When one arrives in Phuket (or Thailand for that matter) it is advantageous to acquire brochures indicating the ‘what’s, where’s and why’s’ of that area. A few ‘pointers’ from one such booklet are …
Codes of Behaviour
Thai’s are flexible in nature and understand very well that foreigners are not aware of their code of behaviour. Mostly, they are too polite to complain about anything you do out of ignorance. But to earn some respect from their side, it is important to show proper behaviour.
Showing Respect – Monarchy & Religion
Most important is to show respect for the monarchy. Thai people are very loyal to the royal family. Their religion should be respected as well. Temples, Buddha statues or monks (it is not allowed for a woman to touch a monk, for example) are to be revered. Buddhist and Chinese shrines are open to foreigners but please dress appropriately when visiting. Shorts and sleeveless tops are discouraged. A non-Muslim can enter a mosque except during prayer time. Thai’s are amenable to being photographed but, always ask first. Monks can be photographed and Buddhist ceremonies as well, with prior consent. Thai’s regard the feet of lower stature so do not point them at others or step over those seated or lying. Likewise, the head is of high stature and should not be touched or slapped.
Private Properties, Shops, Temples, etc. – a general rule is to remove your shoes before entering – if you see shoes at the entrance to an establishment please remove yours !
Tipping and Bargaining
Although tipping is not expected or required, it is a nice gesture to leave a small amount when you receive good service. Most restaurants, bars, supermarkets, etc. and larger hotels do not offer discounts. On the other hand, independent small businesses, from jewellery stores to street vendors, and taxi’s and tuk-tuks, are open to bargaining. However, do not take a discount for granted right from the start and ensure that all discussions are done in a friendly manner.
Thailand is a country in the tropical region, so light, loose cotton clothing is most recommended – long sleeves are a good idea for evenings / mountainous areas or national parks as protection from mosquitos and other insects.
Thailand is one of the friendliest and safest travel destinations in the world. Your personal safety is taken well care of in Phuket and the tourist police demonstrate a polite and competent attitude all around.