My take on dual pricing in Thailand
There are some battles you will never win
Few aspects of living in Thailand seem to grind a long term expat's gears quite like the dual pricing system.
Not that you needed reminding but the dual pricing system is the apparently ‘evil practice' of charging someone double or three times more than a local to enter a national park, shrine, tourist attraction, amusement park, etc, purely on the basis of them being a foreigner.
We see these rules enforced at numerous places all over the country and very often the approach to charging higher entrance fees to foreigners is none too subtle. The admission price for a non-Thai might be clearly stated in English, whereas the local price is written in Thai. If those who contribute to expat discussion forums are to be believed, then this is nothing but a further way to antagonize and deceive.
Dual pricing in Thailand came under the spotlight again this week but this time it didn't concern a national park or a tourist attraction. In an angry letter to a local newspaper, one elderly expat recounted the tale of him purchasing a senior citizens pass for the Bangkok BTS system - only to be told at a later stage (by an over-officious employee) that the pass could only be used by locals and the expat was to some extent ‘cheating the system'.
I'm not sure which upset the expat more - the fact that a poorly-trained member of the ticketing staff had sold him a rail-pass that he clearly wasn't entitled to - or the fact that he couldn't ride the BTS for the same price as a local of the same age.
It's this whole ‘one rule for them and one rule for us' thing that has expats spitting blood.
My attitude to dual pricing
I realize I am probably part of a silent minority here but when it comes to dual pricing in Thailand, I couldn't care less.
For starters, I only encounter these issues once a year at most on the few occasions I venture outside Bangkok for a long weekend away. It doesn't happen often enough to lose sleep over.
If Thailand wants to charge more for foreigners to stroll around a temple then I really don't see the problem. It's their country. They make the rules. I'm just a guest here.
I cringe when I see the line "well if you don't like it, then go home" (as you do on many expat forum threads on dual pricing) - but is there truly a better answer? And to that I would add, for those who say "you would never see dual pricing in (insert name of country) then perhaps Thailand - and some of its more questionable laws - is not for you.
There are many sides to the dual pricing argument. My wife for example is a fierce opponent of the practice. "Everyone should pay the same price - foreign, Thai, rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief" And I've heard many other Thais say the same thing (usually those who are married or in long-term relationships with expats)
Some time ago, I chatted at length with a group of my wife's colleagues and asked them for their opinions. Nearly all of them considered the dual pricing system to be ‘a benefit' for the local Thai people rather than a deliberate attempt to extort more money out of a foreigner. None of those people I questioned were married to an expat I might add.
The penny drops
Dual pricing used to bother me considerably more than it does now - but only because a long time ago, I had something of a eureka moment.
It was during one of the first trips my parents made to Thailand, accompanied by another couple who they were friendly with at the time. So I was playing the role of streetwise host to a group of four.
I forget exactly where we were but we'd hired a minibus and driver from a tour agency in Chiang Mai and the driver arranged a two-day schedule for us aimed at taking in the best of the local attractions at a leisurely pace.
After the essential hill-tribe village and the long climb up a mountain to tick off a temple and admire some views, we stopped off at a waterfall. The driver left us to our own devices and climbed into the back of his van for a snooze.
The sign at the entrance to the waterfall confirmed my worst fears - 10 baht for Thais and a whopping 40 baht for foreigners! We would have to pay four times the price of a local to view a waterfall that would probably be nothing more than an ambitious stream anyway.
Keeping the harmony
I wasn't standing for any of that nonsense. I explained to the woman at the ticket office that I had lived and worked in Thailand for several years and while they could go ahead and fleece my tour group for the inflated admission fee, I was only willing to pay the local price.
But I forgot two important things. Firstly, the woman at the ticket office had heard this argument a thousand times before. Her glazed expression gave it away. She didn't give a fiddler's whatsit. "You farang. You pay 40 baht. End of story"
Secondly, while I stood there frothing at the mouth, pissing my pants and threatening to write furious letters to The Bangkok Post, my small tour group looked on with great concern. And it dawned on me that the only thing I was succeeding in was to effectively ruin everyone's day.
My tour group had seen the sign saying that they would have to pay four times more than a local. Their reaction was to shrug their shoulders and say "why not? What's the problem? We're on holiday"
And when you look at things another way - what right did I have to spoil everyone's day?
I should have adopted the same attitude but decided to become a self-appointed crusader for farang rights in Thailand - and make myself look an arsehole into the bargain.
Accept that there are some battles you will never win.
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I will pay approximately 5800b park fees this year while my wife will only pay 3500b. I'll pay 9300b in total.
I should be allowed to pay local fees based on three different criteria but they still steal from me. A park I've visited for 15 ongoing years.
The policy isn't 'racist' it's just wrong.
I'm alright Jack.
