-going. They are friendly to foreigners and willing to help. However, there are precautions. Always avoid touts and too-good-to-be-true offers. Reject food or drinks you don’t reckon the production source. Commuting in Bangkok can be a little tiring due to regular heat and polluted air in high traffic areas.
If you need help while wandering without a tour guide or assistance, types of people you can reach out are people in office costume, students in uniform, employees of commercial places, besides tourist police, who, more often than not, are only found in Old Bangkok areas and main attractions. By and large, Thailand is a perfect destination, either for vacation or medical tourism. The quality of services is often found better or equal than in the US and European countries. Despite Singapore and Malaysia are interesting alternatives, their costs are significantly not competitive and vacation options after treatment are limited.