Getting around in Bangkok – trains, tuk-tuks and automobiles!

Bangkok can be daunting. Like any big city – bright lights, a buzzing atmosphere, people walking past you on the sidewalk with a focused mission, foreign smells and sights at every turn – but it need not be as overwhelming as it may seem. When you embrace the high energy, fast paced city that seems to be passing you by – you suddenly realise you are a part of the hum making up this incredible metropolis.

Trains, taxis, buses, tuk-tuks – how do you choose the right transport for the journey you are on? Here are a few tips and tricks to get you around this amazing city!


There are many different taxis and companies, identified by their external colour – green, yellow, white, pink – but they all have the same end goal. Getting you where you need to be. Do not be surprised when you hail a taxi, that they may not speak a lot of English. This should not stop you from jumping in to these air-conditioned vehicles of respite from the stifling heat. All you need is an address, a destination, some hand gestures or at worst, a phone number that the taxi driver can call to get directions in Thai to your destination. Be prepared to negotiate with the driver for the fee, even if it says ‘meter taxi’ as they will often offer you a flat fee rather than putting on the meter to your destination. Also you may be required to pay ‘toll fees’ if you choose to go on these quicker expressway routes. The taxi driver will almost always ask you if you wish to take the expressway, and when you hit the payment points, it is your responsibility to pay the fee in cash and your taxi driver will ask you for this when you arrive at each stop. Be wary of peak hours and a lot of traffic. You can and may sit in bumper to bumper traffic for some hours depending on destination and time of day…but remember, you are in air-conditioned comfort, heaven!


One of the best train systems in the world, BTS Sky Train is both efficient and cost effective when making your way around Bangkok. The system and maps are fairly easy to understand and your journey far quicker than being stuck in traffic. BTS stations are positioned at most major tourist spots and places of interest. You can purchase a very economical pass that will allow you to travel the city with ease and be comfortable asking most ticket sellers or passersby about your destination and which platform or direction you are meant to go. Definitely the cheapest and quickest way to get around the city and see the sights at the same time, but be sure to take a jacket, as unlike the outside heat, the trains can be a little chilly when travelling.


Slightly daunting yet an iconic way to get around the city, tuk-tuks are an exhilarating way to see the streets. Loud, fast and fun! Although cheap, some tuk-tuk drivers are commissioned to work for various retail shops, so will ‘detour’ on your way to your destination and take you to these shops in the hope you will purchase something. So be very sure when negotiating your fare that you are extremely clear about your destination with no unwanted stop-offs or before you know it you will be in a suit shop you never wished to visit!


Buses are another way you can get around Bangkok and they are incredibly cheap, starting from around 6 baht. Although, be aware unlike trains they can be slower due to traffic and packed with sweaty and sometimes not-so-happy passengers! If you wish to board a bus, you must indicate that you want the bus to pull over and pick you up by flagging it down or it may just pass you by. Buses with blue signs in the front window will drive the normal roads throughout the city but buses with a yellow sign in their front window will take the expressway and do therefore not stop at many stops. With hundreds of routes available, your best way to navigate which bus you need is to pick up an MBTA map (available at most bus stations) and identify the bus routes by the number they display, as most buses have the destination written in  Thai rather than English.


Running from 6am until midnight, the MRT is Bangkok’s subway train system and consists of only one line which forms a horseshoe shape. With 18 stations, the trains run frequently, on an average of every 5-6 minutes. Unlike the BTS tickets are purchased in the form of tokens from machines at the stations. The subway is connected to the BTS at at Sukhumvit and Silom stations, making it easy to navigate the city.

Personal Driver

It is not uncommon in Bangkok to be able to hire a personal driver. Unlike taxis, you can be sure you are in a clean, well-maintained vehicle (some even have magazines, choice of CDs and drinking water)  with a driver who is educated on locations, routes and even general conversation in English.  There are many reputable companies and most major hotels will have their preferred service, so if you are looking for the freedom to stop when and where you want, change destinations and most importantly relax knowing that you are headed to the right location every time, then a personal driver is a great option!

Things to do with expat kids in Bangkok

Word to your mother, this week’s blog is all about top tips for things to do with tots, toddlers, kids and teens in Bangkok.

Moving house is exciting and wonderful but also incredibly stressful; moving your home to a whole other city, in a completely different country amplifies those things infinitely. In much the same way, being a parent is one of the greatest joys on earth, but we know it’s also very VERY hard work. So, to show our appreciation, and in the hope we can make things a bit easier for the supermums and dads out there, we’ve tracked down some of the best activities, outings, classes and clubs in Bangkok.


At first glance it can seem like Bangkok is a playground better equipped for grown ups, but that’s not to say there aren’t lots of great activities for youngsters too.

