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Public Holidays in Thailand




New Year’s Day

2 January

2 January

Makha Bucha Day

6 March

26 February

Chakri Memorial Day

6 April

8 April

Songkran Festival

13–16 April

13–16 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Coronation Day

4 May

6 May

Queen Suthida's Birthday

5 June

3 June

Visakha Bucha Day

5 June

22 May

Asahna Bucha Day

1 August

22 July

King Vajiralongkorn's Birthday

28 July

29 July

Her Majesty the Queen Mother's Birthday

14 August

12 August

Passing of His Majesty the Late King

13 October

14 October

Chulalongkorn Memorial Day

23 October

23 October

His Majesty the Late King's Birthday

5 December

5 December

Constitution Day

11 December

10 December

New Year’s Eve

31 December

31 December

*Some dates may vary according to the lunar cycle. If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday is celebrated on the following Monday. 

Safety in Thailand

Renowned for its idyllic beaches and friendly inhabitants, Thailand may seem like paradise. The good news is that it can be – provided expats take note of the country's most prominent safety concerns and proceed with the necessary precautions.

The shortcomings of safety in Thailand are primarily the result of underfunded infrastructure, political instability and the high level of poverty. The main safety concerns for expats living in Thailand are listed below, with advice on the best precautions to take.

Terrorism in Thailand

Thailand is viewed as a moderately safe destination for foreigners. The main concern for expats has been the unstable political situation in the years since the military seized control of the government. Martial law and curfews have since been lifted from almost all areas of the country.

There is a high risk of terrorism in the far south of Thailand. The southern provinces on the border between Thailand and Malaysia have been the site of extreme separatist violence in the past. Foreign governments have advised against all but the most essential travel to these potentially unsafe areas.

Following sporadic bombings in previous years, there is the possibility of terrorism in larger cities and certain tourist areas. The severity of these attacks has varied greatly. The general advice given by foreign embassies about this issue is to avoid crowded and tourist areas during high-risk terrorist alerts, and to keep a low profile wherever possible.

General safety in Thailand

Crime rates in Thailand are usually quite low compared to other international destinations, and violent crimes against foreigners are rare. That said, crimes of opportunity can happen, and it's wise to take some precautions ahead of time. 

To avoid falling victim to pickpockets, expats should keep a close eye on their purses and bags in crowded places. In Bangkok, particularly, foreigners should be wary of being targeted by thieves who ride as passengers on a motorcycle and grab victims' bags as they pass. If this does happen, expats are advised not to resist.

These thieves have been known to drag victims alongside the motorbike until the bag comes off, or to quickly use a sharp knife to detach the bag. Any mugging or pickpocketing incidents of this sort should be reported to the police as soon as possible.

Road safety in Thailand

No matter where an expat ends up living, whether in a small town or the heart of Bangkok, road safety in Thailand will be a primary concern. Thailand is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for road accidents. 

The low level of safety on the roads is arguably best explained by reckless drivers. There is also a serious lack of awareness regarding drink-driving. Where possible, expats should always use pedestrian overpasses to cross roads.

They should also watch out for motorcycles using pedestrian walkways to avoid the traffic jams in Bangkok. Expats intent on driving in Thailand are advised to drive defensively and to obey traffic laws, even if no one else seems to be doing so.

Scams in Thailand

Expats who have just landed in Thailand often fall prey to scams – and most expats in the country have experienced at least one. The good news is that in most cases they involve a relatively minor sum of money. New arrivals usually wise up after a few weeks in town and never fall victim again. 

Taxi drivers occasionally try to overcharge foreign passengers. If this happens, expats should simply ask them to put on the meter or settle on a flat rate for the trip. Any pricing negotiations should be done before getting into the taxi.

Embassy Contacts for Thailand

Thai Embassies

  • Royal Thai Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 944 3600

  • Royal Thai Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7589 2944

  • Royal Thai Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 722 4444

  • Royal Thai Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6206 0100

  • Royal Thai Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 342 5470

  • Royal Thai Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 496 2900

Foreign embassies in Thailand

  • United States Embassy, Bangkok: +66 2 205 4000

  • British Embassy, Bangkok: +66 2 305 8333

  • Canadian Embassy, Bangkok: +66 2 646 4300

  • Australian Embassy, Bangkok: +66 2 344 6300

  • South African Embassy, Bangkok: + 66 2 092 2900

  • Irish Embassy, Bangkok: +66 2 016 1360

  • New Zealand Embassy, Bangkok: +66 2 254 2530

Culture Shock in Thailand

The people of Thailand are known all over the world for their friendly nature and rich cultural heritage, which they are extremely proud of. As with any other destination, though, expats can expect a degree of culture shock in Thailand.

Meeting and greeting in Thailand

In Thai culture, greeting someone is an act of great significance. The manner of greeting is determined according to the social standing of both people, and making the wrong move could cause a Thai person to lose face – this is considered a disgrace and should be avoided at all costs. That said, if correctly used, greetings are an opportunity to show deep respect for the Thai people.

For a traditional Thai greeting, palms are placed together in a prayer-like gesture somewhere between the chest and the forehead. They are held close to the body while a small bow is made. The higher the hands and the lower the bow, the more respect is shown. This is called a wai.

The proper etiquette is for the subordinate party to offer a wai first, with the senior person then returning the wai. Thai locals won't expect a foreigner to initiate a wai but if offered one, not returning it would be an insult.

Dress in Thailand

Outward appearances are important to Thai people. Here, the old saying 'dress for success' holds true. Thai locals appreciate foreigners who try to maintain a professional and reserved appearance. T-shirts and shorts are acceptable for going just about anywhere, but pants and skirts should be of a modest length. Women should keep their chests and shoulders covered.

For office jobs in Thailand, expats will be expected to wear fairly formal attire. Men are expected to wear dress pants and shirts with a collar. Ties aren't mandatory, but are recommended for formal gatherings. 

In beach towns like Phuket, Hua Hin and Krabi, Thai locals are more accustomed to foreigners wearing bikinis and swimming attire at the beach, but when going for lunch or a stroll around town, expats should cover up. 

Language barrier in Thailand

Thai is a tonal language with five different tones. The tone of a word is used to distinguish its meaning. If an expat pronounces a word incorrectly, it may have an entirely different meaning from what they intended to say. The upside is that Thais are extremely forgiving when foreigners try to speak their language, and once they understand what a foreigner wants, they will teach them how to say the word correctly.

Religion in Thailand

Most of the population in Thailand are Buddhists. Buddhism plays a key role in the general nature of the local people. Throughout the country, there are also many beautiful Buddhist temples, known as wats. Other religions do exist in Thailand, and everyone’s right to the religion of their choice is protected.

Cultural dos and don'ts in Thailand

  • Do show great respect to the Thai royal family. The local population highly reveres them.
  • Do take the Thai national anthem seriously. It is broadcast over television and radio twice a day – every day at 8am, when the flag is raised and lowered just before sunset. When the anthem is being played, everyone must stop what they are doing and stand to attention out of respect. 
  • Don’t ever touch the head of a Thai person or pass any objects over someone’s head. The head is the highest part of the body and is considered sacred in Thailand. It must be treated with the utmost respect.
  • Don't use your feet for anything other than standing or walking. It is not acceptable for people to put their feet up on a table or desk, and expats should avoid pointing their feet at people. It is also considered impolite to touch one’s feet in public.
  • Do keep your cool. The Thai phrase jai yen, meaning ‘cool heart’, is a way of life. It refers to the ability to stay composed, calm and patient in tense situations. This is highly admirable in Thai society. Thai people go to great lengths to avoid confrontation and remain diplomatic.

