Farang(Fa-lang)-Thai word for white people or Westerners, generically referring to non-asians.
About a month ago some friends and I took a trip to Koh Samui. A lot of people had been telling me that Samui is a must visit Island. The reggae vibes were awesome and the people were laid back as you’d expect someone from the islands to be. It was a bit expensive, but hey it comes with the territory right? Well, one night on the beach we had decided to exclude ourselves from all the night festivities and just took a moment to chill out and stare at the stars. I had never seen the stars so clearly before in my life!
I started to think about how some of the best things in life are free and seeing those stars definitely fell into that category. With all the reggae music blasting I started reminiscing as a young kid visiting Jamaica. So I used a bit of my Jamaican background to conjure up a bit of a parody tune. It went like “Mi na want no falang price! Just charge me the Thai Price!” So far it has been received very well by a lot of foreigners and my friend who is an amazing musician(and came on the trip as well) wants to sit down one day and turn this into a real track. If you don’t know much about Thailand yet then you may be wonder, “What is the farang price?” or “foreigner price”. Well my friends in this post I will be bitching about the price that foreigners are expected to pay for basically being foreign.
What is the Farang Price?
As I’ve mentioned in other post, farang(falang) basically means foreigner in Thai. Some people argue that this term only applies to those who have white-skin but I have been called the word many times. No point in debating really as this isn’t what this article is about. The Farang price is basically an inflated price that is usually applied to non-Thai tourist. Expats who have been here long enough know a way around paying that price. I honestly believe if you come here without any knowledge of what things should cost then you’ll probably end up paying a bit more than you’re suppose to. Don’t worry it happens to everyone.
Where can You expect to pay inflated Fees?
Let me start by saying that it isn’t Thai law for foreigners to pay more for items. It’s more of a it goes without saying type of thing…
So it all depends really(I know… What a vague answer). Weekend markets and areas with a high concentration of tourist have locals mouths salivating at the thought of making double on the items their selling. When my friends were doing Muay Thai training they were expected to pay a 500 baht fee to watch the live fights on Sundays. The Thais were only expected to pay 150 baht! So you can see the vast difference and double-standards openly demonstrated by locals toward foreigners. My friends obviously refused to pay because they were students of the school. Eventually they contacted the owner who told the security guard to let them in for free! It truly isn’t said enough but it’s all about who you know sometimes.
Another example was when another buddy of mine went to a famous amusement park called Dream World. Dream world is a premier amusement park in Rangsit,Thailand and if you’re a farang expect to pay up to a 1000thb entrance fee! That’s an exorbitantly high fee for anyone. I’m not sure how much the Thais have to pay but I’m pretty sure it’s no where near that.
Does it make sense?
The reason for the double-standard pricing has a lot to do with the average income in Thailand. Thais on average earn a lot less than foreigners do and to even things out they expect us(foreigners) to pay a bit more for certain luxuries. Who knows how outdated that theory is as I can tell you from experience that I may dress like I earn more money than the locals, but I know for a fact that most are earning at least twice as much. However I don’t take into account how much they are paying for rent, how much they have to pay their workers and all that other sweet stuff. One of the vendors in the market showed me his bill for renting his space and it was 40,000thb($1100usd)! That’s almost a months salary!
From the other side though I believe the salaries foreigners are earning are justified. We have no family or community to support us in Thailand. Everything we earn is for our basic survival. Yes, the money is mostly spent on splurging and partying but what about if any problems arise? Say something happened back home and you need to return asap? On a teachers salary it’s simply not enough to cover a return flight. You will literally be breaking the bank to go back home and wouldn’t have enough funds to come back unless you had savings prior to leaving.
If you really want to save your money then you’ll have to get use to living like a Thai. This means eating Thai food everyday, maybe even doing your own grocery shopping. You’d also do well to stay away from Bangkok’s night life as that would quickly drain your pockets. Trust me, one beer can easily turn into a night out!
Avoid the Farang Price?
Sure, you can try. When a taxi demands 500baht for a ride that should only cost 200 baht just say,”No”. Take a stand and wait for a honest taxi who will use his meter. If your at a weekend market and the lady wants 900baht for a pair of clippers that should only cost 400baht just talking her down (see-roy baht dai mai?). You have to understand that to most of these people your just a customer and if you ain’t prepared for them away games then expect to be played.
One thing I love about Thailand is almost everything is negotiable. With that being said if you do agree to a price you can’t back out on it. Especially after you’ve paid…God forbid you pay and ask for your money back… Have fun with that!
The farang price is probably here to stay for a long time(which also promotes racism…). It’s definitely outdated in my opinion especially when it comes to teachers because the salaries in Thailand haven’t changed for quite some years now. However, the cost of living and food has changed. There is a bit of a glass ceiling if your a foreigner working as a teacher but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting Thailand. You can still live a humble middle-class lifestyle on your salary.
Do you know how to negotiate? Can you speak Thai? Do you know how much the item your buying should cost? These are questions you need to answer to see if your even in a position to challenge the farang price.
As always please leave your thoughts in the comments and like Farangdam on facebook!