Recently a blog has gone viral as a number of people have added to their twitter feeds. It is an updated account of a man who visited Thailand back in 2012 and vows never to return because of bad experiences. I looked at his reasons and you can argue he was unlucky in many instances but it’s hard not to agree with a lot of what has been written. The comments range from the trolling to the supportive and clearly have a wide range of people with different lifestyle choices wanting to voice their opinion. Here is my take on where Thailand is now.
Absolutely you can get ripped off in Thailand, but that is true of many countries, especially in South East Asia. The average wage is less than a tenth of western countries so it is no wonder when tourists come to their place of business they see an opportunity. Imagine if westerners were all of sudden inundated with millionaires entering their restaurant in the west, wouldn’t they at least try to up their prices a little? Of course they would. What you have to do is try to be clever about it and make sure you don’t get ripped off and intimidated into paying extortionate amounts. Otherwise, remember these people are some of the poorest in the world and paying a little extra (which in many cases is a lot less than you pay in the west) will help them more than you think.
Many expats and tourists complain about poor service in Thailand. Whilst I agree, the level of service is low in most places you visit, you also have to think about the reasons behind it. Thai people are inherently shy and even speaking English to a foreigner is nerve-racking. Many of them want to get you out of the shop as quickly as possible without offending you. They work for minimum wage so unless they own the shop or are in the family that do own the shop, they aren’t really interested in the bottom line. How many westerners actually care about the bottom line in a large multinational company they work for? There are cases though where it is often easier for Thai’s just to say no, rather than help you. There are 2 reasons for this, the first is they don’t want to offend you or upset you by not knowing the answer, the second is they are just plain lazy, so yes it does exist.
Taking foreigners for granted
Overall, Thai’s are friendly and nice people but often money obsessed. When you are from such a poor country and see it developing very quickly, the have not’s want to be the haves. This inevitably leads to conflict and a sense of superiority for the haves. This is clearly on display in Thailand. When you are then flooded with foreigners who want to make Thailand their home or enjoy the country, these are seen as high earning individuals so there is a sense of jealousy. Thai’s also live in the moment rather than plan for the future, so getting an extra buck out of a tourist today is much better than worrying about the long term impact this could have on the countries reputation.
Furthermore, safety and security of foreigners has been an issue in Thailand for some time. Sadly though this is often because of the criminal elements that enter the country from abroad. Mafia from western countries, make Thailand their home and because of the corruption within the country are able to settle and go about their illegal businesses without too much hassle. Obviously this leads to some violent activities which sometimes tourists and expats get caught up in.
Bottom Line – Stay Safe and Be Smart but Enjoy and don’t think too much about the extra few dollars you are being ripped off.