The Uniquely Thai Greeting

March 4, 2017

The Thai people are humble, very friendly, always eager to help and there’s always a lot of bowing with hands in the prayer position. I guess it’s the Buddhist influence. This is the typical Thai greeting, called the “Wai”. It is used to say hello, goodbye and thank you. The higher the hands are placed, the more respect is shown.

The Wai is common in Southeast Asia in the Buddhist countries of Cambodia and Laos. It is not a religious practice but can be part of rituals in religious observance.  Southeast Asia was subjected to a process of Indianisation and so probably the Wai has its origins in the Indian practice of ” Namaste ”

For us, the Wai began oddly enough on Korean Air where the possibly Thai flight attendants for the Bangkok bound flight approached each passenger, introduced themselves and thanked them for flying with them. The “Wai courtesy” was the same on Air Asia or Thai Air carried right through to the clerks in stores, the front desk people at hotels and even the many people preparing and selling street food all over Thailand.

Here are some common greetings that go along way even when you are obviously an outsider.

  • Sawadee = Hello
  • Kop kuhn ka = Thank you
  • Sabadee mai = how are you?

And when all else fails there’s always sign language or pantomime.

Aloha, Mikie 

~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)


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