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What is the Krabi wai?

Krabi Culture | Greeting in Krabi

The normal form of a greeting you are used to is the handshake. However when you come to Krabi, you find that there is a different form of greeting used by locals of Krabi, the Krabi wai.

Krabi wai is practiced all over Krabi

The Krabi wai is basically the Thai greeting which shows respect to the person you meet. You do the Krabi wai by pressing your palms together near your chest, and then bowing. So as a foreigner, you receive more respect from the locals if you greet them with the Krabi wai. Of course, if you offer a handshake, it will of course be accepted by them, but rather reluctantly.

The Krabi wai is a unique and graceful form of greeting that is not only practiced in Krabi, but in all parts of Thailand. This is because it is considered to be a way of showing respect to people and forms an important part of Thai etiquette. Moreover, the people in Krabi don't like touching grubby pairs of hands; and this is why they prefer greeting people with the Krabi wai.

You will love receiving a Krabi wai

Though a handshake may be accepted in Krabi, never attempt to greet a Thai, especially a woman who is not your wife or girlfriend, with the European kiss on the cheek greeting! To many, the Krabi wai proves to be rather confusing to partake of, especially during large gatherings where you end up Krabi waiing, bowing and smiling hundreds of times to the other guests in the gathering. However the plus side here is that you feel really important when you receive the Krabi wai to you, in return.

Give at least a nod in acknowledgement of a Krabi wai

At times, you may find it difficult to return the Krabi wai when you carry many bags or in the middle of eating. In such situations, you could return the Krabi wai with at least a grunt or nod. It is only the monks and royalty of Krabi who need not return a Krabi wai on receiving it.

Not only is the Krabi wai a form of greeting in Krabi, it is also a sign of respect. At times, it will be difficult for you to decide if you should perform the Krabi wai to someone or if they should do the Krabi wai to you. Basically, as a foreigner, it is better to greet important people with the Krabi wai as soon as possible. And if you think that someone is going to Krabi wai you first, you could always beat them to it.

Your relationship defines the need of a Krabi wai in greeting

If you really want to know when you should do the Krabi wai, it basically depends on the relationship you share with the other person. People of higher status have to be Krabi wai-ed to. The best thing you could do is to spend a few seconds sizing up a person to determine if you should Krabi wai them or not. However it is better to wait first for reactions from the other person, and then do the Krabi wai if you are unsure.

When and whom to give the Krabi wai to

The Krabi wai is the form of greeting used by people in Krabi. Both locals and foreigners are greeted with the Krabi wai. It is also your duty to return the Krabi wai when you receive it. At times you may find it difficult to decide who has to be greeted with a Krabi wai.

The age of a person helps determine whether or not a Krabi wai is required:

One way of determining when to do the Krabi wai is by the age of the person. You should Krabi wai people who are older than you, unless of course, you have employed them like your housekeeper or gardener. And there is no need of giving a Krabi wai to people you pay for their services like waiters, tailors, taxi drivers, vendors or shopkeepers.

Hold the Krabi wai through a Buddhist sermon

There is also no need of doing Krabi wai for your peers and friends. However when you leave a party or any similar gathering, it is important that you greet everyone with it. This is a polite way of excusing yourself from all the festivities. When you receive gifts from superiors, you have to Krabi wai them as a sign of thanks. However this has to be done before you actually take the presentation or object.

If you are interested in listening to a Buddhist sermon, it is important that you hold a Krabi wai during the entire programme. In fact, so much reverence is given to the Krabi wai in Krabi that drivers of vehicles tend to do it when they pass any sacred monuments. They are ready to take their hands off the wheel, and drive the car when doing it too.


Last Updated: 20 Feb 2008