By Jim Beam, The Big Smoke (15th April 2021)
Kao Yai National Park charges foreigners 10 times the Thai Citizen price. Thai nationals pay 40 baht for entrance into the park while foreigners pay 400 baht. My wife is Thai and she called the National park directly to plea for a discount. She even mentioned the fact that I am a Thai tax paying Teacher who has a valid work permit. The park representative flat out said "It doesn't matter". Now, though I agree that Thai citizens should have benefits in there home country, I do think the 1000% of national price is absurd and only serves to discredit the Kingdom of Thailand. My Thai wife and many of our Thai friends deem this practice unjust. However, I won't let this interfere with my desire to enjoy beauty of the world God gave us. I am heading to Kao Yai for our holiday. Hopefully the government uses the proceeds for improving infrastructure and assisting their poor citizens.
By John, Bangkok (28th March 2019)
I stand with Supawut The Man!
Dual pricing is awesome. It amazes me that visitors think they have a 'right' to the same terms and conditions as people who actually live here. And then call in the discrimination card when they feel aggrieved.
Nobody is twisting your arm to go to these places. Vote with your feet and feel good about NOT seeing the beauty of Thailand and saving a buck or two!
You won't be missed.
By Mark Newman, A. MUANG (17th January 2018)
This is an interesting argument and article. If you look at the list of countries in the world, where nationals are friendly to foreigners and race discrimination is less. Harmony of culture is high, Thailand would be at the near top, of not at the top. In Australia?...Egypt?...U.S.?...Europe?... none of these countries accept foreigners.
More importantly, there is no discrimination on race. The money that the institutions get, 100 bath or so?, is trivial. It helps with the upkeep of the place. Foreigners go there, don’t live in the country and expect to get in with the same pricing?
The reason it is not discrimination is because we are not discriminating. It could be thought of this way, but do you really think these places have that mindset as their goal? Don’t think so. Regardless of taxes or wages, Thai people are entitled to the places here. Thai people built the cities, country or what have you and you come here as guests. Thai people are relatives, we view each other as a society.
We have land, you get charge an entry fee, makes sense man. Your country, your rules also. Also, most foreigners come here to party, its not like they are helping the economy much. There are a few.
By Supawut The Man, Bangkok (16th January 2018)
Dual pricing should definitely be ok if it's not based on race. Based on residency should be totally acceptable. Anyone who says otherwise should take a look at the standards in their own country. A friend works at Ramayana, the new water park down in Sattahip. Their regular prices are the same for tourists and for residents. However, they will regularly hold special promotions for residents. (They also have promotions for tourists) The reason? They built a world-class water park with the best quality of slides imported from Canada. The cost for building this park was not cheaper due to the investment needed for the land and the facilities. Yet their regular prices are still cheaper than many other countries and a GREAT value for what you get. Cartoon Network Amazone, is a smaller park with slides that are not always up to standard as they were purchased from an inferior supplier. They have double pricing at the gates for Thais and Foreignors.
The full price for Ramayana Water Park is the same for both thai and foreigners and still hundreds of baht cheaper than the thai prices at Cartoon Network. Yet Ramayana is still getting accused of being racist when they hold promotions for Thai residents. If they were to charge the same as Cartoon Network they would still have a hard time breaking even due to the quality of the facilities they have. They hold promotions for Thai residents because they want to give the less affluent the chance to enjoy their park. They allow foreigners who are residents to enjoy the same promotion because foreigners who work here, mostly earn less than they would in their home countries.
How is this racist? Someone mentioned above the pricing for universities and schools abroad where the difference is pretty outrageous when international students have to pay. What about water parks and attractions around the US in which state residents pay less?
Foreigners need to think again about what is fair and not fair. Double pricing is wrong if it is hidden and based on skin color. But for those that are trying to operate fairly while giving local residents (regardless of nationality) a more affordable deal, give them a break.
By Yoda, Bangkok (6th December 2016)
Well, you started off strong, Tyson, but you quickly veered off the path!
Yes, I'm an unashamed apologist for Thailand and dual pricing. No need to hash over it all over again... but as much as you hate it, dual pricing for tourists and non-residents is a global phenomena, not just a few crafty Thais.
Like you rightly point out - if the idea of paying more for a Thai product than a Thai rice farmer upsets your sensibilities, then vote with your feet... stay away.
Thais won't be sobbing because you didn't want to pay $5 to get into a national park!
And you can sleep easy knowing that you stuck it to the man and stayed at home!
By Mark Newman, Thailand (18th April 2016)
Looks like Mark Newman is an apologist for Thai ways.
Anyway, dual pricing is morally wrong and according to some experts on Thai law, even illegal. However, as with a lot of things in Thailand I question the apparent illegality of it, given how widespread it is I doubt it's illegal at all.
Now when it comes to dual pricing, we need to distinguish between opportunistic greed (like when a taxi driver refuses to turn on his meter or a tuk-tuk driver tries to charge a huge amount) and institutionalized dual pricing at tourist attractions. It is easy to avoid the former - either catch a different taxi, rent a car, catch a bus, walk whatever, there are always alternatives. However, when it comes to a temple, museum, national park etc. trying to charge a foreigner more, there are two prices only: one Thai and one foreign. Occasionally a foreigner can get the Thai price by speaking Thai, arriving with a Thai spouse or friend, showing a Thai driver's licence, work permit, tax ID card or similar, but these don't always work.
