Religion in Thailand The constitution and laws in Thailand protect religious freedom and Thai people generally respect religious freedom and practice. Nevertheless, around 95 percent of the population is Buddhist making Buddhism Thailand’s official national religion. It is really important to be respectful towards religious objects. Avoid touching or disturbing altars and Buddha figures. Always dress appropriately when entering any religious buildings, such as temples or shrines, and don’t point or touch religious objects with your feet, as it’s considered as an act of sacrilege and is highly offensive.It also is taboo for a woman to touch a monk. It is acceptable (for both men and women) to bow to a monk. It is voluntary to give a small donation to temples when you are visiting.Reverence for the MonarchyThailand is ruled as a constitutional monarchy, and, as such, the royal family is highly revered. The King is particularly regarded as the symbol of unity and social harmony in Thai society and as ‘a father of the Thai nation’ who has dedicated sixty years of his life to the well being of the Thai people.His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away in October 2016 at the age of 88. In remembrance of His Majesty the King, all civil servants in Thailand have been ordered to wear black clothing for a year as a sign of mourning. All Thai citizens have also been urged to dress in black to mourn His Majesty’s passing for a year. Although there is no legal requirement for foreigners to wear black, visitors should not offend locals with colorful, eye-catching dress. Travelers should avoid wearing red or any bright colors while outdoors. The preference is for the colors black, white, or grey.Visitors should also never make negative comments or speak disparagingly about the monarchy. Any affront to the royals is a punishable offense and may result in imprisonment.
A black ribbon will be provided to all international conference attendees to be worn on the left shoulder sleeve or over the heart if the item of clothing is not black.The Wai GreetingPressing your palms together at chest or nose level and bowing your head slightly is known as the wai. This is a common greeting and an important part of Thai etiquette signifying respect. It can be used to express hello, goodbye, or thank you.Body Language and Personal SpaceTouching someone’s head is highly offensive in Thailand, as is raising or pointing your feet at someone.Remove shoes and hats before entering homes and religious buildings. “Cover up” when visiting temples and shrines (no sleeveless or stomach-baring tops, shorts, short skirts, or sandals).Beckon to others with your palm facing down, never up. Beckoning to others with your palm facing up can be viewed as sexually suggestive.Avoid “losing your cool” and appearing outwardly angry. Be open-minded, patient, humble, smile and friendly when you are in Thailand.MealsDo not begin eating before your host.Do not step over food. The Welcome/National Night will include "lanna" style seating which features mats placed on the floor around a low table. Please be careful not to step over the table.Accept things that are offered to you.Expect a wide variety of dishes and flavors. Thai food is about balancing sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors.When eating with a group, take only small portions of each dish so that there’s enough to go around. Thai meals are meant to be shared.Don’t leave your chopsticks in your bowl; this symbolizes death and bad luck.Take your time; enjoy the food and conversation!ConversationAvoid discussing personal topics (family, income, etc.) with Thai strangers. An acceptable icebreaker would be to ask about where one comes from, what kind of work they do, etc.Thai people love good humor, but do not tease, embarrass or criticize a Thai person in front of others. Keeping one's "face" is equivalent to keeping one's self-respect and dignity intact.
It is impolite to ask anyone of Thai nationality their opinion or point of view regarding the Royal Family and its future.LGBT ToleranceThailand is very safe for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) travelers, having a long history of sexual tolerance. Transsexuals are highly visible in the mainstream society.
Confidentiality statement: The personal data you provide by registering for this conference are strictly confidential and are supplied to TEPHINET on the understanding that they will be held confidentially and not disclosed to third parties without your prior written consent. Liability statement: The organizing committee and TEPHINET will accept no liability for personal injuries sustained by conference participants or for loss or damage to property belonging to conference participants, either during the conference or as a result of the conference or during any tours. It is, therefore, recommended that participants arrange for their own personal health, accident and travel insurance. Disclaimer: Funding for this conference was made possible (in part) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. Copyright © 2016 TEPHINET All rights reserved.