Going on a holiday to a Thai beach resort is one of my most favorite things to do. But, on every vacation, I always notice how rude some western tourists in Thailand can be. A beach holiday in Thailand, because of the culture, is a less free experience than a similar holiday in Europe and the US, and before coming to Thailand holidaymakers should be aware of how to behave while on a beach here. There are some dos and don’ts in Thailand every visitor to a Thai beach should abide by.
Don’t Sunbathe Topless – The absolute first thing not to do on a beach in Thailand if you’re concerned about beach etiquette is to sunbathe topless. While, overall, most Americans don’t do this, many European women do.
What might be acceptable on a beach in Europe isn’t remotely acceptable on a beach in Thailand. Not only is it against the law, it causes Thais to feel highly uncomfortable as they simply do not understand why any self-respecting woman would do that.
So, the next time you’re in Thailand and feeling like whipping off that top – don’t. Save it until you get back to Europe and the Thais will thank you too.
Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol on the Beach – In most places in Thailand, you’ll find Thais don’t usually drink alcohol during the day (not unless they’re raving alcoholics) and particularly not on the beach. With the combination of the hot sun, sea air and the alcohol in the beer, just one or two bottles of beer can affect you much more strongly than it would in your own country.
Try not to drink alcohol on the beach at all or, if you absolutely must, keep it to a minimum of one to two drinks and that should keep you not only from getting sick but also from embarrassing yourself too.
Don’t Be Too Loud – Sure, Thais in a big group can be quite loud but, weirdly, they’re still polite about it. When many westerners get on a beach, they get loud, out of control and obnoxious, particularly if they’ve had a few glasses of beer or cocktails.
There’s nothing wrong with having fun. After all, that’s what the beach is for. But screaming at the top of your lungs in a drunken stupor then throwing around a beach ball that keeps bopping your Thai neighbor on the head isn’t only annoying it might end up getting you involved in a fight (Thais are notoriously calm and accepting until pushed. Then watch out).
Have some common sense and keep the volume down a bit. You can still have fun without being the loser on the beach everyone stares at.
Don’t Go Overboard Expressing Physical Affection – Several times on beaches in Phuket and Koh Samet, I’ve seen western tourists dressed in skimpy bikinis and shorts (or, in the case of some of the women, only a bikini bottom), laying down on the beach on top of each other up to the point where they look like they’re about to have sex.
Remember, Thailand is still a conservative country. Thais rarely express physical affection to a member of the opposite sex in public. That’s saved for in private and your expressions of physical affection should be too. After all, if you’re feeling a bit amorous, you do have a room. Use it, and spare the rest of us having to watch your physical gyrations.
Do Only Wear Your Swimsuit on the Beach or at the Pool – Even in Bangkok, I occasionally see western tourists walking around in bikinis or bikini tops and shorts. In the middle of a major city. Obviously, the extreme heat is making them see a mirage as there really isn’t a beach in Bangkok, so why are they dressed like there is?
In Thailand, swimsuits are appropriate for the beach or the pool. When you leave either area, for women put on shorts or skirt and a t shirt, or a sarong. For men, shorts and a t shirt will suffice. And for heavens sake, don’t wear a swimsuit in the middle of Bangkok. It’s just like wearing a swimsuit in the middle of New York. Everyone would stare at you there too.
As you’ll notice quickly when you arrive on the beach in Thailand, Thais wear shorts and a t shirt or even pants to sit on the beach or swim in the ocean or swimming pool and they’ll never sit out to sunbathe. Instead, they’ll all be huddled under a beach umbrella making sure those sun rays don’t hit their white skin. They are also usually more low-key than westerners in behavior and, if boyfriend and girlfriend, won’t be all over each other.
So, when a westerner comes along and is wearing nothing more than a g-string, slugging back bottles of beer, groping their girlfriend and screaming at the top of their lungs, it’s not only unacceptable in Thailand it’s decidedly low-class behavior to the Thais.
Remember, you’re a guest in their country and should behave accordingly. After all, even following correct Thai beach etiquette. you can still have a fun, relaxing time on a Thai beach without being a total prat about it.