Thailand’s stunning temple’s are undoubtedly one of the highlights of your journey trough the divers country. What are de do’s and don’ts for a visit of a Thai temple? Read more about the customs, traditions and (unwritten) rules of the Buddhist temples in Thailand.
1. Take it easy
Make sure you take your time to see the temple and don’t try to visit as many temples as you can in a week time. It will give you an overload of impressions, better is to prepare a list with your favorites and spend more time to wandering around. The best time to go is early in the morning, before it gets crowded and warm.
2. Dress code
It’s important to realize that temples require a modest dress code. Even though the temples became more flexible towards tourists, it is highly rewarded if you show your respect to the temples and please do so. Cover your knees and shoulders with a T-shirt or just with a scarf. At some places – such as the Grand Palace in Bangkok – tourists are able to borrow appropriate clothing like a long skirt. Regarding shoes, it’s practical to wear slippers which you can easily take off when entering a temple.
3. The holy Buddha
The Buddha statues are highly rewarded relics and should therefore be treated with respect. This implies that you shouldn’t touch the Buddha and never point at him with either fingers or feet, so take notice of your position when you want to sit down in a temple. Besides, do make sure you don’t raise yourself higher than a statue or picture of Buddha and/or images of respected monks (for example at the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok, try to kneel when you want to take a close look at the statue). When you are ready to leave the temple, back away from the statue rather than turning your back towards the relic.
4. Wise monks
It is not unusual for Thai families to sent their son to the monastery even if it’s only for a few months. Weather the monk is active in the temple for a few months or years, truth is that they are highly respected. Be extra polite when you are talking to a monk though there is no reason to be shy. As long as you threat them respectfully they will be happy to talk to you. Women should be careful of not touching a monk, as they are not allowed to have any physical contact. When a woman accidentally touch him, even if it’s just the robe, he has to undergo a long cleansing ritual.
5. How to behave
The main rule in the temples consists of only one word: respect. Don’t disturb any Monks or Thai who come to worship at the sacred place, inside the temples it might not be the right time to discuss the latest gossips. When you enter scared places of the temple you should take of your shoes and put your sunglasses, hats and caps aside for a while. Don’t eat anything while you’re in the temple and lower your voice. Lastly, when you enter the temple it’s appropriate to step over the wooden threshold at the entrance instead of stepping on it.
Likely every temple will have a box for donations which is not obligatory but Thai are often supporting the temple by throwing in some Bahts. It’s completely up to you but if you liked your visit, why not supporting the monks with a small note?
This are a lot of tips and recommendations, no worries you don’t need to remember everything, it’s just to give you an idea of appropriate behavior when you are going to a temple. Most important is to show respect to the holy statues, monks, Buddhists and dress properly. Now you’re ready to visit the temples & they are ready to impress you.