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Thai condiments | © Yvette Tan/Flickr
Thai condiments | © Yvette Tan/Flickr
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15 Habits You Can't Help Pick Up Living in Thailand

Picture of Iona Proebst
Updated: 15 November 2017
If you’ve spent any length of time in Thailand you’ve likely picked up a few habits from the locals, whether you’ve noticed it or not. Check out our list of the 15 habits you have probably adopted.

Hailing the other way around

In Thailand, it is very rude and equates to giving someone the middle finger when hailing someone to point your fingers towards the sky. Instead, you’ve mastered the downward waving action.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dennis/1406367230/in/photolist-39gZYS-9cHRHY-4ug8L3-DE5yWt-9brPtZ-q9Q9Vk-aAjSN4-7sDguK-9azqbZ-xQWhr-8eCYD-8wSVvP-4byBWc-EWTK6q-nM1TYR-bsprEu-eRnLac-9bKMFs-rmvAZc-dTdGVL-dT7QhB-dAoRin-qxe5NV-ebZXyw-59KXAH-dT7Qo4-bHQDPF-fGmqJr-6aES1x-f9iXUP-9bt7TF-ve4BA-kVsRGZ-8vpfL8-5SpoqY-6fFdKa-fjrY2V-92qLLv-99kFRc-5o7PH1-9aWCno-CwLrX-fbQRsz-bwkNuG-mtXMsV-bwmmWy-U4LYQs-YguMX8-6tJx1S-fqzGvv
Bangkok taxi | © Dennis Yang/Flickr

T’inglish

You say “na kha/kap” at the end of a sentence in English or in Thai and think it’s perfectly normal, leaving your visitors bewildered. Likewise, you’ve adopted the nack of using English words in a particular Thai way, for example, “computeeeeuur”.

Your motorbike has no limits

Once upon a time, you thought it was insane to see three people on a motorbike let alone seven, these days moving house on your motorbike is just normal. In Thailand, the humble motorbike is the family vehicle.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/holidaypointau/8120739641/in/photolist-dnAUYr-apvkpW-6kDTzj-6kA62K-cGEw6S-6kzVkt-6kAuZe-bZLEdQ-6kzTCe-apvka9-cGBx6C-bZKVSL-6kAuNe-6kE4BL-9aUBWs-9ba8P8-apsEcg-9aR5N2-9aUofC-6kAgvz-apsDsM-6kE5xY-5NiSQu-9aP86k-cantCG-c9N5hC-canqFA-canuhm-cantyy-cantHN-canucC-canuSU-cansQN-canr3b-canp5y-canpSh-cansVf-canoMw-canmwh-cantUj-canoRq-canoFU-canuxW-c8wqZQ-canqAo-canrDh-cans4U-canpFA-cansiS-canoC7
The school run | © Holiday Point/Flickr

You’ve ditched the knife

Thai people do not use a fork and knife when they eat, rather a spoon and fork. The spoon is the main utensil with the fork being used to push food onto the spoon. This makes perfect sense and is totally normal now.

You’re a bum gun convert

You came sceptical of the so-called ‘bum gun’ and now you’ve embraced the superior cleaning method, so much so that any dry wiping now appears to be barbaric.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeminichronicles/4269391605/in/photolist-5AKzo3-pRctZv-4zofgr-dD8HWe-dHw5jf-mmoEqD-6FkaPU-mmoy6p-7wcM9R-dLWtLK-drcuM6-drcuKg-5AKfc9-7C1yAd-5yXXH2-AguAD-7kDBFB-FUztQZ-rCwUt-dQ5atv-56sZq2-VBR8Mc-xW1Yre-xVVnm3-ZvzQ9a-7rjr2V-4Ajb2t-nGvtZn-7vgKo6-G7Mr1-fu2H8-7ronb9-7rjrov-WYrXiJ-rbzmGD-CKbKTJ-pw3PV-tsbXjQ-u1R5X5-tYNEj7-ykn5mf-ve4dQS-ssX2yG-sdc3VN-rob8ao-mmz2ko-9p2bWp-7vDFxd-6sQTrQ-BV2dm
Bum gun & bucket flush | © Wedstock 2011/Flickr

Mastered the art of bargaining

You’ve worked out the fine balance between pushing for a good deal and friendly banter to get your desired price at a local market. You are shocked when you see tourists simply go in and buy things without this dance.

