Thailand is the not only the land of smiles, but of warm weather, a tropical climate, and delicious food, not to mention beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, and lush green jungles. No wonder Thailand with its affordable lifestyle attracts so many expats, many of whom are digital nomads, teachers, and students.
Are you considering a move to Thailand? The following is a practical guide to help you on your way:
Thailand at a Glance
Domestic population: 67 million people
Capital City: Bangkok
Official Language: Thai
Currency: Thai Baht
Trivia: Tourism represents 7% of Thailand’s GDP
Bangkok is Thailand’s largest and capital city, located in the middle of the country, not far from the coast. WIth a population of over 8 million, this sprawling metropolis is known for great food, awesome markets, and plenty of famous temples as well as the Grand Palace.
Chiang Mai is Northern Thailand’s largest city, located in the jungly north. Popular with expats due to the cheap prices and beautiful surroundings, Chiang Mai’s ancient, moat-surrounded old city gives it a charming ancient feel. The Sunday night market is a must. Be aware, the burning season makes the months of February and March quite polluted.
Phuket is located in Thailand’s south and is its largest island. The spring and early summer months bring monsoon rains while the months surrounding Christmas and New Years bring plenty of tourists. Still, it’s a great place for those who love the beach and still want to feel connected to the Western world to base themselves.
Things You Might Not Know About Thailand
Food: Thai food is some of the cheapest in the world, and with all of that flavor, a pretty good bargain! Street food is the cheapest, and while it seems scary, it can actually be much cleaner than the food offered at restaurants. The food is sold more quickly, is cooked right in front of you, and if you see locals eating it, especially children, then you can probably stomach it as well.
Keep in mind that even vegetarian dishes may be made with fish sauce. Ask for soy sauce to be substituted if you’re a vegetarian. Otherwise, food near temples that caters to monks or strict Buddhists should have vegetarian options.
Transport: Taxis that run their meters are the best option. However, outside of Bangkok (and even in Bangkok) it’s not always easy to get them to agree to run it. The next best bet is to take a songthaew, which looks like a big red pickup truck with benches in the back. This is what locals typically use. If you have no other options, take a tuktuk, but be sure to haggle on the price, as they usually charge quite a bit.
As for flying, Bangkok Airways is a great boutique airline with cheap prices and an airline lounge provided to all customers.
Weather: Most of Thailand will never feel cold. Some of the mountains towards the north can sometimes feel a bit chilly in December and January, but in general, it will be hot and humid for most of the year. The rainy season is generally during June to October, while the hottest month is April, and the most pleasant and dryest months fall from November to February.
Customs: Say hello and thank you by pressing your hands together and taking a small bow. If female, you’ll finish your sentences with ‘ka,’ and if male, with ‘kap’ or ‘krap’.
It is important never to point the bottom of your feet at a person or towards the front of a bus, boat (which probably have a wreath for Buddha), or any Buddhist shrines. It is considered disrespectful and dirty. You are also expected to remove your shoes before going indoors. Also remember not to touch children on the head, and never say negative things about the king.
Health care: Thailand has excellent and affordable private health care services. It is a popular place for those seeking plastic surgery and cosmetic dental care as well.
In Conclusion: Thailand has a lot going on as far as activities, culture, and especially delicious food. It can be the perfect place to base oneself as a digital nomad or as a teacher.