Your little princess Elsa or Jack the lad Frost will feel right at home frolicking around Snow Town on the top floor of Gateway mall in Ekamai. There’s real snow falling from the roof and crunching underfoot; you can learn the basics of skiing, do some arts and crafts and take part in some mass snowball fights.

There’s nothing like the great outdoors for inspiring some quality family time (and tiring out tenacious tots). Bangkok’s parks make for a great day out with lots of fun things to do including going on a nature trail in search of the giant monitor lizards at Lumphini park, clambering on the climbing frames at Benjasiri and sailing on the boating lake at Chatuchak. Plunge properly into nature with a day out at Bang Krachao, known as Bangkok’s Green Lung. Take a boat from Klontoey pier, hire some bikes and spend the day exploring the suspended walkways in this massive expanse of unspoilt forest, right in the city.

Older kids developing a keen appreciation for some good grub might enjoy a food tour and A Taste of Thailand is one of the best in town. Fun, informal and kid-friendly, it includes tastes of traditional Thai dishes and drinks all over the Bangrak area and they also throw in some fascinating history and culture, not to mention a discount for kids under 13.


Whatever their talent, skill or interest, Bangkok is sure to have something to keep your bright spark occupied.

The Paron School of Art offers a range of fun, engaging classes in various visual art disciplines for a wide age range. From sketching and painting to photography and sculpture, your kids can get messy, develop their artistic skills and build confidence and creativity.

Meanwhile, at the Kids Robotics Learning Center, youngsters can explore science, technology, engineering and maths in fun, hands-on classes, in which they build, program, and test robots.

For more active kids who need physical activities, check out the ninja kids classes at Asia Parkour, where they can build strength, agility and coordination as well as social skills, teamwork and physical and mental confidence.


Being a parent is fraught with questions, trials and tribulations. Sometimes you need answers or recommendations, sometimes you just need someone to talk to, who’s going through the same thing. It’s so important to build a network and be part of a parenting community wherever you live. Bangkok has some great online resources and platforms for chat and discussion. Some of the most engaging Facebook groups are Expat Moms in Bangkok, The Mummy Club Bangkok and BKK Kids. Join up and have a good chin wag.

Buying a House in Thailand ?

The Ways to Go About Buying a House in Thailand

Some expats come to Thailand to work while others come to retire. The expats retiring are more than likely the same ones who will be interested in buying a house in Thailand. It is possible to have your own abode in the Land of Smiles but you should approach it carefully and get the sound advice from a Thai law firm that deals in this area. Here are some considerations to make when buying a house in the Land of Smiles.

The Law

At a high level, you cannot outright own a house in Thailand. So how do expats buy a house here? Well, there are a three ways. First, you can put the house that you want to buy in the name of a Thai national. Second, you can get a 90-year land lease. Third, you can open up a Thai corporation and put the house in its name. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Thai Person Buying the Home

The first way is probably the easiest yet the riskiest method of buying a house in Thailand and that is putting the home you are buying in the name of a Thai national. Most would never co-sign a loan with even a family member in their home country because of the risk involved. However, in Thailand, many expat retirees meet a Thai lady, get married, and then buy a house putting it in the Thai wife’s name. The risk is that if things sour in the marriage, the expat is left with no legal recourse to recover his part of the home investment. Everyone’s situation is different but the point here is to understand the risk involved in this type of home buying arrangement.

Land Lease

The second way is to obtain a 90-year lease on a parcel of land and have a home built. In this case, the expat has a stake in the property but does not own the land it is built upon. The first 30 years of the lease are guaranteed under Thai law with an option to renew for an additional 30 years and another 30 after that.

Thai Limited Company

The third way is to open a Thai limited company and then register the house in its name. There are certain requirements that must be met in order to start a business in Thailand such as having two million Thai Baht in registered capital and hiring a certain number of Thai employees but some expats are able to secure a home in this manner.

Using a Real Estate Agent

Before going about buying a house in Thailand, you should seek the services of a licensed real estate agent in the country. The reputable agents are familiar with the area that you are interested in. They also can check the developer of the desired property for its reputation.

Title Search

Another important step that must be taken when buying a house in Thailand is to have a title search conducted with the Land Department. The primary reason for this is to ensure that the seller holds clear title to the property. Additionally, checks are done to verify that there are no liens, mortgages, or leases on the property. The title search will also identify any zoning and planning restrictions which are of interest if you are building a house on the property.

The Deposit

Take the approach of leaving a deposit on any property that you are interested in with caution. Keep in mind that if you leave a deposit on property and it is not title-cleared or there is some other problem then you risk losing it. A deposit is roughly 10-15% of the property’s selling price. Make sure that any contract has clauses so that you can back out of the transaction if necessary. Typical clauses make stipulations such as “subject to clear title” and “subject to agreement.”

