Moving AbroadThailand

The Basic Things You Need to Know If You Plan to Move to Thailand

Moving to a different place is exciting, but it can be challenging as well, especially when you choose to move to a country that has a different culture from yours just like Thailand. There are many things that could draw you to live in Thailand which is known to be the Land of Smiles. The country has spectacular beaches, great foods, and living there may cost less compared to living in the United States.

If you’re planning to move to Thailand soon, we are going to share with you an overview of the basic things you need to know. The information we will give can help you save lots of time compared to having to hunt down all the answers to the questions that you might have in your mind when you move to Thailand. Also, by knowing these things in advance, you will not be so culture shocked when you get there.

The Concept of Face in Thai Culture

Face or respect is one of the most important aspects of Thai culture. Therefore, when you live in Thailand, you should never let someone lose face in public.

an elderly Thai woman smiling
An elderly Thai woman smiling

It means that you should not start an argument or start shouting at anyone there. This is the reason why Thais are always calm no matter their situation. If something makes them mad or angry, they just smile and let it go. If you do not respect this part of their culture, you will definitely have a difficult time living in Thailand.

Language

If you plan to move to Thailand and stay there long-term, then it’s better to learn to read, speak, and write in Thai. It is a difficult language to learn, but you will be able to get a lot more out of your time in Thailand if you can speak even just a little of their language. If you do not want to learn Thai or you do not make any effort at all to speak the language, it’s likely that you will be excluded from a lot of things and will just end up hanging around other expats that speak English. But if you really want to dig deep into the Thai culture, then with a little effort, you will be able to speak some Thai.

a proverb written in Thai and English
A proverb written in Thai and English

Westerners find it difficult to learn Thai because of the tones used. It’s because in Thai language, just changing the tone of a word can significantly change its meaning. It means that what sounds like one word for us can have different meanings in Thai depending on what tone is used. They also have different dialects per region, but it’s better to learn central Thai first because that is the most widely spoken. If you are going to Bangkok, you don’t have to worry much about the tone because they are not used as much. It means that people there will be able to understand you even if you use the wrong tones.

Climate

You also need to get yourself ready for Thailand’s climate if you will be living there. This country has a warm, tropical climate and it is mostly hot the whole year. The temperature in Thailand can reach up to about 40C or 104F. Thailand has three seasons, cool, hot, and rainy. The cool season runs from around November to February. The hot season is from around March to May. And the rainy season here is from June to October. But these seasons can also start sooner and end later and it can be different each year as well.

a sunny day on a tropical place)
A sunny day on a tropical place)

If you are from a cold climate, the seasons in Thailand will seem like hot, hotter, and hot and wet. But it’s like it’s always hot in Thailand. In fact, there are weeks here without rain even during the rainy season. But if it does rain, it is usually very heavy, but will not last long. It is dry most of the time in Thailand.

Food

Thai food is probably the best food in the world and it does not cost that much. However, you need to know that Thai food can be very spicy as well, especially in the northeast part of the country. But most foods in Thailand are cooked right in front of you, therefore, you can ask for your food to not be too spicy if you do not like spicy foods that much.

Somtum, a local dish in Thailand
Somtum, a local dish in Thailand

If ever you won’t like the local foods they serve in Thailand, you can find foreign foods to eat her as well such as burgers, fried chicken, pizza, and other Western foods. They are commonly found in big cities in Thailand like Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. They also have familiar places to eat such as KFC, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and more.

Money

Another basic but important thing you should know if you plan to move to Thailand is their money. Thai baht is the currency being used in Thailand and $1 is equal to about 30 baht. Their notes are in 1,000, 500, 100, 50, and 20 baht denominations while their coins are in 10, 5, 2, and 1 baht denominations.

ten thousand baht paper bills
ten thousand baht paper bills

They also have satang coins and 100 satang coins are equal to 1 baht. Satang can only be acquired usually in your change at supermarkets in Thailand because most other places price their goods only in baht.

Bank Accounts

If you will be living in Thailand for a long period of time, then it’s better to open a bank account here. They allow foreigners to open only a savings account but you will still get an ATM card for that account which can also be used as a debit card. Some of the main banks in Thailand are Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Bank of Ayudhya, and Krungthai Bank. Also, keep in mind that bank charges in Thailand are much higher compared to your home country and they also have charges for some ATM withdrawals.

