How to be a Tourist in Thailand

I have the amazing opportunity to be able to be in this country after learning a little about Thai culture from the orientation we had. As well as being surrounded with peers and teachers who are so knowledgeable. Knowing what little I knew of Thai culture before coming here has helped me to observe more clearly. I have noticed the kind natured and very generous culture show through since arriving. This was something I wasn’t used to and it brought a lot of questions to mind.

I been very interested in how the high population of tourists has affected this welcoming culture that is present. This curiosity has come about from everything, my bags being carried up to my room for me, my food brought out, or the wooden pieces of the game in the Hmong village being retrieved for us. I cannot help but wonder if this is purely for cultural reasons or if it has some effects of tourism within it.


The fact that I couldn’t help but assume that there was more to this country or their culture than met the eye has made me reflect on my own culture as well. I am used to Minnesota nice, where people say what they know you want to hear rather than the truth. I also come from America where it is largely encouraged to question and change things constantly. These ideas have made me think that the there must be more to why the people in Thailand are so generous, that it must be because we are paying them and not because it is a cultural norm.

Now if you lump all tourists into one category and ask; does this affect the culture here in Thailand? I would say yes. We bring with us these expectations of an unforgettable time and our fast paced ideals that are usually linked with more developed countries. I think that this has caused the more competitive nature in the markets, the night markets and late night things always going on. For a simple culture this can change locals daily lives. One example is the children of street vendors who cannot find someone to watch their kids, they stay out late with their parents and this may disrupt the norms of each individual family.


3 thoughts on “How to be a Tourist in Thailand”

  1. Crystal,

    I love your honesty about the reality of tourism in this post. I, too, think that we often overlook the expectations and demands that we set as tourists traveling to other countries. We don’t realize what kind of pressure that puts on the locals and the economy. I especially liked your last example of how tourism affects more than just the individual but the family and community as a whole.

    Good job and thanks for a thoughtful post :)!

  2. Crystal, I think your comment about questioning if the generosity receive in Thailand is authentic has some truth to it. As tourist, we pay to receive extra privileges that we normally don’t receive at home. However, I feel that the a large percentage of Thailand’s generosity is genuine and very much a part of their culture. Why do I say that? Observing the respect that everyone pays to their elders but also to every Thai that did not know me, returning a Sawatdee with a smile. Tourism I agree has played a major role in Thailand’s economy.

  3. Crystal,

    The past two days I’ve visited the more touristy areas, and so I read your post with enhanced awareness. With the Hmong Village, I feel that the men carrying up the gocarts and retrieving the spinning tops was cultural, from my experiences here, but the impact of tourists on living trends and behavior is compelling and important to think through. It is a comfort to me that Thailand is such a very old country. Thanks for post.

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