This site gives you all the information you need to prepare for a new life in Bangkok, Thailand.
- 1 Why Move to Bangkok?
- 2 Best Places to Live in Bangkok
- 3 Thai Visas Explained
- 4 Working in Thailand
- 5 Short Term Accommodation in Bangkok
- 6 Long Term Accommodation in Bangkok
- 7 Buying Property in Thailand
- 8 Relocating Kids to Bangkok
- 9 Logistics and Moving Companies
- 10 Vaccinations for Thailand
- 11 What is the Thai Currency?
- 12 10 Tips for Settling in Bangkok
Click to scroll to each section of our guide.
Why Move to Bangkok?
Bangkok is one of the world’s premier tourist destinations.
It was ranked 2nd in Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index (2015) with a projected 18.24 million visitors. The Land of Smiles draws in visitors from every corner of the globe.
For many, the lure of Bangkok goes beyond two weeks of blissful vacationing in the sun.
It is one of the most popular expat locations in the world.
Bangkok combines a myriad of cultures and nationalities in a city where it can truly be said that east meets west. The stunning weather, delicious food, superior quality of life, famous hospitality and relative cheapness combine to make the Thai capital a tremendously attractive new home.
Is your heart set on moving to Bangkok?
Read on for our best tips, advice and guidance.
Best Places to Live in Bangkok
Bangkok is a huge metropolis, sprawling over 600 square miles and comprised of dozens of neighbourhoods, each with their own unique character and appeal.
It would be a fool’s errand to list every neighbourhood in the city, but here are some of the most popular places to live in Bangkok as a foreigner.
The Sukhumvit neighbourhood – typically considered to stretch between Nana and Phra Khanong BTS stations – is sometimes considered the “expat ghetto” thanks to the huge number of foreigners who live and work there. It’s probably the most westernised area in Bangkok, if not the whole of Thailand, and is absolutely teeming with restaurants, bars, hotels, luxury shopping malls and other such staples.
It’s very well connected as regards public transport, with the Sukhumvit BTS line running straight through it, and the MRT Sukhumvit interchange found in the Asok neighbourhood.
Rental prices vary wildly according to how close to the BTS station you want to be, how new and how big the building is. Generally, older apartments are more spacious than their newer equivalents and cheaper to boot: from around THB55,000 a month upwards for a three-bedroom apartment. Studios and smaller apartments can supposedly be had in Sukhumvit for as little as THB10,000 a month although you will need to search quite carefully. Brand new condo buildings right next to a BTS station and kitted out with the best facilities will set you back anywhere from THB65,000 a month.
Silom and Sathorn
Silom and Sathorn – spanning the areas from Lumpini Park to the Surat Expressway – are the neighbourhoods of choice for expats who work in the nearby central business district. Similar to Sukhumvit, Silom and Sathorn are blessed with plenty of great restaurants and bars and are slightly more authentically ‘Thai’ in feel – there are night markets instead of gleaming shopping malls, a thriving gay scene, and you’re not too far from the riverside and old city.
The area is home to many luxurious, new condominiums and prices are quite high in comparison to the rest of the city – Silom was recently recorded to have the highest priced land in Bangkok. While bargains can still be found, prices for two and three bedroom condos and apartments are generally in the region of THB65,000 a month, with some of the more luxe offerings closer to THB80,000 a month. However, you can still find one-bed apartments and studios for under THB20,000 a month.
Silom and Sathorn are well connected to the rest of the city thanks to the Silom BTS line that runs through the neighbourhood as well as the Lumpini and Si Lom MRT stops. Hua Lamphong Station – the mainline rail station for Bangkok – is just 10 minutes away by taxi or MRT train too.
Chit Lom – or the area between Ratchadamri, Langsuan and Witthayu Roads – is one of Bangkok’s most exclusive areas and is very popular with affluent expats. The area covers some of Bangkok’s most choice parks and green space, including Lumpini Park and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, and there are many foreign embassies in the area.
The area is in close proximity to some of Bangkok’s best hotels and shopping malls – including Central Chitlom, Gaysorn Plaza and Central Embassy – and Siam is just steps away. Both the Sukhumvit and Silom BTS lines connect the Chit Lom neighbourhood with the rest of Bangkok.
