Time is perceived differently in Thailand. It is called Thai Time.
For the traveler, the “Mai Pen Rai” (Thai for No Worries) philosophy is most clearly embodied in the Thai concept of time. Time moves differently in Thailand. The way one interprets time, the way time is respected, and the value of time. Time most certainly moves differently in Thailand. People often use the phrase on thai time to reflect a relaxed pace of life that is independent from the flow of time. Three major themes appear when speaking of Thai Time.
Interpretation of time:
Nobody seems to mind waiting. When stuck in a traffic jam, which you often will be, for 20 minutes, and you will be surprised to find that nobody has honked their during during that time.
Restaurant and services are slow in Thailand – but you will not see any Thai people getting upset about that. You food will take over an hour to come in certain restaurants, but its ok, waiting is not frustrating here.
Respect for time:
Time estimates are wildly inaccurate and that is fine since nobody minds waiting. 10 minutes could mean in 2 minutes or in 30 minutes. 30 minutes could mean anything from 5 to 120 minutes. So really – the time estimates are not helpful for your strict plans. But just sit back, relax, be patient, and accept the laid-back lifestyle.
Value of Time:
Here, because everybody is late or waiting, is not a sign of disrespect. It is simply the way of life. It is most often people are late because of their value of time. People value personal relationships higher than being “On Time”. If they meet somebody, they will take the time to speak with them and spend quality time with them. Although they may be “late” to meet you, when they do arrive, you will have a Thai persons full attention since that Personal Relationship is so valued. So start to value your time – stop rushing and start appreciating the people you meet and speak with.