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7 Things Thais Do From Carrying Inhalers To Offering Zebras At Spirit Houses

Things Thais do

Being Thai is more than just being born to Thai parents or holding a citizenship here in Thailand. Despite being born to Thai parents and growing up here, I’ve met plenty of foreigners whom I’d consider more Thai than I am. 

While it’s hard to nail down exactly what it means to be Thai, here are 7 things that someone will most likely do if they’re Thai.

1.) You end all your text messages with “ka” or “krub”

Much like other Asian languages, the Thai language has politeness and respect ingrained into many of its expressions.

But because English lacks these expressions that Thais crave, you’ll often find many Thais resorting to mixing the Thai language into English in order to properly express this politeness. That’s why if you’re a boss in Thailand or working with a Thai client, you’ll find that all their messages with you will contain certain words you won’t find anywhere else.

First, Thais always address you as Khun (คุณ) followed by your name. This is a title that is equivalent to Mr. or Ms., but has the advantage of being gender-neutral! So no more headaches figuring out if you’re speaking to a man or a woman. 

Second, we’ll often end sentences with ka if the speaker is female, or krub if the speaker is male. These are words you tack onto the end of your sentences to show politeness. Even the most heinous of sentences will have politeness – so long as you say krub or ka at the end. 

So tell us, have you ever written an email that starts “Dear K.,” and ends with “Best regards ka”?

2.) You say you’re a few minutes away, but you’re not even out of bed yet

A man checking his watch
Image credit: Gilles De Muynck via Unsplash

If you’ve ever had a social outing with Thais, then you might notice that some of us have a relaxed relationship with time. Maybe a bit too relaxed. 

Even as an introvert with precious few experiences going out with friends, I can tell you that 90% of the time I’ve gone out, there’s been at least one friend who is late. When asked how long it’ll take for them to get here, they’ll say “I’ll be there in 5.” 

Of course, what they failed to specify is if they meant 5 minutes. Or 5 hours.

3.) You always have Ya Dom (ยาดม) inhalers

Thai inhalers
Image credit:

Ranking as the number one undisputed item that Thais must have is the little white tube that is as addictive to Thais as crack. No Thai would be caught dead without ya dom in their pockets. 

Whether it’s Poy Sian, Tiger Balm, or Peppermint Field, you have to have at least one on you. Thais will use this to cure a variety of ailments such as dizziness, light-headedness, or drowsiness.

We’ve noticed that a lot of our foreign friends are hooked on the stuff too! If you’re looking to get a practical souvenir or a gift for a Thai friend abroad, you can’t go wrong with this.

4.) Our food isn’t strongly flavoured, it’s just seasoned to be eaten with rice

a platter of spicy Thai food
Image credit: Jerome Jome via Unsplash

Thai food is famously spicy. But it’s more than just spicy, Thai food is intense, no matter the flavour. 

If you’ve had Tom Yum then you know just how much a flavourful punch in the face that dish is. It’s a sour left jab, into a sweet left jab, into a spicy right hook finisher. 

But if you ever tell the street chef that your food is too strongly flavoured, they’ll just tell you that it’s supposed to be eaten with rice. Or even omelettes. 

Doesn’t matter, still delicious. 10/10 with rice.

5. Getting lotto numbers from any spectacular incident

Thai lottery tickets on sale
Image credit: @thidathipjanproy via Instagram

Thais love the lottery. We’re obsessed with it. 

If you’re in a non-serious car accident, you can expect your Thai friend to ask for either your licence plate number or the other car’s. If you had a strange dream, expect your friend to ask if you saw any numbers in the dream or ask about what time you woke up. 

It’s so big that teachers use it to motivate students to do their homework. 

And if you want to win the lottery the Thai way, we even have a guide.

6. We know the art of the hard sell

A street food cart in Thailand
Image credit: Ian Gratton via Wikimedia Commons

The streets of Thailand are home to some of the most aggressive marketers of all time. 

Whether it’s Chatuchak Market or a street food stall near your house, the vendor will tell you some of the most unbelievable things to get you to buy their product. 

You wanted a sweet mango and all they had were sour mangoes? Well, they have sweet-ish sour mangoes then. 

You wanted a shirt that’s cool to wear in Thailand? This shirt is made of the lightest fabric so it’ll help cool you down. But if you wanted to buy that same shirt in winter? Suddenly, it might have the kind of fabric that’s great at maintaining heat. 

And if you’re not careful, your friends might even cheed ya (ฉีดยา) you, so that you end up buying way more than you thought.

7.) We’ll barter with spirits for good results in life

A spirit house with offerings of flowers and red fanta
Image credit: Per Meistrup via Wikimedia Commons

Everyone has their superstitions. Many athletes swear by their lucky items, lucky meals, or even a specific ritual to get good results. 

Thais will bargain with spirits. You’ve no doubt seen zebras, red Fanta, or even phallic objects offered at spirit houses and shrines. Most, if not all, of these are the result of Thais making a promise to the spirits that if their wish came true, then they’d gift the spirit with an item that the spirit wants. 

Some shrines are particularly famous and are famously particular. But it’s often easy to tell what to offer. If you see a spirit house with an abundant amount of offerings, then you’ll know that it’s one that is considered potent. The offerings will often be similar things too. 

One particularly famous shrine is the Trimurti shrine in front of centralwOrld. Locals believe that if you’re looking for love, this is the place to pray at. Keep an eye out during Valentine’s! Tinder often has sponsored events there for singles who are ready to mingle.

So how Thai are you?

How many of these things do you do regularly? Are there any things you’d add to this list?

One thing’s for certain though. If you do any of these, then you’re well on your way to being Thai in the eyes of locals.

To show that you’re super Thai, you could try going on an unconventional Thai vacation this holiday season with help from our guide. To experience a trendy Thailand, try our guide to Thonglor cafes. Otherwise, there’s a once-a-year magical train ride over a reservoir that’ll rival the Hogwarts Express right now.

Cover image adapted from: Per Meistrup via Wikimedia Commons, @thidathipjanproy via Instagram,