Visas for Thailand

Expats should not have too much difficulty when it comes to getting a visa for Thailand. It's a fairly straightforward process as long as expats ensure they understand what documents need to be submitted.

Any documents in foreign languages must be translated into Thai or English. In the case of English translations, applicants will often need to have their documents notarised.

Tourist visas for Thailand

Citizens of certain countries are exempt from needing a tourist visa for Thailand for stays of up to either 15, 30 or 90 days. The length of the permitted visa-free period depends on each person's nationality.

Visitors who aren't from visa-exempt countries will have to get a Thai tourist visa, which allows a visit of three to six months. All applicants require proof of onward travel and proof of funds for the duration of their stay. At least six months' validity on a passport is required for a visa to be granted.

Non-immigrant visas for Thailand

There are multiple visas for people entering Thailand for purposes other than tourism. This includes everything from people wanting to volunteer or study to be a Buddhist monk, to those wanting to teach English or invest in the country.

Royal Thai Embassy websites provide in-depth information on the requirements of each visa type. A few of the visas that are most popular with expats moving to Thailand include the following:

B visas

This is perhaps the most common non-immigrant visa used by expats, as it allows entry for the purpose of working or doing business in Thailand. Companies often assist their foreign employees with the B-visa application process. Once an expat has entered the country on this visa, they require a work permit before they may begin working. There are single and multiple-entry B visas are available, but they both allow stays of up to 90 days maximum. 

ED visas

Non-immigrant Visa-ED are typically granted to expats seeking to pursue educational endeavours in Thailand. This can be anything from full-time educational programmes and internships to company training. Expats should note that informal cultural and language training courses are exempt from this visa unless they can prove the course meets the minimum requirements to be considered educational. This visa is valid for 90 days and holders can apply for an extension. 

O visas

Category O visas are typically for the spouse or dependant of a Thai citizen. It's possible for the dependants of an expat moving to or living in Thailand to get this visa. This can, unfortunately, be more difficult to do when a male spouse is dependent on a female spouse. Expat families applying for this visa will require birth and marriage certificates where applicable and a minimum of three months’ bank statements as proof of funds. 

The O visa also covers volunteer workers, who must submit a letter of endorsement from the agency they will be working for, as well as a copy of the agency's registration certificate.

OA visas

The category OA visa is a long-stay visa for retired people older than 50 years old who want to live in Thailand. In addition to the standard requirements, applicants will have to prove sufficient annual funds, as well as undergo criminal background and medical checks.

There is a fairly lengthy list of requirements for this visa, and expats are advised to consult the website of the closest Thai embassy, contact the embassy in person or enlist the help of an immigration professional.

M visas

The media (M) visa is for media professionals who want to work in Thailand. This visa requires that journalists, reports and film producers get permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through a lengthy application process that involves an interview and submitting a wide range of professional and identification documents. 

RA visas

Expats who would like to perform missionary or religious works in alignment with the Thai Department of Religious Affairs. Applicants will need a formal issued by the Immigration Bureau of Thailand to be considered for the visa. 

Useful links

*Visa requirements can change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Articles about Thailand

Weather in Thailand

The weather in Thailand tends to be hot and humid year-round, with only slight regional variations and seasonal changes. The climate in Thailand is tropical, and expats will soon become well acquainted with the monsoon, a seasonal wind that can bring heavy precipitation.

For the most part, the weather in Thailand can be broken up into three major seasons: the dry, cool season (November to February), the hot season (March to June) and the rainy season (June to October). The southern part of the country is less predictable and usually only experiences two seasons – the wet and the dry seasons.

Temperatures in Thailand move up and down depending on locale; the north is the coolest area, and the mercury rises as expats move further south. That said, even during the cool season the daily high can reach 68°F (20°C), and during the hot season average highs settle around 93°F (34°C).

Expats should endear themselves to their umbrellas during the rainy season. The entire country receives a fair bit of precipitation during the appointed period, and the southern region receives almost twice as much rainfall as the central and northern regions of Thailand.


Pros and Cons of Moving to Thailand

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 must 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

Expats from all walks are sure to find a suitable home for their needs and budget in Thailand. The country offers a wide range of accommodation options, 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.

Culture shock 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 nationalities. Expats are almost guaranteed to experience many 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 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.

Lifestyle in Thailand

+ PRO: There is plenty 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 the 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 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 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 prohibitively expensive, as is alcohol. One can quickly spend plenty 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 larger cities or tourist hotspots, many foreigners – 'farangs' – unknowingly get charged much higher prices than the norm. Despite taxi meters being 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.

Doing Business in Thailand

Expats doing business in Thailand will note that the state is eager to engage with foreign investors. While the Kingdom has never felt the influence of imperial power, it's no stranger to external interaction. Aside from the government’s willingness to do business with outsiders, the friendly and welcoming attitude of Thai people makes for an inviting working environment for expats.

A variety of multinational and other major companies in Thailand continue to use Bangkok as a base for their regional operations. While the business culture at some of these companies will be familiar, the general work environment in Thailand is extremely different to what most Western expats are used to.

The expats who do make a success of their investments in the country often have a good understanding of the business culture in Thailand, in an environment that values seniority, relationships and local customs.

Fast facts

Business language

The official language of business in the country is Thai. English is widely understood and is used by many in corporate environments in Bangkok. Interpreters may, however, be needed in certain circumstances.

Business hours 

Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm or 9am to 6pm, with an hour for lunch.

Business dress

Conservative and formal. Dark suits are standard in professional environments; men wear a white shirt and a tie. Women can wear suits, dresses or modest blouses and skirts. Skirts and dresses should be knee-length and shoulders should be covered.


Westerners may be greeted by a handshake, but the traditional form of greeting in Thailand is the wai. In this greeting, the palms are pressed together at chest height, with the fingers extended upwards and accompanied by a slight bow. It is usually initiated by a person of lower status to a person of higher status as a form of respect.


Not expected, but appropriate and well received. Small tokens for colleagues go a long way to building good relationships. Don't open gifts in front of the giver unless invited to do so.

Gender equality

Women are equal in theory but remain under-represented in the business world.

Business culture in Thailand

Thai business culture tends to be more relaxed than other Asian economic powerhouses, such as China and Japan. The value system around doing business in Thailand, however, remains similar to these countries. Hierarchy, relationships and collective identity are integral to the Thai workplace.


There are many strict, unwritten rules that define the way that Thai businesses are organised. Senior managers play an almost paternal role – issuing orders, demanding consultation on all decisions and expecting obedience. Expats from Western backgrounds often struggle to adapt to this management style and can be frustrated at the lack of initiative taken and expected of them.

Age and appearance are especially important, and usually directly indicate social status and a person's position in the business world. Older individuals, in particular, are given great respect and typically hold top-level jobs. Senior foreign businessmen, especially the well-dressed, are afforded a good deal of respect based on this belief alone, regardless of merit. In line with this, promotions in Thailand are frequently based on a candidate’s length of service more than productivity and excellence.


Relationships are another essential part of working in Thailand. Connections are highly valued, and the early stages of most business dealings are centred on building a relationship. It is considered impolite to start negotiating before being formally acquainted.

Preserving and sustaining relationships greatly affects communication in the Thai working world. Locals will be subtle and indirect to help another person 'save face' and keep their reputation intact, going as far as withholding information or failing to point out a mistake.

