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Respect for Royalty in Bangkok and Other Local Customs

Respect for Royalty

People in Bangkok respect royalty and are extremely polite.

Royal Family

It’s a crime to speak disrespectfully of any member of the royal family.

National Anthem

Stand still when the national anthem is played publicly twice a day, and before films and performances.


Politeness reigns supreme. Follow common courtesy. Speak softly and don’t laugh loudly. Treat bank notes bearing the king’s image with respect.

Thais smile for many reasons- to apologize, smooth things over, say “hello” or “thank you,” make a request, or show embarrassment.

Never touch people’s heads, point your feet at anything or anyone, or step over anyone.

Body odor is considered offensive.

During holidays and celebrations, you’ll encounter greater crowd volumes than in the West. Expect pushing and shoving, but know they mean no harm.

Respect Religion

Buddhism is the national religion. All Buddha images are considered sacred and there are laws against removing them, except for personal worship. Don’t wear shorts and tank tops in temples, and remove your shoes before entering. Women should never touch a monk.


Thailand’s social hierarchy places the king at the top and laborers at the bottom. When they meet, a superior’s head must always be higher than an inferior’s. Bow to show respect. Elders are higher on the social ladder. Uniforms and military paraphernalia are highly-esteemed.

Getting Around

Sidewalks are uneven. Stray dogs leave “landmines.” Motorists drive on the left, and roads are narrow. Metered taxis are the best option. Tuktuks are more expensive. When cabs are marked, “We speak English,” they usually don’t, but the dispatcher knows a little. Negotiate fares for long distances.

Editor’s Note:  The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about respect for royalty in Bangkok.

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