PDA in Thai Culture: 4 Dos and Don’ts

foreign-correspondent badge finalWhether you come to the “Land of Smiles” attached, unattached, or looking for a week-long fling, there are a few things to keep in mind about how to interact with your love interest while you’re here. In the U.S., it’s completely acceptable to lay a kiss, perhaps sloppy, on guy you just met in a bar or to grind up against him like you’re backside is motorized. But that’s not part of Thai culture and it can quite frankly make locals feel very uncomfortable.

Here are some tips so you can have a graceful time while in Thailand:

PDA in Thai Culture: 4 Dos and Don’ts

Kissing

Don’t

Making out in public is not accepted and can make onlookers feel very uncomfortable. Even if you’ve had a few Sangsom buckets and are feeling rather friendly on the dance floor, it’s best to keep it classy and show your affection later on–and privately.

Do

A quick peck on the cheek is acceptable, and even a peck on the lips is okay in big cities, like Bangkok, as Thais are pretty used to seeing foreigners by now. However, while it’s okay to kiss a bit in public, do your best to keep it to a minimum, as overdoing it will garner you some glares and create an uncomfortable situation.

Dancing

Don’t

Thais do not grind or twerk in clubs or bars. Even one-on-one close dancing can be perceived as unacceptable.

Do

Dance with your friends in a group. It’s common in clubs and bars for everyone to gather around a table with their drinks, listen and sing along to the music, and dance together. It’s innocent and makes everyone more comfortable.

Touching

Don’t

It’s best not to be too touchy or grabby with your love interest. Rubbing his arm or leg in public can be seen as too sexy.

Do

Holding hands and locking arms is perfectly acceptable. You’ll see many Thai couples, and just friends, linking hands and arms while strolling around. It’s a friendly sign of affection more so than a romantic gesture.

Hugging

Don’t

Hugging for a prolonged period of time is not accepted. Also cuddling, on the beach for example, shouldn’t be done. Even if you’ve had a stressful flight or an especially exhausting day and just want to embrace for a while, you shouldn’t. Onlookers may think you should find a room to rent for a few hours. Besides, it’s too hot in Thailand to do that.

Do

A quick hug hello and goodbye are fine, but even so, aren’t that common. Thais greet each other with a wai, which is a slight bow with your hands in a prayer-like position. If someone wais to you, you should always (try) to return it.

Some of these tips may seem a bit obvious, but I’ve made some mistakes and have most definitely seen those overly friendly tourist types. So just be classy when you should be and respect Thai culture. Then you’ll be sure to gain respect from the locals and maybe pick up a few friends while you’re here, too.

pda in thailand
Having fun and respecting Thai culture

PDA in Thai Culture: 4 Dos and Don’ts

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First Time Thailand… It’s Now or Never
Travel Thailand: Land of Smiles
How the Phi Phi Islands Surprised Me
6 Lessons I Learned While Teaching in the “Land of Smiles”

Have you traveled to Thailand? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear  from you.

About Kaitlin Kimont

Kaitlin KimontKaitlin is based in Bangkok, Thailand currently working as a freelance writer and English teacher. She’s making her way around Southeast Asia one country at a time, all the while gaining a subconscious, perhaps conscious, addiction to MSG and Thai milk tea.

Follow her on twitter @kaitlinkimont.

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