Dos and don'ts of business in Thailand

  • Don't show any form of disrespect to Thai royalty, this includes not making any jokes.
  • Do say yes to invitations to social engagements. Building relationships is critical in Thai business culture.
  • Do have high-quality business cards printed for exchange. Always offer a card to the most senior member of a party first, and always give and accept cards with the right hand. Keep in mind that exchanges are initiated by the host.
  • Do return a wai. While foreigners aren't expected to initiate, it is rude not to return the gesture.

Keeping in touch in Thailand

Expats moving to Thailand won’t have a problem keeping in touch with family and friends back home, as the standard of the country’s communication infrastructure is generally good. Most communication services are high-quality and are available at affordable prices. However, some amenities may be limited to larger cities. 

Mobile phones in Thailand

Owing to Thailand's new regulations, buying a SIM card in the country is no longer as easy as it used to be, although the country is taking steps to simplify the process. Thailand's regulations require expats to present their passports to get a registered SIM card.

TrueMove, DTAC and AIS are the three major mobile providers in Thailand. All offer both prepaid and postpaid options. Contract deals are usually better value than pay-as-you-go, but they offer less flexibility in terms of moving networks or closing an account early if one is leaving Thailand.

Internet in Thailand

For most expats, having reliable internet is a priority, whether for work or to keep in touch with family and friends back in their home country. There are many internet service providers in Thailand, especially in big cities like Bangkok. Nationally, the four major ISPs are True Online, AIS, 3BB Fiber, and TOT Fibernet. The speed of connection varies widely according to the package and service provider chosen.

WiFi hotspots are regularly available in most malls, restaurants and hotels. Free connections in public places should generally be avoided to prevent issues such as hacking or data theft. Free WiFi connections from restaurants and hotels are often safe, but the connection speeds do vary.

Internet censorship

The Thai government has placed blocks on certain obscene internet content, and there is also substantial political censorship in Thailand. Several bloggers and online users have been arrested for voicing anti-government or anti-royal sentiments.

Postal services in Thailand

The Thai postal system is efficient and reliable, if a little slow. Thailand has more than 3,000 post offices across the country, but rural areas are not serviced as well as urban areas. Domestic mail can take up to a week to arrive. Expats, especially those living in urban centres, can use courier services such as DHL to ensure a fast and secure delivery.  

It's rare to find English-speaking staff at Thai post offices, so expats are encouraged to take a Thai friend to translate for them. With communication difficulties throughout Thailand in general, Thai staff may try to ‘save face’ in public to avoid confrontation and agree to a request even if they do not understand it. 

English-language media in Thailand

Thailand's media sector is well-developed but highly censored, with the government and the military firmly controlling radio and TV broadcasts. For accurate and independent news, it may be useful to consult an international news outlet. 

There are several English-medium publications in Thailand, such as the Bangkok Post and The Nation, which is a solely digital newspaper.

Accommodation in Thailand

The options for accommodation in Thailand are almost as diverse as the country itself. The robust rental market means that, with a little patience and a bit of work, new arrivals will have no trouble finding a reasonably priced, comfortable place to live in Thailand.

When looking for a home, expats should bear in mind that traffic in Thailand’s urban centres can be extremely congested, so ideally they should aim to live close to their workplace, their children's school or public transport terminals.

Types of accommodation in Thailand

From high-rise apartment buildings and condominium complexes to seaside shacks and standalone houses on large plots – all types of accommodation are available to rent in Thailand. Although there are plenty of excellent deals to be found, the price and quality of rental accommodation will vary enormously. 

Apartments chosen by expats are usually either part of a large development or part of a house that has been converted into separate units. Expats in Thailand will find apartments to suit a wide range of budgets. Serviced apartments are often converted hotel rooms and can, therefore, cost more as they often include utilities and cleaning services. 

Condominiums, also known as condos, are privately owned units within a larger community of similar units. These units are often fully furnished or contain certain appliances. Condos often have communal facilities such as pools and other social areas.

Usually located in the suburbs outside larger cities, standalone houses typically offer a lot of space and will have a garden. The privacy and luxury associated with detached houses come at an added cost though. Villas also fall into this category.

Joined by shared walls, townhouses usually form long rows and expand vertically rather than horizontally. This is intended to utilise the often cramped spaces in larger cities. This is one of the most popular accommodation types in Thailand.

Furnished vs unfurnished

Most rental properties in Thailand are semi-furnished, including a few basic appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers. That said, fully furnished accommodation is also widely available. Due to the short-term nature of many expat assignments, they generally opt to live in fully furnished accommodation. 

Short lets

Short lets are a great option for getting a feel of an area before fully committing to a long-term rental. These let expats experience everyday life as a resident in a particular neighbourhood and can also be fantastic for newcomers who will only be in Thailand for the short term. The best part about short lets such as AirBnB is that they are typically more affordable than hotels and the cost usually includes utilities and sometimes, cleaning services. 

Finding accommodation in Thailand

Whether deciding to find a property themselves or work with a real-estate agent in Thailand, expats should have few problems when it comes to finding a suitable home to rent.

Independent house-hunters can use local newspapers, property pages and the internet to look for Thai real-estate as there are numerous resources available in English. Another approach would be to identify an area that seems appealing, explore the neighbourhood and look for properties that are up for rent.

Estate agents in Thailand will, however, have a better knowledge of the market and can assist in negotiations and the rental process. They are also usually free for tenants since they receive a commission from landlords. 

Useful links

Renting accommodation in Thailand

It can be difficult for foreigners to own property in Thailand, so most expats rent rather than buy. Luckily, local landlords are usually sensitive to the rental needs of expats and do a good job of advertising available properties. Renting property in Thailand is generally an easy process. The rental market is also varied, with plenty of housing available, and often at good prices.


The standard rental length in Bangkok is 12 months, but if expats get in touch with the owners directly, they may be willing to accept six-month leases. Depending on the type of accommodation, properties can be leased for much shorter durations. House hunters who sign a rental contract for three years or longer must note that the agreement must be registered with a local Thai land office. This will attract a lease registration fee at a cost of 1 percent of the total rental fee throughout the agreement.

Expats will need to produce a valid passport and proof of income to legally sign a lease in Thailand. It's imperative for tenants to note that lease renewal is not automatic in Thailand, so expats and their landlords must sign a new agreement should an expat wish to continue renting a property at the end of the lease. 

Tenants moving to Thailand with their furry friends are encouraged to get written permission from their landlord. Some landlords may charge a higher security deposit or a pet deposit to cover any damages the pet may cause. 


Expats should be prepared to put down a deposit of two months’ rent. They are also often asked to pay their first month’s rent upfront. Some landlords may require expats to pay several months of rent as a security deposit, but this is rare. If expats search hard enough, they can find a rental property that only requires one month of rent as a security deposit.

Termination of the lease

Those who would like to terminate a lease agreement before its expiration date must notify their landlord at least 30 days before their intended departure date. It's recommended that tenants take inventory of the property before and after moving out to ensure they leave the property in a suitable condition and that they are not charged for normal wear and tear. If everything is in order when expats vacate a property, the landlord must return the security deposit in full. 


Expats should note that utilities such as electricity and water are generally not included in the rental price. Before moving in, confirm with the real-estate agent or landlord that all utilities are set up, switched on and ready to be used come move-in day. 


Expats who are renting a standalone home or villa can transfer the electricity accounts into their names. Those who will be renting apartments, condos or townhouses will simply have a meter in their home that measures their consumption and this will be added to their monthly rental fee. In Thailand, the most expensive utility by far is electricity. Expats should keep a close watch on their electricity consumption, or they may find themselves facing a hefty bill.

The Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) is the main electricity provider in Bangkok while the Provincial Electricity Authority supplies the rest of Thailand. Tenants who need to transfer an account into their name must contact a local government office at least a week before moving. 


Most apartments and homes in Thailand do not have mains gas, so gas cylinders are the most common way to use gas. If expats have a gas stove in their home, they can buy a gas cylinder and have it delivered to their homes. 


Water connections in Thailand are usually arranged by landlords but if expats have to do it themselves they must contact or visit the Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) if outside Bangkok and the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority if living in Bangkok. Similar to electricity, expats will need at least a week's notice before moving in.

Bins and recycling

Waste management in Thailand is overseen by individual municipalities, which then contract private companies to collect waste. While there is no formal recycling programme in Thailand, the country encourages residents to sort household waste into recyclable, household and hazardous waste. Expats who want to play their part and recycle can donate their recyclables to local waste collectors, known as 'Khuad ma Khay'. 

Useful links

  • Visit the MEA and PEA's websites to learn more about electricity connection and disconnection processes. 
  • Check out the PWA and MWA's sites for more on water connections and bill payments in Thailand. 
  • Keeping in Touch in Thailand has more on phone and internet connections in the country. 

FAQs about Thailand

Thailand is known for its white-sand beaches, delicious foods, and friendly people. Tourists and expats alike flock to the country for these reasons, but expats deciding to permanently reside in the land of smiles may have a couple of queries that need answering before they can comfortably jump into their new lives. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Thailand.

How safe is Thailand?

Thailand is generally a safe country. Most criminal activity is opportunistic. Pickpocketing occurs in busy tourist areas and unsuspecting new arrivals are regularly targeted by scammers.  

That said, the southern provinces have been known to be politically volatile areas and should be avoided. The roads in Thailand can also be dangerous and drink-driving is an ongoing issue. Expats should avoid driving motorcycles and scooters in Thailand if they are inexperienced, as drivers in Thailand tend to ignore road rules.

Where can I meet other expats?

There are many social clubs for expats in Thailand. Bars and work social events may be other areas to meet new people. Many expats may find joining a sports league a fun way to interact with both locals and expats. 

What is the climate in Thailand like?

There are three major seasons in Thailand. There is a dry, cool season, favoured by tourists from November to February, the hot season from March to June, and the rainy season for the rest of the year. These seasonal changes bring the monsoon rains and significant increases in humidity in different parts of the country.

The weather in Thailand tends to be hot and humid year-round. Along the coastline of the gulf, the climate is generally warm and pleasant for certain parts of the year and may be less humid than areas in the north of the country. The north, however, has a much cooler period during the dry season. 

How is the public transport system in Thailand? Do I need a car?

In larger cities like Bangkok, public transport is cheap, effective and plentiful. In smaller towns, there are fewer forms of public transport, but it's still relatively easy to get around. There are a variety of options ranging from buses and trains to tuk-tuks. In most cases, expats don’t need to have cars.

How is the healthcare in Thailand?

Healthcare in Thailand is relatively well-priced and of a high standard. In larger cities, the healthcare facilities are modern and specialist care is available. Thailand is fast becoming popular among medical tourists for these reasons. Healthcare in smaller cities and rural provinces may be of poorer quality, and general practitioners also tend to be more difficult to find.

Education and Schools in Thailand

Expats moving to the Land of Smiles with children will find that education and schools in Thailand can vary considerably. Newly arrived parents can either opt for a local public school or a private international school. However, local public schools teach in Thai and are only free for Thai children, so most expat families either send their children to an international school or a private school with an English programme.

Public schools in Thailand

There are some excellent public schools in Thailand, most of which are in Bangkok. Some of these are associated with prestigious local universities that use the school to train student teachers.

There are also public schools that are well below the standards expats may be used to. Many public schools, particularly those in rural areas, lack funding. Large classes are the norm, making it more difficult for each child to receive individual attention.

Public education in Thailand is free for Thai nationals. To be considered a Thai national, the child must have at least one Thai parent. Children who don't meet these requirements aren’t usually eligible for free public education in Thailand, meaning the family will have to pay tuition fees.

Education in Thailand is compulsory from age six to 15, where children are mandated to attend six years of primary school and three years of lower secondary school. Upper secondary school is optional and there are academic and vocational options available to students. 

English Programme schools in Thailand

The English Programme (EP) is a government initiative offered by several public and private schools. In an EP class, almost all subjects are taught in English by a teacher hired from abroad. Some schools have more comprehensive EPs than others – classes may be held in a small section of a Thai-speaking school or larger programmes may be set in entirely separate buildings.

Public and private schools with EPs charge both Thai nationals and expats for these classes. Though private schools are pricier than public schools, fees are still well below those of international schools.

For families who plan to live in Thailand long term, English Programme schools may be the best option. They offer an opportunity for children to develop closer links to Thai culture and society while still allowing access to a bilingual education.

International schools in Thailand

Many expats choose to send their children to international schools in Thailand. These schools teach in a language and style familiar to children and allow for continuity by providing Western curricula. International schools predominantly teach in English, though there are also international schools teaching the programmes of countries such as France and Germany.

All of these institutions are accredited by external bodies, and it follows that both learning standards and the criteria for hiring teachers are generally high. Many Thai families prefer to send their children to these schools.

These schools are also almost always well financed, boasting modern facilities, small class sizes and an impressive range of extracurricular activities. This does come at a price, though, with international school fees being notoriously high.

Although a large variety of international schools exist in commercial centres such as Bangkok and Pattaya, options are more limited in rural areas and parents may need to consider boarding options or homeschooling.

Expat parents should note that popular schools have long waiting lists and admission may be based on language proficiency and academic achievement. Requirements vary between schools, but it's always best to start the admissions and enrolment process as early as possible.

Read more

International Schools in Bangkok

Homeschooling in Thailand

Homeschooling in Thailand is legal. The country's constitution explicitly recognises alternative education and considers the family a key educational institution. Thai families must apply to the government to homeschool and students are assessed annually.

Expats aren’t tied to local regulations. However, it is still advised that expats follow a standardised curriculum and thoroughly document everything to validate progress with an assessor upon returning to their home country.

Special-needs education in Thailand

In Thai education law, learning difficulties are listed as qualifying for state assistance. However, in the public system, special education teachers are scarce, despite there being a demand for them.

Many international schools offer support for special needs, often at an additional price. The level of support varies from school to school, so it's worthwhile to investigate different options.

Tutors in Thailand

The private tuition industry in Thailand is staggering. The massive multi-billion-baht tutoring industry in Thailand emerged from the necessity to prepare students for the extremely competitive university admissions exams. The industry has seen considerable growth in response to the high demand for private tuition and competitive salaries for teachers. This has seen teaching staff from public schools moving into the private sector in large numbers. 

Local tutors can be a useful resource for local and expat families and can provide support in many ways, including assistance with problem subjects and the development of study strategies. Tutors are especially useful in smoothing the transition of an expat child into a new environment as well as helping learn the local language.

Diversity and inclusion in Thailand

Moving to Thailand is as daunting as it is exciting, and expats may be wondering what to expect from the social dynamics of this Southeast Asian country. Thanks to a boom in remote work, Thailand has become a haven for digital nomads looking to explore its gorgeous landscapes while enjoying a relatively low cost of living. All of this has served to attract expats from every corner of the world and increase the diversity in Thailand's society. 

Below we explore issues of diversity and inclusion that newcomers may encounter in Thailand.

