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  The Basics

Thailand is much more than Bangkok and Phuket, as you can see from this map, courtesy of There are many famous places in Thailand and they are all worth visiting. But the real beauty of Thailand is its people. Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles and this is certainly true, even when things are really bad the Thais are smiling.

Thailand is largely Buddhist, with a large Muslim population in the south near Malaysia. This area has been the site of much unrest recently including bombings and shootings so only go there is you have to and only on an organised tour. The rest of Thailand is very safe as long as you follow the normal rules of safety and security. Don’t be fooled by the smiles, Thai criminals are as, if not more, mercenary and violent as criminals anywhere.

There are some basic do’s and don’ts in Thailand which will earn you the respect of the locals if you follow them:

  Always show respect for older people, they have lived long and must have wisdom to do so, and one day we may all be old too. If attending a function with elders, always allow them to be served, fed and catered for first, and greet them first too.

  Always carry ‘Beggar Money’, a few Baht here and there will get you a kind smile and you may even get some credit in the karma bank. As a rule don’t give to the traffic touts or the maimed baby beggars, these tend to be organised touts and usually a front for pick-pockets, so walk fast and hold on to your valuables.

  Never touch a Thai on the head; Never show the soles of your feet or point with them.

  Books contain much wisdom so always treat them with respect as well, don’t stand on a book or deface it, you will horrify your hosts, guests or colleagues with this action.

  The King is revered to a level many westerners would never understand, never say anything derogatory about him, never step on a bank note, it has the Kings picture on it.

  Don’t feel obliged to do the ‘wai’ which is the traditional Thai greeting with the hands in a prayer like pose. Unless it is done correctly it is not appreciated. Use your own traditional greeting, or just nod your head and say Hello or Thank You.

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