Respect & Family Culture
In Thailand

Respect & Family Culture in Thailand

Thai culture is heavily influenced by Buddhism, ancestral beliefs and spirits. As well, there are also some traditions or rituals that visitors may not know about in regards to how Thais behave in and around their families. Here are some:


  • The Wai: The Wai is a customary Thai greeting.  It is traditionally given by a younger person to an elder, by putting the hands together with a slight bow of the head. One of the reasons a Thai might ask your age when you first meet, is to figure out if you are older than them, so they know if they (or you) should initiate the wai greeting. You should not wai to someone younger as Thais believe it can reduce that person’s lifespan. Even if you mistakenly wai someone who is younger than you, you may apologise. The wai can also be used for saying goodbye, apologising or thanking someone.

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  • Strong family bond: Like most Asian cultures, Thais are closer to their families than most westerners.  This shows in every aspect of their lives from communications to eating meals together to living arrangements. When Thais get married, a large percentage of will still live with one of the couple’s parents up to, and even after, they have children of their own. For a Thai, who is close to their family, it seems alien to think about living away from them.  With modern society creeping in, many will live away from home for work or other reasons, but they will visit often and keep the strong relationship with their family.


  • Eating Together: While western culture has slowly created generations of independent children who go off into the world to be on their own.  In Thailand, as families tend to stick together, they spend much of their time eating together too. Thai culture is very food-oriented and it is the norm to feed those you love and share meals together.  Regardless of where children live or have moved on to, Sundays are a day where many spend mealtime with their family, keeping the tradition alive.


  • Respect your parents: Thais hold their parents in very high regard. It goes along with the idea of respecting your elders. They will never, ever hurt their parents or make them cry. It is believed that doing so can give you very bad luck. Thais take care of elderly parents, even starting early as they become young adults.