Thursday, July 10, 2014

20 tips to pass off as a local in Thailand

After more than 4 years in Thailand, I am glad to announce to everyone that in most places, aside of tourist attractions which have dual charges for locals and foreigners, there is almost NO APPARENT advantage to behave like a local. Especially if you are taking taxi in Bangkok city, wearing a blonde wig and faking an American accent will improve your chances of getting a cab infinitely.

However, if you are still interested to find ways to effectively demonstrate your acceptance of the unique Thai culture to your Thai friends, here's a list of 20 ways you can do it:

  1. Add fish sauce, chilli powder, vinegar and 3 tablespoonfuls of sugar to every bowl of noodle soup before you taste it, and add even more after you do.
  2. Use toilet paper to wipe your cutlery, face, mouth and everything else, even though it is for your bum.
  3. Don't type "Hahaha" or "LOL" when you feel tickled, but use "555" instead, since 5 is pronounced as "Ha" in Thai.
    -contributed by Benjamin Tan-
  4. Use fork and knife for KFC, and don't forget to eat it with rice.
  5. Drown every slice of pizza with ketchup, and don't forget to eat it with rice too.
  6. For every cup of iced beverage, drink up the beverage and keep the ice with you, waiting for the ice to melt bit by bit to form the most delicious ultra-diluted drink and suck it all up.
  7. Fill a glass full of ice before topping it up with beer.
  8. Fill a glass full of ice, add a teeny bit of whisky before topping it up with an equal mix of still and soda water.
  9. Pose like a supermodel for every picture, whether the backdrop is beautiful scenery or just nothing.
  10. Go to a concert to support your favourite singer, but cheer for every performer just as hysterically as if they are all your favourite singers.
  11. Drive like a mafia, and be extra forgiving to other drivers who drive like you do.
  12. Use "Krup" or "Ka" behind every sentence even though you don't know what it means.
  13. Use "Sawatdii Krup/Ka" when you meet or bid farewell to anyone, though you wonder why it can be used to say goodbye as well.
  14. Go for weekend getaways in places like Amphawa, Khao Yai, Cha Am, Hua Hin and Suan Phueng, not Pattaya, Phuket or Samui.
  15. Pronounce S like S at the beginning of words but pronounce them like D when they are at the end of words. Eg."Lotus" = "Lowthud".
  16. Pronounce all Rs like L. Eg. Pronounce "River" = "Liver".
  17. Pronouce L like L at the beginning of words but pronounce them as N when they are at the end of words. Eg. "Central = Centran"
  18. Tell everyone Starbucks is your favourite coffee joint, even when you know there are tons of local establishments that make better coffee at a fraction of the price.
  19. You know that in Thailand, for many families, the twin that comes out later is the elder sibling, because his heart is big enough to let the other twin see the world first.
  20. Say hooray when protests block up all major roads, then proclaim to the world that the military coup is the best thing that could happen.

These tips are almost certainly going to impress your Thai friends, don't say I never told you!


  1. Such a wonderful list! 19 is my absolutely favourite!!

    1. Hello Adora, Thanks for your nice comment and I think it's a really interesting list as well. Number 19, after further chats with the locals around me, is a tradition practised in many (not all) Thai families. Officially, the first-born is still the elder one, but I have at least 2 friends who are twins themselves practising the first-born as the younger brother. Very interesting, no?


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