Accommodation and Paying Bills

It is actually easy to find a place to live in Thailand and accommodations here are also cheap and can suit every budget. In fact, you can get a basic room here for only 2,000 baht or $70 per month, up to whatever you are willing to spend.

When you choose to rent a condo or a house in Thailand, you will need to pay for bills such as electricity and water. However, these utilities would stay in the name of the owner of the condo or the house unlike when you rent in the U.S. that these utilities would usually be in your own name. The utility bills come monthly and they are usually paid in the local 7-Eleven stores. These stores are everywhere in Thailand. However, you are only given 7 days to pay these bills and these will be cut off if you missed paying them within that time frame. Also, after 7 days, you will not be able to pay the bills at 7-Eleven, meaning, you will need to go to the head office to pay.

Internet

There are three main internet providers in Thailand which hare True, 3BB, and TOT. In big cities, the internet connections are fast, but in more rural areas, it can be difficult to find a good connection. Therefore, if you need a fast internet when you move to Thailand, living in one of the bigger cities is the best option for you.

It is easy to get an internet connection in Thailand. Once you’ve found a place to live in, for example, a condo or apartment, the owner or the person in charge will be able to help you get an internet connection. They will just usually ask you to show them your passport as proof of ID. After that, you will be connected within a day or two.

Cell Phones

You need to get a new sim card when you move to a different country. It’s easy to buy a SIM card for your mobile phone in Thailand because you can simply buy one at any airport or 7-Eleven store. You can also top-up the card at 7-Eleven stores. The main cell phone companies in Thailand are True, DTAC, and AIS. If ever you will need a new cell phone, you can also find lots of cell phone stores in large and not-so-large cities.

Police Hotlines

If there’s an emergency and the police are needed, the emergency number to call in Thailand are either 191 or 123. If you need tourist police, the number to call is 1155.

Measurements

You also need to know that the metric system of measurement is used in Thailand. It is based on the meter, liter, and gram as units of length, capacity, and weight or mass. It means that when you live here, you will not be able to find miles, inches, feet, quarts, pints, or anything similar. This can definitely take some getting used to for American expats.

Driving

Another basic but important thing you should know if you want to move to Thailand is that they drive on the left-hand side of the road. It means that it can present some real dangers if you’re from the United States and you plan to drive in Thailand. Also, their roads are notoriously dangerous. In fact, the death rate from road accidents in Thailand is among the highest in the world.

a major highway in Thailand
A major highway in Thailand

If you plan to drive in Thailand, you need to get an International Driving License first. If you will be staying here for more than a year, you need to get a Thai Driving License which will require you to take a test here.

Transportation

In Thailand, it’s easy to get around major cities. However, getting between cities is kind of challenging. For public transport, the best place in Thailand is in Bangkok because it has very modern BTS or sky train and MRT or underground train systems. The transportation fare here can range from around 10 to 50 baht which is really cheap if you’d compare it to New York. There are also lots of taxis in Bangkok and their starting fare is 35 baht. Other modes of transportation you can try here are their motorbike taxis, rapid bus system, minivans, and songthaews which are like a shared taxi that looks like a small pick-up truck.

a local mode of transportation in Thailand called songthaew

You can also find different forms of transport in other cities. In Chiang Mai and Pattaya, songthaews are the common transport. If you want to get between cities, you can ride trains, vans, and buses which are all very cheap options.

Farang

Farang is the Thai word for white foreigner. It is also what Thai people will call you if they don’t know your name. However, there are many expats who are offended by this word because they think that it’s a little disrespectful. But it’s actually not. Keep in mind that Thai people just say it like it is and no offense is meant.

These are some of the basic things you need to know if you’re planning to move to Thailand soon. When you are living in your home country, you don’t usually give a second thought to most of the basic things. It’s because you can communicate well with others and you’re used to the culture inside out. But when you transfer to a foreign country, that’s when you’ll realize how important it is to pay attention even to the most basic of things. We hope the information we shared will help you in adapting to the culture and way of life in Thailand. If you’ve decided that you willmove to Thailand soon, you can also check out our post about  The Important Things to Consider Before Moving to Thailand.

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