No matter what, it is a big mistake to make an attempt at buying a house in Thailand without consulting a Thai lawyer. There are law firms here that help foreigners with this and many other types of transactions. Some expats might think that they can do it on their own but do not realize that they will not be able to read contracts written in Thai language. You can have a home in Thailand but the secret is to know how to go about it without losing a large investment. Consult with a real estate agent and see what is available to you.

Expat Driving in Bangkok & Bangkok Car Hire

Thailand has a broad network of well maintained roads between major cities. From a total length of 57.000 km paved, about 53,000 km and only 4,000 miles without cover.

Most of the north-south route is two lanes in both directions.

Thailand is on the left. Signalling follows international conventions and is often performed bilingual Thai / English. Driving at night on road because of heavy traffic is not a good idea. Truck drivers tend to not like us very little respect from cars and reckless driving accordingly. Otherwise, driving on the main road outside Bangkok and the recreation center a safe and pleasant experience. A weekend with a car hire offers the opportunity to learn about wonderful Thai culture and at any time without any time pressure to stop if we want to explore one of the many interesting parts of the kingdom.

Bangkok itself has a bad reputation when it comes to traffic conditions. Except there was no question of toll roads, this reputation is justified. The streets are usually crowded. To someone who does not know the city well, it is very difficult to breed here. While drivers in Thailand are very polite and considerate – the horn is only very rarely – directions and often come and go change in the day, without having to be reported by major retailers (And if so, then only in English). Local land so that foreign drivers ever in locations that are away from their real target. A growing highway network within Bangkok simplify the situation even criticism.

Car Rental Insurance

International leasing companies such as Hertz, Avis and Budget are also present in Thailand. You hire vehicles insured, which the Local owners have not always or only on special request, the case is on. Although I was an uninsured vehicle in the North East on the road with themselves and all went well, I would not dare again. Danger lurks In him, I only became clear later.

Car Rental Damage

Most rental companies make the tenant is responsible for all damages during the rental period. Existing survey damage dents, scratches or missing parts should as far as possible so on the purchase slip. If your vehicle does not know, do not hesitate to have at your service. Convince yourself that everything works on the vehicle.

Thailand Road conditions

Not in a familiar environment to use a vehicle that can be risky. Since trafficking in Thailand continues to increase, there always the time of construction sites, especially when traveling at night is very dangerous. Bands left can be used as Notweg to avoid further road users. These areas usually consist of sand and gravel are sometimes extended. Must take special precautions when leaving the paved road! And the rocks falling on the shoulder of a sufficient distance from the vehicle in front stopped due.

Some owners allow the use of their vehicles on unpaved roads if they have four wheel drive.

Thailand traffic control

Left Thailand on. They allow you to get used at. Agglomerations in the general speed limit of 60 kmh (35 mph). Beyond it is between 90-100 km / h (52-60 mph) on expressways and highways. The Thurs speed controls the police. The use of seat belts is compulsory, driving under the influence of alcohol is prohibited. All insurance shall be confiscated if the alcohol limit (? ‰?) exceeded.

Travel behavior

In many countries, any person on a road or path is the right of way over those of the road between. It is not necessarily the case in Thailand. That’s why we’re constantly on the lookout market law and left the road could turn on your. Keep an eye traffic coming from behind, and drive far left as possible. If
If needed, use the left edge strips to dodge. Look in the mirror. Attention for some animals on the road. When you want to pass another vehicle another, using their horn in a polite Thai, by briefly just to let them know the person before, where they are and what they are do.

Fuel prices in Thailand

The vast majority of cars run in Thailand unleaded gasoline. Vans budget require diesel. Both fuels are readily available throughout Thailand and cost about 29-35 baht per liter. Most gas stations accept major international credit cards, The country is on cash, but usually required. On main roads there are
Open all service stations clock, which include the country overnight.

Driving Licence

All drivers must possess a valid driver’s license and not tentative. In addition to the Thai driving license is therefore foreign driving license (with English translation) and of course international driving license (with the original license). The driver license and a valid passport at all times must be made. Age: The car rental companies rent their vehicles for drivers who are At least 21 years.

Learning Thai: Important for Expats to Learn Thai

As an expat living in Thailand, you stand to benefit immensely by learning the language while you live and work here. You may think you can get by on English only and in some respects you are right. However, by not knowing any Thai, you miss out on some of the richest experiences this country has to offer. Plus, you will find situations such as ordering food and at the doctor where you will be glad you learned the vocabulary for these two areas. Here are some sources for learning Thai along with a typical curriculum you might be exposed to when learning the language.

Private Language Schools

There are scores of language schools located in every major section of Bangkok. These schools offer a set number of lessons for a fixed price and provide instruction by a native Thai teacher. You can opt for either group classes or one-on-one instruction with the latter being higher-priced. Typical instruction for foreigners will start with speaking and text will be romanized from Thai script. You should come out of a set of lessons with some basic speaking skills. As you become more advanced, you will be introduced to reading and writing Thai script.

