Thailand Temple Etiquette: Top 10 Tips on How to Behave Properly

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Here's our guide on Thailand temple etiquette and top tips on how to behave properly when inside a religious site.

As a tourist in a new country, it is only appropriate to do a little cultural research before your visit. In Thailand, especially when visiting temples, it is important to come to know what you can and what you can’t do.

This is our Thailand temple etiquette you can keep in mind during your visit. These are rules that are both logical and important as you are visiting a place of worship with significant importance to the locals.

Thailand Temple Etiquette: Top 10 Tips on How to Behave Properly

visiting thailand temple
Photo via Good Free Photos

Dress appropriately

It seems like an odd way to start this list with this as it is widely known that you should dress appropriately when visiting religious places but surprisingly, a lot of tourists forget this part as Thailand is a tropical country and wearing long pants and shirts is something you would not even think when the weather is humid and hot during the day.

Most ladies and gents who come to visit Thailand tend to wear more comfortable clothing to beat the heat like shorts and tank tops, which is absolutely acceptable when sightseeing or lounging by the beach.

However, when visiting Temples, please bear in mind that you should be properly covered (both men and women). You should not show your shoulders and should wear something that covers you up to below your knees.

That said, a lot of famous temples around Thailand has adapted to the tourist and usually offer sarongs for rent so you can cover yourself up. This is not the case all the time, so we highly suggest that if you’re planning to visit temples, make sure to bring a sarong or scarf with you if you do not want to wear long pants or skirts.

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Turn off your phone

Since you’re visiting a religious place, it is only respectful to turn your phone off or at least put it on silent. Hence, in case someone calls you, or an alarm sets off, you won’t disturb anyone who is paying respects or offering prayers.

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Remove your shoes

Thai people believe that shoes are used outside and not inside as it is dirty and no one wants to bring dirt inside homes; hence they usually leave the shoes out and walk barefoot inside. Since temples are considered a sacred place, it is only natural that we are asked to remove our shoes, as well.

So, make sure to follow the temple rules and remove your shoes if you are planning to take a peek what is inside these stunning temples. There are usually shoe racks outside where you can keep your shoes for safekeeping.

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Do not point at Buddhas

It is considered poor manners and inappropriate to point at Buddhas, so if you want to show someone something that fascinated you inside the temple use your hand to gesture towards the relics.

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Relic Containers in Wat Yannava Bangkok Thailand
via Wikimedia Commons

Do not touch the Buddhas or any other relics

Just like pointing, it is also considered inappropriate to touch the Buddha images or statues inside or outside the temples. They are considered sacred, so it is only accurate to respect it by not touching it.

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Don’t turn your back on the Buddhas

It is considered rude to turn your back on Buddhas, and a lot of people don’t know about this, so remember this rule before you snap that selfie. Also, make sure you’re at a good distance before you turn your back at it when you’re inside the temple.

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Do not point the soles of your feet towards a Buddha

The feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body, so pointing your feet towards Buddha is considered rude and inappropriate. If you allow yourself to notice the locals who are paying respect inside the temple, you’ll see them carefully kneeling down and bowing to Buddha. When they get up, they make sure that the soles of their feet won’t face Buddha at all.

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praying inside the temple
via Flickr|shankar s.

Stay silent

Temples are not just beautiful structures created for tourist amusements. They are made for worship, and locals do come there to pray so make sure you’re not too loud inside the temple during your visit to show respect.

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Do not take photos of the Monks

Thailand temple etiquette also includes acting appropriately in front of its residents. It is considered rude and inappropriate to take photos of anyone without their permission, so even though they’d look amazing in your shot, make sure to ask them first if it is okay to do so. There’s really no underlying rules why you should not take photos of them, but as people, they deserve to be notified.

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thailand monks
via peakpx

Pay respects to the Monks

When you see them, bow to them with your hands just above your chin level in prayer position without keeping long eye contact to show respect. They do not have to reciprocate, although some would give you a nice smile in return.

Also, Monk’s are not allowed to touch women, so ladies, make sure that you do not touch them or accidentally bump into them. Monks have to go through a long cleansing process if they accidentally touch women.

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