It isn’t strange if travel in other countries makes you feel surprised (in bad cases, it could be weird). “Different countries have different cultures” is something we all know and culture shock could happen any time when you’re away from home. To prepare you before you go, these might cause you culture shock when travelling in Thailand.
1. Eating culture Topics
Thai people drink soft drinks and beer with ice.
It might confuse some foreigners that soft drinks and beer are chilled, so why must Thai people drink them with ice? (Of course, it’s all the hot weather’s fault!)
How to deal with it: You don’t have to deal with it, but if you want to try, it could make you feel fresher.
Thai people eat all the time.
Due to being a land of abundance, Thai people have a lot of food to choose from so they enjoy their snacks and eat them all day long.
How to deal with it: It’s just a snack, not the main course but if it seems too much, just refuse politely, as it could make you full before the main course comes.
Thai people drink water from straw in plastic bags.
These containers are cheaper than plastic or paper cups, so they choose this way of drinking to save money.
How to deal with it: It’s not that weird if you try drinking like this because some shops might not have a plastic cup for you.
Thai people add sugar to their noodles.
If this makes you confused, it’s probably because in your home, condiments for making your noodles taste better must be a specific sauce or spice, while in Thailand, on the table (especially in a noodle shop) you will find a condiment set consisting of sugar, vinegar, ground dried chilies, and fish sauce.
How to deal with it: Try the original taste. If you want a better taste, add the condiments as you want.
2. Miscellaneous topics
Thai people don’t unwrap gifts in front of the gift giver but unwrap it later in private, unlike some nationalities that prefer unwrapping gifts right before the giver’s eyes.
How to deal with it: Don’t tell Thai people to unwrap their gifts since some people might take it personally which could strain your relationship.
Crossing the road
More often than not, Thai people cross a road wherever they feel like it. They don’t care that there is an overpass nearby.
How to deal with it: If you are worried that pedestrians could get in danger, kindly warn them about it. Or save yourself first and don’t copy them. Instead, cross the road at a designated place.
Vendors at a red light
In Thailand, it is nothing extraordinary to see vendors wandering about on the road at a red light. What they sell varies from flower garlands to doughnuts to orange juice. It is just how some Thai people make a living.
How to deal with it: Buy one if you feel like it. Note that flower garlands can be offered to shrines or temples.
Motorcycles at a red light
A bunch of motorcycles waiting for a green light way ahead of cars and even invading a crosswalk is something that you probably see daily. Yes, it is a normal occurrence in Thailand.
How to deal with it: Use an overpass if you want to cross a road for your safety.
Invitation to have a meal together
You might not be that close with them yet but did your Thai acquaintances already invite you to have a meal at their place? Don’t worry, while foreigners might not do that, it is normal in Thailand. That’s because Thai people are friendly and generous, so they have often invited people to share a meal with them since the old days.
How to deal with it: If your Thai friends invite you to have a meal at their place and you aren’t busy, accept their invitation and go. It can be considered inappropriate to turn down their invitation.
Informing local deities
In Thailand, there is a belief that you should inform local deities when you leave your house or stay a night at unfamiliar places. By informing them, it is believed that they will protect you from bad spirits and misfortune. For example, if you are staying at a hotel for 2 days and 3 nights, informing the local deities that you (say your name) would like to ask for permission to stay here for 2 days and 3 nights and they will protect you.
How to deal with it: Although it is a widely held belief, at the end of the day it is still a personal belief. Whether you follow it or not is completely up to you.