THAILAND

Updated: 16 April 2022

BACKGROUND & CULTURE

A BRIEF BACKGROUND

The Kingdom of Thailand is one of the few developing countries in the world never to have been colonized by another power. It is lies in Southeast Asia bordering Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia, with coastlines long the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. With a population of almost 62 million it is the 16th largest country in the world.

Between 10th and 14th centuries, Thailand was part of the Khmer, with expanding tribes to lead to its independence. Most recently, there was an interest by the European colonial powers in 19th and 20th centuries at which time the Thais negotiated a compromise between the French and British for it to remain as neutral territory.

Before 1939, Thailand was called Siam, but was reverted to Thailand in 1949, which means ‘land of the free’.

CULTURE

Weaving flowers
A young boy enjoying the Water Festival

Thailand has 3 major ethnic groups: about 45% are ethnic Thais, approximately 30% Thais of Lao-Isan people (from the northeast) and 14% are Sino-Thais. Thai’s cultural influences include a mix of the religions on India, Kingdom of Funan and the Khmer Empire. 

Historically, Buddhist temples (wat) were the place of education for Thai people, where moral training and basics of literary culture was taught. There are still temple schools within Buddhist monasteries today and the principles of Buddhism permeates throughout. Together with the monarchy, the principles of Thai people are of modesty and respect. 

Despite that there may be a reputation of parts of Thailand as being a ‘party’ destination, most Thais are quiet and conservative. An important aspect to note is that maintaining a dignified ‘face’ is important in the culture of the people. ‘Face’ is a term that refers to the overall reputation, honour and dignity of a person. 

Visitors should respect the culture of Thai people, including raising your voice or showing visible anger and touching someone’s head will result in a serious loss of ‘face’.

Another important aspect to note when in Thailand, it is a criminal offence to speak against the Monarchy, who are considered reverent amongst the Thais. The longest reigning king, not long ago deceased, King Bhumidol Adulyadej, ruled between 1946 to 2016. He was given the utmost respect and was considered as the ‘heart of Thai people’.

Thais greet each other with the ‘wai’ rather than a handshake, a prayer like hansd positioned close to the face with a modest bow of the head. Thais rarely show negative emotions and it would unorthodox to see angry outbursts in public.

On the whole, you will find Thai people extremely courteous, pleasant and willing to assist. This could be down to the roots of the prevalent religion of Buddhism where respect and charity are at the heart of the practices.

WEATHER

Thailand is a tropical and humid country. Depending on whether you are north or south of Thailand, the seasons vary between wet and dry.

The dry season, and hence the most popular time to visit Thailand is between November and May. July to October is the monsoon rainy season and sometimes cooler temperatures but extremely humid. Temperatures can drop to around 150 celsius at night with low 200 degrees celsius during the day.

In the summer (between March and June), temperatures can reach around 340 – 400degrees celsius. April is the hottest month of the year, so you will want to avoid travelling during this time.

ARRIVING & GETTING AROUND

ON ARRIVAL

ON ARRIVAL

Pick your beach at many beautiful Thailand locations
Free skin exfoliation by nibbling fish, Erawan Falls, Thailand

Visa requirements for entry to Thailand can be found here at the Thai Embassy website. Generally the formal requirements for entry into Thailand are clear with some countries applicable for visa on arrival. The airports could do with some updating, but signage is obvious and ability to engage drivers fairly easy.

As with most foreign countries, it is adviseable to arrange own transport to your accommodation. In any event, you can negotiate ahead of engaging a taxi the rate which they will charge.

RESIDENCY VISA

It would be easier to engage a reputable agent to help navigate the formalities required when making an application for residency. Most likely the workplace of the sponsored person would organise the appropriate visa for the individual and family. It is possible to make the application yourself using the online processes through the Thai Immigration Bureau.

GETTING AROUND

Khlong boat on Bangkok's Chao Phraya River

The infamous tuk tuk is a fun way to travel within the inner city areas. Bangkok has become extremely crowded with vehicles, which can make travelling on the road very frustrating, often waiting hours to move from destination to destination, particularly Sukumvit Road.

Public transport is an excellent alternative in Bangkok with frequent trains running every 5-10 min during peak hours and servicing a decent area of the city. The means of public transport include skytrains, subways and buses. Otherwise, transport can be motorbike taxis, express boats and khlong boats.

The Skytrain network operates between 2 lines: Sukhumvit (light green) and Silom (dark green). Maps and the latest fares can be found on the official BTS website.

 

DRIVING

Thailand is a right-hand drive country, such as the UK and Australia, so the steering wheel is on the right side of the car and cars drive on the left side of the road. 

