11 temple manners in Thailand you’d better follow
Visiting famous Thai temples is one of the must-try things you do upon arriving in Thailand. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to come to these places as all temples in Thailand welcome tourists to visit. However, if you are a foreigner, there are some basic temple manners in Thailand that you need to know to behave properly and avoid entrance rejection.
1. Dress modesty, no tank tops, shorts, or short clothes
Temples are sacred places in a Buddism country like Thailand. As such, you are required to dress politely without revealing your shoulder or your whole legs. Temple management may reject your entry if you wear tank tops, shorts, or short clothes. Sometimes, at the entrance of temples, there is a place for sarong service, so you can borrow/ rent to wear before entering the temples.
2. Keep silent
Keeping silent, especially in the main temple hall, is required because temples are places where people pray and meditate. As a result, you’d better avoid loud voices and turn your phone to silent mode if possible.
3. Take off your shoes, hat, and sunglasses
Every temple has a place for shoes before you enter the main halls or other side halls. You’d better take off your shoes to show your respect to Buddha and keep the sacred atmosphere at the place. It’s fine to have your sock on. The same rules apply to hats and sunglasses, especially upon entering the main hall.
4. Do not point with your fingers or feet
Pointing to people, monks, or Buddha images is strictly not allowed in temples, even with your fingers or feet. This action is considered rude and disrespectful. Moreover, the foot is the body’s lowest part, which is dirty, so people avoid using the feet to indicate others. If you want to indicate a place, a person, or a thing, you should use your right hand’s palm facing upwards.
5. Mind your seat
When you sit in a temple, never sit higher than a monk because monks are Budda’s disciples. Men should sit with cross legs and women should kneel with their toes facing backward.
6. Do not touch
It is inappropriate and disrespectful to touch or climb on Buddha statues. If you would like to take pictures, you should keep a proper distance as well.
7. Do not express affection
In Thai culture, it’s improper to express affection in the public. Also, a temple is sacred and tranquil. As a result, you should strictly avoid expressing affection in temples.
8. Do not smoke or drink alcohol
Again, temples are sacred places, so smoking and alcohol drinking is prohibited in or around the temple area.
9. Take photos only when allowed
Taking photos of Buddha images or statues is allowed in all temples in Thailand. However, some worshiping area does not allow photo taking. You’d better read the notice in the temple to make sure you only take photos when allowed.
Taking selfies at the temple or taking photos of people praying is disrespectful, you should avoid it. If you want to take a photo of or with a monk, you’d better ask for their permission beforehand as well.
10. Be respectful in the temples
Thai people usually do “Wai” 3 times to show their respect to the Buddha. For your information, Wai is an action of bringing 2 hands together like when you pray and light bow to the head – as a polite form. If you don’t know how to do so, bowing to a Buddha statue/ a monk is enough. You should always make sure that you keep your head below the level of Buddha image, monks, or nuns to show respect to them.
11. Give a donation
Every temple has small boxes for donation. If you love the place and enjoy the trip, so a donation is nice and welcomed
Additional tips for women
- Never touch a monk or his clothes
- Never give anything to a monk directly; you are better to leave it in someplace or hand it to a man to pass through the monk.
- Never sit next to a monk. This is considered disrespectful
- Not allowed to enter some places of the temple due to respect purposes. If you are a woman, make sure you read the temple rules carefully
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