Rental prices are expensive here, and you can expect to be neighbours with other wealthy foreigners and ‘HiSo’ (high society) Thais. Quite often, the condos in this area are branded residences, such as the St Regis private residences and 185 Rajadamri. One bedroom apartments and condos can be found for THB40,000 a month, while the most opulent 3-bedroom properties can go for THB90,000 a month and beyond.
Ari has come into its own in recent years as a trendy place to live with plenty of reasonably priced accommodation for expats. There’s a real foodie scene growing here, with plenty of cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. Ari has its own station on the Sukhumvit BTS line too so is very well connected. Thanks to a handful of schools in the area, Ari is a popular place to live for expat teachers.
There’s something to suit every budget in Ari, with studios and older one-bedroom apartments available for under THB10,000 a month, while newer condominium developments have also popped up in recent years too, priced a little higher between THB20-40,000 a month with attractive facilities and sophisticated furnishings. Single rooms and short-term rentals are also available in this neighbourhood.
Just beyond Ari to the north of Bangkok is the Chatuchak area, spanning the neighbourhoods between Chatuchak Park, Phahon Yothin and Lat Phrao MRT stations. Aside from the throbbing Chatuchak Weekend Market, the area is home to three beautiful parks, Central Plaza Lad Prao and Union Mall shopping centres. There’s plenty of coffee shops and cafes in the area and the vibe is distinctly authentic Thailand.
Again, this area is comparatively cheaper than those more centrally located and it’s pretty easy to find good accommodation under THB20,000 a month, with some much lower indeed. The closer you get to BTS and MRT stations, the higher the prices go, and you’ll inevitably pay more for newer and more stylish buildings. Some of Bangkok’s biggest developers are also starting to move in on Chatuchak so the area is likely to gentrify in the next few years – get in there quickly!
As well as access to the BTS and MRT stations, you’re also very close to the Mo Chit bus station, from where you can catch buses to the north and northeast of Thailand.
After Phra Khanong BTS station on the Sukhumvit line, prices begin to dip considerably and there’s lots of smaller expat communities in the neighbourhoods between On Nut and Bearing BTS stations. These neighbourhoods are much more ‘Thai’ in feel than in lower Sukhumvit and you do have less access to the same Western amenities, although there are still plenty of shopping malls, markets and restaurants in this area. You’re also very close to Suvarnabhumi airport, and neighbouring province, Samut Prakan.
Rental prices vary widely according to how close you are to a BTS station and the size of your apartment, but it’s still pretty easy to find cheap lodgings. One and two-bedroom apartments can be found for under and around THB20,000 a month, while three beds are likely to be in the region of THB40,000 a month and above.
Thai Visas Explained
If you want to stay in Thailand for a significant period of time, you will need to procure a visa from a Thai embassy in your home country or elsewhere, that best fits your reasons for staying in the Kingdom.
Certain nationalities are able to arrive in Thailand (by air) and stay for a period of 30 days without a visa. These nationalities are listed here under ‘Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme’. Passports of the G7 countries (UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) are entitled to 30 days when arriving by land or air. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and South Korea passport holders are entitled to 90 days without a visa. Cambodian and Burmese passport holders are entitled to 14 days.
Other nationalities will need to purchase a Visa on Arrival that allows them a stay for up to 15 days. They are listed here below ‘Visa on Arrival’.
Assuming you want to stay for longer than 30 or 15 days though, you will need to get one of the following visas before you arrive into Thailand:
Single Entry Tourist Visa
The single entry tourist visa (SETV) can be procured from many Thai embassies or consulates outside of the Kingdom and entitles the holder to 60 days in Thailand. This can be extended at an immigration office by another 30 days once you’re in Thailand. The 60 days begins once you enter the country and you have 90 days to enter once the visa has been issued.
The SETV is low-cost, at around US$40 (although this does vary from country to country) and is generally the visa of choice for many people moving to Thailand for the first time. Some expats choose to get back-to-back tourist visas by flying out of the country every 90 days to a consulate in Southeast Asia in order to get a new visa, and then straight back. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the immigration authorities are becoming stricter about this behaviour, however. You can’t legally work in Thailand if you’re staying on a tourist visa.