Private Thai Tutors

There are many private Thai tutors who will meet you at a place of your choosing for instruction. Their hourly rates start at around 300 THB per hour and most prefer to give you a two-hour block per meeting day. The advantage of private instruction is that your teacher will tailor the course to meet your needs. Plus, you will learn more informal speech and colloquialisms. The Bangkok Craigslist website is a good place to locate a private instructor.

Learn to Read and Write First

You will hear opinions on both sides of this while in Thailand. Learning to read and write Thai script first has some advantages. First, it will help you pronounce words properly because romanization of Thai script does not capture the four tone levels of Thai syllables. Second, when you learn to read Thai, you will be able to order from any menu in any restaurant. You will also be able to read city signs, bus labels, warnings, and traffic signs.

Learn to Order Food

Learning to order food in Thai is a priority when building your vocabulary in this language. This is because Thai people love food and you can find it everywhere. Unless you want to stick to Western fast food restaurants, you will not be able to enjoy the delicacies Thailand has to offer unless you learn what it is called.

Why is this? It is simply because the best Thai foods are sold in back-woods outdoor restaurants and from street vendors where English is rarely spoken. Plus, by learning the foods, you can begin immersing yourself into the language and culture right away.

Learning Medical Terms

Most Thai language courses and tutors will introduce you to the human body parts in Thai language. Then, they should teach you how to tell someone else that a particular part of your body hurts. This is very important in cases where you might have to go to a pharmacy to get medication or to a hospital where English is not widely spoken.


Most good Thai teachers will have you write at least a weekly journal or diary in Thai. This gives your teacher feedback as to how you are doing and what you are having difficulty with. In other words, certain words in Thai will become almost automatic. Building sentences in Thai language is an entirely different story.

Reading Comprehension

Once you are comfortable with reading and writing the Thai alphabet, your teacher will have you start reading short excerpts in Thai. The purpose is two-fold. One goal is to help you with your pronunciation because Thai is a tonal language. The other is to test your understanding by asking you questions in Thai of what you just read.

Building Listening Skills

Building listening skills is probably the most difficult. This is because when someone speaks Thai natively, they oftentimes speak it very fast. Plus, there are many expressions that formal language training does not teach. One way to build listening skills is to listen to Thai karaoke music because the lyrics are shown on the video along with the singing. It may not be your favorite music but it is a great way to learn.

Thai people love their soap operas and some expats watch them in order to build listening skills. The difficulty with soap operas is that the actors tend to get emotionally intense and it is not easy to follow. Watching English movies with Thai subtitles is another way to quickly see the translations.

While you are having instruction in the Thai language, it is important to get out there and use it. Use it at every possible opportunity you can. You will be surprised how Thai people like to help you and in exchange they get to practice their English a little. By doing this, you will have a rich experience here.

Relocating your Pet Dog to Thailand

Your pets are just as much part of your family as any other member so it is no surprise that the topic of Relocating Your Pet Dog to Thailand is a very interesting one. You can bring your pet to Thailand, especially if coming from a nation that has effective animal control. Thai people love dogs and yours will fit right in here. Thailand also has some of the finest animal hospitals around and pet care is affordable.

Preparation for Relocating Your Pet Dog to Thailand
Prior to leaving your home country, you will need to get all of your pet’s vaccinations updated. You should have these done 30 days prior to leaving. This is because the Thai officials of the Department of Livestock Development will require that this be done 21 days prior to travelling with your dog to Thailand.

Your veterinarian will need to prepare a health certificate for your dog which, at a minimum, must state how many dogs you are bringing, their breeds, colors, age, and gender. The certificate will need to state the dog’s address in your country of origin. The last part of the certificate must state the vaccination specifics.

Pertaining to the vaccination specifics, all dogs must be certified as vaccinated and free of rabies. The rabies vaccination must be current and is required to be given no less than 21 days prior to the departure of the animal.

The other required vaccinations will be for Parovirus, Distemper, Leptospirosis, and Hepatitis. Your dog should also be in generally good health with no obvious signs of disease.

Transporting your Pet
Making transportation arrangements is the next step for Relocating Your Pet Dog to Thailand. The first thing you must do is find a “pet-friendly” carrier that flies to the country. Here is where it gets just a bit complicated. Not all airlines will ship your pets and then there are those that take animals but not overseas. So you must call around to the different airlines. Consider that most flights to Thailand from North America or the U.K. will have at least one connecting flight.

