Before renting or purchasing villas on Koh Samui, it will help to learn a bit about the culture of the people on the island.
When dealing with an unfamiliar culture, it is all-too-easy to do something that you might not think of as offensive, but could be extremely offensive to the inhabitants.
Religion has had a very big impact on the culture Koh Samui. As the island is part of Thailand, Buddhism has, by far, had the biggest impact.
There are Buddhist temples on the island, and the overwhelming majority of inhabitants follow Buddhist teachings. The Buddhist monks on the island are held in particularly high regard, so it is wise to always treat them with respect. Buddhism is not the only religion practiced on the island, however.
There are a good number of Christians and Muslims who are part of the population, and there are churches and mosques on the island. It is not unusual for Christian and Muslim holidays to be widely celebrated across the island.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Thailand is a monarchy, so respect for the Royal Family is paramount.
Saying anything in public negative or derogatory about any member of the Royal Family is not only considered offensive, but is actually illegal. If you do say something negative about a member of the family, you could find yourself in jail, or even facing execution. Also be aware that it is customary to stand whenever the King’s anthem is played.
Body language also tends to play an important role in Koh Samui culture. For example, a traditional greeting in Thailand is pressing your palms together and bowing your head slightly, a gesture known as the wai. It is considered extremely rude to not return a wai when greeted with one.
In addition, it is also considered rude to not return a smile if someone presents you with one. Keeping your feet on the ground when sitting is considered polite, while putting your feet up is considered rude. Be careful not to sit cross-legged, as that is putting one of your feet up and thus considered rude.
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