Requirements for this visa vary from embassy to embassy, although generally you will need a completed application form, passport with at least 6 months validity, visa photo, proof of financial means (THB20,000 per individual and THB40,000 for a familt), and occasionally proof of a return ticket out of the Kingdom.
Multiple Entry Tourist Visa
The multi-entry tourist visa (METV) was introduced at the end of 2015 and may be a good option for tourists wanting to stay in Thailand for between 6 to 9 months who also want to travel freely in and out of the country.
The METV is valid for 6 months from its date of issue and allows you 60 days per entry (plus an additional 30 if you extend it an immigration office) – this means that you have to leave every 60 or 90 days but, unlike the SETV, you are automatically allowed back into the Kingdom provided the visa is still valid. If you do choose to extend each entry by 30 days, you can stay in Thailand for around 9 months on the METV.
There are some downsides, however. The METV is more expensive than the SETV, at around US$200, and the requirements are much stricter too. You can only apply for an METV in your home country, or where you have permanent residency, and requirements seemingly vary from country to country.
Most countries require some variation on the following: completed application form, two visa photos, passport with 6 months validity, original bank statement showing a balance of around THB200,000 (or the equivalent in foreign currency) which must have been in situ for at least 6 months, a letter from your employer, photocopies of your air tickets and photocopies of any hotel reservations.
As a tourist visa, you also can’t legally work on the METV.
Thai Elite Visa
The Thai Elite visa is designed for affluent foreigners who want to stay in Thailand long-term although is still technically a tourist visa so working would be illegal. It offers a wide range of exclusive privileges for members.
There are four types of Thai Elite Visa:
- Thailand Easy Access: Valid for 5 years and THB500,000
- Individual Membership: Valid for 20 years and THB2 million plus VAT
- Property Co-Project Membership: Valid for 20 years when you buy certain Thai properties. Fees vary from property to property.
- Family Membership: Validity depends on the membership of the core member, and is THB1 million
The Thai Elite also offers wide-reaching concierge services, extendable 1-year stays, PAs and luxury transport to assist you with international flights, a 24/7 member contact centre, and various leisure benefits.
It’s essentially a 5-year METV with a lot of additional privileges thrown in, and you don’t need to leave the country every 90 days (although you will need to regularly report your address to immigration).
Non-Immigrant visas are available in Thailand for anyone who doesn’t fit the tourist category. There are visas for retirement, education, employment, business, marriage, voluntary work, and media work.
The non-immigrant visas are generally valid for 90 days but can be extended with an extension of stay allowing you to stay for one year. Every 90 days you need to either leave and re-enter the country, or report your address online or in person to immigration. You will also need to purchase a re-entry permit in order to come back to Thailand.
Here’s a brief run-down of some of the non-immigrant visas available:
- Non-Immigrant Visa B: for those wishing to work, conduct business or undertake investments in Thailand. There are different categories of B visa depending on whether you’re an employee, a business person or a teacher. Generally, these applications need to be supported by a Thai business/company or school in order to get approval. A separate work permit is also required before starting work.
- Non-Immigrant Visa O (Retirement): for those aged over 50 who do not intend to work. Proof of funds is required: either a sum of at least THB800,000, a monthly income of at least THB65,000, or a sum and monthly income not less than THB800,000.
- Non-Immigrant Visa O (Marriage): for those married to a Thai national for 6 months. You will need proof of funds showing either a sum of either THB400,000 or income of at least THB40,000 a month, as well as documentation pertaining to your marriage.
- Non-Immigrant Visa O (Accompanying Spouse): for the spouses or family members of those foreigners legally working or studying in Thailand.
- Non-Immigrant Visa O (Voluntary Services): for those performing voluntary services in Thailand. These applications will need to be supported by the voluntary organisation you will be working for.
- Non-Immigrant Visa ED: for those who wish to study, attend seminars, training sessions or internships in Thailand. These applications will need to be supported by the school or organisation you will be studying with. ED Visas are valid for 3 months although can be extended with extension of stays. Although previously abused as an easy ‘in’ into Thailand, the authorities are strict with education visas and require a certain amount of in-school study per week (reported by your school to immigration).