The very premise of dual pricing however is that it tries to create a feeling of "us vs. them" by making assumptions about a foreigners perceived wealth. It is one thing if one time tourists are affected as they can just decide never to come back to Thailand and many do vote with their feet and their wallets. However, apart from avoiding all dual pricing attractions in Thailand, it is not as easy for resident expats to do the same, as they may be faced with this issue on a regular basis.
Personally I have no problems with bargaining, though on a day to day basis I only engage in that part of the economy that has fixed prices. For example, I drive my own car, fill up my tank at a petrol (gas) station, which obviously has fixed prices, get my car serviced at the dealership, I eat at chain restaurants (or independent restaurants with air-con), shop at supermarkets and hypermarkets etc. just like I would do in the west. Not only because this eliminates the possibility of dual pricing but these types of businesses offer better quality food, produce and goods and I know whether I'm getting value for money or not. Also, it's easier to find what I'm looking for. Yes I know foreign imported goods are often way overpriced, but there is often little way around that except for the occasional trip to Cambodia to bring in a few bottles of cheap wine. The Thai alternative is poor quality rubbish, so there's little choice but to pay these prices.
I don't visit markets, street food stalls etc. unless I'm on holiday and that would entail being outside of Bangkok or more likely even, when I travel to Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam/Myanmar etc. countries which have fewer supermarkets/hypermarkets etc.
Why don't I visit markets etc. (except for very occasionally Chatuchak)? Because 1) it's hot 2) the quality is poor and unless I'm looking for a souvenir I won't find anything interesting 3) the food at wet markets is often of questionable quality - food and veggies may have been tainted with formaline whereas at supermarkets it's safe too eat, while at food stalls it's too hot to eat outside plus the food doesn't taste good, nor is it fresh in many cases. I am worried about getting sick. I'd much rather enjoy a delicious steak from Sizzler, along with some salad, which is much healthier than the MSG and sugar laden crap you get on the street. I can also pay by credit card as I don't always carry enough cash with me.
By Tyson Jones, BKK (18th April 2016)
If you pay taxes to Thailand, then you're entitled to use the parks you've paid for.
If a private business charges more to foreigners for the sake of being foreign, just smile and keep your money. There are plenty of other businesses offering a boat trip to wherever, and no one will get my money while simultaneously disrespecting me.
By EBKK, Bangkok (7th March 2016)
I lived in China, this sort of thing very rarely happens there. It did happen to me a couple of times. I just never went back to those shops/restaurants etc they lose out in the long run. Here in Thailand the same if I don't think something is worth the money I won't buy it. As for restaurants and places where they would try to charge a double price I would make sure I know what I would be paying before I buy. Same again if I don't think its worth it I won't buy. To be honest 200 baht is only 4pound (I'm used to having my eyes sucked out in my own country and I'm not foreign there) suck it up and stop being tight fisted. How many of you guys are here working for a Thai salary, I thought so.
By alan t, dok mai (15th January 2016)
Take a trip to Koh Samet, catch a pick-up truck taxi from the pier to the Marine Park gate, and pay the entry fee to enjoy the beach park. Used to be B200 farang, B40 citizen. Now, there is no discrimination. Due no doubt in part to the number of complaint letters printed in the Postbag demanding equal and fair pricing, there is now a common entry fee. Every person shall be charged B200 regardless of nationality or size of nose. Kids are free.
By Earl, Krungthip (18th December 2015)
Just a few thoughts here:
1.) A few other countries I've lived in do the same (Russia and Egypt come to mind) so it's not unique to Thailand nor is it a race thing.
2.) The amount of the overcharge means little to me as my main concern is dual pricing just reinforces a culture of corruption.
2b.) It's hard to change upcoming generations views on corruption when the mindset is it is OK to overcharge and the foreigners are OK with it.
3.) When I lived in Russia my friend said it regard to dual pricing chalk it up to "charity for mad men"
4.) Overcharging for cultural things just seems wrong to me. I somewhat get the food prices but an ancient place or a museum?
5.) At some point the golden goose will be killed. Or as they say "Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered"
By JLR, Thailand (7th December 2015)
Once you resort to ad hominem attacks, you have lost the argument.
By Will, Bangkok (7th December 2015)
It is quite simple Thais are allowed to race discriminate me when I am i Thailand but I am not allowed race discriminate Thais when they are in Norway. To race discriminate whites is OK. To race discriminate others is not OK. This is not fair.
By Harry RomsÃ¥s, Oslo (6th December 2015)
"When I get home I write a horrible review of that establishment online about how their service was terrible or inadequate..."
Or you could just write the truth and say that they operate a system of dual pricing for foreign visitors.
This debate is really bringing out the worst in people... just one more reason why I live secluded and isolated and far away from these nasty, spiteful and dangerous lunatics. Thailand really is the toilet when it comes to expats... and these article comments speak for themselves about they type of dreadful people who end up washed up here.
By Mark Newman, Thailand (5th December 2015)
I prefer to use the dirty trick of subversive sabotage of reputation.
