Etiquette

Polite behaviour is welcomed everywhere, and what is considered polite in other countries is probably considered polite in Thailand, too.

However, there and a few cultural pitfalls, mainly social and religious taboos, the breaking of which can cause offence: For example,

- Thais revere their royal family. Even social malcontents who ignore legal and community standards refuse to tolerate a faintly implied slight on the Thai monarchy.

- Outward expressions of anger are regarded as crude and boorish. The visitor who remains calm and smiles appreciatively will find all sorts of doors open to him.

-Visitors should dress neatly in all religious shrines. They should never go shirtless, or in shorts, hot pants or other unsuitable attire.

- Shoes should be removed when entering private Thai homes;
chapels where Buddhist images are kept; and any of the Islamic community's mosques.

- Each Buddha image, large or small, ruined or not, is regarded as being a sacred object. Never climb onto one to take a photograph or do anything that might show lack of respect.

- Public displays of affection between men and women
are frowned upon. Westernised Thai couples may hold hands but that's as far as it goes in polite society.

- It is considered rude
to point your foot a person or object.

-Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body, both literally and figuratively. Therefore, they do not appreciate anyone patting them there, even as a friendly gesture.

:: Current Advisories & Health Risks


AIDS/HIV :

An explosive increase of HIV infection has occurred in commercial sex workers, of whom 14-72% is now zero positive. The majority of patients are heterosexual. Thailand now has the highest number of officially-reported AIDS cases in Southeast Asia. Blood used for transfusion in Thailand is checked for the AIDS virus.
 
Accidents & Medical Insurance :

  • Accidents and injuries are the leading cause of death among travellers under the age of 55 and are most often caused by motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes; drowning, aircraft crashes, homicides, and burns are lesser causes.
  • Heart attacks cause most fatalities in older travellers.
  • Infections cause only 1% of fatalities in overseas travellers, but, overall, infections are the most common cause of travel-related illness.
  • MEDICAL INSURANCE: Travellers are advised to obtain, prior to departure, supplemental travel health insurance with specific overseas coverage. The policy should provide for direct payment to the overseas hospital and/or physician at the time of service and include a medical evacuation benefit. The policy should also provide 24-hour hotline access to a multilingual assistance centre that can help arrange and monitor delivery of medical care and determine if Mede vac or air ambulance services are required.
  • NOTE: Bangkok is sometimes called "the gridlock city" because of its chaotic traffic. The traffic is left hand (as in England) and there is a high incidence of accidents and pedestrian injury. All drivers should be alert, and seat belts should be worn at all time.

Animal Hazards :
Animal hazards include snakes (kraits, vipers, and cobras), centipedes, scorpions, and black widow spiders. (Snake bite antivenin is available from the Thai Red Cross.) Other possible hazards include tigers, leopards, crocodiles, pythons, poisonous toads and frogs, and large, aggressive lizards. Stingrays, jellyfish, and several species of poisonous fish (puffer, goblin, stone, toad, scorpion, pig, porcupine, and box jellyfish) are common in the country's coastal waters and are potentially hazardous to unprotected or careless swimmers. Large sharks are common on the Andaman (Indian Ocean) side. There are no saltwater crocodiles in Thailand.

Cholera :
Sporadic cases may occur. Cholera is an extremely rare disease in travellers from developed countries. Cholera vaccine is recommended primarily for people at high risk (e.g., relief workers) who work and live in highly endemic areas under less than adequate sanitary conditions.

  • The manufacture and availability of the inject able cholera vaccine in the United States ceased in June 2000.
  • Many countries, including Canada, license an oral cholera vaccine. The oral vaccine is not available in the United States.
  • Cholera vaccine is not "officially" required for entry into, or exit from, any country. Despite this, some countries, on occasion, require proof of cholera vaccination from travellers coming from cholera-infected countries. Anticipating such a situation, certain travellers may wish to carry a medical exemption letter from their health-care provider.

Travel Medicine, Inc., recommends that travellers use the International Certificate of Vaccination (Yellow Card) for this purpose, having their health-care provider state "exempt from cholera vaccine" and validate the exemption with both their signature and their official stamp (the "Uniform Stamp" in the United States).
 
Dengue Fever :

Highly endemic, and a risk for travellers. Peak infection rates occur in the rainy season, between June and August, countrywide, but particularly in north-eastern Thailand. Dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever are major health problems both in Thailand and throughout SE Asia. Prevention is by avoiding daytime mosquito bites.
 
Filariasis :
Both the Malayan and Bancroftian varieties occur in scattered areas, primarily the southern peninsular coastal provinces, the central provinces of Sisaket and Surin, and the forested areas along the Thailand-Burma border. Travellers should prevent mosquito bites.
 
Hepatitis :

Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all no immune travellers. Hepatitis E is endemic, with seroposivity rates of 22% in adults. There is no vaccine for hepatitis E. The hepatitis B carrier rate in the adult general population is about 9%. The usual traveller without lifestyle problems is at virtually no risk of acquiring hepatitis B virus (HBV), but vaccination is recommended for sexual tourists, long-term visitors, and anybody wanting increased protection. Hepatitis C is endemic and is largely transmitted by blood products and body fluids. Like HBV, hepatitis C carries no increased risk for travellers who have a normal lifestyle.