- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Thailand Guide (PDF)
Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world for a reason. The scenery is spectacular, the people are friendly and visitors are never more than a longboat trip away from a fun activity.
That said, expats need to be prepared for the fact that, like anywhere else in the world, there are pros and cons to living in Thailand. Here are a few of the main points to consider before moving to Thailand.
Accommodation in Thailand
+ PRO: There's a variety of housing
There is a wide range of accommodation available, from traditional Thai housing to modern apartment blocks and villas.
- CON: It can be expensive
If an expat can’t speak Thai, affordable accommodation can be tricky to find. When dealing with an English speaker, the landlord will often try to charge a higher price. To avoid this, expats should try to get a Thai-speaking person to do the bargaining on their behalf.
Lifestyle and culture in Thailand
+ PRO: The population is multicultural
As a result of the many business opportunities in the tourism industry, Thailand has drawn in numerous expats over the last 20 years. Krabi, for example, is filled with an array of interesting people of many different nationalities. Expats are almost guaranteed to be exposed to many different cultures and meet people from all over the world.
+ PRO: There are plenty of local festivals
Every year, thousands of tourists come to Thailand to experience and take part in the many unique events and ceremonies the country has to offer. Expats should be sure not to miss as Loy Krathong and Songkran, two of Thailand's most spectacular local festivals.
- CON: The language barrier
Almost everyone in Thailand's urban areas can speak a little English, but not many people speak English well. This largely depends on location, but government departments countrywide will tend to deal with matters in Thai. Being unable to communicate can be frustrating, and alienating for many new arrivals.
Nightlife in Thailand
+ PRO: There is lots to do
Thailand is filled with beach bars, full moon parties, restaurants and night markets. Shops close late at night, so expats can barter to their hearts' content at all hours in most areas.
+ PRO: Numerous off-season perks
During low season, there aren’t as many tourists around so it's easy for locals to get discounted tours and affordable accommodation in hotels. It's also far more enjoyable to take in Thailand's attractions without having to contend with huge crowds.
- CON: There are few dance parties
Though this varies by area, there are generally few ‘Western-style’ nightclubs or places designed specifically for dancing the night away. Bars and beach parties are more common.
Weather in Thailand
+ PRO: Summers are gorgeous
The ocean is beautiful and warm, and the weather is sunny during the tourist high season. At this time of year, Thailand can be the very picture of a tropical paradise.
- CON: There are also uncomfortable extremes
The weather is often uncomfortably hot and the rainy season can last a long time, beginning around April and sometimes ending as late as December. During this time, the weather is unpredictable, making it difficult to plan activities.
Healthcare in Thailand
+ PRO: Treatments are affordable
Expats with a work permit and who pay social security will qualify for free or heavily discounted healthcare from any of Thailand’s public hospitals. Private GPs are also relatively inexpensive.
- CON: Resources are few
Most public hospitals are understaffed and medical personnel are overworked. Expats should be prepared for long waits to get medical treatment. Some private hospitals are known to take advantage of expats and charge extortionate prices.
Cost of living in Thailand
+ PRO: Local goods are cheap
Thai food, petrol and general items are inexpensive. It isn't necessary to bring home a massive salary to live a simple and comfortable life here.
- CON: Imports are expensive
Western-style food is extremely expensive, as is alcohol. One can quickly spend a lot of money in Thailand if not paying attention.
Transport in Thailand
+ PRO: There is a variety of cheap transport available
Thailand has an abundance of reliable local transport. From tuk-tuks and taxis to the high-speed BTS train system in Bangkok, it is easy to find a convenient way of getting from A to B.
- CON: 'Broken' meters and the 'farang' price
In some of the larger cities or tourist hotspots, many foreigners – 'farangs' – unknowingly get charged much higher prices than the norm. Despite the fact that taxi meters are a legal necessity, many drivers will claim that theirs is broken. Tourists often blindly get into these modes of transport, only to be charged an exorbitant amount after the journey. This is best avoided by negotiating a rate before getting into the taxi.