Here Are 21 Things To Consider Before Moving To Thailand—Planning or thinking about moving to Thailand?
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Thailand is one of the most popular expat destinations for a variety of reasons.
You may enjoy sunny weather all year and have access to modern comforts at a low cost here.
With its laid-back vibes, wonderful cuisine, and vibrant culture, it’s a really unique location to call home.
It’s also rather lovely.
Being close to nature is easy here, with soft-sandy beaches and crystal blue seas, as well as stunning waterfalls and mountainous jungle getaways.
Moving to Thailand will be a colourful adventure with everything it has to offer.
There are, however, some things you should be aware of in order to make the move as painless as possible.
Moving to a new nation, as thrilling as it may be, comes with its own set of obstacles.
So, to make your transition easier, here are 11 things you should know about moving.
1. This Country Is Large And Dispersed
Thailand, like its neighbours Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, is a long country, stretching 1,650 kilometres down the Malay peninsula.
That is around the distance between England and Morocco.
Thailand also has 1,430 islands, so if you’re seeking for a bit of abandoned paradise, you’ll have enough to choose from.
Simply rent a boat and the world is your oyster.
2. Feeling Sweltering, Sweltering, Sweltering
Thailand’s average year-round temperature is between 24 and 29 degrees Celsius.
And, depending on where you live in the country, you can expect roughly 2,500 hours of sunshine each year, which is about 1,000 hours more than most UK areas, so bring some sunscreen and a good hat.
Summers can reach 35 degrees Celsius, while winters are mild, with an average temperature of 24 degrees Celsius in December and January.
On the other hand, you should be prepared for some very wet summers.
From May through October, Thailand is subjected to the southwest monsoon, which brings significant rains.
3. The health-care system in the United States is inadequate.
There are many compelling reasons to relocate to Thailand, but one of them is the country’s public health system.
Thailand’s healthcare system was ranked 76th in the world in a 2018 study published in The Lancet and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
That puts the United Kingdom in 23rd place, 53 spots behind the United States.
Thailand could have gotten a higher ranking if it spent more than 3.8 percent of its GDP on healthcare, which is less than the 3.8 percent spent by Chad, Sudan, and Yemen.
Currently, the majority of expats in the country choose private insurance.
If you’re considering relocating to Thailand, it’s a good idea to consider medical coverage while you’re there.
For private medical insurance in Thailand, we’ve collaborated with Cigna.
Cigna will find you a plan that meets your needs, with four levels of annual coverage to pick from and optional modules for added flexibility.
4. Buddhism Is The Official Religion Of The Country
According to government statistics, 93.5 percent of Thais are Buddhist.
This won’t normally effect your daily life unless you visit one of the country’s many beautiful Buddhist temples, but be respectful of local Buddhist practises.
Unless you’re at the pool or on the beach, cover your knees and shoulders, ask permission before taking someone’s picture, and try not to raise your voice in any situation.
But, most importantly, if someone politely requests you to adjust your behaviour, do so.
5. No, That Isn’t The Buddha
Make sure you understand the difference between the Buddha and the Laughing Buddha, who was born Siddhartha Gautama in India some 2,500 years ago and whose teachings are the foundation on which Buddhism is built.
Budai, a Buddhist monk who was born in China some 1,000 years ago and has been immortalised in monuments all over the world as a jovial, pot-bellied man, is the latter figure.
Before he died, he is claimed to have gone through villages with a sack full of food and goodies, generously feeding children and the needy, and identifying himself as the avatar of a divinity named Maitreya.
Both are significant cultural and religious figures, yet they lived in separate countries, were born in different millennia, and influenced Buddhism in different ways.
6. Thai Food In Thailand Is Much Better
It’s difficult to believe, but the delectable takeout pad thai you want every now and again is a poor facsimile of the Thai delights available to your taste senses.
Prepare for a flavorful, sensory eating adventure unlike any other.
Simply approaching certain street food merchants will provide you with excellent selections.
Try khao soi, a northern Thai specialty, after you’ve tasted how delicious locally made pad thai can be.
This creamy coconut curry noodle soup is delicious, especially when topped with extra crispy deep-fried egg noodles.