The best thing to do is put the pet in the cargo hold. Not every airline flying to Southeast Asia will offer to do this. The primary reason is because of the hot temperatures that a pet might be exposed to when transferring cargo to a connecting flight. During this transfer, the pet’s carrier may have to wait on the tarmac and the temperatures can be intense during the peak hot weather months. Thus, some airlines do not want the liability. You just have to call around.

For small dogs, an option for Relocating Your Pet Dog to Thailand is to carry it in the cabin. The individual airline has its rules for carrying pets in the cabin and generally it will require the pet be placed in an approved carrier that will fit under the seat. The airline will give you the dimensions of the carrier and probably instruct you that the dog is not allowed out of it and not allowed to bark. If you have a house-trained dog, more than likely it will sleep for the entire trip or just sit still terrified and never make a sound.

There will be an additional fee by the airline for transporting your pet. Fees can start at $200 USD and upwards.

Pet Arrival in Thailand
When Relocating Your Pet Dog to Thailand and arriving in the country, you will be directed to take your pet to the Department of Livestock Development office which is located at the group of structures where the Customs Department is located. There is a shuttle bus that will take you there. You may have to leave your dog there overnight while an entry permit is created. More than likely, a quarantine address will be stipulated which can be your address in Thailand and that quarantine period will be for 30 days.

Care of Your Pet in Thailand
Thailand is a tropical country and with this comes parasites that will love your dog no matter how carefully you try to protect it from them. Ticks will probably be your biggest trouble here. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to apply to your pet’s coat to keep ticks and bugs at a minimum however it usually is never 100% effective.

You will have to inspect your pet’s coat consistently. If you find a tick, you should take quick action. Don’t just pull out the tick because the legs might remain in your dog’s skin and become infected. Take something metal like a fork and heat it up with a lighter. Then touch one of the prongs to the tick and it will either fry or jump off. Either way, it is a clean way to remove the tick.

The other problem is taking the pet out for a walk if you live in a crowded city area. You will find that there are dogs all over the streets here. Locals refer to them as “soi dogs” which translates to street dogs. When you take your dog outside, these dogs will come around out of curiosity. You’ll find that they are friendly dogs for the most part but those bugs will jump on your dog.

For further information, have a look at the Thai Department of Livestock Development website at This page lists the current requirements for Relocating Your Pet Dog to Thailand.

Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Expats in Thailand

A Western expat in Thailand often has to think about making money. Thailand is a paradise in many ways, but if you don’t have any money, it can be a hell. Even if one is getting a steady pension check or social security or trust fund payout, there is always the fear that the dollar or other home currency can lose value in comparison with the Thai Baht, so it is important to find some kind of income stream locally. One of the ways to do that is to start your own business, but in Thailand there are special considerations that have to be taken into account.

First of all, being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Incomes go up and down, and there are always strange things that hit the business owner, making stress part of the price that must be paid. But that’s the same everywhere. You have it, or you don’t.

In order to establish a corporation or partnership in Thailand (a Limited Company), a foreigner can own only up to 49% of the equity. That means there must be Thai partners that will own the majority. There are exceptions possible if you work through the Ministry of Commerce to set up a Foreign Business License, but these are typically granted for companies that start out with large capital amounts and will employ a lot of Thai people. An existing company that wants to set up manufacturing in Thailand for export would be a good candidate for that type of business license.

Even with only having a minority share of the equity, control can still be held by the expat if he designs the business so that he is the managing director, and so that no Thai partner has a large portion of the ownership. It is essential that a Western expat employ professional Thai accountants and a lawyer to set up the company here.

In order for an expat to work at the Thai corporation, a work permit must be obtained (with fees) and four Thai nationals must be employed for every one foreigner working at the company. And once working with a permit, you must pay yourself a minimum of 50,000Baht per month (about $1650 USD).

There are businesses for sale in Thailand, but even with an existing business, the same rules apply for the new expat buyer.

For my own situation, I partnered with my wife (a Thai national) and a couple of her close Thai relatives to establish our corporation, originally designed as just a travel agency (known as Top Thai Travel, Ltd.). As a company, we offer tours within Thailand and localized travel services, such as local specialized tours, Thai cooking schools, Elephant Farm experiences, hotel reservations and domestic air tickets. That has worked well, so we have since expanded that business to include a Thai restaurant, condo rentals for visitors to Chiang Mai, and a boutique fashion shop. For us, our main goal was to earn a little income while having fun Thai adventures, and in that regard, we have done very well. I found that actually establishing the corporation in Thailand was less cumbersome than back in the US, where we had to report to so many different redundant government agencies.

An alternative for entrepreneurs to the restrictions of setting up a Thai company is to establish a sole proprietorship in the home country (like in the US). One can work this way as a contractor, such as writing articles for websites or publishing an ebook, or as a y small resale business, such as buying Thai products and exporting them back to your home market. A sole proprietorship puts things on a small scale, but also can be more flexible, with much of the work being done individually on a virtual basis.

