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Thais welcome visitors but seek mutual respect

Thai Tells Tourists: Stay Dressed and Keep Cool

Thursday, February 21, 2008
THAI smiles hide a lot. A respected friend who holds a senior job with an important organisation on the island has decided to go public because of her increasing frustration with farangs.

Visitors, it seems, just don't take the time to learn the culture of the country in which they are guests.

After years of putting up with the bad manners of foreigners, my friend eventually decided enough was enough. She has written a letter to Rotary and Phuketwan.

What she has to say is written ''through the eyes of a Thai woman.''

Do's and Don'ts on Phuket

Don't take off your clothes in public, even on the beach. I know you just want to change your clothes and it will take only a couple of minutes, but ''us Thai people'' are on the beach, too. Can't you just go to the restroom or at least wear a towel while you are changing? And please don't think that we are rude if we start staring at you. No, we don't think you have an adorable body. We actually think that you are ruining the beautiful beach scenery.

Do stand up in movie theatres to pay homage to Our King when you hear the royal national anthem before the movie starts. You will never understand how much we love Our King. You have to be born Thai to understand that. And whether you are a tourist or expatriate, I am grateful for the money you spend and the know-how you bring to my little country. We certainly need that. But if you can't respect the King of the land you are living in, you should go back to wherever you are from. My country will be fine without people like you.

Don't expect that every Thai can speak perfect English. When you speak English to Thais, we will be trying to talk to you. Just give us some time to translate that into Thai then translate it back to English. Then we need a little more time to arrange the sentence, or phrase. We are trying our best. Don't get annoyed, and please don't say 'Don't you people understand English.' This would be my answer: 'No, not every Thai can understand English, especially English accents. You know why? Because Thailand has never been a colony or part of the British Commonwealth.'

Don't get mad if Thais call you 'Papa' or 'Mama.' We don't mean to make you feel old. In Thai culture we respect our elders. We call you 'Papa' or 'Mama' to show you that we respect you, just as we respect our parents.

Don't rent and ride a motorbike for the first time in your life and try to go from Patong to Phuket City. Some have made the journey well enough - straight to a hospital. Many end up in intensive care or, if they get lucky, they walk out of the hospital all wrapped up, like a mummy.

Don't assume that every Thai woman you see in Patong is a prostitute. As a Thai citizen, I think I have every right to be in Patong as much as a tourist. I still can't figure out yet why I have to be asked 'How much?' by some male tourists. I really want to say, 'The same price as your mother.' But I don't, because tourism is an important business in Phuket. Yet it doesn't make sense for me to be asked that question by a stranger.

Now you know why I am frustrated in my own country.

Do you have a comment you'd like to add? Phuketwan would be delighted to hear from you


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Well spoken. I agree with you and I hope that my fellow tourists from Sweden and everywere read this.

Posted by winter on March 24, 2008 22:55


Very well written! I can totally understand your frustration! I have to agree with you on these points you`re making, and sometimes I`m ashamed of being a tourist! You`re not the only one who feels this way! I do too!

I too can get very angry with people who are ordering food topless or getting angry when they think people are trying to trick them.

Once I was at a funeral and some tourists showed up in the temple in bikini!!! Rude!

But you have to try to think that all people are not like that! Only the ignorrant! They don`t know what they are doing, but I think that sooner or later, they learn and hopefully change their ways!
You will never change these people, only your own way of looking at it. You`re the one getting angry and feeling sad, and that`s not good for you.

But one thing, when someone asks you "how much?", I really think you should ask that person how come they ask you that question! Make them answer you, and make them realize what they just did!

And instead of smiling and letting it go, tell the people to put their clothes on! Tell them to change, otherwise, they`ll never know they did something wrong. I have done that, and the people I have told have always appologized and felt bad.

In my culture (scandinavian) it`s normal to tell people when they`re doing something wrong, and you expect people to do it. So that`s why people can get a bit confused when they come to a place where it looks like they accept it.

Just remember, there is a way to say things, and a way not to ;)

Posted by Sandra on March 25, 2008 16:01

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