Then sample the simple joys of pad kra prao, a dish made with minced pork, rice, and fish sauce, followed by the magnificent hor mok ma prow awn, a crimson seafood curry served straight from a coconut.
Don’t skip dessert; the combination of mango, sticky rice, and condensed milk in a khao niew ma muang will wonderfully finish your dinner.
7. The Cost Of Living Is Incredibly Inexpensive
In general, life in Thailand is substantially less expensive.
You’ll be more than comfortable if you have £1,500 to spend per month – and depending on where you reside in the country, you may find it difficult to spend even the bulk of your pay.
Almost everything, from food to rent to gasoline, is at least half the price you’ll be used to.
Everything, that is, except national parks, museums, and temples, which typically charge tourists a higher amount than locals — often ten times more.
At first, it stings, but you get used to it.
8. There Is A Generous And Low-Key Drinking Culture
Going out for drinks with new Thai acquaintances is a great way to meet new people, especially since the Thai culture values kindness.
You’ll normally drink as a table, so buy a bottle of a spirit like whisky and a couple of mixers to go with it to win over your friends.
As with anything, Thai people are embarrassed by anything that gives them embarrassment, so don’t get too overtly or loudly inebriated.
It’s also worth noting that the legal drinking age is 20, and that drinking is generally prohibited in parks and places of worship, though drinking on the street is permitted.
You’ll only be allowed to buy alcohol between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., or 5 p.m. and midnight, so plan ahead – and you won’t be able to buy any on Buddhist holidays like Visakha Bucha Day and Mgha Pj.
9. The Beaches Are Breathtaking
Thailand is home to a plethora of stunning beaches, both on the mainland and on its numerous islands.
Wherever you go, electric blue waves wash into white sands against a stunning backdrop of soaring mountains or swaying palm trees.
You can join hundreds of others sunbathing on popular beaches, or you can discover a peaceful one near you and fully relax with a little research.
10. Participate In Every Sport Available
We’ll start with the highlights because there are more popular sports in Thailand than you’ll have time to enjoy.
Whether you enjoy sports or simply want to try something new, you should try takraw, a game in which you must prevent a woven rattan ball from hitting the floor using any body part other than your hands.
Make sure to see a muay Thai show, which loosely translates to “Thai boxing” and is an important aspect of mixed martial arts.
Sports like badminton, football, and golf are more widely played across the country and can be a fantastic way to meet new people.
11. A Person’s Social Status Is Quite Important
The position of a person in society is significant in most cultures, yet it can vary.
It all relies on your age, education, income level, work title, and the position and connections of your family.
This can be seen in a variety of scenarios, such as when you’re welcoming someone with the customary wai greeting, which entails pressing your palms together and bending your head slightly.
The individual with the lesser status should usually go first, but as a foreigner, you’ll most likely be spared.
If someone else provides you a waiver, make sure you return it.
You’ll also notice that if you’re dining with a group, the highest earner will usually foot the bill.
12. Unlike Ours, The Culture Is Collectivist
The majority of Western countries, including the United Kingdom, have an individualist culture, which emphasises pursuing personal goals and protecting personal rights.
Thailand is one of several eastern countries that have a collectivist approach to society, including South Korea and China.
This means that people will prioritise achieving common social goals and will act in the best interests of their group – whether it’s their family, company, or country – rather than themselves.
So, when you’re in Thailand, make sure you work hard to forward the goals of your organisation, even if it doesn’t benefit you.
That way, you’ll make more pals.
13. This Is A Politically Tumultuous Country
In 1932, King Rama VII ended 700 years of absolute monarchy by accepting democratic rule (yet ruled by a monarch) and the creation of a constitution during a bloodless coup.
“I am willing to give the powers I previously exercised to the people as a whole,” the monarch remarked at the time, “but I am not willing to turn them over to any individual or group to employ in an autocratic manner without heeding the people’s voice.”
There have been further 12 coups since then, resulting in the adoption of 19 new constitutions.
In what appears to be an endless cycle, Thailand has cycled between democratic governments and military dictatorships.
Prepare yourself for a country where the government may change abruptly and undemocratically, and where protesting against the authoritarian government or monarchy is perilous – but this rarely deters Thais.
14. Patriotism Can Be Found Anywhere
The role of patriotism in Thai society complicates this widespread unhappiness with the political system.