A work permit requirement is enforced only if the work is involving a Thai company or directly competes with Thai companies. For instance, if you are a financial consultant that is employed by Thai companies, you will likely need a work permit, and the same would be true if you operated a sole person travel agency serving foreigners visiting Thailand that competed with local Thai businesses. But if you are trading US stocks on the computer or building websites for American shops online, you should not have to worry about getting a work permit or other documentation. The Thai laws in this regard are vague and are subject to local interpretation, but generally if you don’t rock the boat for Thai businesses, you can probably work with little worry about permits.

A Few Words on the Treaty of Amity

There is a special agreement between the United States and Thailand to allow American businesses to operate in Thailand “on the same footing as Thai companies.” It is reciprocal, in that Thai companies can do the same in the US. This treaty was signed in 1966, and was due to expire in 2006, but it has been renewed for 3 months every quarter since it was due to expire. The point is that the treaty at this point is a bit tenuous and may go away at any moment. The relationship between the US and Thailand is not the same as it was in ’66 when Thailand greatly assisted the US in their war with Vietnam. During the sixties, there were many treaties between the two nations in many different areas. Rules are now being interpreted with the Treaty of Amity differently at different times by the Thais, so it is essential to have a good Thai attorney working in your behalf to set this up, who also will have the latest word of how it is working.

The amount of capital that must be in a Thai bank to make the program work has gone up and down. American sole proprietorships (a single person working as a consultant or otherwise alone) was not required to employ Thais, but lately have been required to hire 4 Thais for every American work permit. There are types of businesses that are not permitted by Americans under the treaty, such as Land Ownership, Communications, Transportation and pulling out of any natural resources, like wood, precious metals or oil.

While the Treaty is designed to put the American and Thai companies on equal footing, the Thais enjoy “Most Favored Nation” status with exports to the US having very low (or none at all) tariffs, while US imports into Thailand have very high tariffs. Just try buying a bottle of California wine or Skippy Peanut Butter at the Thai supermarket to see how these high tariffs on US products affect things. It is hardly “equal footing.”

So like so many Agreements made between nations, the Treaty of Amity is not one that has matured into business fairness. It may work for some, but it is not an easy task to work under this framework.

In practicality, Thai regulations allow the expat entrepreneur to get involved in a lot of small business that are independent but not interfering into the Thai marketplace. So for an expat to start up a little food cart businesses competing with Thai street vendors would really be totally impossible to do. Establishing a restaurant with Thai partners and employing Thais as staff is “do-able” with a little planning and business set-up. And an independent computer consulting business for international clients from a home office is very easy to establish as long as it does not involve Thai business as clients or competitors to any substantial level.

There are lots of expats in Thailand involved in exporting Thai products. Some sell directly online through websites like Amazon and ebay, or on a dedicated shopping website. That usually involves pretty hefty shipping charges added on to the products sold, so many expat exporters partner up with someone in their home country to ship individual orders out to end users. Shipping a large amount via a container or even a partial container that will base cost on a square meter basis can be a lot more economical that sending out individual small shipments from Thailand.

Finding unique Thai products that will have a steady market back home is the trick. Some products that seem to do extremely well are Thai Buddha statues, hand woven silk and finely carved wood wall art. There is so much available from Thai artisans that it is not difficult to find something that is truly different from other mass produced products that will always be appreciated in the West.

I met an entrepreneur from Seattle that spent most of his time in Thailand raising orchids in his large greenhouse next to his home. The resources are plentiful in Thailand, and the climate is ideal for having product grow and developing unique colors and strains of the flowers. Then once a year he would head back to Seattle with a near full container load of the finest orchid plants one could find. Within a month back in his home country, he had it all sold with enough sales and profits to keep him going till the next trip.

The limitations for an entrepreneur in Thailand, like a self-employed person anywhere, is to develop a business that you can do well and there will be a viable market, while working under the Thai legal regulations. The more creative, hard-working and skilled enterprises will always be the successful ones.

Opening a Bank Account in Thailand as an Expat

As an expat living in the Land of Smiles, you will need to consider opening a bank account in Thailand just as you would in your home country. It is generally easy to open an account here however different banks have different rules depending on the branch and employee you speak with.

Opening a Bank account with a Work Permit.

If you have a work permit, you will probably have no problem opening a bank account in Thailand. Most banks will give you one provided that you meet their minimum deposit requirements. Those who have work permits are considered residents and are here for the long term.

Opening a Bank account With an Extended Stay Visa.

If you are on an extended stay visa such as a non-immigrant O for marriage, support, or retirement then you should have no problem getting a bank account. Just as with a work permit, you are considered a resident here. With most extended-stay visas, you have to prove that you have sufficient funds in this country so there really is no getting away from opening a bank account in Thailand.

