Things to know about traditions and customs in Southeast Asian countries


Some countries like Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore have their own tradition and customs that travelers should know to avoid making mistakes.

1. Thailand

Thai people respect their monarchy and show their sincere love to their King. Therefore, if you commit a lack of respect or say something offensive to the king or their monarchy, you will make big mistakes with the Thai people and will be punished.

Thai people think that the threshold of the house is the sacred place, so you absolutely must step on it and have to take off your shoes before entering a house, temple or pagoda.

Touch the monk, give them anything directly, especially women are taboo in Thailand where Buddhism is considered the state religion. Therefore, when standing in a crowd, try to avoid touching the shoulders of monks. Moreover, touching other people such as baby's head, shoulder, back are also considered offensive gestures.


Gestures such as kissing or hugging a woman's waist are rude in Laos, especially for unmarried women, which is considered vulgar. Therefore, when you want to take pictures with a native girl, you should put your hands behind your back or to the front.

On the road, don’t make loud honk. Although it is not banned in this country, local people here consider the horn as the most exaggerated detail on a car. Rarely do you see the Lao people honk the horn, so if you keep the habit of using horns as in Vietnam, people will be very upset, even think you are aliens.

Lao people are very religious Buddhism. When visiting the temple, you absolutely do not cause disorder and dress properly.


Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country with diverse cultures such as Malaysian, Chinese, Indian and the native culture of Orang Asli. The Malaysians often wear the baju, their traditional clothing which is long-sleeved and collarless in public. Therefore, visitors to Malaysia are advised to choose polite, formal outfits, especially when going to places of worship.

When giving or receiving money, only use the right hand. Left hand is considered unclean, so when eating you should also remember to use only the right hand.

Islam is the state religion in Malaysia. Malaysian people do not drink wine and eat pork because they are taboo in Islamic beliefs.

If you want to visit a Malaysian family, you should call in advance. Take off your shoes before entering the house and do not refuse if you are invited to the pastry, as refusal will be considered impolite.

If you have an appointment with a Malaysian for any purpose, it is best to arrive on time.

Malaysians do not shake hands with the opposite sex while avoiding touches such as rubbing heads or backs.


Known as the cleanest country in the world, Singaporeans do not respond to cigarettes and always apply strict regulations to protect the environment. If you chew gum, smoke or litter in public places, you will be fined hundreds, even $1,000 and must work for 12 hours in public. In other places, if you want to smoke, ask for permission from the opposite person.

For Singaporeans, pointing fingers at others, clenching fists or middle fingers is considered extremely rude. Two hands are not arbitrarily attached to the ribs because it is a sign of exasperation.

When eating, do not place chopsticks on the bowl or food plate. When you do not eat anymore, do not put it around but put on the rack, chili paste or put on a bone plate.