Everybody likes a bit of flattery, but it’s been elevated to something of an art form in Thailand. As a foreign visitor, you will almost certainly be subject to Thai flattery at some stage of your visit. If you are male you will probably be told you look young or are handsome and if you are female you will be complimented about your hair, clothes or complexion. If you attempt a few words of Thai in the taxi or at the market, you will probably be told you speak Thai very well (phut Thai keng mak) even if you don’t!
Flattery is an accepted part of Thai small-talk and shouldn’t be taken too seriously, although it can be difficult sometimes to ignore the ego boost. Returning the compliment – without going over the top – is always appreciated. Treat it as a game and always pass compliments with a smile.