A very important symbol in Thai culture is the Wai greeting. But what is it, where did it originate from and why do the Thais use it?
The Wai greeting consists of both palms pushed together in an upright position with your elbows slightly lower. It is similar to how Christians pray in Church but many Thais nod their head slightly as a mark of acknowledgement. The Wai is often accompanied by the word ‘Sawadti’ which can be used a greeting or farewell.
The Wai derives from the Indian Namaste greeting which is very similar to the Wai greeting. The Cambodian Sampeah is almost identical to the Wai greeting and is used in most interactions.
The Wai greeting is used very frequently day to day in Thailand. This is how many Thais say hello, sorry, thank you and goodbye. It is a respectful way of taking in the Thai culture so tourists are encouraged to use it. If someone greets you with a Wai, you should return the Wai otherwise it is disrespectful.