Whenever I visit a see that uses double-pricing I smile and don't mention it.
When I get home I write a horrible review of that establishment online about how their service was terrible or inadequate . This has an indirect impact on their revenue which in my book is revenge for their racist attitudes.
If you're a Thai reading using dishonest double-pricing maybe you'll think twice having read this. Two can play this game.
By Joe, Bangkok (5th December 2015)
Like anything in life, it pays to pick your battles. While dual-pricing is something you encounter once in a while, it's generally so small that it isn't worth complaining about. If or when a more egregious situation arises, just use your best judgement in choosing whetheror not to raise an issue about it
By Charlie, Khon Kaen (4th December 2015)
What the Thai Govt. is engaged in is “Price Discrimination”; they are trying to charge different people different prices, based on a perceived difference in willingness to pay. In this case, the perceived difference is that wealthy people will not worry about it very much, the money to them is trivial, but it would be a big deal to poor people (in econ-talk; park admissions is highly income-elastic). So the govt. is looking for a way to figure out who is a wealthy park goer, and who is the poor one.
The solution is who is a Farang, who isn’t. They get 10 million tourists a year, most of them go to a couple of museums, temples or parks while here. That is 30 million or so visits; and they are all relatively wealthy (they couldn’t fly here otherwise), and if they want to see the temple, it is now or never. Compare that to the 50,000 or so permanent residents, who go maybe once or twice a year, and assume that half of them stop going because they are angry about it. So you just gave up 100,000 visits, vs. the extra revenue from charging 3-10 times as much on the other 30,000,000 visits. A no brainer.
The govt. needs a simple signal of wealth that its workers can recognize, and the color of skin is an effective one. You can’t (at a reasonable cost) check everybody’s tax records on entrance, but you can see if they are a foreigner (probably a rich tourist) or Thai (probably less rich). So that is what they do.
Note private firms do it all the time as well, but they are much more subtle about it – since most people viscerally don’t like price discrimination, firms disguise it. The Thai govt. would be doing itself a world of favors if it accepted work permits as a reason to charge the Thai rate, since I doubt the extra revenue is worth the ill-will, but the Thai govt. instead acts like an indifferent monopolist because, well, they are an indifferent monopolist.
One final note. When dealing with an excludable public good like this, if you can’t dual price, often the only economically viable way to make it pay for itself is to charge the higher price – which would effectively deny it to many poor Thai.
By bpk, Bangkok (3rd December 2015)
Universities charge more for non-residents, not based upon race. The argument in favor of it is that the population pays taxes to help subsidize those universities for locals, as they will contribute to the economy and repay it via taxes themselves. Funny story, if you're not a resident of the state that you're attending the public university of, you pay more. Why? Because the university is subsidized by state tax dollars. There is little interest in subsidizing someone's education when they only intend to fly back to their country after completion.
I am a resident of Thailand, and pay taxes. My taxes (and regardless of what people say, the taxes aren't THAT cheap here), in part, go to pay for public goods and services. Why then, should I not be allowed access to the same benefits?
Oh, and by the way private universities don't charge differential tuition. They're not subsidized by nearly as much tax funds. There's logic to the approach, which is fundamentally different from farang pricing, which states if you have white skin bend on over and take it long and deep.
By Aaron, Bangkok (3rd December 2015)
Also, in Bhutan, if you are invited by a citizen of the country, then you do not have to pay a minimum of 240 dollars per day. That charge only applies to tourists who do not have friends inviting them into the country.
In Thailand, one could go to a national park with Thai friends and one's work permit and still be charged the faraang rate.
In many ways, Thailand is a tourist's paradise (easy to get into, cheap, friendly people, decent infrastructure), but I think that the blatant (and sometimes surreptitious, when using Thai numerals) dual pricing is a problem.
By Will, Bangkok (3rd December 2015)
You certainly have some fair points. There are western countries that charge more for attractions (museums for non-citizens, out of state tuition, no financial aid for international students). However, one can become a resident of Washington and receive in state tuition just by graduating high school there or living there for a few years to work (must be unrelated to education). Once you have established yourself as a resident (and theoretically paid taxes to support the institution), you can qualify for in-state tuition.
Many Thai tourist attractions will only offer you the faraang price even if you have been a resident for many decades. Hell, even if you were born here and have lived here your whole life they may not offer you the Thai price if you do not have Thai citizenship and don't look Thai. This is what I have a problem with (and the fact that they discriminate based on superficial characteristics such as skin color).
I am not sure Angkor Wat is a fair comparison really since it is a major part of the Cambodian economy, and the average person there earns about a dollar a day. You do have a point though.
By Will, Bangkok (3rd December 2015)
The University of Washington charges around $10,000 bucks a year for tuition. But the foreign students (mainly Chinese) pay a whopping $30,000 a year.
Inherently racist Yanks, eh? It's just not fair.
Brits pay at most $15,000 a year to go to university. Foreign students pay up to $50,000 bucks a year for the exact same thing!
Inherently racist Brits, eh? It's just not fair.
