Readers' Submissions

Racism Towards Indians in Thailand

  • Written by Anonymous
  • October 13th, 2010
  • 6 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok


I travelled to Thailand this past September and while I was initially a little apprehensive to travel there because of racism towards Indians by Thais, I virtually encountered NO racism at all. I did encounter maybe one or two instances but I quickly set them straight and told them to their faces. The first time I was not allowed into a bar in Nana because it was "members only" and I was like this is a load of crap. I asked them if they only allowed farangs and then they immediately asked me to come in. I politely refused and walked somewhere else. Then I was in a mall in Pattaya and I was looking at some watches being sold in a stand. I asked the saleswoman to show me a watch and she said "you want to buy or only see?" I asked her if she wanted to see my credit card or cash first. She didn't say a word and quietly showed me the watch. Besides these two instances, Thais have been very, very polite and accommodating. Also, we shouldn't mistake someone having a bad day at work as being racist. Everyone has a bad day, so it's not necessary that they are prejudiced. Then again, I have penned down these ten commandments for my fellow Indian tourists who visit Thailand as I have myself seen how rotten their behavior can get. Starting from Suvarnabhumi itself at passport control I noticed that these people didn't want to form a queue and were pushing to go ahead first. Then again, waiting for the visa on arrival for Indians at SVB really sucks….lol.

I am an Indian (100%) and I do like my country and I wish for nothing but the best for it but we do have a lot of issues and a lot of it stems from nasty social hierarchies and lots of immense poverty. But if you've got the money to travel to Thailand, chances are you're a little well off and have some time to brush up your manners and behavior. Some of these traits are innate, while some can be changed with a little thought. Either way, I've heard of Indians being the worst tourists anywhere in the world and sometimes I spend too much time wondering whether I should visit a country or not based on this. But reality cannot be put into words no matter how and the ultimate learning experience is until you go there yourself and face it head on. Anyways, I didn't think Thai people smiled a lot but I did feel at ease being around them as they were extremely helpful whenever I asked for directions and even accompanied me several times to make sure I didn't get lost (a compass and a map can be a little unreliable sometimes!). So my fellow Indian citizens, here are some tips on how to behave when in Thailand which are under our control. What's not under our control is only in God's hands :)

General tips for Indians travelling to Thailand:

1) Dress appropriately. When going for breakfast in the morning, please do not wear the same boxers you slept in with some bargirl the night before. We all know you're on vacation, but sleeveless shirts displaying your unshowered armpits and smelly boxers are not welcome at the breakfast table, especially when others are trying to enjoy their meal.

2) Control the volume of your voice. We know you're out here with three buddies of yours and you're excited. But that doesn't make you the man in Thailand. You do not need to be loud and brash everywhere you go. This isn't India.

3) Leave your jealousy behind in India. Indians are known to be an extremely jealous and arrogant bunch. In Thailand, you don't need to stare down other Indian tourists and show your muscles. This is Thailand, money can buy all the pleasures you require in abundance and very openly. There is no reason to show off anything. Just have a good time and stop minding other people's business even if it means not staring at someone to a point of making him / her feel uncomfortable.

4) Be a gentleman. Just because a girl is on sale for the night it doesn't mean that she's lost her status as a human. Do not grab her and make her sit next to you. That will get her irritated just like any other girl on the planet.

5) Not all girls are prostitutes in Thailand. Duh. Do not walk up to a girl in a mall and ask her to sleep with you. Nana Plaza is just two skytrain stations away from Siam Paragon.

6) Give a little. Everyone has budget constraints but if you spend nearly 2 hours in a bar, maybe buy the bar girl a drink or two. Some bargirls do not even ask for a drink if you're polite and a gentleman to them. They feel ashamed doing so. Trust me. So help them out a little. Don't be such a cheap charlie.

7) Bargaining is OK and perfectly normal, but don't be an jerk about it. There are polite ways to refuse an item if the seller is not budging on the price. You buy the item, then when she's packing it, you ask her for more discounts and cancel the transaction and then storm out angrily without even saying a thank you. Help us Indians on this front at least. We have a bad reputation as it is when it comes to bargaining.

8) Learn something new. We as Indians have grown to give extremely high respect to the western citizens (white skin…wink 😉 but mistreat and consider other Asian citizens. The idea of caste and skin color is so deep in our culture's mind that wherever we travel or settle, we carry these same ideas and culture. When Indians travel to the west, they will bend over backwards but in Thailand, they consider Thais to be inferior to themselves. I have noticed this behavior even before travelling to Thailand and it's plain wrong.

9) If you're getting a girl for rent, wear some deodorant. I do not mean to cause any offense but as an Indian, I myself have noticed that my fellow citizens ooze out a stench which is very unpleasant and I can imagine this being unpleasant to everyone and not just me. Yes, it is out of our control but a simple deodorant is not expensive at all. This applies to anyone and not just Indians, but Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis as well.

10) Learn a few Thai words. Yes, language matters and in a country where the majority of people barely speak English, learning sorry, thank you and a few other words makes it easy to navigate and enjoy what this amazing country has to offer.

and finally

11) If a ladyboy approaches you, keep in mind that she understands the meaning of No. I saw two Indians say "No!!! NO LADYBOY!!!! GO AWAY"


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Stickman's thoughts:

Excellent advice for everyone, not just Indians!