Along with having its own alphabet that’s used for the national language Thailand also has its own symbols for numeric digits. They are not used much in normal communication or commerce – the Western system is much more common.
Here are the digits from zero to nine:
Note the tiny difference between the “4” and the “5”.
I’ve found two major uses for the Thai numerals:
- Price lists where the business owner wants to conceal that Westerners pay a different (invariably higher) price from Thai people.
- The registration (licence) plates for military vehicles.
Here’s an example of (1):
This the sign at the entrance to Pang Sida National Park in Sa Kaeo Province. Thai adults pay 40 Baht to enter the park, children pay 20 Baht. Foreign adults pay 200 Baht and children 100 Baht.
And an example of (2):
The registration is “2335” : ‘๒๓๓๕’ in Thai numerals.
In both cases the main reason seems to be obscurity rather than tradition.