Avoid these 2 Topics of Discussion in Thailand


King Bhumibol, former King of Thailand.


As Kelli and I settle into Chiang Mai Thailand I want to flesh out some farang 411.


If you are new here, enjoy! Thailand is a magical country.


The Land of Smiles is about:


  • love
  • warmth
  • generosity
  • politeness
  • fun


Face-saving culture and lese majeste law dictates you avoid 2 topics of discussion.


Or one core concept and one clear topic that you’d never broach unless you want trouble.


General Criticism


OK; this is not a clear topic per se. But a core concept you never should bring up in a public setting.


Thai culture is face saving. All about being nice to people in a public setting. Or all about never embarrassing someone because doing so would make them lose face.


Never try to humiliate, demean or shame a Thai person in public.


Do not be an asshole if your omelette is not to your like.


Customer service here in Thailand is different than then US or West for that matter. The customer can be ignored if the customer does not honor face saving ways.


Always be nice, pleasant and polite to Thai folks and to your fellow tourists and expats in a public setting. Save face. Honor the culture.


Thailand is not your home. Guest should honor face saving ways because the collective of Thai people all agree on this cultural quality in Thailand and you need to honor it too if you want enjoy your time in Thailand.


Best case scenario; someone ignores you.


Worst case scenario; someone gets nasty with you.


The worst case scenario is SO rare but I had to broach it because I recall a colorful expat here Chiang Mai originally from Brooklyn explaining how giving someone the finger in traffic and cursing them out could get ya shot if you shame and piss off the wrong dude.


Be nice. Be pleasant. Be polite.


Even if some situation maddens you, save the bitching and moaning until you return to the house, hotel or apartment.


Greg at Trip Savvy wrote an excellent article on face in Asia:


Saving Face, Losing Face


Never Talk Negatively about the Royal Family


Lese majeste laws are alive and well in Thailand.


Never say anything negative about the royal family.


The Crown is revered in Thailand.


Whether the King, Queen or anyone in the family, respect the throne.


Criticizing the royal family could lead you into dicey situations.


At a minimum you’d offend Thai folks, who revere the King, Queen and their children.


Become too critical and you look at fines and possible jail time.


I am not kidding.


You are in Thailand. Thailand has laws different from the United States or the West, where people can freely criticize virtually any citizen, from presidents on town.


Thailand has a different view on the royal family. Honor that.


Speak of the King, Queen and the fam only in a respectful, pleasant, complimentary light.


King Bhumibol, who passed on in 2016, helped unite Thailand during turbulent coups. I respected his unifying force, how the Thai people revered him and I also loved the fact that he brought so much awareness to the soi dog situation and canines in general, as he always had dogs as pets and was routinely photographed with pooches.


Thailand embraces King Maha Vajiralongkorn as he takes over as King of this fascinating, beautiful land.


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