Expats unhappy with dual pricing in Thailand

Published:  22 Apr at 6 PM
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Amongst the many cross-cultural issues which get expats in Thailand hot under their collars, dual pricing at national parks, tourist attractions and other historic sites is possibly the most annoying.

Admittedly dual pricing, where locals are charged one price and foreigners are charged double or more, isn’t confined to Thailand, but it’s certainly prevalent in the Land of Smiles and enthusiastically justified nowadays by various tourism and government organisations.

In the past, it was selectively applied, but nowadays instructions from above have resulted in all non-Thais being charged the tourist rate at all attractions, even of they're permanent residents, taxpayers or long-term workers. The more popular national parks are no longer allowing expats with Thai wives and families, those with Thai drivers’ licenses or long-stayers with work permits the usual 100 baht entry fee – they must pay 500 baht.

Even expats with a reasonable command of the Thai language, often exempted by park attendants in the old days, must now cough up the full amount or go away.There’s also a suggestion that Thai wives and family members should also pay 500 baht each as they’re in a relationship with a foreigner.

Privately-owned attractions are equal offenders, even if the owners are themselves foreigners, as at the ferris wheel at Bangkok’s open air shopping centre on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Following social media attacks after the policy was revealed online, the operators backed off, but soon reverted back to dual pricing.

One local English language newspaper aimed at the expat community quoted a government organisation chief as saying that ‘foreigners aren’t entitled to the same privileges as are Thais’, no matter how long they’ve stayed in the country.That’s as close as the media gets to admitting that dual pricing is a government policy in Thailand, but many expats now regard it as the thin end of the wedge as regards acceptance in the country they’ve grown to love. .

Another trick common in smaller retail outlets is to state the right price in Thai numerals and the higher price in Western numerals. Major offenders in this manner are the shops and factory outlets on the guided tour routes. However, the further expats travel from Bangkok and the closer they get to the Thailand of villages and farms, the less likely they are to be seriously ripped off and the more likely they are to be accepted.
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