The dos and don’ts, and other information on this page is relevant to any destination in Thailand. At the bottom of the page you can find some Pattaya specific dos and don’ts and some handy Thailand dos and don’ts info-graphs.
Learning a little about Thai customs and culture, and what you should and should not do when you visit Thailand will ensure you have a safe and pleasant stay in Thailand.
If you’re visiting Pattaya for the first time, looking for a little guidance and things you need to know about Pattaya, I recommend you also read these Pattaya beginners tips and tricks.
Before you go to Thailand
Do you have travel insurance? It’s definitely a good idea to buy travel insurance for your trip to Thailand, especially in case you intend hiring a motorcycle or plan to take part in any dangerous activities.
Who needs a visa to enter Thailand: Depending on your nationality, you may or may not be required to a have a valid visa. You can find all the necessary information on the general information page of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
Do Respect The Royal Family
Thais are very patriotic, and very much devoted to their Royal Family. Shows of respect for the Thai Royal Family occur on a daily basis in many public and official places. It’s very important that you also show respect, and that extends to all things associated with the Royal Family.
Stand for The National and Royal Anthems
You might happen to hear the Thai National Anthem played while you are at a government office or other official place, or even at an immigration checkout.
You might be at an event, gathering, or even at the cinema in Pattaya when the Royal Anthem is played before a movie is screened. In both events, you will be expected to stand and show respect. It’s quite simple, when you see Thais standing to respect the anthem, you do the same.
Do not defame, insult, or criticize The Royal Family
Any defamation, or insulting “lese majeste” of the Thai Royal Family is against the law, and in extreme cases punishable by a lifetime jail sentence. Best advice is to refrain from making any negative comments, especially on the internet.
Respect Thai Coins and Banknotes
Thai coins and banknotes feature a portrait of the present, and former kings, hence they must be treated with respect. Below, are a few things you must not do with any Thai coins or banknotes.
Do not stand on a Thai coin or banknote: It’s a natural reaction for most of us to stand on a coin or banknote to stop it from rolling, or being blown away. In Thailand, standing on a coin is tantamount to standing on the kings head, it’s a very, very big no-no.
For reasons of respect, here’s a list of more things (below) you should not do with Thai coins and banknotes.
- Do not intentionally drop or let a coin or banknote fall to the ground
- Do not leave a coin or banknote on the ground
- Do not intentionally deface, screw up, rip, or otherwise damage Thai banknotes or coins
Respect Thai Customs & Culture
Thais have some strange customs, at least – if you’re a first time visitor to Thailand they’re strange. Below, are few dos and don’ts to help you with everything from socializing to visiting temples.
Do, greet people using the customary Thai Wai: When you visit restaurants, arrive at your hotel, or get introduced to people in Thailand – they greet you by placing their palms together and raising their hands to their head, don’t worry they are not about to start praying. This is the customary way to greet people in Thailand.
Go ahead and return the gesture. In Thai society, the more respected a person is, the higher someone will raise their hands to them when they wai them. Don’t worry too much about this, raising the tips of your fingers to the tip of your nose this will cover most situations, and the gesture will be very much appreciated.
Do, say hello in Thai: To accompany the wai gesture you can also say sawadee, after which you add the polite particle – “khrap” if you’re male, and “ka” if you’re female. So it’s “sawadee khrap” or sawadee ka.
Don’t touch Thai People on the top of their head: The head is the most revered part of the body, to touch the top of the head is dis-respectful, it is acceptable to touch a child on the top of the head as a friendly gesture, although even that is best avoided among strangers.
Don’t raise your feet above a Thai persons head: the feet are the lowest, and least revered part of the body, so to raise them above someones head is considered extremely dis-respectful.
Don’t point with your feet: It is considered rude and lazy, much better to use your hand.
Don’t show the soles of your feet in the direction of another person, this is also insulting and dis-respectful.
Don’t use your left hand to shake hands or pass objects to someone. In Thai culture the left hand is used in the toilet, so to shake hands or use it in preference to the right hand is often considered to be derogatory.
Don’t wear your shoes inside the house, especially in another persons house, it is customary to always take off your shoes before entering. It is a good idea to check before entering some shops such as barbers, massage parlors etc to see if there are shoes outside the door, if there are then you should remove yours before entering.
Don’t beckon or gesture someone to ‘come on’ or ‘come here’ with your palm facing upwards, turn your palm to face the ground while gesturing. The palm facing up whilst beckoning is seen as an aggressive gesture.
