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Thailand is known for its white-sand beaches, delicious foods, and friendly people. Tourists and expats alike flock to Thailand for these reasons. However, 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.
This being said though, the southern provinces bordering Malaysia have experienced significant acts of terror over the years. This area should be avoided. The roads in Thailand can also be dangerous. Drunk 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 rules of the road.
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 weather like in Thailand?
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 with them the monsoon rains, as well as substantially increased humidity to different parts of the country.
Weather in Thailand tends to be hot and humid year-round. Along the coastline of the gulf, the weather 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.
What's the public transport in Thailand like? 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. However, 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.
Should I send my kids to a public, private or international school in Thailand?
Unless one parent has Thai nationality, expat children won’t qualify for government-funded education at a public school. There are several private bilingual schools that are affordable and generally offer good quality facilities. International schools, while more expensive, may provide education more suited for international accreditation as they tend to follow Western curricula.
How good are doctors in Thailand? Is healthcare affordable?
Healthcare in Thailand is relatively well-priced and recognised to be 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. General practitioners also tend to be more difficult to find.
To legally work in Thailand expats are required by law to have health insurance. The public health insurance option is fairly limited, therefore many expats often choose private insurance options from several international companies.
How easy is it for expats to do business in Thailand?
Thailand is generally very accepting and open to doing business with foreigners, however, there are certain cultural differences that expats may experience when working in Thailand. Not unlike the West, Thai businesses have levels of hierarchy. The difference is that in Thailand seniority and age are highly respected, more-so than expertise or merit. None the less, if expats show respect for Thai customs business can flow without a hitch.
Are visa regulations in Thailand complicated?
For most expats moving to Thailand, obtaining a visa isn’t very difficult. Generally, expats apply for a B visa, which allows for business, tourism, and even teaching in Thailand. Visas may get more complicated if expats are moving to Thailand with a Thai spouse, or when they are retiring. The Royal Thai Embassy provides detailed information about the specific visas needed in each case. For long term stays, expats will need to apply for a residence permit on top of the visa.