Opening a Bank account With a Tourist Visa.

Opening a bank account in Thailand with a tourist visa may or may not be possible depending on the bank. You will need more documents to do this. Why would you open an account on a tourist visa? Maybe you are on this type of visa while waiting to apply for an extended stay visa. One example would be so that you can meet the requirement to have 800,000 THB on account for 3 months prior to applying for a retirement visa.

You will need to have a letter of recommendation from your embassy or other established business in Thailand. The bank may also require a recommendation letter from your bank in your home country. If you know someone in Thailand then you should get their letter of recommendation as well. Different banks have different rules but you will find that most will require some sort of recommendation in order to open an account on a tourist visa.

Common Way of Paying Others in Thailand.

One important reason for opening a bank account in Thailand if you are an expat is because it is a common way to make or receive payments from those whom you do business with. You will find that online payment methods such as Paypal are not quite as popular and that businesses in Thailand would rather make a deposit directly into your account in order to pay. You will also find that businesses that invoice you for large amounts will give you a deposit account number for making payment to them. International schools typically accept tuition payment via their deposit accounts.

General Banking in Thailand.

Thailand banking is generally like banking anywhere else in the world. You can get an ATM card with a major credit card logo for your account as well. With a savings account and no ATM card, two important documents you must have before making a transaction are your passport and passbook. The major banks also have electronic banking.

Documents Needed for Opening a Bank Account.

The basic document that you will need for opening a bank account in Thailand is your passport. Take your work permit as well. Then, each visa type has its own document requirements as stated previously. You will also need proof of address which can be obtained through your country’s embassy in Thailand or a letter from immigration. If you have a Thai driver’s license then this is even better because it will have your address on it.

The best advice for Thailand banking is if you are told you cannot open an account at one bank, go to another. Keep going to different banks until you find one that will welcome you for opening a bank account in Thailand.

Top 10 Thai Foods to try for the Newly arrived Expat in Thailand

One of the first things you will notice when arriving in Thailand is the variety of food available and it makes you wonder what the top 10 Thai foods are. There are also the numerous food malls where you can pick up an affordable yet tasty meal from early in the morning until around 9 PM. However, the first problem many experience when getting here is how to order what looks and smells delicious. It is difficult to know where to start unless you have some idea about what the top 10 foods in Thailand are. So, here is a list to get you started.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a sure to be listed among anyone’s top 10 Thai foods. It is a delicious sticky noodle dish that is famous not only in Thailand but around the world as well. Go to any Thai restaurant in the western world and you will find Pad Thai. The classic version of this dish is with shrimp and there is a vegetarian version as well as one with chicken.

Pad Gapow

This is stir-fried basil leaves and it is mixed with some type of meat. The dish is typically served over white rice with a fried egg (kai dao) on the side. All you have to do is choose the meat. You can choose pork (moo), beef (neua), shrimp (gung), or shellfish (pla meuk). They stir fry it with small Thai chilies so it can be quite spicy. However, the flavor makes you overlook the spiciness. You can also request “mai ped” which tells the cook not to put in the chilies.

Kuay Teow

Kuay Teow is the name for the noodle soup that you see all the Thai people eating at small stands along the road. It is definitely one of the top 10 Thai foods for Thai people. You can also find it in food courts at major shopping venues. Usually, it is ordered with meatballs such as luk chin moo (pork), luk chin gai (chicken), or luk chin pla (fish). So, if you want to order Kuay Teow with pork meatballs, you would tell the vendor “Kuay Teow luk chin moo.”

Gang Keow Wan

In English, this is sweet green curry and it is served with either white rice or thin white noodles. It is probably one of the most famous Thai dishes there is. The ingredients are coconut milk, green curry paste, chicken or pork, Thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, and basil. Most all Thai restaurants serve this delight and it is also popular at events where there is catering. As one of the top 10 Thai foods, you will recognize it by its distinct bright green color and soupiness.

Pad Pak Ruam Mit

Thailand is a vegetarian’s paradise and this dish is a mixture of stir-fried vegetables. It can be served with white rice or eaten as a main dish of vegetables only. The mixture of vegetables might vary from place to place however most dishes consist of cauliflower, baby corn, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, and straw mushrooms. Also added to the mix is either soy or oyster sauce. Soy sauce is the truly vegetarian dish.

Som Tam

Any list of top 10 Thai foods will have Som Tam. It is a salad made with grated papaya as the main bulk. The taste is probably the most unique in Thailand with its blend of spices and papaya along with just a tinge of saltiness. The other ingredients that go into this spicy delight include tamarind juice, fish sauce, tomatoes, dried shrimp, string beans, sugar cane paste, fish sauce, peanuts, and lime juice. A variation of this dish is served with bits of chopped crab and known as Som Tam Poo.