Don’t under dress in public: To go shirtless is acceptable on the beach, and you often see shirtless men walking the Pattaya streets, but put your shirt on before entering any restaurant, shop or public building.
Ladies, don’t sunbathe topless in public: Topless sunbathing is not uncommon these days in Pattaya but it is not considered to be the norm, and you could be told to cover up, just depends if anyone takes offense.
Do, always try and keep your cool: Thais believe in keeping face, so losing your temper is a sure way to lose your face and the respect of others.
Thailand Temple Dress Code
The general rule when visiting temples in Thailand is cover up. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees. Don’t wear anything bright and multi-colored, don’t wear skin hugging clothes such as leggings, and avoid wearing shirts which display dubious images or text – like the shirt you bought from your favorite go-go bar.
If you’re planning a trip to temples, it’s easy to prepare and dress accordingly. If temples are just part of your day’s itinerary, just pack a spare blouse or shirt, long shorts or trousers, even a sarong or something similar which you can easily wear over the top of the clothes you are already wearing. For more information, read this article about what to wear in Thailand by GoToThailand.com.
Don’t display the soles of your feet in a Buddhist temple: Buddhist Thais have deep respect for for their religion, sit or kneel so that your soles are not exposed.
Don’t wear a hat inside a temple.
Ladies, Don’t touch or directly pass anything to a Monk: Monks are not allowed to touch females. Place your offering into the monks alms basket or onto a table.
Pattaya Specific Dos and Don’ts
Don’t do drugs: I’m not saying it’s easy to get drugs in Pattaya, but you might find you are offered drugs at a nightclub or disco. Clubs and discos in Pattaya regularly get busted by the police, and anyone inside gets tested for drugs. If you are caught, there’s every chance you could go to prison.
Don’t take photos of bar girls in Pattaya: You just want one of the girls outside a go-go bar perhaps, just one for the album. Problem is, the girls don’t get the picture, so to speak, they don’t like it. Before you point your camera at them, ask if it’s ok to take a photo, otherwise, expect a torrent of verbal abuse, or even worse.
Do, think twice about hiring a jet ski in Pattaya: The jet ski scam seems to be under control these days, but previously it was a daily event. The scammers extorted money from renters for causing ‘fake’ damage to the jet ski. Let’s be honest, who knows when the scam might start again.
Don’t Get Robbed in Pattaya
No matter how it happened, being robbed is not one of the ‘memories of Pattaya’ you want to take home with you. Don’t worry, Pattaya is no more dangerous than any other tourist destination, but here’s some examples of how tourists get robbed in Pattaya.
Snatch & Ride
A motorcycle with a passenger on the back, rides up from behind. The passenger reaches out and snatches the victim’s valuables, usually gold neck chains, or bags worn looseley over the shoulder, and off they speed.
The best advice is, don’t make yourself a target in the first place, don’t wear gold or other jewelry, and don’t wear your bag over your shoulder. You can also keep yourself away from the edge of the pavement, out of reach, and if there is no pavement you should walk against the direction of the traffic – so you can see what’s coming.
Mobbed & Robbed by Ladyboys in Pattaya
You might at first consider them an overbearing nuisance, perhaps there’s 3 or 4 of them – offering sexual services, at the same time they are rubbing you up and down, pinching your bum, and you can’t wait to get away. Finally, you repel their advances, but it’s only some time later you realize they lifted your wallet.
The obvious answer is if possible – avoid gangs of lady-boys. Most ‘reported cases’ of robbery by ladyboys happen on Pattaya Beach Road after midnight. You would be wise to avoid any place you might encounter them, better still – avoid quiet – unlit sois late at night.
If you find yourself in a situation – being mobbed by ladyboys, have your wallet in your front pocket, keep your hand on it, say no thanks – and keep walking.
Pick-pocketed on a Baht Bus
Again, ladyboys are usually involved, and often with female accomplices. One sits next to you, the others sit across, or the other side of you. The ones across, or at the other side might try and distract you, while the other picks your pocket.
Again, the answer is to keep your wallet and valuables in your front pocket, or make sure any pockets, or bags you have are fastened if possible.
Thailand Do’s and Don’ts Info-graph.
The following info-graphs (below) were released by the Thailand Tourist Police Department via the ‘LINE’ mobile app.
You should also read about dangers and hazards in Thailand