Thais working in the tourism business are used to dealing with foreigners — usually referred to as 'farang'. This doesn't mean that they like everything they see and hear. Politeness goes a long way — as does keeping your cool. Thailand's a hot country and it's a world away from the western way of thinking — things take time, so be patient. Never, ever get into an argument with locals. Walk away and count your losses later. Wounded pride is better than a stay in hospital...
Phuket society is a mixture of Buddhist and Muslim communities; in both cultures nudity or excessive 'romantic' behaviour are no-no's, so don't be tempted to sunbathe nude; for the girls, you're advised not even to sunbathe topless, although there are some areas where this is tolerated — although illegal. Best advice is to be aware of what's going on around you and follow suit. Sex on the beach is a delightful cocktail and a successful tune — but in Thailand the real thing will get you arrested if caught.
The head is the most revered part of the body; don't ruffle anyone's hair unless you're intimate friends. The feet are the 'lowest' part of the body and yours should NEVER be pointed at a Thai — especially at his or her head. Feet on the table are totally BAD! Try to remember this one all the time.
When you're about to enter a small shop or other place of business, take a look at the floor outside the door. If you find shoes scattered everywhere, add yours to them. Thais don't wear shoes indoors — to them this is the height of 'dirtiness'; some extend this to their place of business.
You'll be surprised how just a little awareness of Thai customs puts you head and shoulders above the average tourist.
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