Business dos and don'ts in Thailand

Rvo,  Friday, 13 October 2017


It is essential to maintain intensive contact with your Thai business partner.

Do you want to make a first appointment? Do not send a fax or e-mail, but a letter instead. That is much more appreciated by a Thai.

Business contacts

  • As a businessman or businesswoman, you are well advised to dress formally for business meetings. Your Thai business partner will greet you with a (slappy) handshake. Leave the initiative to your business partner.
  • The Thai greet each other with a 'wai.' This is a traditional gesture in which the palms of one's hands are placed against each other and brought to the face.
  • It is customary to use Mr/Mrs/Miss and the first name. You can also use the Thai word Khoen as a title, both for a woman and a man. It is unusual to speak to a Thai with his often long and challenging surname. The people usually have a short nickname that you learn after some social contacts. You can then use this nickname to address them.
  • Also because of the Buddhist influence, Thai people are cordial and friendly. They are known for their tolerance and hospitality. Do not be tempted by jovial behavior and do not touch your interlocutor in a friendly manner.

  • Negotiating

  • Negotiating in Thailand requires patience, self-control and tenacity. Before the contract negotiations, be advised on the relevant legislation. Ignorance can severely weaken your negotiating position. An appointment is only an agreement if it is mentioned in a legally valid and signed contract.
  • Thai society is very hierarchical. That is why it is vital that you define your position in your organisation. Provide for a sufficient number of business cards, clearly stating your position in your organization. The business cards usually remain on the table during the conversation. It is a sign of little respect to store them right away without looking at them. Do not use them to make notes on them. It is seen as an insult if you do not take the tickets with you after the call has ended.
  • Speaking of a few words Thai breeds sympathy with the Thai business partner. Try to build a personal bond with your counterpart.
  • Thai maintain an indirect way of communicating. They may, therefore, have difficulty with the direct Western approach.
  • Thai people appreciate it if you bring a small gift or gift. To avoid any loss of face for the giver, gifts are not unpacked in your presence. Typical British souvenirs are sought after.

  • Social aspects

  • In Thailand, the king occupies a very important place. Negative remarks and jokes about him and the royal family are not done.
  • In a predominantly Buddhist country, the monks dressed in orange form a striking appearance in the streetscape. Women should certainly not touch a monk. In both the host country and the UK, it is advisable to show respect for Buddha images.

  • This article of is based on . Translated from the Dutch language by Jos Deuling.  

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