Driving around Thailand is fairly easy, however within Bangkok can be at times almost impossible. Be prepared to wait in the car if in downtown. 

USING YOUR DRIVER’S LICENCE

As long as you have an international driver’s licence obtained from your home country, you can freely drive in Thailand. However, if you are relocating to Thailand for the longer term such as longer than 1 year, you will need to convert your licence. 

Details on how to convert your licence can be found at the Department of Land Transport. Conversion is a straight forward process on presentation of your passport, visa and international driver’s licence. However you will need your Thai residential address certified by your Thai based embassy or presentation of a work permit identifying your address.

HOME & FOOD

HOUSING              

HOUSING

Housing in Singapore tends to be more snug than most cities. Due to the high density of the country, modest open spaces are constructed. Having said that, there are large reserves and parks everywhere, and the climate allows for trees and greenary to grow fast and plentiful.

In terms of house styles, some older style homes may be a little more spacious, however, be prepared to down-size somewhat.

There are 3 essential styles of housing:

1) apartments,

2) condominiums, or

3) landed houses.

Landed houses are self contained homes that may be townhouse/terrace style houses, or completely detached bungalow homes. There are also homes that are called “Black and Whites” which are the original homes from the colonial era. Entering into a lease for these home are generally a heavier commitment as upkeep and fit-outs mostly fall onto the tenant.

Condominiums are developments that are surrounded by pools, gyms, BBQ areas, common areas and parking facilities. Some may be in multi-level townhouse style, or  apartment block designs. 

Because Singapore is contained within a relatively small land area, the variation in the rental prices of the homes do not greatly vary.

For example, a home that is around 10km from the city centre/Orchard Road area (such as Bukit Timah) may be a similar price to a home 25km away in the Woodlands area. The home will depend on size, age and quality of finishings.

However, as with most global cities, the downtown area does demand a higher price bracket which is also matched with a smaller size.

Most decisions revolve around location. If you have schoolchildren, generally the choice of the home tends to be not too far where the chosen school is located. Otherwise, near Orchard or the river are reliable options as it allows for a wide range of dining and leisure activities.

HOUSE HUNTING RESOURCES

Local home on

You may be lucky enough to access to a company relocation agent.

This agent should discuss with you your needs including style/size of homes and desired locations. You will be asked for “a budget”. It may feel intrusive and you can respond as you feel comfortable. There are instances also that agents will ask for your “profiles” which include questions about country of citizenship, number and age of children and the income earner’s profession. These are questions generally sought by the landlord to ensure they are obtaining the tenants they believe is most suitable for their home.

If you prefer to control the process on your own, it is possible also to search for homes on the internet without a realestate agent or relocation agents. The main searching avenue is through:

www.propertyguru.com.sg

There are also various individuals agent’s websites you can view. 

If searching on your own, create appointments with agents to ensure you get a feel of what satisfies your personal criteria. It is much easier if you had your own car, so that you can ensure you move from appointment to appointment as efficiently as possible.

However, if you don’t have your car at this early point, the taxi service is quite easy and reliable. However, do take care that booking the taxi will depend time of day and area, as to the speed which the taxi arrives back to you. 

Once you feel that there is a property that may work for you and your family, note that it is possible to negotiate rent rates, modifications, cleaning or other adjustments, prior to finalising your lease. It is accepted practice to request aspects such as curtain installation, re-painting, and certain lease amendments prior to signing the lease or letter of offer.

RENTAL INFORMATION

If you have a relocation agent, they will conduct most of the negotiations. Otherwise, the landlord will generally have a real estate agent that will act on behalf of the landlord. It is advisable to stay on positive terms with the landlord and real estate agent so that all parties achieve their goals during the early stages. This is not to say that you should not maintain your position, but diplomacy and courtesy is greatly respected in Singapore.

FOOD

Food is plentiful and tasty!

Food delivery is also a regular feature of Singapore and greatly varied. Most corners of Singapore are serviced however, as would be expected, the closer you are to the city centre, the greater the food options will be.

A must-do experience is to attend a hawker style venue. This is the traditional open air food court. Most of the food are Asian, Indian or halal food and drink. It is a frequented style of lunch and dinners for the locals and has a relaxed atmosphere with numerous buckets of beer adorning the tables.

Check out our reviewed places to eat as a start of your culinary journey here!

The restaurants included on this site are those we pride ourselves in believing are worthy of review! 

River boat seller, Bangkok River, Thailand

Need help with packing?

Try the Best Essential Packing Handbook available. In this 50+ page ‘cheat sheet’, you have all the tips, advice and lists you need to prepare for a relocation, whether it is local, regional or international move!

Some food spots?