Thailand is home to Buddhist heritage so there are hundreds of Buddhist temples almost everywhere. Some travelers like visiting temples not only to pray but also to appreciate and admire the architecture, the structure, or the history behind them. There are priceless values when visiting temples.
It is not complete if you visit Thailand without visiting the temples. Since there are many of them, you might as well choose two or three temples to visit and not visit many temples in a day. It can cause you to suffer from burnout. You might have difficulties in differentiating one temple to another. That is why it is recommended to take your time looking up details and find out the unique element of every temple. Here is what you need to know about visiting temples in Thailand:
- Don’t expect to see monks in ever temples you visit. In Thailand, serving as a monk is considered as part of young man’s development. The choice to remain as monk is optional. Thus, it is common to see monks walking around the streets and doing normal activities like using cell phones, playing games in internet cafe, or even smoking. You can interact with them in a friendly way but make sure to show your respect. It is suggested to greet and thank them for their time by giving them higher wai. It is a famous prayer-gesture which includes a slight bow. Don’t argue when they don’t return the gesture since they are not expected to do it.
- Before entering a temple, make sure to read the rules. There are places in the temple which are for monks only and open for public. Make sure to enter the right place. You can look for things you can usually find near the temple which indicate you are in the right place such as a sign to ask you remove your shoes which usually written in English, donation boxes, and of course other worshippers who are not monks.
- It is important to know how to acts when you near Buddha images. When you enter the main temple, you need to remove your shoes, avoid stepping on the threshold, walk around sacred objects in clockwise manner only, avoid getting in the way of worshippers, make enough distance before turning your back from Buddha statue, avoid snapping a selfie near Buddha statue, avoid touching sacred objects especially in worship area, be respectful of the way you speak, and make sure not to position yourself higher than the Buddha image. Those are basic etiquette when visiting temple in Thailand.
- In Thailand, it is offensive to pose for a photo with your back turned to Buddha image. There is no prohibition to take pictures of Buddha image unless there is a sign indicates it. However, it is highly suggested not to take photos while people are praying. If you want to take a photo with the monks, make sure to ask their permission nicely. They are friendly but you still have to respect their privacy.