Gang Garee

This is a famous Thai yellow curry dish and reminds you of the influence of Indian culture in this land. Basically, it consists of yellow curry soup with chicken and potatoes. The yellow curry soup has coconut milk in it which gives it that distinctive Thai taste.

Gai Pad Met Ma Muang

You can think of this dish as Thai cashew chicken. The chicken is cooked in a wok and combined with onions, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, cashew nuts and dried red chilies.

Moo Satay

This is pork on skewers that is barbequed and served with peanut sauce. The pork is marinated first with a blend of coconut milk, turmeric, Thai curry powder, and soy sauce. In addition to the peanut sauce, it is also served with a white vinegar and cucumber sauce.

Tom Yum Gung

This is another Thai soup that is a mixture of shrimp, lemongrass, mushrooms, galangal, shrimp, and tomatoes. It is super spicy and blends many both salty and sour tastes together. Some variations also use coconut milk in the broth.

There are many more delicious Thai dishes available in the country. Just look at any menu in a Thai restaurant and you will find it to be quite lengthy. Hopefully, with the list of top 10 Thai foods, you can get started trying the many delights this country has to offer.

Expat Healthcare in Thailand a Priority for the Expat

Healthcare in Thailand means some of the most modern and affordable healthcare in the world. This is why the country promotes medical tourism, offering the opportunity to get treatment for an ailment and recover where the climate is warm year round. For the expatriate living and working in Thailand, medical tourism is not the focus however getting the best care at a reasonable price is.

Healthcare a Priority for the Expat

It is easy for a healthy expat to ignore the importance of getting all of the facts when it comes to expat healthcare in Thailand. Why? It is mostly because living in the Land of Smiles is so enjoyable that a normally healthy person never thinks about getting injured or sick. However, the expat needs to make it a priority to get healthcare covered because anything could happen after living here for an extended period.

There are common injuries and ailments in this land. The most common is probably falling off of the back of a motorbike taxi. Many expats avoid the motorbike taxis when first arriving in Thailand but the convenience of this mode of transportation is alluring and most end up depending on these two-wheeled modern day horses.

Another ailment that typically victimizes those who first come to Thailand is food poisoning. Even those who have lived in Thailand for some time can fall victim to the occasional bout of diarrhea, fever, and chills after eating food that may have a touch of the wrong bacteria. The risk of minor food poisoning is always here because of the hot, humid weather and sometimes food is on display without proper refrigeration.

These are just a couple of examples of special risks to one’s health in Thailand. Also consider that you may be a retiree here and naturally you will need more treatment as you age.

Hospital Choices for Expats

You basically have two general choices when it comes to hospitals providing Expat healthcare in Thailand: an international hospital or Thai hospital. The most prominent international hospital in the country is in Bangkok, Bumrungrad. It is also the most expensive however more affordable than hospitals in other parts of the world such as the U.S. and U.K. The staff speaks English and there are translators for Japanese, Arabic, and other languages.

Beyond Bumrungrad is a multitude of private Thai and government hospitals for you to choose from. Most expats go with the private Thai hospitals however English-speaking staff members are not as common in them. This is where the expat does well to learn Thai language while living here. However, you will find the care to be at the same high standard yet much more affordable than an international hospital. A couple of good private hospitals for expatriates in Bangkok are Theptarin and Bangkok Hospital and there are many others.

Private Clinics

You can also find private clinics on the street in just about any town in Thailand. These are clinics to handle simple ailments such as colds and minor injuries. Some hospitals such as Bangkok Hospital have outpatient clinics within expatriate communities such as the one at the Bangkok Gardens Apartments near Soi Narathiwas 24 and Rama III Avenue in Bangkok.

Preventative Healthcare

Another attractive perk of Expat healthcare in Thailand is that you can get a complete physical at a fraction of the cost that you would incur in your home country. For example, the international hospital, Bumrungrad, offers a full health check priced at 7,000 THB and 8,300 THB for males and females respectively. This equates to around £142 / £170 and $227 / $270 in U.K. and U.S. prices which would be unheard of in those parts of the world. Bumrungrad also offers different health check packages at different pricing tiers but all are reasonable.


What is convenient about healthcare in Thailand for expats is that if you have a minor ailment, you can actually get the pharmacist at a local drug store to recommend and sell you a medication without seeing a doctor first. One common medication that is bought in Thailand without a prescription is the antibiotic. Likewise, if there are certain medications that you take regularly (such as asthma inhalers) then you can probably get them refilled by only going to the pharmacist in Thailand. You will also find that many of the pharmacists speak English.

There are also companies that offer healthcare insurance for expats. Some expat employers even offer healthcare as one of the perks of working for them. However, most minor care is affordable even without insurance which will give you the opportunity to shop around for major medical insurance coverage to supplement your healthcare costs in Thailand.