If you’re tired of your nine-to-five job and the overall mundaneness of your life, then moving to Thailand might be the best idea. It’s an incredible country known for its great weather, amazing beaches, and friendly locals.
Known as the Land of Smiles, the country’s welcoming ambiance and thrilling yet affordable lifestyle attract expats from around the world, making Thailand one of the top destinations in Asia to relocate.
In fact, thousands of Americans, Canadians, Australians, and even Europeans move to the country yearly. As of 2019, Thai’s Immigration Bureau reported an astounding 150,707 expats currently residing in the country.
With these statistics, you won’t have to worry about feeling alienated since you are guaranteed to find a welcoming expat community.
However, before you make the big move, here are seven facts you need to know before relocating to Thailand:
1. Foreigners who want to move to Thailand will need to secure the appropriate visa.
Visit your nearest Thai Embassy or Consulate to find out your options and the steps required to apply for a visa. Essentially, there are eight types of Thai Visas:
- Thai Elite Visa is a long-term visa that allows the holder a residency in Thailand for a period of 5 to 20 years. It’s perfect for those who want to reside or regularly visit Thailand but don’t want to deal with the bureaucratic visa system. All you need to do is choose a package and pay the membership fee.
- Tourist Visa allows non-citizens multiple or single entries to Thailand. This visa is valid for 60 days and is extendable for another 30 days through a visa run.
- Non-Immigrant Visa(s) ordinarily give visitors a single entry to Thailand that’s valid for 90 days.
- One Year Non-Immigrant Visa allows visitors multiple entries to Thailand for one year. However, the visitor will only be allowed to stay for a maximum of 90 days per entry. Meaning, every 90 days, the visa holder will have to go to the border and have his/her visa stamped at the immigration (known as a visa run).
- Business Visa is similar to a non-immigrant visa, the only difference is you can get a work permit and open a bank account in Thailand.
- Permanent Resident Visa is a longer and more complicated visa to apply for. This visa type is appropriate if you plan on living in Thailand permanently. For a more lengthy and informative explanation, it’s best to discuss it with a Thai embassy representative. Some of the basic requirements include staying in the country for three consecutive years and earning a monthly income of 80,000 Baht if single, and 30,000 Baht if married to a Thai.
- Marriage Visa is obtained by simply marrying a Thai national. To qualify for a Retirement Visa, you need to be 50 years of age or above.
Whether you’re living in Thailand for a year or indefinitely, it’s important you know which visa to get. Hopefully, the above information has given you some insights.
2. Thailand is a tropical country, so expect a hot and humid climate.
Except during monsoons when the majority of rainfall occurs, it’s practically warm and humid all year round in Thailand. We suggest wearing deodorant and always keeping a bottle of water with you so you won’t smell like a sweaty tube sock or die from dehydration.
On the bright side, the warm weather pairs perfectly with Thailand’s many magnificent beaches. The country is blessed with long stretches of shoreline on both sides of the Andaman Sea and Gulf Coast, as well as having over 1,400 islands and islets. You surely won’t run out of beach paradises to visit!
3. Thais have the utmost respect for their monarchy.
In Thailand, there’s a law that punishes anyone found guilty of insulting the Thai royal family in any way — known as the lèse majesté law, which is among the strictest in the world.
The origin of the word is French, which translates to “to do wrong to majesty.” It penalizes anyone who defames, insults, or even threatens the king, queen, and their heir or regent with three to fifteen years in jail time.
That being the case, be careful what you say about the monarchy. Better yet, don’t talk about the government at all throughout your stay in Thailand.
4. People greet each other with the Wai.
The traditional way of greeting in Thailand is called the Wai. You press your palms together similar to a prayer-like fashion and slightly bow your head. It’s usually paired with the Thai word “Sawasdee” which translates to “Hello.”
Thai people appreciate when foreigners also follow the traditional greeting gesture since it shows your interest and respect for their customs. The only drawback to the constant bowing every time you greet someone is it makes you look like a dashboard bobblehead.
5. Touching another person or a statue’s head is considered taboo.
In Thailand, the head is considered the most sacred and cleanest part of the body. Thai people regard touching another person or a statue’s head as disrespectful, so as much as possible, refrain from doing so.
If you forget or unconsciously land a pat on someone’s head, you need to apologize right away. Fortunately, Thais are forgiving people, and if you’re sincere in your apology, they’ll let it go.
Of course, this rule doesn’t apply to close friends and family.
6. Most public bathrooms in Thailand have squat toilets.
To give you a mental image, you’ll find that the toilet pan or bowl is at floor level and on its sides are grooves where you’ll place your feet as you squat. It’s basically just a hole in the ground.
Let’s take a minute to appreciate the fact that a person is essentially multitasking when using these toilets — he/she is exercising while doing his dirty business. Well, it’s one way to work out.
The best piece of advice is to always carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer wherever you go in Thailand. You’ll never know when you’ll need them.
7. Scams, confidence tricks, and rip-offs are common in tourist parts of Thailand.
Scam artists can be found all over the world. You just need to know how to spot and avoid them. The most common scam in Thailand is the tuk-tuk and taxi scam, which mainly targets foreigners.
It happens when the drivers of these vehicles ask for ludicrous fares for short-distance travel. Sometimes, they ask you for money to buy gasoline or take you to an overpriced shop where they receive a commission if you purchase something.
Advice: Avoid tuk-tuks and taxis parked near malls and hotels or ask the locals you trust for help.
Living in any country in the world has its pros and cons. It’s up to you to weigh down the good and the bad. But for many expats that currently live in Thailand, it’s truly a wonderful country to relocate to.
Mai Pen Rai: Don’t Worry
A substantial change, like moving to Thailand, can be stressful. But as the locals of this country would say, “Mai pen rai.” That means don’t worry about it! Instead, be happy and get excited.
Relocating to Thailand can be the positive change you need in your life. You get to experience a new culture, meet interesting people, and broaden your knowledge about the world beyond your native land. Doesn’t that sound exciting?