The Kingdom of Thailand is situated in Southeast Asia and was formerly known as Siam. Thailand is best known for its year-round warm temperatures, gorgeous tropical beaches, islands and vibrant cities. As the country is devoutly Buddhist, there are many Temples and Buddhas. Thailand is not only popular with tourists looking for a sunshine holiday, but also with retirees. Thailand offers a reasonable standard of living, although the culture is very different to western ideas and is closer to Chinese or India traditions. Thailand is seen as a peaceful country where the cost of living is comparatively low, making fixed pensions go a lot further than in Europe or the USA.
The capital city is Bangkok, a busy city known for its pollution and prostitution. The currency is the Thai Baht and the official language is Thai. The Thai people are very gentle and polite and will greet you with a “wai” with their hands clasped as in prayer and a small bow. They appreciate foreigners respecting their culture and values by learning a few basic phrases to respond to them. Elders are respected as part of the culture. Some taboos in Thailand include pointing with your feet or touching someone’s head, which is considered sacred.
The climate in Thailand does take some acclimatizing to. There are monsoon rains from May to September with further rains from November to March. Although the temperatures are high, it can be very humid, particularly in the south.
Standards of education are high in Thailand and compulsory up to Grade 9 and free up to Grade 12. Most students are computer literate and speak some English. The national sports are Thai boxing and kite flying and European soccer is keenly followed.
The Thai economy is based on tourism and manufacturing. Exports include rice, textiles, shoes, fish products, rubber, jewelry and electrical appliances. Some jobs for foreigners would be in the tourism industry or the electrical and computer sectors. Engineers, English teachers and volunteer workers are all welcomed into Thailand. Visas are not required for tourists for the first 30 days for residents of countries with bilateral agreements with Thailand. For work visas and longer stays, visas can be obtained from your Consulate or Embassy.
Moving to Thailand for most westerners necessitates a huge change in lifestyle, standards and culture. Real estate is available to rent or to buy, particularly in holiday areas. Healthcare is good in city hospitals and although cheaper than in Europe, is not as cheap as some other countries. Nursing care however is very cheap. Visitors will need insurance or the ability to pay cash for any healthcare needed. Thailand is a long flight away from family and friends and flights can be expensive for those who choose to move here permanently.