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Forums » Thailand » Visiting a Buddhist Temple? Etiquette Guidelines

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paweber

Visiting a Buddhist Temple? Etiquette Guidelines

by paweber »

In the previous incarnation of this bulletin board a mom wanted to know if her tween sons could wear shorts when visiting temples in Thailand because the boys didn't want to wear long pants due to the heat. My advice was to use this as a teaching moment and explain to her children that they were not going to the beach but to a religious site where out of respect visitors are expected to dress and behave a certain way. 

My post then morphed into a list of guidelines that she could share with her sons but any visitor may find these useful when visiting a temple.

 

  • Be respectful to the temple and the Buddha statues.
  • Don't even think of touching the statues or religious objects.
  • Take off shoes in or around the temple grounds.
  • Do not point at Buddha statues or the monks/nuns. This includes pointing your feet or showing the bottom of your feet which becomes especially important when sitting inside the temple.
  • Keep your head below that of Buddha. You may need to kneel in front of a reclining Buddha for example. This means when taking photos as well.
  • Do not take photos of worshippers or monks as they pray.
  • Back away from the Buddha statue rather than turn your back.
  • Before entering the worship area of a temple, remove any hats, sunglasses and shoes. Turn off the cell phone, remove headphones or ear buds. No gum chewing or snacking. Lower voices.
  • There is a wooden sill or threshold at the temple entrance. Step over it rather than step on it.
  • If you happen to be sitting on the floor of the temple when a monk or nun enters then stand up.
  • Monks are generally friendly and many speak some English. Only use your right hand to receive or give something to a monk. Due to their vows monks cannot directly give or accept something from a woman; your sons can act as intermediaries if necessary.
  • Along those same lines, women and girls must never touch a monk or his robes. This includes his own family, even his own mother! If a woman should accidentally brush against a monk's robes while at market or wherever it means the monk has to go through a lengthy, ritual cleansing process.
  • Open-toe shoes without ankle straps are considered inappropriate footwear in Thailand.

 

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sarahv

RE: Visiting a Buddhist Temple? Etiquette Guidelines

by sarahv »

Great tips! Thanks for posting this.

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peter knight

RE: Visiting a Buddhist Temple? Etiquette Guidelines

by peter knight »

Everything is on the money. Except the last one. Where did that come from. I always wear sandals without the ankle straps and no one has ever looked at them or commented on them. Never heard a Thai say that either.

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paweber

RE: Visiting a Buddhist Temple? Etiquette Guidelines

by paweber »

Should have mentioned that the ankle strap thing is mostly for women and was told that by a Thai friend so I asked my hotel concierge who confirmed. Not really a big deal, more of a nuance than anything.

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kajtek

RE: Visiting a Buddhist Temple? Etiquette Guidelines

by kajtek »

Good tips. It's important to be very considerate and respectful.

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Azooki_Traveller

RE: Visiting a Buddhist Temple? Etiquette Guidelines

by Azooki_Traveller »

Hello Everybody, If I just may add. Thailand is known to have the best architectural structures in the Indochina region. The grandest palaces and towering temples can be seen in different parts of Thailand such as Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Kanchanaburi. There are also artifacts and relics that were preserved by the local people. Visitors need to dress conservatively and should avoid backpacker items such as sandals, shorts and vest tops. If you don’t have those required outfits, you can buy suitable clothes from the temple. It is more appropriate to avoid wearing revealing clothes. When entering the temple, never point your feet to people while seated during ceremonies and avoid sitting on a crossed-legged.Women must wear below knee skirts and men must wear long pants. Taking photos inside is prohibited. Food and drinks are also not allowed. Avoid touching any of the artifacts and relics that are displayed inside the museum. Tourist should always maintain silence at all times inside the Palace Complex premises. Hope these help. 

 
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badsagroup

RE: Visiting a Buddhist Temple? Etiquette Guidelines

by badsagroup »

Even if you are not a Buddhist you CAN go to a Buddhist temple and be welcomed warmly by the monks and the laypeople there. There are a few restrictions on who may pray at a Buddhist temple, but they are generally quite accommodating

i love thailand and i want to travel thailnad as soon as possible.

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