Home > Preparing > About Thailand > Thai Culture

Thai Culture

Home > Preparing > About Thailand > Thai Culture

Thai Culture

The Uniqueness of Thai Culture

Melding ancient temples and modern skyscrapers, sprawling shopping centres and quaint markets, and five-star dining and street food stalls, Thailand is a kaleidoscope of contradictions that can be a rich and rewarding home. Famous for its white beaches, fiery cuisine and scorching weather, the country offers something to appeal to every traveler and resident. When preparing for your move, it helps to be acquainted with a few of the idiosyncrasies that make Thailand such a vibrant place to live.

An Overview of Thai Culture

Capturing the vibrancy and complexity of Thai culture in a few paragraphs represents an impossible task. We encourage all new faculty to spend some time not only reviewing the information on this page, but also accessing the other comprehensive resources available across the Internet. This will not only help you gain a deeper understanding of your new home, but also allow you to build relationships with others upon your arrival, particularly our wonderful Thai staff.

A good starting point is Wikipedia’s article on Thai culture, which details everything from lifestyle, religion and customs to food, arts and holidays.

The Land of Smiles

One of the more common nicknames for the country is well-earned, as you’ll notice many Thais are friendly, outgoing and eager to make a good impression. However, like many other Asian cultures, the concept of “face” is very important, being more valued than the importance many Westerners place on blunt honesty and directness. This ultimately ties to one of the most important traits you can have as a global citizen: patience. Thailand’s unique culture may be challenging at times, but being patient and understanding – even in frustrating situations – will allow you to adapt far more easily. The best approach, though one with a multitude of meanings? “Mai pen rai.

Strangers in a Strange Land

As a Westerner in Thailand, be prepared not for extremes, but rather tolerance or indifference. The country, and Bangkok in particular, have had a long history of welcoming foreigners. Most Thais, especially the younger generation, tend to view others as individuals rather than judging them based on their ethnicity or nationality. Calmness, intelligence and respectfulness are highly valued. That being said, the beliefs that many Westerners hold regarding racism, shaped by slavery and the civil rights movement, are not understood in Thailand. Expect comments that would be considered offensive elsewhere, including references to your skin color, weight and other physical characteristics.

“Never Is There Any Effect Like That of Merit.”

The integral links between Buddhism and Thai culture cannot be underemphasized. The religion is entrenched in the country’s customs, social norms, politics, philosophical beliefs and day-to-day life, even for those who do not necessarily practice it. Spirit houses sit outside towering office buildings, passersby wai glittering temples and the smell of incense wafts by air-conditioned malls. When interacting with Thai colleagues and others, you should be mindful of the attention and value placed upon these norms. Much of the Thai approach to life is best captured in the concept of merit, or virtuous actions. While Westerners often believe major personal mistakes cannot be undone, the Thai conception of merit essentially means that they can be; nothing is permanent. This fundamental philosophical difference needs to be remembered when adjusting to life here.

Preparing for Your Move - Thai Visa Application

The Visa Process

One of the key steps you will need to complete prior to departure to Thailand is acquiring your visa. Our HR team will assist you throughout this process.

Welcome to the NIST Community

If you are offered a position at NIST, we will be supporting you from the first day to ease your transition. We encourage you to read the resources in this section to learn more about Thailand and complete the online tech training.
Arriving to NIST International School in Bangkok

Safeguarding at NIST

We prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all of our community members, and all NIST faculty and staff must complete annual safeguarding training.

Adjusting to Your New Home

In addition to an extensive orientation to Bangkok and NIST, our transition coordinator will organize tours, shopping expeditions and social events to help you settle in quickly and focus on your new role in our community.
NIST International School Bangkok Skyline

The New to NIST Blog

All new faculty are given access to a password-protected blog with more tips and information about working and living in Thailand.

Life in Bangkok

From five-star restaurants to world-famous street food and sprawling shopping malls to bustling open-air markets, Bangkok offers something for everyone and also offers the opportunity for easy travel throughout Asia.