Actually, at most universities, in the Western world, international students pay out-of-state/foreign tuition rates that incur a very steep differential to that of local students.
Inherently racist Western World, eh? It's just not fair.
And it's not just the nasty Westerners who are charging foreigners more...
A one-day pass to take in the temples of Cambodia’s prime attraction, Angkor Archaeological Park, will set you back $20 but it's FREE if you live down the road in Siem Reap. What a bloody swizz, eh?
My view is that $20 is a bloody bargain for this amazing site. Most of you lot will argue that it should be free because the rice growers down the road get it for free. Insane, selfish and petty.
Harrison’s Cave – in western Barbados does the same thing... now that HAS to be racist, right?
The Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia charges 400 rubles. Not so much if you actually are Russian, though.
Them crazy inherently racist Russkies, eh? It's just not fair.
In Argentina, foreigners are charged more for plane tickets! Yeah, well... the less said about the Argies, the better, eh? Wink wink!
And a final example... to traipse up and down the remote mountain kingdom of Bhutan, foreigners have to pay up to $240 a day. Yes, folks... that's 7,000 baht!
That extra 100 baht for a Thai national park is looking a bit better now isn't it!
If you really really really can't get past this, try thinking of it this way...
You are being charged the correct fee and the locals are getting a discount.
Feel better, now? Nah, thought not.
Either pony up or walk away.
Whatever you decide, just get over your entitled selves and deal with it.
By Mark Newman, Thailand (2nd December 2015)
You seem to be misinformed that this pricing structure is to do with how much money someone earns. It is solely based on nationality. The rich and middle class Thais of which there are many pay the same price as Somchai who works in a factory.
Dual pricing is not OK, because it is discrimination. I personally don't believe any form of discrimination is fine, including the so called positive discrimination in the UK. It also surprises me that anyone from western countries would support discriminatory practices, when most western nations have tried to eradicate these practices.
Many people from the west think that fairness is important, obviously some don't.
By Tim, Nonthaburi (2nd December 2015)
There are at least a million families in Thailand with far, far more means than you or I will ever have, who are charged the Thai rate. This has nothing to do with income. I think it's unfair that if someone contributes to the country and pays income taxes, he or she receives little or no benefit. Not to mention, dual pricing is inherently racist since, as several people noted, staff don't usually check national IDs for people of Asian descent (so a Singaporean could end up paying the Thai price if he or she spoke Thai).
I don't think it's that big of a deal, but since someone wrote a blog I figured I would comment.
By Will, Bangkok (2nd December 2015)
"It kind of sucks to pay over 15k per month in taxes and see little benefit..."
If you're paying 15,000 baht a month in taxes, I don't think you should be complaining about dual pricing. You can easily afford this minor contrafibularity!
Come on people... is there nobody who agrees with me that dual pricing is OK?
By Mark Newman, Thailand (2nd December 2015)
I understand why they have the dual pricing system for tourists, but nowadays they often won't take a work permit and driver's license as proof of residence (at least at certain temples). It kind of sucks to pay over 15k per month in taxes and see little benefit. Often the extra money you pay at the national parks is only a couple of hundred baht, so many Thai people think "why would the foreigners care?", but to me it's the principal that matters. If one is working, paying taxes, and contributing to the country, it makes sense to charge the person a Thai rate (at least for one time things like national parks, not saying they need to offer the senior BTS discount to foreigners who have only lived here a few years).
By Will, Bangkok (2nd December 2015)
I guess I dislike the dual price for personal reasons. I travel with my Thai friends and so if we go to a temple or National Park that has it, I end up paying 2-3 times more than my friends for the trip. Sometimes I do not end up going. On our trip to Sukothai it was during a 'free entry' period to national parks and sites, but that only applied to Thais. I ended up not seeing a couple sites because the added costs for me went above my budget. On the last trip to Erawan, the office said unless I had a Thai national ID card I couldn't get the Thai price. I would accept this if he was checking ID cards of all the Thais, but he wasn't. The conversation we had was all in Thai, my friends and fellow bus passengers were all trying to help me out. But the guy saw my skin and would not budge, despite my language ability and work permit, id etc.
I knew that if I was Asian-American, he probably wouldn't guess that I was not Thai. So if you are going to make a rule that you need a Gov. ID to get the Thai price to National Parks, you should check IDs.
I hate the principle of it all and after my experience at Erawan I have no desire to travel to Thai National Parks. No matter how much I integrate they still see me as foreigner who can pay more.
By C, Bangkok (2nd December 2015)
Just to say you can use your work permit or Thai drivers licence to get the Thai price at museums, attractions and national parks. I guess most people living here should have one of these documents. There are some expceptions to this but to give examples in the last year I have been to Dream World, Safari World, Khao Yai and Khao Sok national parks, Siam Ancient World, Chiang Mai Zoo and The 3D gallery in Chiang Mai for the Thai price just by showing one of my Thai documents.
Although it doesn't work at every temple I have managed to get Thai price at Doi Suthep (free). To be honest there are a lot of temples which are free to get into so you don't have to pay 500 baht for the Grand Palace if you don't want to.
