People of Phuket are ardent followers of Buddhism. They staunchly adhere to the gospels of Buddhism. The people here are thus helpful, warm and friendly. The citizens of Phuket attach great importance to family values. Supporting the old, the helpless and respecting elders are some cultural traits which are not only in vogue but are also much appreciated in Phuket.
The socio cultural life of Phuket revolved and evolved round the Buddhist temples. Usually the temples are established at the center of towns served as cultural and educational institutes. Here the young and the old alike travel to get religious blessings, take part in cultural functions like feasts, fairs, ceremonies, etc. and to educate themselves. Thais still hold the highest regard for Buddhist teaching and hence they are likeable and respected.
Monasteries or Wats act as centers of religious activities. In Thailand, a whopping 95% of the population follows Buddha. There are thousands of monasteries in and around this Island city. Tourists are allowed to enter these monasteries at specific hours. However, they must follow some rules. They must not enter the main place of worship wearing shoes, even though visitors are allowed to enter the courtyard with their shoes. You are encouraged to wear decent outfits while visiting any of these scared venues.
According to Buddhist tradition, it is not permissible for women to touch a monk. Hence, if a women desires to give him anything she must always ask a man to come to her aid. You must not hand out money to the monks as they are forbidden to touch money. You must place your offering in his bowl or his bag.
Wai is a typical Asian custom adapted by the Thais to show respect. The palms are joined and held up towards the forehead for greeting or thanking. The people of Thailand are however aware that many might not be acquainted with this custom and will simply flash a smile of recognition or nod to greet their guests.
In Thailand, the word used for Mr. or miss is Khun. While Sawat dee Krab is used to say hello. In Thailand, you must always wear a smile and you will see how much your politeness is appreciated. In Phuket, you are expected to show respect to households by taking off your shoes. You must also avoid touching heads, which according to Thai culture is considered the highest point of a body. Touching the head of an elderly person is taken as an insult.
Phuket tourists must not say or do things, which might insult the monarchy. As the monarchy is respected and revered here.
Phuket is a land of vibrant festivals. People here are highly religious minded. They are devoted to the cause of religious festivities, which happen each year. During an auspicious day in February Makra Puja is celebrated across Thailand. The day features as a national holiday. Flocks of people carrying colorful flowers and candles visit the local shrines to pay homage to their Buddha. The temples hold special sessions where the teachings of Buddha are read out and performances are held to commemorate the great day.
During the Loin Krathong festival held in the month of November, Krathongs or miniature boats made by stitching banana leafs which are decorated with candles, flowers, lighted incense and coins are floated on the rivers. This custom is believed to alleviate people from their sins.
The prosperity of the land depends heavily on agricultural outputs. Thais therefore eagerly await the monsoon rains. In the month of May the northwestern villages of Thailand come together to celebrate the rice seasons. During the festivities, massive rockets are built and fired into the sky with the hope that these rockets will bring back the rain clouds. Folk music, dances and fairs happen during this time.
The Songkran festival is held each year to celebrate the Thai New Year. The festival commences on April 13. During this time, offerings are taken to the monasteries to pay respect to the ardent devotees of the Buddha, the monks. During the festival, Monks leave the monasteries during dawn to collect alms from the people and in return bless them with good health or prosperity.
Throughout this much awaited day youngsters seek blessings from the elders. They then emerge on the streets with friends throwing water on each other, taking part in folk dancing and enjoying a variety of other games.
The inhabitants of the isolated fishing villages are followers of Islam. The laws, rituals and customs of this faith are observed and practiced in these villages.
Thai food tastes great. The staple diet consists of rice accompanied with meat or vegetable preparations. Thais use various spices to make their food. The food is undoubtedly very tasty and varied. Special to Thailand’s cuisine are several types of seafood preparations.
Due to the influx of tourists and the influence of western culture Phuket now has extensive shopping malls and complexes for recreation like theatres, dance floors and mega restaurants. However, Phuket has not eradicated its age-old night street markets, which operate after dusk. Small stalls selling local produce like fish, vegetables, fruits and garments are sold in a rudimentary ambience, which lacks sophistication but offers a perfect experience of the pandemonium of markets of the Asian subcontinent.