Etiquitte and Glossary

Generally Thais are very forgiving by nature, and will rarely show it. if you do anything to offend them. Thai temples are places of worship. When visiting temples, you should abide by the acepted eiquette for visitors. However, its best to avoid giving offence in the first place by observing some very simple rules regarding the proper behaviour for temples and other religious places.

Dress properly

Bare shoulders and shorts should be avoided. This rule is somewhat flexible depending on the "Class" of the temple and whether you're a man or a women. Outside of the big cities you will often see men attending a temple in shorts and tank tops. While marginally acceptable for a man, it is totally unacceptable for a woman. Skirts or Trousers should at least cover the knee. In high ranking temples such as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok, as well as those royal palaces open to the public, you will not be allowed to enter unless you are properly dressed. In most such cases, there will be unisex sarongs available to make you more acceptable.

Becareful where you point your fingers

Pointing, in general, is rather impolite. Pointing with your foot is rude. Following an old tradition from Hindu times, the head is sacred because it is closest to heaven, so likewise the feet are therefore the most unclean. When sitting or kneeling in a temple building, make sure the soles of your feet are not facing the alter.

Take off your shoes

If your feet are considered unclean, then your shoes are definitely dirty. You must remove your shoes before entering a temple building, and before entering someone's house in Thailand. Failing to do this one little thing is perhaps the most insulting thing you could do to a Thai person.

Do not temp the Monks

Being a monk means detaching oneself from all worldly occupations, even (or perhaps especially) sex. Therefore, its considered rude for a woman to even attempt to touch or hand something to a monk. If a woman must give something to a monk, the typical solution is to place the item on a table where the monk can pick it up. In merit-making situations such as morning offerings a monk will often have a lay helper to take things offered by female merit makers. This "service" is a form of merit making for the layman.

Stay off the Buddha

Buddha images, no matter how small or old and decrepit, are sacred religious objects and must be treated with the utmost respect. Do not climb on them, sit next to them for a picture or put them on the floor - or anyplace "inferior or lower" than a person.


Wat (Temple)

More than 30,000 Buddhist temples are consecrated in Thailand. Thai Temples have vary architectural design and style in all Thailand areas. A temple, which may include not only congregation halls, but also a monastery, shrines, school and sports grounds etc.

Bot or Ubosot

The ordination hall, where new monks are ordained and other important ceremonies take place. The Bot is not necessarily the largest building in a temple compound, and may not always be open to the public. The Bot will always have an alter with at least one Buddha image, making it hard to tell the difference between a Bot and a Wihan. The easiest way to tell the difference is that only the Bot will be surrounded by Sema stones.

Wihan or Wihara

It house important buddha images and are where the laity come to pray. While there will always only be one Bot in a temple, there can be several Wihan.

Chedi

Sometimes translated as stupa or even pagoda. This generally bell-shaped tower will usually contain a relic of the Buddha, but may also be built to contain the ashes of a king or important monk. The bell-shaped chedi evolved during the golden age of Ayutthaya.

Cho Fa

Cho Fa are the decorations at the roof gables of the temple. It is believed to represent the mythical Garuda.

Bell "Rakhang" Tower

Most of the temples will have bell or drum tower to call the faithful.

Phang

A more phallic-shaped tower that will be in the center of Ayutthaya and khmer-style temples. The Phang is typically described as a "corn-cob" shape. Phangs can be found all over Ayutthaya.

Sala

Generally, any open-sided pavilion. In a temple, these may be used for lectures, Sermons or pilgrims. All temples contain at least one but usually many Buddha images and always facing east.

Mondop or Ho Trai

Both of these terms could be translated as "library". A Mondop is almost always square in shape, and may house objects of worship, scriptures or special images. A Ho Trai was often built on stilts over a pond to minimize damage from insect.

Naga

The Naga is a mythical serpent that according to legend, sheltered the Buddha while he was meditating. In temple architecture, the Naga will often be used as a decorative motif for staircase that ascends to the Wihan or Bot and roof edges.

Yak

A huge statues giants stand in front of the temple. Yak are supposed to frighten the spirits or demons who would like to enter the Bot.

Hongse

The Hongse is a mythical swan-like creature, the mount of the God Brahma. It is often seen as a decoration for ornamental gates or standing on a tall pole in front of the Wihan.

Singhas

Look like the chinese " Kirin", Singhas alway situated in front of the Bot, they represent power and strength.

Deity

A Hindu Gods.

Kuti

The houses for monks and novices.