Although Thailand is renowned for having one of the most easy-going societies in the world, tradition still largely guides daily life. A strong connection to family and religion lie at the heart of Thai culture and elders are treated with reverence. These customs are steeped in a long and rich history, stretching back hundreds of years.
Family is very important to Thai people and extended families often live under one roof. Children show the utmost respect to their parents and maintain strong ties, even after they’ve married and started their own families.
Elders in particular are held in high esteem, so neglecting to show the appropriate courtesy is frowned down upon. Thai people use a variety of titles to address their elders, depending on the nature of the relationship. For those you know well, pii (“older brother/sister”) is considered respectful, but khun (“Mr/Mrs”) should be used if there’s less familiarity.
When eating out, the proper etiquette is to let the oldest ladies order the food, and when dining at someone’s home, it’s considered good manners to let your elders enter the house first.
Dining plays a key role in family life and it’s also one of the most socially important activities in Thailand – so much so that eating alone is considered unsociable behaviour. Family and friends often eat together every day – sharing multiple dishes between them. The correct etiquette is to take small portions for each meal, so there’s enough to go around.
Rushing through a meal is seen as rude as you’re meant to take your time and savour each dish, while enjoying the company. The host or wealthiest person is expected to pay the bill. Split bills aren’t common and declining to pay if the bill finds itself to you comes across as disrespectful.
Religion is an integral part of Thai life, impacting everything, including the act of dining. The vast majority (93%) of Thais are Buddhist and this influences food choices. Thai dishes are typically served in bite-size portions in accordance with a Buddhist custom, which forbids the cooking and serving of whole animals.
Although Buddhism discourages the act of killing; meat, poultry and seafood feature heavily in many Thai dishes and Buddhists typically rationalise this with statements like “the chicken was already dead when I bought it.”
As you can see, Thai customs feature heavily in day to day life, influencing dining, relationships and more.
Here at Wok on Inn, our home-style cooking pays homage to Thai customs by using recipes that have been passed down over generations – making the most of the fresh ingredients and spices that our ancestors cherished.
We go out of our way to create authentic meals that you can share with loved ones, for a real Thai dining experience, or dig into alone if you’re craving a bit of solitude.
Visit your nearest Wok on Inn or get delivery, to enjoy traditional and delicious Thai food in Sydney. You can also order online!