7-Eleven, the mother of convenience

You’ve gotten used to the fact that you can not only stop into a 7-Eleven for water, milk or a late night ham and cheese toastie but also to top up your phone, buy a plane ticket and pay your utility bills. When you visit your local convenience store on visits back home you are surprised that they don’t do all these things too.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/53801255@N07/5356685900/in/photolist-b3Gw1V-pENsQo-qAcXze-WCu6pD-yhyfQ-XGmj2g-6YpX4d-qyK8fC-9amq6s-3MeFNm-9YwDfD-9kUtXu-5qAN3C-qqb5Pn-kj4KeK-4QNKhE-sSzAV-kj4tJX-bCmT21-bRgDGX-kj74o5-fj9hhR-5Tw8p2-4bX2cx-WqJLoa-9nKDe9-dU6NMf-WqyKuj-9FoDmF-9buVWu-B6U4S-qysLGw-VbZeBC-miPcz-9bt25T-4Nj34E-9brPoZ-pKrbsk-9bL5GY-5PvGZi-9WJWtc-9bw9aw-5BsefB-9mZB6h-5XzKG2-dqBc5X-74YHDZ-j74aV-7vzK38-9bw99Y
7-Eleven, Bangkok | © nist6dh/Flickr

Shade is your friend

Your former self would worship the sun gods whenever possible, now you scamper about like the sun is evil and hide from it so you don’t tan and to keep cool. You drive your motorbike wearing a jacket and you certainly do not spend any unnecessary time in the suns rays.

Ice in beer

Ice in beer used to be an outlandish concept to you, now you understand that cold beer is more important so regularly top up the ice in your beer. The addition of a straw is still one step too far.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/11988491@N06/11815654185/in/photolist-j17jkB-5qAPk3-9ryHo7-w4A17-eVf6j-bUGdQU-6Tv6E-da6FdD-8PzHFf-MvBd9-6SLowX-jTL5U-7A21Hy-5RarY8-kmzCj-4tqnA3-jTKdx-8vJX3E-kmBWY-5ak8ed-2tYPF-jUX5XU-5U5cZ-gLszKA-iP6bg-kmtkP-jHX8kM-8DiKts-6SLdXt-2juaZt-dQ2hyB-78aq6m-jCiVqC-cjNRK9-cxLVtj-jZWXD-4wrsgq-6M6wQs-7i6i8t-qyK7X3-5TwX1g-4B6mz7-8gCfZw-axZwJJ-6UH6Xv-o6yE7i-7XSDqt-krMKb-VTrZq-9wG1GV
Singha beer and Bangkok sunset | © live_free_or_die_77/Flickr

Sharing is caring

More often than not Thai’s share their dishes rather than ordering one individual dish. Small portions are taken at a time to eat with rice and regularly topped up as desired. Taking everything you anticipate you will eat and lumping it on your plate in one go is not polite etiquette.

Taking your shoes off

It’s become a habit now that when you enter a temple or someone’s home (and many shops) that you take your shoes off outside before entering. Wearing shoes inside now feels a little strange.

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Shoes outside a temple | © Peter Hardy/Flickr

Keep your cool

Patience is a virtue is something you now firmly live by. Back home it might be ok to scream at your neighbour if they are being too noisy or yell at the person who almost backed into you, in Thailand keeping your cool and keeping face is very important.

There is never enough spice

Everything needs flavour, whether it be more chilli or an assortment of condiments, you’ve become accustomed to your meals coming with a strong kick. Any meal that does not have this will need some serious work.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/glossmania/8589444528/in/photolist-6hnqbY-9XjhKV-aouj7q-7y2AnY-bqZQ6-8LP8zX-eQs7aM-6gnSpC-an53WT-6giHHB-6gnSK9-6giEXF-6gnT5d-7auJC4-6gnV59-6giECZ-9XjgzX-9XjfxX-6giGXV-6gnQUj-5HLcoP-6giEnn-6giDtZ-dRxvpN-6gnUm9-6gnS9d-6giHWp-6giDUD-6gnQ1G-6gnU7b-7JHD18-7PtRch-5LbDcd-7JMyvN-9peoU4-7JHDca-8LP8E8-avwgb7-6EAAy-RqnBns-twFCGH-5Twrq6-6giGAe-9phrnC-e629Bb-4PNGY6-t2MTL7-M5cFyp-MuzRQJ-5RateZ
Thai condiments | © Yvette Tan/Flickr

Cleanliness

Three showers and two outfits per day is fine, long gone are your stinky backpacker days of no showers. Thai’s are very particular when it comes to cleanliness and you’ve embraced this with open arms.

Don’t wait

In Thailand, you eat once the food arrives and do not wait till everyone has received their meal. At first this takes some getting used to, however, you soon realize that there is a good reason.