Accessibility in Thailand

Facilities for those with disabilities in Thailand are improving but are not up to global standards. Moving around Bangkok and other cities is a challenge for those with mobility issues, with uneven pavements, high kerbs, and a shortage of disabled toilets. Taxis (or ride-hailing services like Grab) are generally the best option for getting around. Accessible taxis can be hired, but usually need to be booked in advance.

There has been an effort to improve the facilities on public transport in Thailand. Both international airports in Bangkok have facilities for disabled travellers and lifts to all floors, and all the stations on the Bangkok MRT now have lifts and wheelchair access. Some BTS stations do not have lifts, though, and travellers should check the BTS website to find out about station facilities before they travel.

Most public buildings, large hotels and offices have some disabled facilities, but few have the full range of facilities that might be expected by global expats.

Further reading

Wheelchair Tours in Thailand
BTS Skytrain

LGBTQ+ in Thailand

Thailand has long had a reputation for tolerance of LGBTQ+ people. Same-sex relationships have been legal since 1956, and the capital, Bangkok, is considered one of the most gay-friendly cities in Asia. Although gay marriage or civil union is not possible, the Gender Equality Act of 2015 bans discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Public opinion favours the legalisation of same-sex unions.

It is common to see transgender people on television and within the entertainment industry in Thailand, but they still lack basic legal rights compared to the rest of the population and can face barriers to employment and promotion.

There is a lively gay scene in most of the major cities and annual gay-friendly events take place in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket.

Gender equality in Thailand

Thailand’s Constitution of 2017 states that men and women have equal rights. However, women still face lingering challenges in the workplace due to established patriarchal values.

According to the World Bank, the labour-force participation rate among females in Thailand was 59 percent as of 2021, compared to 75 percent for men. This gap reflects underlying social norms, where women are expected to be the main caregivers in the family for both children and the elderly. The gender pay gap between male and female employees continues to decrease and now stands at just 8 percent.

Thailand offers 98 days of maternity leave. The employer should continue to pay a full salary for the first 45 days, and the latter portion is paid at 50 percent by the Social Security Office (SSO). Private companies are not required to pay paternity leave, but 15 days of paid paternity is provided in the public sector.

Expectant mothers are entitled to ask their employer to adjust their work responsibilities to be more suitable during pregnancy and after childbirth. It's recommended for employees to speak to their HR Manager to find out more about the specific benefits offered at their companies. 

Women in leadership in Thailand

Thailand has a high percentage of women in senior leadership positions. According to the Women in Business Report of 2020, women hold 24 percent of all CEO and Managing Director jobs in Thailand, compared to an average of 20 percent worldwide and only 13 percent in the Asia-Pacific region. The 2019 Corporate Governance Report found that 20 percent of directors in listed companies were women.

There was a threefold increase in women’s parliamentary representation following the 2019 general election, with female members of parliament increasing from 5 percent to 16 percent. This number grew even further in the 2023 general elections, with 19 percent of Thailand's parliamentary seats held by women. 

Further reading

Women in Business 2020

Mental health awareness in Thailand

The stress associated with moving home, job and school means that expats are often at greater risk of developing conditions such as depression and anxiety. International companies are becoming more aware of mental health issues, and many have adjusted their policies to provide better support. This includes ensuring that mental illness is well covered by the company’s chosen employee healthcare schemes.

The level of medical expertise in Thailand is high and doctors working in government hospitals generally also work within private practice. Most government hospitals have mental health departments, but due to waiting times and language limitations most foreigners choose to make an appointment with a psychologist or a psychiatrist in a private practice.

Further reading

Mental Health Facilities in Thailand
Narcotics Anonymous Thailand
Alcoholics Anonymous Thailand

Unconscious bias training in Thailand

Unconscious bias is an implicit set of often stereotyped ideas an individual carries about groups of people different to themselves. These ideas are not purposefully adopted but rather develop subtly over time. People tend to hold unconscious biases about groups they never or rarely come into contact with.

Unconscious bias can profoundly affect both personal and work conditions. In the workplace, unchecked bias undermines vital aspects of the company, with negative effects on employee performance, retention, and recruitment. In a bid to create a better work environment, many companies are beginning to institute unconscious bias training. There are also several online resources that can be used to improve self-awareness regarding bias.

Most Thais regard racism as a Western issue, but there is also racial prejudice in Thailand, as there is in most countries. Dark skin is associated with the lower classes and those who do outdoor work. This bias is exacerbated by the fact that many wealthier Thais are of Chinese descent and have a lighter skin tone and those with darker skin hail from the country’s poorer rural regions. Southern Thais, Malays and Muslims can face discrimination in the workplace and scrutiny from the police. While dark-skinned Thais are deemed to be of a lower class, it is unusual for black Westerners to experience racism, though there have been reports of harassment from the police in Bangkok. There are no laws in Thailand that criminalise racial discrimination.    

Useful resources

Project Implicit 
Unconscious Bias Training

Diversification of the workforce in Thailand

While Thailand is a homogeneous nation, it has experienced an influx of foreigners over recent years. There are now between 3 and 4 million foreigners living in Thailand, most from neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. There are also a huge number of Western retirees and expats in the country.

Most companies now recognise the benefits of a workplace that champions diversity, equity, and inclusion. Studies have shown that organisations with a diverse and inclusive workforce are happier and more productive, as diversity tends to breed creativity and innovation.

Safety in Thailand

Crime rates in Thailand are low compared to international standards, and violent crime against foreigners is low. It is important to take sensible precautions to avoid petty theft, particularly on crowded public transport and in touristy areas, and to be aware of scams. Road safety is a major concern throughout the country, with reckless drivers and bad roads.

Read more about Safety in Thailand.

Calendar initiatives in Thailand

4 February – World Cancer Day
28 February – Rare Disease Day
March – TB Awareness Month
8 March – International Women’s Day
17 May – International Day Against Homophobia
19 May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
June – Bangkok Gay Pride
10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day
October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month
10 October – World Mental Health Day
14 November – World Diabetes Day
1 December – World AIDS Day

Meeting people in Thailand

Thailand offers expats a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The vibrant nightlife, many entertainment venues and numerous sports facilities mean that expats have great opportunities to enjoy a busy social life, and thus meet new people and make friends in Thailand. 
Thai people are known for their warmth and friendliness, and hospitality is important to them - you may hear the word “sanuk” (fun) quite often. Thailand attracts many foreigners, but whether you're there to stay or just passing through, generally speaking it’s not difficult to meet new people. Depending on where you are in Thailand, it may be necessary to learn the local Thai language, especially if you're living in the more remote rural areas. Otherwise, English is widely spoken in the larger cities and tourist spots.
Joining a social networking group, sports club or any other society catering to a specific nationality or interest is a great way to meet likeminded people and make friends, whether locals or other expats, in Thailand.

Expat groups in Thailand

Chicky Net | Expat Women Thailand

Chicky Net is the community for expat women who are moving to or visiting Thailand. The group organises events and provides info about Thailand, including forums, groups, classifieds and expat blogs. Membership is free. Chicky Net has expat communities for women in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Phuket.

Work Permits for Thailand

After securing a job, getting the appropriate visa and arriving in the country, an expat would need a work permit for Thailand. It's theoretically possible for expats who have not secured a position before they move to Thailand to get a work permit once they are in the country. 

Expats looking to work in Thailand will need to enter the country on a Non-Immigrant Visa. However, before they can start working, expats will need to get a work permit from the Thai Ministry of Labour.

Work permit applications in Thailand

After arriving at the Immigration Checkpoint at their point of entry, holders of a valid visa are granted an initial temporary stay permit, which is usually valid for 90 days. New arrivals are then advised to apply for a temporary work permit at the Department of Employment (which oversees the labour ministry) as soon as possible.

