Thai children are taught there are 3 pillars of Thai society; Nation, Religion & Monarchy. There is a lot more to Thai culture than these three points, but it’s safe to say that many Thai people believe that these three things are what make Thailand unique. Thailand is a nation with unique cultures, including language, literature, arts, music, food and costumes which originate from the nations ancestors.
National pride is extremely important in Thailand, they take pride in the fact they are the only country in South East Asia to have never been colonised by a European country. You will hear the national anthem being played twice a day across the country, it is respectful to stand still and stop what you are doing whilst this is played.
In Thailand, family is the most important thing and will always come first. The tendency in the West to set out as an individual is quite alien to their culture. In Thai culture there is an obligation to take care of one’s parents. It is common for extended families to all live in the same house – this may be different from your home country!
Not losing face is a large part of Thai culture, more so than in Western countries. Thai people show respect to each other by the language they use and the wai’s they give. You will rarely see a Thai person show any negativity, instead you will hear them say mai bpen rai which means “no worries”, this is used to ensure they do not lose face. This is often why Thai people are often perceived to be very “laid back” people.
Thai culture is deeply influenced by religion. Around 95% of Thai people are Buddhist, the belief system and values of the Buddhist religion play a huge part in day-to-day life in Thailand. There is a sizable Muslim minority, especially in the southern provinces, but when Thais speak of Religion as a pillar of Thai society it is Buddhism that they’re talking about.
Status plays a huge role in day-to-day life, your status is dependent on your age, family connections, job, education etc. Thai’s perform different versions of the wai depending on a person's status. Your status is not fixed and is changeable depending on the beforementioned factors. When greeting Thai people, there are certain rules to greet people of different statuses and ages in a polite manner. For somebody older than you (or younger with a higher status than you), you must say pee before their name, for somebody younger, you say nong. As an outsider to Thai culture, these seemingly small gestures could be missed, but they are tightly woven into Thai culture and should be respected.
Thai people are probably the friendliest people of the planet. This country really is the land of smiles. Throughout the country, the most important values that Thai people hold are to respect, self-control and a non-confrontational attitude. Thai people like to laugh and enjoy life, this can be perceived as them not caring too much about anything, but this most definitely is not the case, they just don’t sweat the small things in life. Having a little fun each day in Thailand is extremely important.