Although these documents won't help with food and taxi issues I would say it's more a case that people think you are tourists and are unaware of the correct price.
If you visit the same food stalls or restaurants multiple times and have these problems you either have met a bad person or they just don't like you.
By Richard, Nawamin (2nd December 2015)
"So which one of you has won the argument?"
Well, it wasn't me!
I have seemingly failed to offer up sufficient evidence for anyone to come out and say, 'well, maybe you've got a point, actually.' Not one single person agrees with my take on this!
On the other hand, though, I am not inspired by the other side of the fence who somehow find the practice of dual pricing offensive and even racist.
Seriously, if dual pricing upsets you, you must be off your rocker.
Life's too short.
By Mark Newman, Thailand (1st December 2015)
Fair point- I think I'll take my leave of this topic before I rupture my spleen, but I will say that, of course, everyone has an opinion on dual pricing, and they are all valid (although I do think dual pricing should be illegal, so if I got my way, not all opinions would be valid, at least by law...)
By jbkk, bkk (1st December 2015)
So which one of you has won the argument? And what's the prize? :)
By philip, Samut Prakarn (1st December 2015)
I get it- Thai people can do no wrong, and you still have the rose-tints on.
You make a lot of assumptions about me. As it happens, you are wrong. Actually, I have been double charged many times by complete strangers, where they wouldn't have been able to have formed a real opinion about me (that wasn't based on race, as I try to be presentable). However, even if I was the nastiest, least friendly person in Thailand, it still wouldn't be right to double charge me. Also, I have seen many outgoing and friendly farang being double charged, so don't think that charm counts, even though it shouldn't anyway.
It is true that double pricing happens in many underdeveloped and nationalistic countries. I would suspect, however, that the 20 Euro Venetian ice cream is 20 Euros to everyone.
Yes, next time I order something or use a service, and I am double charged, I will refuse to pay. If it is a local service, that will really screw me over, as they will start the usual passive-aggressive stuff I have seen so often, and I won't be able to get that service easily again! However, it is probably a better result than what has happened in the past to some foreigners who complained, and were attacked or killed- read the papers more.
Duh- of course you have to pay once they ask for the cash. It's double pricing, not 100x pricing. Leaving aside the embarrassment factor of complaining, especially if you don't know Thai, you would eventually bite the bullet and pay what they ask, because it would take too much time to go somewhere else after waiting for whatever. If you have driven out to a restaurant in the middle of nowhere, and you notice the menu has a foreigner price, are you going to spend time and energy to find somewhere else? No, you will probably bite the bullet.
That's what the scam relies on- it's a large enough increase to annoy, but not large enough to prompt a confrontation. If it was too much, it would. But just because it isn't a king's ransom, doesn't mean it makes me feel good, or that it doesn't add up.
Oh, and, often, you are being scammed. That is why the Thai price is "hidden" in Thai numerals in many places. One farang I know, who is fluent in Thai, caught a coffee place out with that one.
"Good for them"- why are you so happy that people get a benefit for no other reason than an accident of birth? Do you think that is fair? Do you think it sends a message of friendliness and inclusion, or one of mistrust and "otherness"? I enjoy it far more when dirty cheaters and their cons are rumbled, actually.
By jbkk, bkk (1st December 2015)
I pretty much agree with everything Mickey wrote. The one thing I would mention though is that if foreigners are going to be charged significantly more, then there should be at least remedial services for those foreigners. I'm mainly thinking of national parks, which always charge 10X the Thai rate but often don't have any park officials on site who can speak English or even maps/brochures in English. If these sorts of things aren't available -- if a foreigner needs to be able to speak/read Thai to get any info on what's in the park -- then foreigners should be charged the same as Thais.
Also quickly in response to what jbkk said in the comment above, I find it strange that you think all/most street food stalls are charging you an extra 30 baht... I travel around Thailand often and order street food in all sorts of places (been doing this for over 5 years straight) and I can think of only a couple times that I was overcharged by a street food vendor... Don't know, maybe it's because I'm polite and order in Thai. You could say that I don't know the local price but that's not true - at this point I'm well aware of how much different kinds of street food should cost.
On the other hand, in Vietnam, I found that a lot of street vendors always charged foreigners a lot more than locals, so maybe Thailand isn't so bad?
By David Luekens, Bangkok (1st December 2015)
A 'scam' suggests that a person has been swindled.
Dual pricing isn't a scam. You aren't being deceived or cheated.
You are charged up front and ahead of time.
If you don't like the price of the service you can walk away and refuse to pay.
Nobody will call the cops and you won't get pressured or hassled into paying.
Quite the opposite, in fact. The counter clerks are happy to see you walk away. No Sale!
I can sympathize more with people who get cheated at restaurants or in taxis, etc.
But that isn't a dual pricing issue. It's a global tourist issue. This happens everywhere.
And, by the way... Thailand comes out better than many tourist based areas when it comes to gouging tourists. If you REALLY want to be treated like shit, go to Egypt for a holiday. Or even Italy... try a Venetian cafe for an ice cream cone and get a bill for 20 Euros!