After receiving their temporary work permit, applicants will then have a limited time to apply for a long-term visa called the Extension of Stay Permit at the Immigration Bureau. This permit is valid for a maximum of one year, after which holders will need to apply for an extension. 

In many cases, an expat’s sponsoring company will apply for a work permit at the Department of Employment on their behalf. The employee will then be responsible for applying for their long-term visa and re-entry permit. 

Work permit applications can take weeks or even months to process, so it's important for expats to act early, have patience and ensure that their visa does not expire. A foreign resident with a visa in danger of expiring must apply for the appropriate extension – it is imperative that the visa is current the day they sign for their work permit. 

When the application process and decision-making are complete, expats will physically have to retrieve their work permit at the relevant Labour Department with their passport.

Expats wishing to leave the country for a period before returning and going back to work will need to apply for a re-entry permit. Leaving the country without one nullifies an expat's work permit and visa.

Expats looking to lengthen the validity of their work permits must secure an extension-of-stay permit. At this point, if an expat quits their job, they will need to cancel their extension-of-stay permit before leaving the country. This would require an employer’s letter, which has to be presented to the Immigration Department on their last working day or, if their last day is on a weekend or public holiday, on the next standard business day. 

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their nearest Thai embassy or consulate for the latest information.

Transport and Driving in Thailand

Transport and driving in Thailand can be chaotic, and there are many different options when it comes to getting around. Most long-distance travel is via buses, with motorcycles commonly used for short distances in larger cities.

While most foreigners should be able to get around safely, the country does have high road accident rates, particularly when it comes to motorcycles. The Thai capital is especially notorious – the traffic in Bangkok is among the worst in the world, and expats should take extra care when driving in the city.

Thailand has a fairly good public transport system which consists of buses, trains, motorcycles, taxis and tuk-tuks.

Public transport in Thailand


The train network in Thailand is run by the State Railway of Thailand. The network consists of four main routes which travel to the north, the northeast, the east and the south. These railway lines intersect in Bangkok, so when travelling long distances it is usually necessary to change lines.

Any part of Thailand can be accessed from Hualamphong Station in Bangkok and tickets can be purchased in advance. There are three types of trains available – ordinary, rapid and express trains – as well as three classes of travel, from private first-class booths to third-class seats.

Trains are slower than buses but are often more comfortable for long-distance travel, particularly for long journeys such as those between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Rapid rail transit

Bangkok is home to the country's only rapid transit system of its kind. This system includes the BTS Skytrain, the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT), and the Suvarnabhumi Rail Airport Link (ARL). Collectively, the system only consists of six lines total, though there are additional lines planned. Thailand is also constructing a high-speed train that is set to be complete by 2026. 


Buses are a common form of transport over long distances, providing access to some of the country’s more remote areas. Luxury long-distance buses, known as VIP buses, have air conditioning and reclining seats to make long-distance travel more comfortable. VIP bus tickets should be bought in advance due to limited seating.

Buses are not used as much within cities as between them, although Bangkok does have a well-developed local bus service with around 100 routes. To get on a bus, passengers wait at a bus stop and make a waving motion with the palm of their hand facing downwards as the bus approaches. The fare is paid on board the bus.

Useful links

Taxis in Thailand

There are taxis in most Thai cities, although many of them have malfunctioning meters or taxi drivers who refuse to use them, so fares must be negotiated before getting into the vehicle. 

Taxi cabs

Taxi cabs, which are usually bright pink, blue or yellow and green, are easy to find in major cities like Bangkok. It's advised that expats book a taxi via phone or online before their trip. Raid-hailing services such as Grab are also available, which can be useful for avoiding problems that may crop up due to the language barrier.

Motorcycle taxis

Motorcycle taxis are also popular and are often the fastest way of getting around cities. They are known to weave in and out of traffic, however, and might be a frightening experience for inexperienced passengers.


The most popular taxis for tourists in Thailand are samlaws, better known as tuk-tuks. These are three-wheeled vehicles that are either motorised or non-motorised and can carry up to two or three passengers.


Also known as ‘red buses' or 'red trucks’, songthaews are another popular choice of transport in Thailand. These passenger vehicles are adapted from pick-up trucks and are used as a shared taxi or bus. Songthaews are used both within towns and cities, as well as for longer routes between towns and villages.

Driving in Thailand

Although driving in Thailand can be frustrating, it is important to remain calm and be patient. Massive traffic volumes mean that it is usually better to use public transport within the cities, while some expats who regularly commute in urban areas hire a private driver. Traffic jams will ensure that getting to work is a slow process no matter who is driving.

Driving between cities is far more manageable, and having a personal vehicle is often the best way to travel through the Thai countryside. The system of highways in Thailand is of a relatively high standard and links every part of the country, with most roads being in acceptable condition. That said, the roads on Koh Samui and Koh Pha-Ngan are infamously dangerous. Road accidents are one of the top causes of death for foreigners in Thailand. 

Expats should drive defensively and be prepared for erratic drivers as well as children and animals on the road. Driving in rural areas at night is not recommended. Drink-driving is a problem in Thailand and many cars do not have working headlights. Buses driving recklessly on country roads can also be a hazard at night.

Expats will need to apply for a Thai driving licence after three months of living in the country, and some insurers require the driver to have a Thai driving licence to be fully covered. Licences can be applied for at local transport offices or the Department of Land Transport in Bangkok. 

Newcomers to Thailand must attend a Department of Land Transport-approved driving school and take both a written and practical test to secure a driving licence. Additionally, prospective drivers will need to be cleared by a Thai medical doctor to certify that they are physically and mentally fit to drive. A Thai driving licence is valid for two years and must be renewed thereafter. 

Useful links

Walking in Thailand

Pedestrians are vulnerable in Thailand, especially in Bangkok's notoriously busy streets. Some areas in the city have overhead walkways above the streets to allow pedestrians to cross, which is effective and safe, but other traffic controls like pedestrian crossings are often completely ignored by drivers. Expats who decide to traverse Thailand's streets on foot are encouraged to remain vigilant and only do so where it's largely considered safe. 

Air travel in Thailand

Air travel is a fast and affordable way to travel longer distances in Thailand. Many low-cost airlines operate in the country, with Air Asia being one of the most popular.

Thailand’s largest airport is Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and the national carrier is Thai Airways. The other international airports in Thailand are in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat-Yai and Phuket, but the country has close to 100 airports in total.

Moving to Thailand

From Bangkok’s neon lights to Buddhist temples set against awe-inspiring natural settings, Thailand is a land of diversity and opportunities. Whether wanting to enjoy their retirement, work in its booming medical tourism industry or supplement a long-term holiday with English teaching, expats moving to Thailand are faced with a world of possibility.

Living in Thailand as an expat

Best known as a beautiful, affordable and exotic tourist destination, expats moving to Thailand often get to enjoy paradise on a more permanent basis. A warm and welcoming Thai culture, striking landscapes and a chance to experience a truly different way of life make living in Thailand both interesting and comfortable for many expats.

Finding work that pays well can be a major challenge for expats who want to live in Thailand. The majority of job opportunities in the country can be found in Bangkok. Many new arrivals descend upon the already bustling Thai capital for this reason.

Rural life in Thailand typically lacks modern amenities, while urban environments are in overdrive, inundating residents with noise pollution and a lack of space. This can make it difficult to find a balance. Expats frequently find that weekend getaways from Bangkok are key to handling its frenetic energy.

