Learn to read Thai - Tutorial 26
Reading Thai Numbers
Thai numbers are used very rarely. How rarely? Well, I've lived in Thailand for seven years; there are only 10 numbers; and I still have problems remembering them. That rarely. Most of the time, Thais use standard Arabic numerals - the same as you and I.
Some Thai books use them for page numbering and sometimes you see fancy clocks, etc.
A numbering system that is known to Thais but unknown to the vast majority of foreigners in Thailand really only has one purpose. If you visit museums, important temples, historical parks, and tourist attractions in general, you will see Thai numbers used where you pay the entrance fee.
In the examples on this page, you will need to know the following words:
ผู้ใหญ่ - adult (poo-yai)
เด็ก - child (dek)
คนไทย - Thai person (kon tai)
ชาวไทย - Thai nationals (chaaw tai)
ชาวต่างชาติ - Foreign nationals (chaaw dtaang chaat - the polite version of farang)
|The Thai Numbering System
The practice of dual pricing, while hiding the truth from foreigners by using Thai letters and numbers, is extremely widespread in Thailand. It happens everywhere.
I once saw a web site started by a farang listing the places where this happens. It would actually be much easier to list the places where dual pricing doesn't happen.
It makes me mad as hell because I can read the signs and it is so obvious what is going on. However, Thais continue to get away with this disgusting practice because the vast majority of foreigners can't read Thai.
Foreigners with no Thai language skills read the sign and assume the price shown in English applies to everyone. It doesn't.
And it's not just a small extra charge for foreigners. Quite often the difference is a factor of 10. Sometimes it's even free for Thais, but there is still a hefty charge for 'rich' foreigners.
As you can see from the photo at the top of the page, the charge for Thai kids is Bt10 but for foreign kids it is Bt100, while the respective charge for adults is Bt20 and Bt200. This is quite typical.
This particular sign was for a shell museum in Krabi where there were a few fossilised shells which were hardly worth seeing. I spent about five minutes in there. There were two entrances. I explained my situation to the woman at the first entrance but she wouldn't let me in for the Thai price.
However, the woman at the other entrance let me straight in for Bt20. If a foreign family with two children were to visit it would cost Bt600. The equivalent Thai family would pay Bt60.
The prices apply to all Thais, whether they be poor rural farmers or extremely wealthy Bangkokians. The general assumption is that all Thais are poor, and all foreigners are rich.
I wouldn't mind so much if Thais paid 10 times more for things when they travel to England, but of course they don't.
After one period where I had done a lot of travelling in Thailand and encountered dual-pricing every day (often several times per day), I saw the following sign in a restaurant in Krabi. What a joke.
Questions and Feedback
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to contact me. Your feedback will help me to improve these pages.
If you are serious about learning how to read Thai, I highly recommend the following two books. These two books taught me almost everything I know and I still use them almost every day for reference purposes.
Most of the phrase books and text books for beginners that I have bought sit on my bookshelf accumulating dust. They are next to useless and good only to fuel the fire, except that it is never cold enough here to need a fire. However, if a sudden cold snap happens to descend, I will be grateful to Lonely Planet.
If you want to learn how to speak Thai, learning to read Thai will assist your pronunciation enormously. If you are trying to learn to speak Thai from books that use hopeless transliteration systems you are wasting your time because Thais won't be able to understand you.
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