Thai Funeral Etiquette

If you are not from Thailand and you find yourself in a situation where you have to attend a funeral you may become nervous, unsure of how to go about it. Should you attend? What do you wear? Should you bring something with you? This article aims to help you know what to do should you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

Perhaps the funeral is for someone you once knew, but haven’t been in contact with in a while. A family member of an ex-partner or an old friend you’ve been out of touch with. You feel like you should pay respects but you are wondering if it would be considered inappropriate, especially if the funeral is in an area where a farang is rare and might draw unwanted attention. Rest assured that, unless the parting was on bad terms, your presence is not going to be considered intrusive. Normally, the funeral rites will be stretched over 3 days and if you are only able to be there for part of it, make it the burning or evening prayers by the monks.

Where you come from it might be considered appropriate to wear all black to a funeral. In Thailand that’s not as important. Funerals tend to be pretty informal for normal folks, but if you can wear dark pants and a white or blue shirt.

You may be wondering if you should bring anything with you. Would flowers or a card be appropriate? In Thailand it is customary to bring an envelope with some money in it. How much depends on your level of personal wealth but 300 – 1000 baht should be reasonable. If you are going to be there for the cremation ceremony you will be expected to place a paper flower under the body as symbolic fuel. To do this you will usually walk up the stairs, place the flower that has been given out below the coffin, then walk down another set of stairs and collect a memento from the family to keep.

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