It’s a well-known fact that Thailand is primarily a Buddhist country, making temples there pretty much ubiquitous. In Phuket alone, there are over 40 religious temples spread across the island, most of which attract tourists who come and visit. If you’re planning on taking a trip to Phuket and included temples in your itinerary, there are certain rules you have to follow.
Before stepping into a temple in Phuket (and the rest of the temples in Thailand, for that matter), follow the guidelines to show your utmost respect to the locals and make your trip memorable. Here are the do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:
Dress modestly: Many of Thailand’s temples have strict dress codes. If you show too much skin, you’ll likely be denied entrance. Make sure that the clothes that you wear cover your shoulders and that your short or skits go down to at least below the knees.
Remove your shoes: Removing shoes in homes, establishments, and places of worship are prevalent in many Asian cultures. Entering temples represents your intentions to cleanse yourself physically and spiritually, so you must make it a point to remove your shoes before entering. If you can remember, step into the temple using your left foot and leave it with your right foot first. The left foot represents your sinful self, while the right represents your cleansed self. When leaving the temple, exit with the right to demonstrate how the visit transformed you.
Show respect the monks: While it’s not always guaranteed, you may encounter monks when you visit the temples. If you do, be sure to show respect by giving them a wai — clasp your hands together in front and bow your head. If you’re a woman, you should never touch a monk, nor brush their robes or hand them anything.
Point your feet: The feet are considered to be the most disrespectful part of a person’s body in Thailand, and you should not, at any circumstance, point them at anyone or anything or anywhere, especially not the shrines.
Raise yourself above the image or statue of Buddha: When you’re inside the temple, do not turn your back on the statue or image of the Buddha, nor raise yourself above it. You also shouldn’t sit or climb up onto any altar where a Buddha is situated.
Point at anything with your finger: Pointing at someone is considered rude in many cultures, especially in Thailand. If you’re referring to a person, lift your chin in their direction instead of pointing them. When motioning someone to come over, make a patting motion with your fingers straight and with your palm toward the ground. Pointing at inanimate objects should be fine, but it’s considered more polite if you point with your entire hand instead of just a single finger.
So there you have it. These are the rules of etiquette that you need to abide by if you want to respect the locals and enjoy your trip to Phuket’s many beautiful temples. If you’re planning a visit soon and to stay at a deluxe beachfront hotel and spa, book a stay with Katathani Phuket Beach Resort.