Thai Customs–Take off your shoes.
Guidebooks about Thailand talk about the importance of taking your shoes off before you enter temples or the house of a Thai person. What I didn`t know was that it also applies to very small shops. The photo that you see below was taken at a small jewelry shop in Koh Phangang. Many foreigners must have offended the owner because this sign was posted on the ground before you enter the shop and you couldn`t miss it.
I have also noted it in a couple of smaller places Koh Samui but not so much in Bangkok. This custom is not only limited to Thailand but also in other Asian countries.
Why are the Thai people offended when you don`t take your shoes off?
The feet of a person is the lowest realm of his/her existence according to Thai Buddhism. The head is the highest and the feet are the lowest – the most unholy part of the body. Not only do you offend a Thai person by not taking off your shoes but also if you show the bottom of your feet when sitting or if you point with your foot to someone or something. Bare feet are also meant to be dirty.
Never point your feet at temples,statues of Buddha,monks or the king. The Thais are really offended and will not forgive you.
If you are in doubt follow the rule of thumb. If there are shoes by the door or the entrance , remove your shoes before you enter. You will definitely make a good impression.