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Published: February 12th 2009
Anyone who has ever been to Thailand will have repeatedly witnessed the reason why the Kingdom has rightly been dubbed the Land of Smiles. A land of warm and friendly folk where visitors will be met with caring beaming smiles the minute they steps off the plane. Many foreigners are perplexed to why a country like Thailand can be so open and hospitable to foreigners and be so delightfully happy to meet and greet and help them.
It is beyond doubt that Thai smiles and hospitality are two of the most resounding aspects of Thailand which attract so many visitors to this sun-filled ancient land. Then, perhaps not quite like back home, Thais’ smiles and hospitality are unmistakably genuine - all coming straight from the heart. So, where do these strikingly positive Thai characteristics originate from?
It is extremely define a ‘Thai person’; Thailand or historically Siam, has over the centuries, been a melting of different peoples, cultures, traditions and languages. Ever since the arrival of the first foreigners to modern Siam, the locals have, regardless to race color or creed, whole-heartedly welcomed friendly visitors from abroad with open-arms; and been accepting of positive foreign ways, ideas and influence. Never having been colonialized, Thailand has kept its own identity while accommodating foreigners to the fullest.
Unlike many other Asian countries, the ‘Thai’ people live as one, whether they be Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian or Confuscist, they live together in harmony and peace and are respectful of each other’s beliefs and cultures. That is one of the beauties of Thailand and the essence of Thai people’s hospitality towards foreigners.
As for the ever-friendly Thai smile, that is obviously one of Thailand’s greatest attributes in promoting people to come to the Kingdom time and time again. Wherever one is, in this lovely land, foreign visitors feel perfectly at home due to the constant smiles they receive from people of all walks of life. This is one heartfelt feature of Thailand which the country doesn’t have to invest a penny to promote. Smiling like hospitality is engrained within Watthanatham (culture) and so, the hearts and souls of Thai people.
One of the most remembered episodes in recent times of just how far the Thais can take their smiles, generosity and warmth was in the aftermath of the horrific Tsunami disaster of 2004. Foreign diplomats and governments heaped immense praise upon Thailand for its huge relief efforts, “I'm amazed. I think without them we would be in a much worse situation than we are," the Swedish ambassador to Thailand said.
Survivors too recount how local Thais, often at their own peril, worked hazardously with their bare hands to help foreign victims escape, while affording well needed comfort and shelter to weary survivors. Ron Bombiger, a tourist from Los Angeles recalled "The local people rescued me, put me in a blanket, fed me and got me to a hospital.”
The whole-hearted Thai smile and hospitality, renowned throughout the world, whether it is in terms of service or humanity, will continue to serve Thailand’s tourism industry enormously while promoting international relations and a remarkably positive image abroad.
In the words of Jim, an American ex-professional athlete, who has written lately on a well-known Thai travel website “I have traveled around 3/4 of the world, and the Thai people are some of the nicest, most polite people I have ever met. I was never treated better in Europe, South America, Central America, or North America. No other country in Asia is even close and I have been to most of them’.
Over on the popular TripAdvisor forums, PeterTravels had this to say lately about the local people “Firstly the beautiful Thai people, the majority are kind, loving, polite and would give you the shirt from there backs. We have made a few Thai friends over the years and we are treated like family when we see them”.
Finally, it is completely obvious that is the wondrous smile and ever-kind hospitality of the Thais that are major key factors in encouraging foreign tourists to come to Thailand again and again and again.
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