- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Bangkok Guide (PDF)
Expats moving to Bangkok will undoubtedly have questions about their new home. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in the Thai Capital.
Is Bangkok safe?
Bangkok is surprisingly safe considering the large income disparity and even larger population. Westerners, in particular, are treated with the utmost respect. Expats are nearly always welcomed rather than treated with hostility.
Most apartment complexes and hotels hire a security guard, although they seem to do little more than look official. Hospitals are very safe and, despite political upheaval, expats shouldn't be concerned about political violence as long as they stay clear of protests.
Is Bangkok accessible for children?
The city can be great for children. One drawback is pollution, but medical treatment is top-notch. There are a large number of water parks, zoos and other activities to capture a child's imagination. Private schools are of a good quality. Often city neighbourhoods act as communities and it is common for children to be looked after and, in part, raised by the neighbours.
What are some health concerns in Bangkok?
The largest concern is the air pollution which can be detrimental to asthmatics and generally draining for everyone else. There is a high HIV prevalence in Thailand, but this is largely related to those that interact with the continuously growing sex industry.
Dengue fever is rare but travellers should keep an ear out for news of recent outbreaks. It is not always safe to drink the tap water, but easily accessible bottled water is fine. The most common sickness is diarrhoea, which is a result of unclean foods.
Must I learn Thai?
There are so many expats in Bangkok that it is very easy to circulate primarily in English-speaking crowds and hangouts. Most local Thai people cannot speak English, and everything from giving directions to a taxi, negotiating prices and ordering street food is done in Thai. Learning some rudimentary words and sentences will go a long way to enhancing the experience of the city. It is less important to be able to read in Thai as many signs are in English.
Do I need a car?
One definitely does not need a car in Bangkok. In fact, public transport, such as the Sky Train, tuk-tuks and subway, is much faster than driving. Frustrating traffic jams are, however, regular parts of any commute. Unfortunately, public transport does not reach all areas of the city, but there are unusual numbers of taxis and motorbike taxis. Drivers sometimes will agree to negotiate a lower price than on the meter, but often refuse to drive long distances, and for some lengthy trips it may be necessary to take several taxis.