Chiang Mai Travel Guide -> Temple Etiquette
 

 
In general, Thai Buddhist temples (Wats) are open to everyone. The temples are very often not just beautiful but they also have a very pleasant, calm, soothing atmosphere and you should try to visit at least some of them. There are, however, several rules that you must observe. Modest clothing is required, which means for ladies: a skirt or dress that covers the knees and a top with sleeves that covers the shoulders and is not transparent. For men, modest clothing means long pants and a shirt that covers the shoulders. Shorts will not do! (In general, I don`t understand why so many grown-up men believe they can only withstand the heat if they dress like little schoolboys - and look definitely ridiculous! The man who looks dignified in shorts still remains to be born!)

Before entering any building you must always take off your shoes. Outside are often shelves for the shoes (sometimes separate shelves, one for Thais and one for foreigners). In general, you may photograph anything in a Wat, but taking pictures while people are praying is not polite! You should also never, ever have your picture taken with any Buddhist image. The monks often do not like being photographed; they just hide when they see a camera aimed at them. Women may talk to monks, but may not touch them (and the monks may also not receive anything directly from a woman`s hand). You should also never, ever touch the head of a Buddha statue or point with a foot a it, or climb on anything in a temple.

Last but not least, driving into the temple courtyard on a motorcycle is definitely not good style and the monks will chase you away if you try it. In general, just ask yourself: would I behave this way in a church or temple of my own confession? and act accordingly.

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Last Updated 10.02.2007