lots of farang destroying thailand beach

Thailand : Don’t Get Farang Poisoning

Sure, we all know how to avoid Food poisoning in Thailand, but there’s another condition that’s not given enough attention : Farang Poisoning!

Farang is the Thai word for “alien” and you will hear it used while walking the streets, in the night markets, or when streams of children pass by, fingers pointed “farang! farang!”

Some farang flock together, magnetically attracted to each other’s Chang tshirts and dreadlocks, and other farang flee from each other, never making eye contact and hustling past like silent ships in a street market fleet.

I definitely fall into the latter group, feeling a tension in my stomach when I see too many in one place. Ack. Run away! Run Away! Before you classify me as a self loathing whitey, let me give you the low down on why Farang send me into power walking mode.

lots of farang destroying thailand beach

Full Moon (Farang) Party
photo credit : YoTuT – Flickr


Pay the Price

When I first arrived to Thailand – I was surprised at the prices. Hmm, I thought Thailand was supposed to be cheap?

However, anywhere I seemed to go, people greeted me with prices before a hello, and a “please look at the trinkets” here, and a “tuk tuk, massage, lady boy” there. Hey, I’m no hater to the hustle, we’ve all got to pay the bills, but there is something entirely different from making a living to seeing human dollar signs walking down the street.

This didn’t feel like the Thailand I imagined. Is it my fault for preconceived notions of The Land Of Smiles being this lush paradise where coconuts fall into your palms and people fall all over themselves to massage you while walking down the street?

So why do I feel like I always have my hackles up? Because I’ve been Fa-WRONGing this country up.

By following in the footsteps of the original Thai travelers (mad props to the pioneers, navigating this country in it’s virginial tourist state must have been wild) I’ve become a clone of all those before me. Another wide eyed white girl trying to Eat, Pray, Love her way through the monsooned streets.


This train station put all Farang in one train!
Photo: Jonny Poo Poo Paints

If you’re dreaming of Thailand, and don’t want to feel like you’ve been strapped into the roller coaster ride that most others are seeing, listen up. In the coming month, I will be doing a series of posts on everything from hitch-hiking to how to not burn your taste buds right out of your mouth, with a focus on how to travel farang-free as much as possible.

Getting off the tourist trail is awesome and difficult in equal parts.

Not knowing the language of the country will make little feats feel like massive triumphs.

Hailing a tuktuk from one point of Bangkok to another is a piece of cake if you’re prepared to bargain hard and pay up, but trying to get the same message across in a rural town with insufficient Thai and a 3 minute negotiation turns into 30 minutes of pain and frustration.

Well, Brandy you certainly don’t make that sound appealing… just wait a minute, will you?

There’s something different about being in a town where there are not many farang. Finding a place where no tourists go is next to impossible, but this trip we located a town (no, I’m not going to name drop – find your own! – or email me) where they received many Asian tourists, but clearly very few Anglos.

Walking down the street still caused attention to be directed our way, but instead of being hustled, we were being chased by curious locals. Where do you come from? Why are you in our city? If people didn’t talk to us (many were ashamed of their lack of English, or too shy to try) they would wave, nod, wei, or honk their horns at us while doing double and triple takes much to the complication of the traffic situation.

This style of travel is not for everyone, and many feel the traditional Thailand tourist route is like a real life version of Candyland – but I’ve grown to crave something more from my travels.

Instead of sitting down for the ride, and making the regularly scheduled stops I want to grab the wheel, get lost, and learn.

Why do you travel?


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Brandy Bell loves adventuring around the world. She’s been a solo female traveler since 2006 and has visited over 25 countries, made countless international friends, and now writes to inspire you to travel in a sustainable and responsible way.

'Thailand : Don’t Get Farang Poisoning' have 2 comments

  1. July 11, 2013 @ 6:48 pm Heather

    Wow, I know exactly what you mean about foreigners being painted with the same brush, and banding together. Thailand is a really easy country to be a foreigner in, but we go more out of travel when it was HARD. The small victories can be the sweetest.


  2. August 23, 2013 @ 10:07 am Stephane F.

    Hi Brandy. Thanks for your article. I’m curious to know if you been in the Philippines and if so, how was it for you? I went there alone when I was 27 years old and trust me that being a white guy alone there is a massive pain in the ass. You’re not white there. You are THE white!It’s impossible to pass incognito and many people tried to screw me. I should write a book from all the epic stories I heard from Filipinos to make easy money. They are never shy to tell you the most ridiculous stories when you start a conversation with them (ok not all the times but frequently): I’ll have to leave the school if you don’t give me 200$, my mom will die at the hospital if you don’t give me xxx.xx$ for the treatment (the classic), a company wants to hire me but I need 80$ for the requirements. Once I was in a bus stop area where they’re selling some weird food and there was a young man who was trying to sell me an 1/3 consumed bottle of water 30$ saying that this water is blessed and can heal me from any disease. And when I was talking with any female employee I could typically hear those 4 questions asked in the same order:1: Where you from? 2: How old are you? 3: What’s your work?(my favorite one lol) 4: Are you married? After 30 times you’re like: I’m a 135 years old from Kazakhstan, I work as astronaut for the fire department and I’m married with the young and cute Colonel Senders!

    There are nice places in the Philippines but most places are extremely poor, dirty,scary and we are harassed all the time by people when we are in public. Honestly I don’t recommend it.


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