- Download our Moving to Bangkok Guide (PDF)
Bangkok is a vibrant city, full of life. From the fascinating culture to the friendly people, living in the Thai capital is an enriching experience. As with any city, however, there are pros and cons to moving to Bangkok, and we explore them below.
Accommodation in Bangkok
+ PRO: Lots of variety
Bangkok has a wide variety of accommodation at a range of prices. Whether an expat is looking for an apartment, a condo, a townhouse, or a standalone house, there's something for everyone.
Cost of living in Bangkok
+ PRO: Possible to live extremely cheaply
Expats often find that things such as electrical goods, entertainment, living and eating expenses are far less expensive in Thailand than in their home country. There are restaurants to suit every budget, and the many street stalls make it possible to enjoy authentic Thai food at an exceptionally low price.
- CON: High price of alcohol
With unfavourable currency conversions and tax added to the price of imported wine, getting a decent bottle without paying a hefty price can be a challenge, even when buying from a supermarket. If you ask around among the locals, however, you may be able to scout out a few places to get wine at a slightly better price. Buying other imported goods such as Western food or ‘home comforts’ can also become pricey.
Culture shock in Bangkok
+ PRO: Rich and vibrant culture
Thailand’s culture is a rich experience for all the senses, much like Bangkok itself. Among the rising steel and glass structures of shopping malls, hotels and offices, expats will find temples, revered Buddha images and spirit houses with offerings piled high, jasmine garlands aplenty and incense burning day and night. Thai people are generally welcoming of foreigners visiting and living in their country, so respect for their culture and traditions will go a long way.
- CON: Saving face
If another person becomes angry, demanding, or rude in public towards a Thai person, locals will go to great lengths to ‘save face’. No matter what emotions may be felt, they are not displayed or demonstrated negatively towards another person. This is an important part of Thai culture that has a great impact on how an expat will be treated. Keeping calm and remaining polite are better ways to deal with conflict.
Healthcare in Bangkok
+ PRO: Inexpensive and high quality
Visiting a hospital or dentist in Bangkok is like walking through the doors of an expensive hotel without dreading the bill afterwards. Most hospitals are easy to get to and most medical practitioners are fluent English speakers. After registering, the patient will be quickly seen, with the relevant tests undertaken in a timely and efficient manner. Securing a consultation with a specialist doctor is also relatively easy.
- CON: Unnecessary tests
Whilst a visit to the hospital or dentist may not be expensive, it's common to hear about patients being sent for unnecessary tests, only to end up with a simple diagnosis such as the flu or a virus. This can often result in excessive costs. While a person's health shouldn't be put at risk for fear of being taken advantage of, it is something to maintain an awareness of.
Transport in Bangkok
+ PRO: Cheap and a large variety
Transport is cheap and plentiful. There’s the BTS Skytrain, which runs above all the traffic on the roads, and the MRT (underground metro). That's not to mention buses, tuk-tuks, taxis and motorbike taxis. The BTS and MRT are air-conditioned, a welcomed relief on hot days, and the two are linked at certain stations. Getting around Bangkok is both affordable and in many instances efficient and clean.
- CON: Traffic jams
It is well known that dealing with heavy traffic is a consequence of living in Bangkok, but it doesn’t mean that travelling around the city is as difficult and laborious as one may be led to believe. There are many great options for avoiding traffic – they just require thinking ahead and planning journeys accordingly. That said, expats who choose to drive are likely to find rush hour traffic a headache.
Lifestyle in Bangkok
+ PRO: Variety of experiences
There is an endless variety of shopping experiences all over the city which cater to all sorts of budgets. The city's many markets are perfect for those who are looking for a bargain and like to barter, while in the high-end shopping malls, just about anything can be bought.
+ PRO: Lively nightlife
Expats who enjoy a night out on the town will love the nightlife scene in Bangkok. The city boasts everything from sophisticated rooftop bars and disco clubs to hidden dive bars, where drinks will cost a tad less.
►For more about life in the city, see Moving to Bangkok
►Have a look at See and Do in Bangkok for a list of the city's best sightseeing
What do expats say about life in Bangkok?
"I love the controlled chaos of Bangkok. It offers experiences that match any mood, from wild and unpredictable to civilised and even boring. You can have a great evening out for 500 baht, or $500, it just depends on what you’re looking for. There is also Thai culture and Thai people, which are wonderful and fascinating. The expats that make their home here are a wild, crazy, and never-boring mix of people from around the world. They all come with their own interesting stories and experiences to share." Learn more about the pros and cons of moving to Bangkok in our interview with Canadian expat Greg.
Are you an expat living in Bangkok?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bangkok. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.