Sawat-diikha speaker  ("Hello." female speaker)
Sawat-diikhrap speaker ("Hello." male speaker)


You can approach this Business Thai web page from two avenues. One, with a few clicks, will give you standard information on how to hit the ground running, so to speak. Touristy type information meets that need, and we have many links to that category of useful information. Please be cautioned at the outset that the purpose of this web page does not follow a traditional linear "lesson plan" with goals to be reached.  Rather, it is an information source with several links and paths to take you off in directions of your own choosing. Before you go any further, scroll down and skim this Overview page to get a rough idea of some of the highlights.  Then scroll back and click on a link or two that might interest you.  The time you invest is up to you.  

Activities: Test of general knowledge; Quick Thai for Tourists; Thai Time; Useful Links to Practical Information.

Quick Activities:

1. Try a quick and fun pre-test of your general knowledge of Thailand with Thai-Q. It will give you a numerical score, and you can also get more detailed and important information from the Answer Key to all of the questions asked, many of which have links to other sources.

2. For a shorter set of very basic language expressions, we have designed a series of lessons called Quick Thai designed mostly for tourists.

3. Because there are two Thai time systems, a 24-hour based official or formal system and an informal reckoning of the hours based on periods of daylight and darkness, the latter of which is related to an earlier system of night watches, you will want to check out the fun interactive exercises at Thai Time System.

4. From here, you can click on Useful Links to move quickly to practical information.

Deeper Investigations: Thai Society, Politics, and Religions

Another path is to slow down a bit and take time to read some scholarly publications written by serious researchers who have spent considerable time in Thailand objectively observing Thai ways.  Two essays published in 1975 by Cornell University pioneering researchers in a now classic collection under the title of Change and Persistence in Thai Society provide a valuable and interesting view of how Thai society and politics works in general terms and on a national scale even to this day. (Because of copyright laws, we have not reproduced the full essays, just enough to give a taste of the content. Google to get full texts.)

In his perceptive essay on “The Thai Social Order as Entourage and Circle,” Lucien Hanks helps us to appreciate current Thai social and political behavior that is in many ways remarkably unchanged since he first formulated his perspective. The second essay, which will be of particular interest to the business person, details how the non-Thai entrepreneurs, Overseas Chinese in particular, entered and dominated the Thai economic scene. By and large, doing business with business people in Thailand means understanding Chinese business and cultural behaviors in an urban setting. Dealing with Thai labor practices is another matter and requires an understanding of rural or “upcountry” cultures from which the workforce is drawn.

Buddhism permeates everything in Thailand, a point made most clearly in the second essay, “Economy, Polity, and Religion in Thailand,” written by A. Thomas Kirsch. A link to even more information about Buddhism can be found at www.thaibuddhism.net.

At the time these two writers, Kirsch and Hanks, were researching and publishing their observations, other ethnic groups, the Muslims in particular, did not appear in any significant way in what they chose to write about in these essays.  That is an area of neglect that is surfacing today which we have attempted to deal with in a separate web page on Islam in Thailand

Further Reading

You can find more information from published books and articles, click here.

If you are a mystery buff and want to explore the fictional underside of Thai society in a less serious fashion, we highly recommend the Bangkok trilogy Bangkok 8, Bangkok Tattoo, and Bangkok Haunts written by the talented John Burdett.

Lots of Language Activities: Interactive Lessons on the Web.

The degree to which you will have a successful and enjoyable experience in Thailand will depend to a large degree on how much of the Thai language and key aspects of Thai culture you master.  To achieve that end, Our SEAsite Thai web has a rich offering of materials that you can use on your own or under the tutelage of a language teacher or native speaker.

At Northern Illinois University, we use two sets of materials in our year-long, 5-days-a-week intensive program: Mani Reader, with interactive exercises designed largely for listening and reading comprehension; and Spoken Thai, a complete course of interactive language lessons that deal with practical situations and detailed explanations of grammar and meaning.  You can pick and choose to find which lessons to concentrate on for your own needs.

Because Thai is a tonal language, you will want to check out some of the interactive exercises for distinguishing the 5 tones of Bangkok Thai in Tones.

A related interactive PowerPoint presentation showing the relationship between syllable types, the written alphabet, and spoken tones is found at Thai Tones PPT.

This should be enough to get you started using the rich resources of SEAsite and Business Thai.