- Non-Immigrant Visa M: for foreign journalists working in Thailand. This is not applicable for freelancers, just those who work as correspondent in a foreign news, newspaper, TV or radio agency in the Kingdom. There is lots of documentation relating to the journalist’s work – past and present – and a lot of red tape to get through.
It’s notoriously difficult to achieve permanent residency status in Thailand, let alone citizenship, and the procedure is long and difficult.
Only 100 people (from any nationality) are offered permanent residency every year and the process from application to interview can take about a year. The benefits to permanent residency are:
- Staying in Thailand permanently without a visa
- Work permits are easy to obtain
- You can buy a condo without transferring money from abroad
- You can be a director of a public company
The minimum requirements are:
- Hold 3 consecutive 1-year visa extensions
- Hold a valid work permit for at least 3 years
- Earn THB80,000 a month (for individuals) and THB30,000 a month (for those married to Thai nationals for at least 5 years)
- Provide 3 years worth of tax statements
Unless you’ve arrived in Thailand loaded with savings or living off a retirement plan, chances are that you’ll be looking for a job to help you maintain a decent standard of living and fully assimilate into the Thai culture. Legal work will also provide you with a visa and work permit which makes staying in the country long term a whole lot easier.
There are plenty of jobs which foreigners in Thailand simply aren’t allowed to do by law – the full list can be found here but can essentially be boiled down to any occupation central to Thai culture, Thai service and craftsmanship, or the general image of the country. These include jobs like labour and construction work, front shop sales, tour guiding and secretarial work.
Although there are some limits on jobs for foreigners in Bangkok, there are still plenty of opportunities out there. Check out the huge JobsDB portal for current vacancies.
Here are a few of the most popular occupations for expats:
Far and away the most popular career for expats in Thailand. You will need a Bachelor’s degree, a teaching certificate (TEFL or CELTA) and bags of energy. Salaries vary but you will be paid more according to experience and more if you work in an international school.
Inexperienced teachers can expect to start on a salary between THB30-40,000 a month. Check out the Ajarn website for jobs and blogs.
Teaching SCUBA to holidaymakers down on the islands or on the coasts is a dream job for many expats in Thailand. You will obviously need to be fully qualified and accredited as a SCUBA instructor and will generally earn money via expedition commissions.
Whether it’s working as an estate agent or in the department of a huge multinational, foreigners with the ‘gift of the gab’ are often welcome into sales positions thanks to their English language skills and ability to effectively communicate and form relationships with foreign clients.
Salaries vary according to company, but you can expect to earn a basic rate plus commission.
Manager at a Multinational
Those with plenty of managerial experience at high level companies should be able to easily find similar work at one of Bangkok’s many multinationals.
If you already work for such a company back home, it may be worth checking if you can get a transfer to the Bangkok office.
Written English skills are not particularly high in Thailand so many companies will be on the look-out for skilled writers and editors who can write effective copy, articles and even journalistic news stories. You’ll be even more sought after if you combine writing with photography too.
So-called ‘digital nomads’ are almost two-a-penny in Thailand, ranging from travel bloggers to professional poker players to affiliate marketers making their money on their laptops at the beach.
Remember, you require a work permit to work legally in Thailand, and they can be difficult to procure as a freelancer or sole trader. Check out Iglu who might be able to help you with the legal side of working for yourself in Thailand.
Working for an embassy/NGO
There are plenty of embassies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Bangkok, including ActionAid, the Peace Corps and the UN, all of which actively recruit foreigners to their offices. You will need to have experience in whatever subject you’re applying for and the application process can be long and lined with red tape.
Owning a bar or restaurant
Some foreigners choose to open their own entertainment venues in a bid to replicate their holiday experience into their day-to-day lives. These are most common in the seaside towns and islands where the rent is lower than in central Bangkok.
There are plenty of restrictions on foreigners owning businesses such as these in Thailand and it will undoubtedly have to be opened in a joint venture with a Thai.
