While You're There
The Thai Greeting – the Wai
Whether you’ve been to Thailand before or not, you are probably already familiar with the traditional Thai form of greeting, the wai, in which the palms are pressed together in prayer-like fashion and the head is lowered. However, what appears to be a simple gesture is, indeed, also governed by some very subtle, but important rules of etiquette.
The Wai as a Form of Respect
The wai is used as a form of greeting, but it isn’t the equivalent of saying ‘hello’ and there may be times when use of the wai would be inappropriate. There are different types of wai for different situations. As a foreign visitor you will not be expected to understand them all so don’t worry too much, but what is important to realize is that it is the social inferior who always initiates the wai.
All people not being equal, although unfamiliar to most westerners and may even feel a little uncomfortable, is part of Thai culture. Monks and elderly people are at the top of the social hierarchy. Social superiors may or may not return a wai.
Returning a Wai
In most instances, you should always return a wai. However, if you in a restaurant for example, and the waitress wais you for leaving a tip, it would not be appropriate to return the wai. Respect is being shown to you; just a smile in return is therefore a more appropriate response. In fact, by doing so may possibly cause them some embarrassment! In many other circumstances though, you can safely return the wai, but if you’re not sure a smile will almost always be acceptable.
You may also see Thai people routinely wai when they pass sacred places such as a Wat (Temple) or Buddha images.
Land of Smiles
Thailand is famously known as the ‘Land of Smiles’, and for good reason. But a Thai smile does not automatically mean that the person is happy. This can lead to misunderstandings between Westerners and Thais.
In Thailand, the smile isn’t just a sign of happiness. Thais smile when they are amused, bemused, apologetic, annoyed, uncertain, wrong, furious or embarrassed. In fact, there is a Thai smile to cover just about every circumstance and it is no wonder that it can lead to confusion. Very often though, the Thai smile is a welcoming one. There is a definite attitude in Thailand that life should be enjoyed.
When visiting a lot of exotic places, it is always advisable to drink bottled, not tap water. Bottled water is very cheap and readily available. At Doi Nok Strawberry Resort bottled water will be in your fridge on arrival and will be topped up daily, at no charge.
The Importance of Keeping Hydrated
It is very important, in any hot country to ensure that you drink enough water.
The easiest way to see if you are dehydrated is by the colour of your urine. If you are not drinking enough, your urine may be darker than usual.
Eating from Street Vendors
Is it safe to eat from roadside vendors in Thailand? That’s one of the questions everyone asks!
The Popularity Rule
If the local vendor has a long line of Thai customers waiting every lunch-time, then it’s possibly considered a reasonably safe bet that both the food and the hygiene are good.
Many Thai dishes are freshly prepared and cooked to order while you wait which means it is going to be fresher and can be eaten with reasonable confidence. By the same token, there are also roadside stalls where the food has been lying around in the sun for the past few hours with flies buzzing around it.
It’s up to you how adventurous you want to be. One of the best things about buying food from vendors is that it’s cheap. If you do try something that you don’t like, you’ve only spent 20 or 30 Baht to find it out.
Thailand has some excellent street food and it could be considered that you are missing out on so much if you don’t try it during your stay in Thailand because food and eating are so embedded in Thai culture. However, you do so at your own risk!
Driving in Thailand
In Thailand, you drive on the left hand side of the road.
Hiring a car and exploring Thailand on your own is a great way to see the real Thailand, as hiring a Thai car is a cheap way of seeing rural areas and meeting everyday Thai people. At Doi Nok Strawberry Resort we can help you with car hire, just let us know!
Avis, Hertz and other international car hire agencies are well represented in Thailand, although many rental companies will not rent a Thai car or provide insurance to drivers who do not have an international driving license. While it is technically legal to drive in Thailand with a valid foreign driver’s license, having an international license will make renting and driving a Thai car potentially less problematic.
Many roads and highways are in good condition, although you may still come across the odd road or two less well travelled and maintained, especially if you wish to drive further up into the mountains.
Road signage follows international convention and is in both Thai and English, though some are only in Thai (like 'Stop' and 'Give Way'). It is a good idea to buy decent road map before you set off. It is important to remember however, that Thai words aren't always Romanised consistently, you will often see slightly different spellings for the same word! (e.g. Petburi road on the map and Phetchaburi road on the street sign are one and the same).