On our tours we often visit some of Bangkok’s local temples. We are always more than welcome to get a taste of Thai culture. However, there are some easy but important things to note before visiting any temple and particularly before entering the main hall (bot) where the main Buddha image is housed. These expressions show deep respect and gratitude for Thai culture. Of course our guides are happy to explain this unspoken etiquette to you and guide you through the temple visit. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when visiting a temple.
Although it can be warm riding a bike in Bangkok, shorts, skirts and tanks should be avoided during a visit to a temple. This rule of somehow flexible depending on the ‘rank’ of the temple and whether you are a man or women.
You don’t have to be all covered up but at least conceal knees and shoulders with loose-fitting clothes. Our guides will have a spare sarong for those who need one. Hats and sunglasses should also be taken off before entering the temple.
Before entering the temple you will probably notice a pile of shoes. Following an old tradition the head is sacred because it’s closest to heaven. Likewise the feet the feet are considered unclean and so are the shoes. Make sure you remove your shoes before entering the temple building. Also step over the wooden threshold to the temple rather than on top of it.
When seated inside please do not point the soles or your feet towards the shrine as it’s considered rude. It’s best to sit on bended knees Should you be seated inside the temple, check that the soles of your feet are not facing the shrine or the monks, as it is considered rude. Best to sit on bended knees.
Buddha images, no matter how small, are sacred religious objects and should be treated with the utmost respect. For women, it’s important not to touch a monk, as most monks are not permitted to touch women. In case you would like to give something to the monk the typical solution is the place the item on a table where the monk can pick it up.
If you would like to take a picture with a monk make sure to leave some distance between the two of you. Kissing and other tenderness with your loved ones are off-limits and considered disrespectful.
Like most sacred spaces, the best way to show respect is to be quiet and to turn off sounds on electronic devices. Try not to disturb people practising their beliefs while you are visiting.
It’s no problem to photograph inside the temples. Before photographing monks kindly ask them for permission first. Monks who are worshipping should be left undisturbed.