You may discover quickly that the reality of owning and operating a Thai bar is not quite as glamorous as you initially expected. This tongue-in-cheek article on ‘Toiling In The Tropics’ may give you some insight…
Short Term Accommodation in Bangkok
Bangkok has an unparalleled choice of short term accommodation.
Luxury is available at affordable rates.
If you are moving to Bangkok and need a short-term base (while you search for somewhere permanent), you will probably stay in a hotel or a serviced apartment.
Note: AirBnB is available in Thailand but is less popular here than in other parts of the world. The stock of high quality 4 and 5 star hotels in Bangkok is both plentiful and cheap, thus reducing the incentive to rely on the ‘sharing economy’.
Average hotel prices in Bangkok
- Average 4 star hotel: $50-$80 per night.
- Average 5 star hotel: $80-$150 per night.
Many hotels offer promotional deals such as “Stay 3 nights, Get 1 night free” — especially if you are staying outside of the traditional tourist season (November to February).
You’ll find some good deals using our Bookings portal below:
Serviced Apartments in Bangkok
Serviced apartments are a middle ground between the convenience and high-end facilities of a hotel, with the extra space (and peace) of having your own apartment.
Serviced apartments offer daily maid service and are often found in buildings with some of the facilities that you would associate with a hotel: e.g. a pool, gym, or on-site restaurant.
This form of accommodation is available for short-stays, whereas most normal apartments will come with at least a 6 month lease — and usually a full year.
For the rest of the city, Bangkok.com has a wider list of serviced apartments.
Long Term Accommodation in Bangkok
If you are looking for long-term accommodation in Bangkok, you have two options: source it yourself, or use one of the many agents who specialise in the expat market.
Using an agent to search for a property in Bangkok is a vastly different experience to what you will be familiar with in the West.
The market is skewed towards demand, not supply.
Whereas in the UK or US an estate agent may serve the sole purpose of meeting you at a single property and showing you around, in Bangkok the agent will take you on a tour of 6-10 properties over the course of several hours.
She’ll probably take you for lunch, too!
When announcing your budget, we would advise shaving 10% off the ‘most you would be willing to pay‘.
We’ve yet to find an agent who didn’t try and sell us a property that was slightly out of our budget. It is one of many sales tricks.
(Don’t be surprised if the very last property you see is the one that ticks all the boxes you agreed beforehand!)
Likewise, don’t feel pressured to make a decision on the day that you see multiple properties. Most agents will be happy to spread multiple viewings across multiple days.
With so many outstanding properties available, at decent prices, it makes sense to take your time and think things through.
Some agencies we’d recommend:
Bangkok’s property aggregator websites are a good place to search the general market:
For pure value, the best deals are typically found on Prakard.com — but this is a mostly Thai forum, and may prove intimidating to foreigners who don’t yet understand the market.
Rental Deposits in Bangkok
Before renting a property, you will be expected to pay a security deposit of 2 x the monthly rent.
In some cases it may be 1 month (for unfurnished property), or 6 weeks.
This deposit should be returned to you no less than 30 days after the contract has ended.
Any deductions for damage to the property beyond standard wear and tear should be discussed and agreed before the deposit is returned.
One of the questions we hear a lot:
“Am I likely to lose my deposit? What if the landlord decides to keep it unfairly?”
While the Internet is no doubt filled with horror stories and tales of lost deposits, the best way to protect yourself is to use a reputable agency who will have screened the landlord ahead of time.
The majority of landlords are decent business people and will return your deposit in full.
Buying property in Thailand is complicated by the fact that non-Thais cannot own land in the Kingdom.
First, let’s divide the market in to two halves:
- Those who want to buy condos
- Those who want to buy any other type of property
Buying a Condo in Thailand
If you want to buy a condo, your life is made considerably easier.
The 1979 Thailand Condominium Act ensures that foreigners can own condominiums anywhere in Thailand — in their own name — as long as the building has not already sold its 49% foreign quota.
“49% Foreign Quota?”
Yes, all Thai condo buildings are assigned a maximum 49% foreign ownership quota.
Say the building has 100 condos. At least 51 of them must be owned by Thais.
Using a property agent makes it extremely unlikely that you’d suffer the fate of finding your perfect condo and then facing a default rejection due to the quota.
