The culture of Thailand has been greatly influenced by Buddhism. The Thai wat, or a temple with a Buddhist monastery, was historically the centre of the village. It was the place where people received education, attended rites and ceremonies, and observed feasts and festivals all year round. Nowadays, due to the rapid advancement of technology, the traditional Thai way of living, especially in the big cities, has inevitably changed. However, it is still preserved to a large extent in the faraway rural areas where life is much simpler than it is the rushed cities.
The most distinctive Thai custom is the Wai, a method of greeting and showing respect which is performed by placing the palms of the hands together in front of the chest. Typically, the higher the hands are raised in front of the body and the lower the head is to meet the hands, the more respect is shown. In Thai Culture. the young are taught to pay respect to and follow the admonitions of parents, elders, teachers and Buddhist monks.
Thai behaviour is well controlled by etiquette based on Buddhism. The head, being the higest point on the body, is considered the cleanest while the feet, being the lowest point of the body, are considered to be dirty. Therefore the feet should never be pointed towards another person nor used in any way which would bring the foot into contact with someone else. It is considered extremely rude to put the feet above someone's head or to step on a Thai coin as it has the King's head engraved upon it. The society is non- confrontational in nature and so disputes are generally averted at all costs.
Thais prefer proper behavior and dress. Revealing clothes and behaving rudely in public needs to be avoided at all times. In fact, some major temples which are tourist spots even have Thai-style pants available to wear over the clothes, and are mandatory for foreigners who come to see the historic sight but are improperly clothed.
Thai people are often considered by most visitors to the country to be among the most friendly in relation to other places in the world. The enduring Thai cultural lifestyle with a basis in Buddhism stands behind this enjoyable aspect of the country.