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Communicating in a foreign country can be really confusing if no one speaks your language or any other languages that you know. Similarly, it can be frustrating not to understand certain words that the locals use.

Even when the locals try to speak English, you may find some of the things they say impolite.

Here are two common phrases that Thais often use when they speak to foreigners. These phrases may sound negative to you, but let's take a look at what the Thais are trying to say.

What Do You Want?

By nature, Thais are very friendly and hospitable. While traveling in Thailand, you may find that Thais are among the most helpful people in the world.

When you enter a local store in Thailand where the staff speak some English, it's likely that they will ask, “What do you want?”

A question like that would be considered rude by most native English speakers, while the majority of Thais don't know English well enough to understand the difference between “What do you want?” and “What would you like?” Anyhow, their intention is only to assist you.


Almost all of my Western friends dislike the Thai word farang. It makes them feel looked down upon and angry. Let's take a closer look at the word farang...

The Meaning Of Farang

Guava in Thai is called farang. The same word is also used for white people.

Thais call white people farang
Farang is a Thai form of the Arabic word faranji, which means white travelers.

Thais call white people farang, no matter which continent they're from. The majority of Thais can't tell whether you're from the U.S., the U.K., Russia, Sweden, France, Holland, Germany, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

Thais call white people farang regardless of their nationality and social status. To a Thai person, the word farang doesn't have any negative connotations.

Similarly, Thais use the word khaeg for people who have black hair, dark complexion, strong facial features and big eyes. For example, the word khaeg is used for people from India, Pakistan and Nepal.

Likewise, Thais call Indian-looking people khaeg regardless of their nationality and social status.

I hope that knowing the true meaning of these phrases will make your holiday in Thailand an even more enjoyable experience.

Suggested Reading:   First Customer   Thai Shopping Phrases

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