Learning the numbers in Thai unlocks a secret world. You learn first-hand the dual pricing system operating in Thailand and you can choose to avoid activities that charge anywhere from 100-900% more for foreigners (farangs). It happens everywhere, from coffee shops to amusement parks.
Now let’s be fair, it also exists in the United States. For example, resident fishing licenses are much less expensive than non-resident licenses, amusement parks in Florida offer resident discounts and specials, and Las Vegas businesses offer steep discounts to locals (some nightclubs even let locals in for free).
Expats often argue that because they pay taxes they should qualify for Thai pricing at national parks or other government subsidized parks and facilities. The logical counter-argument is to ask how long have you paid taxes? One year, two years, three years? Thais have been paying them all of their lives and their families for generations before them!
The good news is that if you put in the time and effort you can receive Thai pricing most of the time. The first step is to get a Thai driver’s license, or to carry your work permit. This bolsters your argument that you are a Thailand resident, paying Thai taxes.
Next, learn to speak some Thai and learn your numbers! When you step up to the counter have the exact change for the Thai entry fee and speak to the attendant in Thai. If you do this, eight times out of ten you will not even need to produce your license or work permit! They know that you must live in Thailand if you have put in the time to learn to read and speak even basic Thai.
My technique for learning Thai numbers was printing and laminating a watch photo with the numbers in Thai. It makes a great cheat sheet to keep in your wallet that is very quick and intuitive to use and before you know it you will not even need to refer to it!
If, however, they refuse to let you pay the Thai price, often by saying that you must have a Thai national ID card (only issued to Thai Nationals), you must then decide if the activity or product is worth the price to you. Don’t argue, don’t be confrontational. Mai pen rai…
Now, see if you can interpret the following sign using the watch photo above:
Click for answer!