Although less popular than living in Bangkok, some expats scatter across the northern regions such as Chiang Mai to enjoy a quieter and more traditional Thai lifestyle. Chiang Mai in particular is well known as a hub of digital nomads.

The beach resorts of Krabi and Phuket are also popular choices, as tourism-related jobs and idyllic beaches lure retirees and expat workers alike. Another option for expats wanting to work in Thailand is teaching English. These sectors may not necessarily allow expats to enjoy the standard of living they may have been used to back home, but many of the expats who live in Thailand actively choose to live a simpler life.

Cost of living in Thailand

The cost of living in Thailand varies. On the whole, living expenses are low, but expats who indulge in all the luxuries they had back home will find that costs quickly add up. Imported goods, Western-style accommodation in exclusive areas, and international schools all come at a high price. Those who opt for a simpler lifestyle, as the locals do, will find that it's not necessary to earn a high salary to enjoy Thailand.

Families and children in Thailand

Expats may be surprised at how family-friendly Thailand is, especially in the thriving city of Bangkok. Boredom will be a problem of the past in this city brimming with things to see and do. Bangkok has plenty of excellent international schools, as well as a number of the country's best and most prestigious public schools. Good-quality healthcare at a low price is easily found in the capital. Thailand is also situated in the perfect spot for regional travel, ideal for family holidays to exciting destinations such as Malaysia and Singapore.

Climate in Thailand

Thailand's tropical climate brings hot and humid conditions to the country for most of the year, with the exception being the cool, dry season from November to February. The hot season is from March to June, and temperatures can be stifling during this time of year, commonly reaching 93°F (34°C) or higher. Following June, the rainy season commences and downpours are regular throughout Thailand with especially wet conditions in the south, which receives about twice the amount of rain that the north does.

Though the weather may not always play along, moving to Thailand can have the feel of a never-ending holiday, especially for those living on the islands. Compared to the rat race of the West, many expats find that they can take it easy in the Land of Smiles.

Fast facts

Official name: Kingdom of Thailand

Population: Over 71 million

Capital city: Bangkok 

Neighbouring countries: Thailand shares borders with Myanmar to the west and northwest, Laos to the north and northeast, Cambodia to the southeast, and Malaysia to the far south.

Geography: Thailand's natural features, such as the Mekong River and various mountain ranges, define its northern, eastern and western borders. The Gulf of Thailand forms the country's southern coastline.

Political system: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Major religions: Buddhism is the majority religion in Thailand, with Islam and Christianity being the two most prominent minority religions.

Main languages: Thai is the official language. English is widely understood in tourist areas, but there are fewer fluent English speakers in rural areas.

Money: The Thai baht (THB), which is divided into 100 satang. It is usually possible for expats to open a local bank account and ATMs are widely available in urban areas, many of which accept foreign cards.

Tipping: Tipping isn't customary or expected in Thailand, but adding a tip will usually be appreciated. Depending on the situation, this may be in the form of rounding up the billed amount, adding 10 percent, or leaving loose change behind. 

Time: GMT+7

Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Both flat and round two-pin plugs are frequently used.

Internet domain: .th

International dialling code: +66

Emergency contacts: 191 (police, general), 1554 (ambulance), 199 (fire) 

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. Roads are usually in good condition, but traffic in Bangkok is notorious for congestion and drivers can behave erratically. There are good public transport networks in Thailand with most long-distance travel done by bus and most short distances by motorcycle.


Will I qualify for a Retirement Visa?
You will need a non-immigrant visa as a prerequisite to obtaining a retirement visa. Once you have this document, you must provide an original Thailand Bank book, a letter from your Thai bank, proof of meeting the financial requirements, a departure card and a medical certificate. In order to provide proof of meeting the financial requirements you will need to be in possession of a bank account containing 800,000 THB or 22,400 USD, and a monthly income of 65,000 THB or 1820 USD.

Can I buy property in Thailand?
Property is technically illegal for foreigners to purchase but there are a number of loopholes. It is possible to own structures on land without owning the land itself and buying individual condos is permitted. There are ways to rent land on long leases without technically owning it and an estate agent should be hired to help.

What scams should I know of and avoid?
Gem scams targeting foreigners is the largest and most common of the scams. As a rule of thumb, avoid purchasing gems unless you are a gemmologist. Lesser annoyances involve being taken by a taxi driver to shops where they receive a commission. Always be careful of pickpockets.

Banking, Money and Taxes in Thailand

Banks in Thailand are modern, reliable and easily accessible, and English-speaking personnel can be found in most main branches. Opening a bank account in Thailand is also a straightforward process. ATMs are widely available and expats who stay in the country for a longer time can apply for local credit.

Most expats will be relieved to learn that Thailand has signed double-taxation avoidance agreements with several governments. It should also be relatively simple for expats who retire in Thailand to access their pensions. 

Money in Thailand

The official currency in Thailand is the Baht (THB), which is issued by the Bank of Thailand. One baht is subdivided into 100 satang.

•    Notes: 20 THB, 50 THB, 100 THB, 500 THB and 1,000 THB
•    Coins: 1 satang, 5 satang, 10 satang, 25 satang, 50 satang, 1 THB, 2 THB, 5 THB and 10 THB

Banking in Thailand

Setting up a bank account in Thailand is fairly easy for expats. Technically, foreigners are required to present a work permit at the point of opening, but in practice, some branches will open an account for a foreigner without this document. Typically, expats must provide their proof of identification, address and income and fill out the required forms to open a bank account in Thailand.

If living in Thailand without a work permit, some banks may reject a request to open an account. That said, a different branch of the same bank may approve the request, so it is worthwhile to keep trying different branches.

Sometimes documentation which needs to be signed will be written in Thai, but a translated copy in English can be requested. Expats should note that in some cases, the type of bank account available to them will depend on the type of visa they hold. 

Credit cards and ATMs

Expats can get a credit card from a Thai bank, but this is sometimes a difficult task. Requirements vary between banks, but most, if not all, require a work permit, ideally one which has been held for a significant length of time. There is also a required minimum income and bank statements for a specified period must be provided. The longer an expat has been a client of a Thai bank, the better their chances are of successfully applying for a credit card.

All major banks have easily locatable ATMs throughout the country. Some banks charge a flat monthly fee for ATM usage and others charge per transaction, sometimes with the bonus of a certain number of free transactions within a particular period. 

Taxes in Thailand

Expat tax laws differ slightly for residents and non-residents in Thailand. Expats who ordinarily live in Thailand less than 180 days a year are classified as non-residents for tax purposes. They can therefore only be taxed on income derived from within Thailand, and income from outside of Thailand is not taxed. If classified as a resident, however, expats are taxed both on income derived in Thailand and on income brought into Thailand from foreign sources.

Income tax rates in Thailand are progressive and range from 0 percent to 35 percent for those who earn above a certain threshold. Thailand has signed tax treaties with several countries worldwide, preventing double-taxation for many expats. Tax returns are submitted annually. Tax forms are usually in Thai, so it is advisable to hire a Thai tax planner or a financial adviser to assist with this.

Working in Thailand

Until recently, working in Thailand has been an easy next step for many seduced by the country’s sunny shores and warm cultural climate. The Thai economy has, however, changed in the face of political instability, though there are signs of recovery.

While the majority of job opportunities can be found in Bangkok, there are also many expats who choose to work in the surrounding countryside or the picturesque southern islands. This lets them live in natural splendour and enjoy the relaxed lifestyle available to foreign residents.

Job market in Thailand

Thailand's government restricts the hiring of foreigners in certain roles. This is done to protect Thai nationals and prevent increased poverty. Expats are largely restricted from gaining employment in industries that require manual labour such as fishing and wood carving, but this is only limited to around 40 vocations, so expats can still find work in other sectors.