My take on dual pricing...
Thais get to pay less than me. Good for them. I don't mind.
Your take on dual pricing..,
I'm paying more than Thais. I'm being scammed!
Sorry, I just don't get it at all.
Finally - if you are going to the local market to buy food and these people are marking up the price of your 'curry in a bag' or you are getting crappy food/service in a local non-tourist restaurant, it's not because you're a farang... They just don't like YOU.
By Mark Newman, Thailand (1st December 2015)
Seems Newman is either a loadsamoney type or a one-sided SJW, so I will leave him to his world where it is fair and just for poor (?) people to scam perceived richer people. I'm sure he is correct; I now realize that having to pay more for the same things really does make one feel included and happy.
I'm sorry that the average Thai might not be able to holiday in the US or elsewhere (although some/many do; you don't have to be megarich to do that in itself, even by Thai standards); maybe, just as I am told to do if I whine about my circumstances, they should try to do something about improving their lot in life, though that is their business. That doesn't justify double pricing. I'm not able to buy many of the things in Siam Paragon, so I don't. This is fine; at least the stuff in there has the same price, whether Thai or farang.
Also, Disneyland, regardless of what you may think of it, is actually worth the money, in terms of the park providing attractions which work, being interesting and diverting, being clean and safe, and where the owners have actually put clear thought and effort into it. Nowhere in Thailand can compare; Disneyland may be expensive, but it is worth it. It also doesn't double price foreigners (yes, there are discounts, but they are not the same thing as is done in Thailand, and everyone knows it).
Getting scammed is rarely pleasant, especially if you can't afford to get scammed too often. I'm sure if you are someone with more money than sense it would seem all part of a game. If you are working to some sort of budget, unless you want to stay home all the time and buy food only from a supermarket, it loses a lot of "charm" after a short while.
Oh, and I could point to some cases of Thai cops shooting tourists, but that was off topic anyway, so I won't.
By jbkk, bkk (1st December 2015)
"All of Mark's arguments can be equally applied, in any nation, around the world..."
No they can't. Only the poor nations.
I can't seem to be able to get across some basic lessons in economics to these readers because their sense of indignation at being 'ripped off' has blurred their vision!
"...tourism in America provided jobs, helped pay for upkeep on attractions, and often is visited by tourists rather than locals... Believe me, were we to start charging Thais 3x the price... blah blah blah..."
So, tell me, how many working class Thai tourists are flying to America each year to see these attractions? NONE, that's how many!
You may get a handful of super rich Thais venturing into the US with money to burn on Disney World and helicopter rides over the Grand Canyon but it's not that many... and there are NO regular Joes coming.
The US tourism authority isn't running ads on Thai TV selling their sights!
"Come to Amazing America. Our cops (hopefully) won't shoot you."
A single adult ticket for Disney Land is $100 for a day. That's 3,600 baht for one ticket. How much is the most expensive tourist attraction in Thailand?
And America is a cheap country to visit. Don't get me started on Japan and England and France...
If you really are so thin skinned that you can't measure the value of something without being distracted by how much someone who works in a factory in Thailand is paying, then you really ought to take a hard look in the mirror and re-evaluate your way of thinking.
20 baht for Somchai, 200 baht for me...
Correct thought process...
What is the attraction worth to me?
Incorrect thought process...
Why can't I get in for 20 baht? It's not fair.
By Mark Newman, Thailand (30th November 2015)
Newman- Well, I do't go to attractions either, usually because they are vastly disappointing; I was writing ore about the general farang price that you get at food and drink stalls, hotels and resorts, etc. However, yes, many attractions attract Thais at equal or higher rates than foreign tourists, including extremely wealthy Thais who pay the same price.
I shouldn't be angry about that, though, because that is "small minded and selfish" to resent other people getting a benefit. Imagine you joined a company where you worked well, tried your best, and maybe contributed more to the company than some of the other employees. Then, everyone around you was given free money, except you, because you were the wrong whatever. Even though you might try to smile it off, you might feel a teensy bit left out / unappreciated and resent it. Then imagine this isn't a one off-situation, and the amount of years you put into the company has no bearing.
I'm sorry, I like fairness, even if it is rare. I definitely know I don't like unfairness. I also know I hate nationalism, and double pricing just encourages it. I also know I hate corruption; maybe these parks etc could operate without double pricing if they were properly funded or, more likely, the funds were used correctly?
I got mugged once- I got angry about it and called the police. What I should have done, obviously, is think about how, because the muggers were probably (though not definitely) from a poorer background than me, my money could be used to buy food for their families. Selfish me...
By jbkk, bkk (30th November 2015)
All of Mark's arguments can be equally applied, in any nation, around the world. This isn't to say that they're wrong, but that such logic should equally apply in this case.
Last time I checked, tourism in America provided jobs, helped pay for upkeep on attractions, and often is visited by tourists rather than locals.
Believe me, were we to start charging Thais 3x the price we'd get an earful about it. No doubt there would be more protests in front of the embassy about it as well.
