Learn about Customs in Southeast Asian Countries

Customs in Southeast Asian countries

Some countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore have their own customs and practices. It is recommended that travelers should learn more about customs in Southeast Asian countries in order to behave in a proper way. This article will introduce some popular ones in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Laos.


Thai people attach great importance to the monarchy and have a deep love and respect for their king. Therefore, under any circumstances, you are not allowed to show the disrespect to or say anything offensive to the king or their monarchy. If not following this, you make a big mistake and will be punished.

Monarchy in Thailand

Thai people maintain the concept that the threshold is the residence of gods. Therefore, you should avoid stepping on it and have to put on shoes before entering the house, temple or shrine.

In particular, touching monks or giving a thing to them directly, especially women is a taboo in Thailand where Buddhism is considered the national religion. For this reason, when standing in a crowd, you try to avoid touching the shoulders of monks. Besides, other actions of touching other people such as touching children’s heads and clapping someone on the shoulders or back are also seen as offensive gestures.


Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multicultural country. Malaysia’s cultures are the combination of Malaysian, Chinese, Indian cultures and the native culture of Orang Asli. Malaysian people often wear the long dress made of flowery material. Some body parts like arms and thighs are always covered with the clothes in public places. Therefore, visitors to Malaysia are advised to choose polite outfits, especially when going to places of worship.

Malaysia’s costume

When giving or receiving money, you use the right hand. Malaysian people think that the left hand is unclean. Therefore, when eating, you should only use the right hand for taking food.

The Malaysian people who are orthodox Muslim followers do not drink wine and eat pork because the consumption of these foods is taboo in Islamic beliefs.

If you want to visit a Malaysian family, you should call a phone in advance. You leave your shoes outside the house before entering the house. You do not refuse to eat sweet cakes because the refusal will be considered impolite.

Use the right hand for eating

If you have an appointment with a Malaysian for any purpose, it is best to arrive at the right time.

Malaysian people do not shake hands with the people of the opposite sex and avoid touching other people’s heads or backs.


Singapore is known as the cleanest country in the world. In reality, Singaporeans do not support smoking cigarettes and often apply strict regulations to protect the environment. If chewing gum, smoking or littering in public places, you will be fined up to $1,000 and forced to work for the public for 12 hours If you try to protest against the punishment, you can be beaten with a rod. In some places, if wanting to smoke, you need to ask permission of surrounding people.

Singapore – the cleanest country in the world

For Singaporeans, pointing fingers at others and clenching fists or middle fingers are extremely discourteous. Two hands are not arbitrarily attached to the ribs because this action is a sign of annoyance.

When having a meal, you do not put chopsticks on the bowl or plate. When finishing, you put them on the plate of chili or bone.


In Laos, actions such as kissing or hugging the waist of a woman are not welcomed in Laos. In addition, for unmarried women, this action is considered vulgar. Therefore, when taking some pictures with a beautiful native girl, you should put your hands behind your back or to the front.

Buddhism in Laos

When being involved in the Lao traffic, you should not noisily honk your horn. Although the action is not banned in this country, the local people see the horn as a redundant detail of their vehicles. On the road, it is rare for you to see any Lao people honking.

Laotians worship Buddhism. When visiting the pagoda, you absolutely do not make any noise, wear the dress that shows a lot of cleavages or say discourteous words.

Hope that the information above will be helpful if you are planning to travel in some countries in Southeast Asia.