- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Thailand Guide (PDF)
Best known as a beautiful, affordable and exotic tourist destination, expats moving to Thailand often get to enjoy paradise on a more permanent basis, even with recent instability in the country. A warm and welcoming Thai culture, striking landscapes and a chance to experience a truly different way of life make living in Thailand both interesting and comfortable for many expats.
However, finding work that pays well can be a major challenge for expats who want to live in Thailand. The majority of job opportunities in the country can be found in Bangkok. Many new arrivals descend upon the already bustling Thai capital for this reason.
While most expats are willing to put up with the notorious traffic in Bangkok, others fan out into less populated and more indigenous regions. There are, however, clear differences between rural and urban environments in the kingdom. Rural life in Thailand often lacks modern amenities, while urban environments are in overdrive, inundating expats with noise pollution and a lack of space. This can make it difficult to find a balance.
Although less popular than living in Bangkok, some expats scatter across the northern regions such as Chiang Mai to enjoy a quieter and more traditional Thai lifestyle.
Most of the expats who don’t want to live in Bangkok's concrete jungle do, however, end up in the beach resorts of Krabi and Phuket. Here, tourism-related jobs and idyllic beaches lure retirees and expat workers alike. Another popular option for expats wanting to work in Thailand is teaching English.
These sectors often don’t enable expats to enjoy a standard of living they may have been used to back home, but many of the expats who live in Thailand actively choose to live a simpler life.
Thai businesses often prefer hiring local professionals, and as a result, most high-paying opportunities for expats are found through overseas transfers.
One of the greatest attractions in Thailand is its diversity, from Bangkok’s neon lights to Buddhist temples set against awe-inspiring natural settings. Whether wanting to enjoy their retirement, work in its booming medical tourism industry or supplement a long-term vacation with English teaching, expats are faced with a world of possibility in a single country.
Official name: Kingdom of Thailand
Population: About 70 million
Capital city: Bangkok
Neighbouring countries: Thailand shares borders with Myanmar to the west and northwest, Laos to the north and northeast, Cambodia to the southeast, and Malaysia to the far south.
Geography: Thailand's natural features, such as the Mekong River and various mountain ranges, define its northern, eastern and western borders. The Gulf of Thailand forms the country's southern coastline.
Political system: Constitutional monarchy administered by a military junta
Major religions: Buddhism is the majority religion in Thailand, with Islam and Christianity being the two most prominent minority religions.
Main languages: Thai is the official language. English is widely understood in tourist areas but there are fewer fluent English speakers in rural areas.
Money: The Thai baht (THB), which is divided into 100 satang. It is usually possible for expats to open a local bank account and ATMs are widely available in urban areas, many of which accept foreign cards.
Tipping: Tipping isn't customary or expected in Thailand, but adding a tip will usually be appreciated. Depending on the situation, this may be in the form of rounding up the billed amount, adding 10 percent, or leaving loose change behind.
Time: GMT +7
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Both flat and round two-pin plugs are frequently used.
Internet domain: .th
International dialling code: +66
Emergency contacts: 191 (police, general), 1554 (ambulance), 199 (fire)
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road. Roads are usually in good condition but traffic in Bangkok is notorious for congestion and drivers can behave erratically. There are good public transport networks in Thailand with most long-distance travel done by bus and most short distances by motorcycle.
"The quality of life on Samui is excellent. The Thai people are wonderful, friendly, laid-back and it’s hard not to take on their easy-going way of life when you are here." Read more about Rosanne's expat experience in Thailand.
"Thailand offers opportunities for adventures and shenanigans that– to your average salary worker in the West – are outrageously exotic, and sometimes life-changing" Read more of Greg's comments about living in Bangkok.
"Phuket is a beautiful island, especially in the dry season, with a laid back atmosphere. I love being able to look outside the window and see the beautiful sea right in front of our apartment." Read Frei's full interview about life in Thailand.
Are you an expat living in Thailand?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Thailand. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
GeoBlue is one of the best international health insurance plans for US expats abroad or internationals residing in the USA. The GeoBlue Xplorer plan includes worldwide coverage and great customer service with access to a premium international network of hospitals and doctors including the Blue Cross Blue Shield network in the USA.
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.