Buying Any Other Property in Thailand
Not everybody is cut out for condo life.
- Maybe you have a small family that requires extra space.
- Maybe you want privacy and a yard for the kids to play in.
- Maybe you have pets.
In these situations, you might want to buy a house, townhouse, or even build your own property.
This is where things get tricky due to the land ownership rules.
A foreigner can lease land in Thailand for up to 30 years.
In some cases, where a foreigner has married a Thai, the Thai will buy the land in his/her own name and then create a lease agreement with the foreign partner.
A second option is to purchase land via a Thai Limited Company.
This comes with the downside that you can only own 49% of your company. The remaining 51% has to be owned by a Thai citizen (or several), even if they do not have to receive voting rights in the company.
There are various techniques for making this work.
For example, the foreigner can maintain 49% control and then distribute the 51% Thai requirement among 6-7 different Thais who don’t know each other.
It is possible, for all intensive purposes, to own your Thai Limited Company — and the land that it purchases — without technically owning the majority stake.
But, for understandable reasons, this is seen as a less-than-satisfactory solution by many.
The short story?
- Buying a condo in Thailand is easy.
- Buying any other property introduces hoops that you will have to jump through.
Whatever you choose to do, seek legal advice and use a reputable agency.
Relocating Kids to Bangkok
Moving children to Bangkok from your home country can seem like a daunting task and, truthfully, shouldn’t be underestimated.
Having said that, Bangkok can be a great place to raise your kids – there are lots of good schools, plenty of child-friendly activities, and countless other expat families in the city that you can socialise with and learn from. Growing up in such a diverse, unique and exciting city will ensure your child develops new skills and perspectives, as well as making friends from other cultures completely different to their own.
The Thai people are known to love children and even celebrate Children’s Day every January!
Schools in Bangkok
Most parents choose international schooling when they move their kids to Bangkok, and there are over 100 such institutions in the city from kindergartens and playgroups, all the way up to secondary school.
While it’s not out of the question to send your kids to a local school (and certainly cheaper), the quality of teaching is likely not to be as high and your child may well experience culture shock. International schools are also your best bet if you want to ensure your child is fully equipped and qualified to move somewhere else or back home to continue their education or find a job.
You can find a list of Bangkok’s international schools here.
Health and Wellbeing
One of your likely concerns when moving to Bangkok with kids is likely to be their health and wellbeing in the country.
As with anyone moving abroad, your first step should be to research and invest in a high quality health insurance plan that’s tailored to your family’s particular needs.
Bangkok is well known for having excellent hospitals and an international standard of medical care. Bumrungrad International is one of the most renowned medical facilities in the world and their huge Children’s (Paediatrics) Centre is home to a number of specialists across the medical spectrum.
They also provide specialist care for babies, children with special needs and children with eye and retinal conditions.
Whether you want to research schools or find something to do with your kids this weekend, there are plenty of websites and communities for parents and families in Bangkok.
Here are some of the most useful:
- BKK Kids – the biggest portal for kid-related Bangkok information
- The Parent’s Guide to Having Kids on Sukhumvit – an in-depth guide on everything for kids (from schools to activities to nannies and more) in the Sukhumvit neighbourhood
- Bangkok for Kids & Families – things to do with kids in the city
- Bangkok Mothers & Babies International (BAMBI) – a community for parents with young children
Logistics and Moving Companies
Moving anywhere is stressful.
Moving to a different country multiplies the stress.
Moving to a different country where English is not the primary language?
Now, we’re starting to pull our hair out!
Many people manage the logistics of moving to Bangkok successfully — without any outside help.
This is made easier if you are travelling light, or living the digital nomadic life that so many expats in Thailand enjoy.
For others, often those with families, who plan to bring many possessions to Thailand — more than they can fit in a single suitcase — outside help is much appreciated. Before we end up drowning in a sea of boxes and moving blankets!
These logistics companies can help take the stress away from relocating to Bangkok:
- AGS Movers — International moving and storage specialists with coverage in over 129 locations worldwide.
- Crown Relocations — A global moving specialist with over 50 years experience.
- MoveHub — Offers free quote comparison from six different moving companies.
