Expatriation in Thailand, a country with a unique cultural wealth

Thailand’s cultural wealth includes traditions, customs and religious belief, but also its monarchy, that led to the creation of magnificent temples and palaces. Indeed, Thailand is world-renowned for its great architectural monuments. However, this cultural wealth includes also dance and theatre. Then, all these things will make your expatriation in Thailand an unforgettable experience.

However, these cultural aspects, so different from those of Westerners, can lead to a real feeling of loneliness and exclusion among French expatriates. Understanding how and successfully overcoming this difference is then the major challenge of expatriation.  

Expatriation in Thailand is therefore a unique occasion to discover the country and its culture, but also to spread through it.

Expatriation in Thailand: a host of cities, all more different from each other

The most famous city in Thailand is undoubtedly Bangkok, its capital city. However, there is a host of good cities for expatriation that share the same advantages with Bangkok.  


As a metropolis and the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok has huge buildings, gigantic shopping centres, and a large number of skyscrapers. It is also the political, economic and especially social heart of Thailand. It is then the ideal place for expatriates who are looking for unique perspectives.

There is a big difference between visiting Bangkok as a tourist for several weeks and living there permanently. Indeed, expatriates have to get used to traffic jams in Bangkok quite well-known for its congested roads. In a report conducted by Bloomberg in 2018, Bangkok would be the city with the most traffic jams in the world.

Moreover, compared with other megalopolis preferred by expatriates such as Singapore or Hong Kong, expatriate life in Bangkok offers more advantages. The low cost and better quality of life are among advantages that many enjoy. Indeed, the price of basic goods and services are more affordable, which allows people to save money or to invest more easily.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is in Northern Thailand and a very famous place for expatriates. Indeed, it attracts those who are looking for a kind of convenient life, but also a mix of familiar and exotic.

One can find a large number of cinemas and shopping centres. However, it is much quieter than Bangkok and that is why it is so attractive. It has a fascinating culture with hundreds of Buddhist temples, whose golden spires sparkle in almost all the streets of the old town, captivating Buddhist festivals and an outstanding gastronomic scenery with plenty of cheap food stands and dozens of vegetarian restaurants.

It is easier to move in Chiang Mai as the roads are much less congested. And you can enjoy a gateway to the surrounding mountains, waterfalls and lakes whenever you want. Flats are affordable, Wi-Fi connection is everywhere and cost of living is low generally speaking.


Often referred to as “the Pearl of the Andaman”, Phuket is Thailand’s largest island. Its surrounding waters are a beautiful turquoise blue. In dry season, the average daytime temperature is 21°C.

Phuket offers a quiet and relaxing lifestyle or at the heart of action, according to your preference. Thanks to Thailand’s second most popular international airport, you can easily take off for a host of destinations without making a stopover at Bangkok. However, the biggest attraction for many expatriates is the comfortable and practical lifestyle. In Phuket, you can savour the best seafood of the Southern Thailand, or you can dine in a series of gastronomic restaurants.

Moreover, the lower cost of living on the island allows people to get advantages that are not usually available to some, because of their financial means or the politics in their home country. These advantages include, for example, hiring a servant (300€/month), going to the doctor’s (8€) or even visiting the dentist (10€).

Koh Samui

Only one hour and a half flight from Bangkok, this famous place has something for everyone. Whether you dream of a quiet retreat by the sea or you prefer to spend unforgettable nights in the centre. Expatriates go to Samui for the sea, the sun and remain for its affordable and relaxed lifestyle.

Samui is known “the Coconut Island” for a good reason: with tourism and fishing, coconuts represent a large part of its economy. Around 2 million coconuts are exported every month to Bangkok and the continent. Most of them are picked by especially trained monkeys.

Expatriation in Thailand: an uncommon language and writing

The Thai is a quite complex language. Indeed, it is a tonal language, which means that it uses tones that deliver a meaning (rising, falling, high, low). Then, if you want to expatriate in Thailand, you would better learn the basics of the language for everyday life. It will be much easier to meet people and make friends in your community, and at work. You will earn the respect of your Thai colleagues.

The other challenge is its writing system. Thai has its own alphabet, but it also has 44 consonants and 15 vowels. It is because these consonants make the same sounds and every written form is different. So, when combined with vowels and tone marks, it can indicate a different tone.

Expatriation in Thailand: what about the labour world?

Expatriation in Thailand is not an occasion reserved for those who have a job. As an unemployed person, you can apply for a job if you are patient. Then, you can count on the help of the Franco-Thai Chamber of Commerce (FTCC) (or the British Chamber of Commerce Thailand (BCCT)). The aim of this institution is to help French expatriates in their search for work. It is then significant for the expatriate to be aware of Thailand’s work conditions. For example, in 1979 a law stood that foreigners could not be hairdressers, drivers, secretaries, among 39 occupations.  

One can obviously exercise a temporary activity, but he/she always has to respect the prohibited occupations. Small jobs mainly exist in the tourism sector, and particularly the main seaside resorts. People with particular skills in a specific sector are the most required, such as diving.

If you want to create your own society in Thailand, legislation is quite strict. It stands that foreigners cannot possesses more than 49% of a company’ shares. One can override the legislation, but we do not recommend it. On the other hand, you can take control of your company by becoming its only manager and signatory. Indeed, according to the company law in Thailand, the manager is the main signatory of each and every decision within a company.


All of this only proves that Thailand is the top destination for expatriates. Among the affordable cost of living, its cultural wealth, or comfortable living conditions, the country is constantly attracting people. However, one cannot forget that Thailand is a foreign country. And, then, he/she has to be far-sighted and well-prepared for this unique experience to be successful, both professionally and personally.

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