Although Thai culture
is very diverse, around 95% of the population of Thailand are Buddhist; along
with Buddhism in Thai culture, Hinduism has also made important contributions,
as well influences from cultures of the nearby countries of Myanmar, Cambodia,
Laos and China. The most important
values to Thai culture are self-control, being non-confrontational and showing respect. Thai people will always show a positive and
friendly attitude in public, along with a smile, hence earning Thailand the
nickname the 'Land of Smiles'. To show
anger or frustration in public is viewed in a very negative light and is a
source of shame. However, a sense of humour is essential, with the concept of 'Sanuk',
which embodies playfulness and humour into Thai life.
Family is very important in Thailand, with families remaining very close and extended family often live together to help raise the children and provide for the family. Children are raised to, and expected to, show great respect for their parents and elders, especially the elderly. Adult children will ensure their parents are provided for, and will often go without themselves in order to do so.
Respect is also very important in Thai culture, with Thai people openly displaying respect for elders and those in higher social positions, with those being in highly prestigious positions in society (such as important public figures, doctors and monks), are revered. Women are also granted considerable respect, with equal rights becoming important in Thailand's laws and values. In a country that has been traditionally male dominated, it is now seeing women move from traditional roles into other professions, such as business and politics.
The Thai language is widely spoken throughout Thailand, although you will find regional accents and dialects through the country. There is a strong sense of national identity, with traditional celebrations, dance, music, food and beliefs being important in Thai life. However, as with any developing areas of the world, in areas that thrive on tourism in Thailand, you will see less of the traditional culture of the country as the younger Thai's become more 'westernised'.