Visiting a Thai home

Thai Culture Information

To your delight, you receive an invitation from a Thai friend to visit his or her home. Here are some things you should know before you say, "Yes, I would love to."

Do bring a small gift for your hosts or their children. No need to break the bank - it can be something as simple as fruit or some sweets or cake. This is more polite than going there empty-handed. 

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Dos

Do accept a little food and drink when it's offered. Even if you have just had a huge lunch, take a nibble or two of any snacks laid out, and a few sips of any drink you are offered. Thais are famed for their warm hospitality. They themselves like to eat, and they like to make sure that no guest ever goes hungry or thirsty, so don't disappoint them by refusing offers that are made from the heart.

Do let the oldest people in the gathering take food first before you jump in. If you are invited to join the family for lunch or dinner, be aware, too, that one of the most important table manners in Thailand is to make sure that the oldest person is the first to sit at the table, usually at the head of it.

Do take off you shoes before you enter the house. That's the custom in Thailand when entering someone's home and also other places such as wats and some offices (a clue: if there are lots of shoes lying outside the door, you're about to enter a barefoot zone). Don't be surprised, if you visit a Thai school, to see students leaving their shoes just outside the classroom and walking in with just their socks on. This is an everyday thing for Thais. Why? No one is quite sure, but in the old days, most Thais houses - and indeed, most buildings of any kind - were built from wood, with beautiful wooden floors. Imagine the homeowner's feelings if you stomped all over them in your grubby boots, scuffing the wax and leaving muddy footprints all over. Today, even though few houses are made of wood any more, the custom is still a practical one for keeping people's homes clean.

Don'ts

Don't step on the raised threshold of a doorway. Thais believe that it will bring you bad luck if you do. There's also a more practical explanation: you could stumble and fall - proof that the Thais are right. It is bad luck to step on a threshold.

Don't wear all black for a visit, even if black is the only color that suits you and is the only color that makes you look slim. Black is the color people wear at funerals. Many Thais are taken aback and cannot understand why, in Hollywood movies or Western TV shows, some people wear black to happy functions such as weddings. In Thailand a grandmother would be most upset if her granddaughter came to her 60th birthday wearing a little black dress. Grandma and other older relatives would be forced to the conclusion that the girl expects to be at grandma's funeral very soon - in fact, right now. So wear something cheerful.

Dos And Don'ts in Thailand

 Do take off you shoes before you enter the house. That's the custom in Thailand when entering someone's home and also other places such as wats and some offices (a clue: if there are lots of shoes lying outside the door, you're about to enter a barefoot zone). Don't be surprised, if you visit a Thai school, to see students leaving their shoes just outside the classroom and walking in with just their socks on. This is an everyday thing for Thais. Why? No one is quite sure, but in the old days, most Thais houses - and indeed, most buildings of any kind - were built from wood, with beautiful wooden floors. Imagine the homeowner's feelings if you stomped all over them in your grubby boots, scuffing the wax and leaving muddy footprints all over. Today, even though few houses are made of wood any more, the custom is still a practical one for keeping people's homes clean.

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