Apart from income generated by tourism, Thailand's economy also heavily relies on exports. It's one of the world’s largest agricultural exporters of rice, sugar, rubber and shrimp and is a major producer of export cars, textiles and electronics.

Thailand also has strong manufacturing, logistics and communications industries. Most expats who work in Thailand have a job in the service sector, specifically in the tourism and teaching industries. The IT industry is also growing in Thailand, so expats can also find opportunities in this sector. 

Finding a job in Thailand

Expats with the right qualifications can usually find opportunities online, while many others first move to the country, take a course and then start the job hunt.

The highest-paying teaching jobs are at international schools in Thailand, while English-language schools are also a popular option. Tourism is another popular source of work for foreigners, particularly for expats living outside Bangkok.

It's important to remember that expats hired or transferred from overseas tend to make higher salaries than those who find a job in Thailand after they arrive. 

While Thai companies often prefer to hire locally when it comes to professional fields like accounting, engineering and law, there are multinational corporations that may be able to offer expats with specialised skills opportunities. A work permit is needed to work legally in Thailand, and this is frequently organised by the hiring company.

Useful links

  • The Bangkok Post offers a job portal on their website. 
  • Craigslist hosts job listings across several industries. 
  • Newcomers to Thailand seeking teaching jobs should look no further than

Work culture in Thailand

An expat's workday and work week will largely depend on their industry of employment. Jobs in the tourism industry frequently have irregular hours and shifts. 

The working week in Thailand is officially from Monday to Saturday, although many businesses work until Friday or are only open for half a day on Saturdays. Legally, employees can work up to a maximum of 48 hours a week. 

Hierarchy, harmonious relationships and collective identity are integral to the Thai workplace. Expats in more formal industries will be expected to wear suitable attire and be punctual for business meetings to maintain their professional standing. 

Healthcare in Thailand

Healthcare in Thailand is generally of good quality, especially in Bangkok. The city has a thriving medical tourism industry and many hospitals offer excellent care for a much lower price than would be charged in Western countries. Many doctors and other specialists speak English and have often studied abroad, though admin staff are less likely to speak English.

Private hospitals are recommended over public hospitals in Thailand, as they will generally be more comfortable and service will be faster. That said, public hospitals still offer a good standard of care.

Health insurance in Thailand

Expats are required by law to have health insurance if they are working in Thailand. Legally-working expats qualify for the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS), which is funded by monthly salary deductions. Social-security holders get free consultations and medication, but consultations are usually brief and medications limited to generics. Policies are generally limited to certain hospitals – if needing to go to an out-of-network hospital, treatment is usually not covered.

Some expats opt instead for private health insurance, which provides access to an excellent standard of care at a range of private facilities. If choosing this route, there are international companies that can provide health insurance for expats in Thailand.

Public healthcare in Thailand

There are more than 1,000 hospitals in Thailand's public sector. Public hospitals have a good standard of care and the majority of Thai nationals use these facilities. That said, lines can be long – especially in the larger cities – and there are fewer creature comforts than one would find in private hospitals. Waiting times in more rural hospitals may be shorter, but the standard of care is often lower. A commonality between city and rural hospitals, though, is that consultations are often short and hurried. For convenience, and because treatment at private hospitals is well priced, most expats use private healthcare.

Private healthcare in Thailand

Private hospitals in Thailand are first-rate and often employ staff that have been educated at Western universities. While private treatment is about double the cost of public treatment, it's still much cheaper than what expats coming from Europe or the United States may be used to.

Despite the reasonable cost of treatment, expats should ensure they have medical insurance in the case of emergencies or when major procedures are required. The best private hospitals are in Bangkok and, in the event of a serious injury or medical condition, travelling to one of these world-class medical institutions is the safest option. 

The quality of care and low treatment prices have led to Thailand's rise as a medical tourism destination for operations such as cosmetic surgery, eye surgery and dental care. Some hospitals catering to overseas medical tourists resemble hotels more than hospitals, especially those in the south, which market medical operations alongside beach holidays. 

Pharmacies in Thailand

There is an abundance of pharmacies in Thailand, in cities as well as smaller towns. Many are independent stores, but chain pharmacies do exist. Pharmacies are easily recognisable because they display a white sign with a green cross and green lettering. Most pharmacies are open seven days a week, although only for a few hours on Sundays.

Formal prescriptions are not always necessary for medication and many people go straight to a pharmacist if they are feeling unwell – which has led to antibiotic overuse becoming an issue. Expats are advised to see a doctor for any medical ailments but should keep in mind that hospital pharmacies are often pricier than independent stores in town. Most qualified pharmacists should be able to give medical advice in English.

Health hazards in Thailand

The tropical climate is a good environment for viruses and bacteria, which means that there are numerous health hazards in Thailand that expats should be aware of. These include mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and Japanese encephalitis. 

The monsoon season can also bring about heavy rains that can lead to flooding. Expats are encouraged to monitor official lines and follow the recommended safety precautions in the event of an emergency. 

Vaccinations for Thailand

There are several vaccinations required to safely travel and live in Thailand. Routine vaccinations for chickenpox, flu, polio and shingles are recommended. Additionally, Hepatitis A and B, Yellow Fever and Typhoid vaccinations are also recommended. 

Expats who will be living in areas where Japanese encephalitis, malaria and dengue fever have been reported should take the necessary precautions. Parents travelling with infants must ensure they receive a measles shot before travelling. This dose will typically not form part of routine childhood vaccinations. 

Emergency services in Thailand

There are private ambulance services in Thailand that cater to English speakers, but it's better to get a Thai speaker to make the call if calling a government ambulance. Ambulance response times can be slow as other drivers will only rarely give the ambulance right of way.

The public emergency numbers for Thailand are 1154 for medical emergencies and 1155 for the tourist police.

Shipping and Removals in Thailand

Countries from all over the world ship to Thailand, although shipping to a Thai location outside of Bangkok will be pricier. Moving to inland cities will require a combination of land and sea transport, and island homes will usually require a series of boat transfers. Expats moving to Thailand should note that it is often cheaper to buy new furniture and amenities in the country than to ship them.

When shipping to Thailand, it is essential to use a credible shipping company and to take out insurance on the cargo. The insurance company should not be the same company being used for transporting an expat's belongings.

Shipping household goods in Thailand

After entering Thailand, expats have six months to import their household items from their home country. Thai customs are known to be flexible when addressing the deadline, but it is advisable to contact them directly a few months in advance if anticipating a late delivery.

Expats entering Thailand on a visa allowing them to stay for a year or longer will not have to pay taxes as long as the goods being imported have been owned and used for at least six months. In such a case, electrical appliances will also not be taxed as long as there is only one of each type of item. If there are duplicate items (for example, two fridges), taxes may apply. Invoices are usually required when importing goods.

Shipping pets in Thailand

Most household pets can be brought into Thailand provided that they are accompanied by a vet's certificate as well as proof of a rabies vaccination. Pet owners should ensure their pets are microchipped with an ISO-compliant microchip. Over and above the rabies and leptospirosis vaccinations, pets must have a valid health certificate before travelling to Thailand. This certificate is only valid for 10 days, so expats must ensure they travel within this period. 

Finally, pet owners must apply for an import permit from the Thai Department of Livestock Development. This can be done online, and the permit will be valid for 60 days. Some breeds that are considered aggressive, such as American Staffordshire Terriers and Pit Bull Terriers, are prohibited from entering the country. 

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