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Last Updated On: 1/10/2012

When you are visiting Asian countries, you will notice that they all have very similar forms of etiquette and customs with only slight differences as you will note between Thailand and the Philippines.  Remember if you are ever unsure of what you should be doing, ask.

 thai culture


Shaking hands: The wai is the traditional way to greet.  You place both of your palms together as if you were praying, and make a slight bow.  This is done in acknowledgement of those in higher status than you—never to those in lower statuses such as teacher to student or guest to servers.  You must wait for your host to introduce you to others so that the other guests know how to place you in relation to their own status.  Eye to eye contact is slight.  Don’t ever stare.  Thai people would interpret a stare as an insult.

Flowers: While marigolds and carnations are very beautiful, do not give them as they have funerary significance.

Gift giving: it is not expected, but always appreciated.  Wrapping gifts in green is acceptable in India, but in Thailand green, black, or blue is what you would use for funeral purposes.

In the house: take off your shoes before going in, and you will definitely be looked upon with favor if you remember to step over the door frame, not on it. 

Dining: it is a communal event.  It is to be relaxing; you should eat slowly, enjoy yourself and the company.  It is customary and expected that the richest person in the room pays for the meal if you are eating at a restaurant.  Do not offer to contribute money for the bill like you might do in western countries, you will insult that person and their status.  Once you are told to partake of the meal, plan on trying a little bit of everything, but in small portions.



Shaking hands: both men and women can shake hands, but a man usually waits until the woman extends her hand first.  Shake lightly.  Many Asian countries have a gentle hand shake; anything else will be frowned upon.

Flowers: do not give chrysanthemums and white lilies as they have funerary significance

Gift giving: it is acceptable to give a gift, but like a thank you card—a day or two after the event

In the house: shoes are generally taken off before coming in.  Filipino people are very family oriented, and you will often find that it isn’t just immediate family that comes to visit or for a party, it is the whole family—aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews. 

Dining: Informal and communal.  Many eat with their hands.  Eat all your food off your plate, and never take the last piece from the serving bowl unless indicated to do so.  Meals are usually buffet style, and use a fork and spoon.  The fork is used to scrape food onto the spoon.


When you try to understand, and even participate in another culture, you are being respectful of where you are and the people you are among.

So remember, when taking international flights , make sure to keep these simple tips in mind.


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