- Quote4Removals — Another free quote comparison tool with access to several Bangkok moving specialists.
Moving Pets to Bangkok
If you’re moving pets to Bangkok, you will need to hire an agent to deal with the exporting (from your home country) and the importing (to Thailand).
This is a complicated business, full of small details that should be managed by a professional.
We suggest you choose an agent that communicates clearly and concisely the various requirements — such as vaccinations, kennel size, pre-flight medical checks.
The requirements (both import and export) vary country-by-country.
It’s outside the scope of this guide to provide exporters for every country. Go to Google and search “move pets from [your city] to Bangkok“, then do your research accordingly.
We recommend starting the process at least 90 days in advance of your planned moving date.
Before travelling to Thailand, ensure that you are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations.
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
- Yearly Flu (if available)
Standard Recommended Vaccinations for Thailand
The main two vaccinations recommended to all Thailand travellers are:
- Hepatitis A — It can be passed through contaminated food or water in Thailand.
- Typhoid — Can also be passed through contaminated food or water.
Optional Vaccinations for Thailand
The following vaccinations are considered optional depending on where you are going, and what you are doing.
They are generally not required for everyday life in Bangkok, but should be considered if you are visiting rural areas or trekking outside of cities.
Hepatitis B — Can be passed through sexual contact or blood transmission. Get this if you plan to have any tattoos or piercings (or are likely to sleep around!).
Japanese Encephalitis — Can be passed through mosquito bites. This is mostly restricted to rural areas, and is a small risk in the summer and monsoon seasons.
Malaria — Can be passed through mosquito bites. The vaccination is taken before, during and after your exposure. It can have some unpleasant side effects, therefore the most common action taken by expats is preventative: trying to avoid bites in the first place.
Rabies — Can be passed through animal bites from dogs, bats and other mammals. This is extremely rare and the vaccination is only recommended to those in remote areas with a risk of such bites, or children (who may not report them).
Yellow Fever — This is not a risk in Thailand, but you will be required to present proof of the vaccination if you are arriving from a country where there is a known risk of Yellow Fever. Check this list of affected countries if you are unsure.
Bangkok is not the wild outback.
You are unlikely to contract a horrible disease here, any more so than you are in other major metropolitan cities.
Still, it pays to take preventative measures where available.
Try to avoid mosquito bites.
Keep a repellent spray handy, particularly if you are outside after dark.
The currency in Thailand is the Baht (Thai: บาท, sign: ฿; code: THB).
1 THB is divided in to 100 satang, which is the Thai equivalent of a penny.
As of 2014, the Thai baht was the tenth most frequently used payment currency in the world.
For the current exchange rate in to your home currency, use this handy calculator below:
Thai Baht Calculator
10 Tips for Settling in Bangkok
However tempting it is to think of your life in Bangkok as nothing more than an extended holiday, it’s important to take steps to assimilate into your new surroundings and really make a home for yourself in the city.
At some point, the rose-tinted glasses will come off and you’ll see Bangkok for what it is: the city that you live in. Make sure you have the appropriate support and infrastructure in place to enjoy it as a place to live, rather than just somewhere to spend a few weeks.
Get a legitimate visa
While it’s normal to use a tourist visa when you first arrive, it’s definitely not a viable long-term solution for moving to Bangkok. Aside from not being legally allowed to work on such a visa, it’s well known that the government are cracking down on people thought to be abusing the tourist visa in order to live here long-term. It’s simply not worth the stress to worry every 90 days about whether your visa application will be rejected or if you’ll be pulled over at immigration for questioning the next time you fly in.
Do yourself a favour and sort out a legit visa quickly – even if it costs a little more, it’s worth it in the long run.
One of the best ways to lay down roots in a new city is to make friends – whether that’s locals or other expats. Bangkok has a huge expat community so it’s easy to meet new people all over the city.
If you’re looking for like-minded people rather than just the guy on the neighbouring bar stool, sign up to Meetup.com where there are hundreds of different interest-based meetups happening every week. From book clubs to entrepreneurs to teachers to philosophical discussions to cookery clubs – you name it, they’ve got it!