By Aaron, Bangkok (30th November 2015)
Sometimes the dual pricing scam is merely an annoyance, but at other times it is more than that.
It is the taxi driver who wont give you your change because 'you farang', it is the restaurant staff who bring the bill with a menu with higher prices than you ordered from. Because 'you farang'.
It's also getting worse service or food in a restaurant 'because you farang'.
It is the Songtow driver who takes you on an un-necessary journey because'you farang'.
It is also the extra charge when renting, because 'you farang'.
It can really spoil a nice day. Or, if you bend over and take every rip off as 'helping some poor guy eat rice that week', not. But I am not in the habit of helping people who are trying to rip me off - because there are many, many HONEST Thai people out there who are more deserving.
I had three friends take the time and expense to visit me in Thailand and they all said the same thing: "I don't like the feeling that everyone is trying to cheat me'. They never came back, and they don't intend to.
My girlfriend was visibly shocked and embarrassed at the way we sometimes get treated in her country, so it isn't just our imagination, indignation or problem.
Clearly for a teacher on 30k a month survival rations in BKK, dual pricing is a significant issue. Clearly someone with a lot more money might not worry about it. And the good news is, if you know your way around, there is often a Thai person or vendor playing a straight bat.
By Neil, BKK (30th November 2015)
I agree with you, the amount does not matter. I think the issue is one of perception. I just makes people think that being taken advantage of as foreigners. How about the 10% service change? I think as foreigners we think this goes in the waitstaff as a tip. Not true, to the restaurant owner! Talk about perception.
By Lawrence Goodrich , Bangkok (30th November 2015)
"Even in Korea, one of the most xenophobic places I've ever been to, they don't try this shit on..."
Yeah, well, there's no comparison between South Korea and Thailand.
1 - Prices in South Korea mirror those of Western countries. A duel pricing system would be just a waste of time.
2 - Does South Korea even have a tourist industry? No, it doesn't. Certainly not on the grand scale that Thailand enjoys and it's certainly a non factor economically.
I think some people are taking this dual pricing a bit too personally.
Complaining about something that's clearly too expensive is one thing.
Aftershave prices piss me off no end.
Complaining about prices because you can't get the local, more favorable, rate is just bonkers.
By Mark Newman, Thailand (30th November 2015)
"Sorry, but I'm a low paid expat teacher..."
If you are a teacher here then how often during the course of a year do you actually go to places that have dual pricing? For me it's never! Not because I don't want to, they just aren't on my radar.
"Why should they (Thais) get a benefit?"
What benefit exactly? Do you see coach loads of Thais lining up at foreign tourist attractions so they can take advantage of the generous discount? We are talking about 'foreign tourist attractions' here... with the emphasis on 'foreign tourist'!
This 'unjust' mark up that you are being collared for, pays for the upkeep and maintenance of these attractions. It also goes toward providing jobs for locals and salaries to feed their families.
"Finally, it's the principle..."
Seriously? You are basing your enjoyment of foreign tourist attractions not on how much they charge you but on how much less someone else is getting it for? That's pretty small minded and selfish.
If you can't afford it then just don't go. If you can afford it then bite the bullet and know that a Thai father is buying fried rice and chicken for his family with your admission fee.
By Mark Newman, Thailand (30th November 2015)
Another 'I'm all right, sod the rest' style argument.
Also, you fucked up here:
"...charging higher entrance fees to foreigners is none too subtle. The admission price for a non-Thai might be clearly stated in English, whereas the local price is written in Thai."
The use of Thai numerals makes it very subtle indeed.
I think the practice is wretchedly pathetic. Even in Korea, one of the most xenophobic places I've ever been to, they don't try this shit on.
I guess they've got more pride.
By Nick Kenchington , Bangkok (30th November 2015)
Sorry, but as a teacher in Thailand I don't earn a fortune, and much less than many Thais I know. Paying a farang price for everything would, if added up, hurt me. That's why my wife buys food for me, so the stall owners don't know to up the price by 30 baht or so each time, which does add up a little (though of course they eventually find out and charge her more as well). I have to survive on a salary from my job, just like most of the population, but I don't see why I should have to spend more than they do for the same things.
Re- Thais not seeing it as extorting foreigners but Thais getting a benefit- why should they get a benefit? Many Thais (poor and rich) never pay tax. People may dispute this, but look at the makeup of the country and how many people as a percentage are employed in jobs which would be liable for tax- most foreign teachers in Thailand pay more tax that many Thai people, or at least pay it more often. If you suggest that Thai people pay more VAT etc, I would suggest that if said foreign teacher lives here for many years, they would end up paying more VAT than many Thais do.
Finally, it's the principle. It doesn't matter if it is 100 baht or 1 satang. It's not a mai pen rai situation- it's an "I'm getting cheated by a bunch of x%!@s" situation. I don't like being taken advantage of; in fact, I see people who agree to being fleeced by double pricing as being modern day Candides, naive, trusting in the altruism of others, and not realizing they are being disrespected.
By jbkk, bkk (30th November 2015)