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Answers to 5 WHYs about staying on Koh Phangan

20 Feb

Thailand and Southeast Asia is the whole different world to what you are used to. Cultural differences may shock you at first, so here are answers to 5 questions you probably have.


Why do I have to take off my shoes?

In the temples, in the hotels, in the shops, coffee-places and sometime even in pharmacies you should be barefoot. Even some bars and concert places have not only a parking for scooters, but also one for the flip-flops. So why?

For Thai people wearing shoes inside is highly disrespectful to the spirits of the house.

Also feet are believed to be the dirtiest part of the body, and taking shoes off makes them cleaner.

Why I shouldn’t tip?

Thailand is the first country where you will see stickers at the immigration at the airport saying that you shouldn’t tip officers. Also it’s not common to tip people working in hospitality business and in the restaurants. Of course it’s not prohibited. But Thai people won’t disrespect you or act aggressively (like for example waiters in the USA) if you don’t leave tips. Here it’s better to smile and say thank you, than tip with cold face.

But anyways people here will be happy if you leave 10% from the bill or don’t take change at the shop.

Why Thai people are always smiling?

Thailand is cold the Country of Smiles, and you will see a lot of people smiling to you if you even just cross the eyes with someone on the street. To foreigners it might seem a little insincere at first, but it’s not like that.

Thai people are using smiles as a form of nonverbal communication. And there are 13 (thirteen!) types of smiles for different occasions, and each has its own name. The smile could show happiness, hide the pain, be used as an apology. But we usually see the smile that is called Yim Thak Thai - a polite smile that enables you to acknowledge someone you don’t know that well, or someone you aren’t going to get into a long conversation with.

Why are there so many dogs?

It’s not only on Koh Phangan, but in the whole Thailand where you can see many many dogs on the streets. Usually they are pretty friendly, good looking and even in collars.

The main reason of their spread – is that the Thai people feed them and care after them – as caring after animals is believed to work for the karma.

But something you need to remember – during the day the dogs are usually nice and humble, but in the night they might attack, so beware.

Why some buildings stay abandoned?

You might have seen an abandoned resort right on the most touristic beach Haad Rin. It seems so strange – such a wonderful location and nobody wants to restore it. But in Thai culture it is believed that the abandoned places belong to the spirits, and locals prefer not to deal with them. So they won’t ever spend the night in a place like this. And if you decide to take a risk – that might be a very scary experience.


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