Take up a hobby
Joining a sports club or a gym is another great way to meet people, while also keeping healthy and burning off some steam in the meantime. There’s countless sports clubs throughout Bangkok. Have a look at this A-Z of sport clubs in the Sukhumvit neighbourhood to get you started.
Get used to ‘mai pen rai’
You’ll notice very quickly after moving to Bangkok that bureaucracy and opaque official systems are everywhere. Whether you’re opening a bank account or applying for a visa, you’ll definitely experience some degree of some frustration at the inconsistencies and inefficiencies. Instead of losing your temper, which won’t get you anywhere in a country like Thailand, do like a local and simply breathe out and take things as they come.
The Thai phrase ‘mai pen rai’ roughly translates to ‘it’s OK’ and symbolises a letting go of your expectations and frustrations, and a decision not to sweat the small stuff. It’s an attitude that’s imperative to adopt if you wish to survive and thrive in a city like Bangkok. Be prepared to hear it a lot!
Invest in some good health insurance
Even if you’ve just visited on holiday before, you’ll no doubt have noticed that the traffic in Bangkok is not only incredibly congested, but also dangerous. The city has the world’s second highest fatality rate for road deaths and something like 80 people die every day on the roads here.
While it goes without saying that you should always be on your guard, resist speeding and wear a protective helmet when you’re on a motorbike, a good health insurance policy is always worth investing in, if only for your peace of mind. Try and sort this before you move to Bangkok in order to achieve the best possible prices.
Be wary about buying pets
Lots of foreigners move to Bangkok and end up buying a cute puppy or kitten from somewhere like Chatuchak Market, without much thinking of the consequences of their actions and being (understandably) drawn in by those big puppy dog eyes.
By buying pets from Thailand’s markets, you’re indirectly supporting the puppy farming industries which are known for animal cruelty and neglect. If you are desperate for an animal pal, only buy from licensed breeders or think about adopting a rescue dog or cat instead.
Before you do bring home a pet, it’s always worth ensuring that your landlord will accept them. You don’t want to be turfed out without your deposit thanks to the Pomeranian puppy you’ve just acquired!
Make the most of Thailand
While moving to Bangkok is a big adventure in its own right, make sure that you take advantage of all the wonders that Thailand offers right on your doorstep. Whether it’s jungle trekking in Chiang Mai, diving in the Similan Islands or exploring Khao Sok National Park, there’s plenty more than Bangkok to get excited about in Thailand.
Bangkok offers plenty of pleasures for the gourmand, whether it’s gorging on all the delicious street food or simply knocking back pint after pint of Beer Chang every night.
However, it’s likely that the excess will catch up with you at some point and you’ll find yourself wishing you had focused on your health a little earlier. Whether it’s joining a gym or a sports club as discussed above, or even choosing to cook some meals for yourself instead of eating out every night, your body will thank you for looking after it. The healthier you are, the longer you’ll be able to stay in Bangkok, after all!
Sort out the basics
If you’re here for more than just a holiday, then you need to sort out all the basics that will help you build a life in Bangkok.
Firstly, get yourself a prepaid Thai sim card for your mobile phone, which will allow you to communicate easily with new friends, as well as use internet data packages much cheaper than your home sim would allow. We recommend the DTAC carrier, but AIS and True are also popular.
Next, get your accommodation kitted out. Head over to IKEA in Bang Na where you can pick up bedding, kitchen appliances and other necessities cheaply. Decorative extras and other such pieces can be acquired more slowly, as the need arises.
Explore the city
One of the best ways to get your bearings and to better understand Bangkok and the Thai people is simply to get out there and explore. No amount of reading online articles will prepare you for moving to Bangkok – at some point, you have to just do it.
Walk around your neighbourhood and visit all the local street food outlets and restaurants; hop on the BTS Skytrain and figure out what’s going on at every stop; say yes to invitations from new friends in different parts of town; walk as much as you can, until you get too hot and sweaty!
Bonus: Enjoy yourself!
Bangkok is one of the most fun, colourful and lively cities in the world.
Look after yourself, don’t sweat the small stuff and make the most of it!
Featured image is by Joan Campderrós-i-Canas used under creative commons.