How to get by as an expat in Thailand

How to get by as an expat in Thailand

How to get by as an expat in Thailand

In spite of the recent stricter visa controls, the Land of Smiles is still a popular location for expats looking to find work teaching in Bangkok or continue with their digital nomad lifestyles in an upcountry city.

Although getting a long-stay visa in Thailand can now be tricky, to say the least, the country’s exotic reputation and mostly good weather still attracts a fair number of incomers willing to give it a try. Many expats find the Thai language almost impossible to master, and Thailand’s culture isn’t as straightforward as in first-world Asian states such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

At present, the political situation is somewhat edgy due to the upcoming elections, the first since a military junta seized power yet again in 2014. If you’re planning to stay for a while, it’s best to educate yourself about the do’s and don’ts of fitting in with the Thai community in order to avoid causing offence. The first thing to remember is that Thais consider the feet are the lowliest part of the person, with pointing them at anything at all a gross breach of protocol.

Removing your shoes when entering a Thai home is the respectful thing to do and, in reverse, the holiest part of the human body is the head, which should never be touched. Except in beachside tourist haunts, skimpy dressing isn’t appreciated by the mostly conservative Thai community, especially in or near temples. If you’re invited to a temple for a special ceremony, it’s forbidden to touch the monks, especially so if you’re female, and pointing at images of the Buddha is also forbidden. Public displays of affection are not welcome in Thailand, with just holding hands possibly giving offence to older locals.

The two total no-nos for foreigners are discussing Thailand’s revered monarchy and losing your cool in difficult situations. In Thailand, complaining or arguing gets you absolutely nowhere for two reasons – firstly, you’ll probably not be understood as learning English isn’t a priority for Thais and, secondly, you’re not Thai!

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