Flags abound, the national song is played twice a day – in public and on television – at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and the royal anthem is frequently performed before performances at movies, plays, and concerts.
The royal hymn is more solemn, whereas the national anthem is much more lively and loud — though, like many other countries’ songs, it includes lyrics about “uniting the flesh and blood of Thais” and self-sacrifice for the country.
Both of these anthems are easy to learn and sing along to.
Simply be respectful, which means standing and remaining silent throughout — and refrain from disparaging the royal family.
Thailand is the only country in the world that has never been colonised.
European countries have colonised practically every piece of land on the planet between them — except Thailand.
This is a source of pride for Thais, as it distinguishes Thailand from other Southeast Asian countries.
In reality, it’s one of only a few countries in the world that has never been colonised by European nations, alongside Japan and the Korean peninsula — as well as Liberia and Ethiopia, depending on how you define colonialism.
Thailand’s ability to participate into exploitative commercial arrangements, give up land when necessary, and function as a buffer between British and French possessions is largely owing to its willingness to do so.
16. Residents Take Particular Precautions To Ensure That No One Loses Face
When visiting Thailand, be careful of kreng Jai, a cultural phenomena that translates as “consideration,” but in actuality means a desire to avoid upsetting others, especially in public.
So keep in mind that when someone replies “yes,” it’s possible that they’re just trying to avoid making you sad.
This is the path you should take, and you should avoid any actions that could be construed as disrespectful.
If you disagree with their opinion or are furious with them – and you want to talk about it – make sure you do so privately, whether you’re talking to a coworker or a friend.
In a same line, if you’re visiting someone’s home, you should bring a modest gift and remove your shoes before entering.
17. There’s More To The Land Of Smiles Than That
The Thais’ fear of losing face is one of the reasons for the country’s nickname, “Land of Smiles,” and their people’s reputation as laid-back.
This is due to a societal expectation that individuals hide their bad feelings, so keep any anger, sadness, or envy to yourself.
The term is also a reference to the fact that the Thai language contains words for 13 different grins, ranging from sadness and deception to encouragement and pride.
You won’t be required to know all 13; instead, look beyond a smile to figure out what emotion someone is trying to communicate.
18. Feet Are Filthy
When entering someone’s home or visiting a temple, as in many other nations, it is customary to remove your shoes.
This is because, while the feet are thought to be the dirtiest portion of the body, shoes are seen to be even dirtier.
De-shoeing is also expected in many shops and offices; you may determine if it’s essential by looking for a large pile of footwear by the front door.
You should also avoid pointing your feet at anything, touching someone with your feet, or putting your feet on a table or chair — and if at all possible, avoid sitting cross-legged.
19….And The Head Is Sacrosanct
Don’t mess with anyone’s hair or head.
Locals apply the same rationale that considers feet to be inferior to consider heads and hair to be exceptional, making them off-limits to anyone but one’s family and closest friends.
This goes for children as well, so don’t ruffle your friend’s kid’s hair.
If you touch someone’s head by accident, promptly apologise and you should be forgiven.
20. Do Not Drink Tap Water
In most places of Thailand, tap water is unsafe, therefore drink only boiling, treated, or bottled water.
Bangkok’s tap water is normally safe to drink because it fulfils WHO rules, but before you breathe a sigh of relief and grab for a refreshing drink, check the news or ask a neighbour.
Water supply problems are common, as evidenced by the system’s inability to desalinate much of the water in February 2021.
As a result, the water became salty, with sodium levels reaching 12 grammes per litre, which was 60 times more than the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme’s recommendation.
21. Be On The Lookout For Ghosts
There are many ghosts in Thai folklore, and you’ll hear stories about them everywhere you go – yet it’s more than just stories.
People will usually adopt the attitude expressed in a popular Thai proverb: “You may not believe.”
But never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever,
Locals may leave gifts such as food, money, and incense, and occasionally even plan dance performances for the spirits’ satisfaction, in order to avoid facing a ghoul’s wrath if they turn out to be genuine.
According to a poll performed in 2020, 43 percent of Thai people believe in ghosts in some way, and whether they believe or not, they will usually protect themselves against all dangers.
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