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Moving to Thailand

Your guide to expat life in Thailand. Concrete jungle or tropical paradise? Take your pick

Want to move to Thailand?

From idyllic islands and verdant scenery to the crowded capital of Bangkok - the Kingdom of Thailand is a land of contrasts.  It welcomes expats with a barrage of new experiences, from its characteristically spicy food to the distinctive Thai language.

Basic info about Thailand

  • Population: Around 70 million
  • Capital city: Bangkok (also the largest city)
  • Political system: Constitutional monarchy administered by a military junta
  • Main languages: Thai is the official language, although English is widely understood in tourist areas
  • Main religion: Buddhism. Other religions include Islam and Christianity
  • Time: GMT+7
  • Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Plugs have two flat blades, two round pins or two flat blades and a round pin
  • Currency: Thai baht (THB)
  • International dialling code: +66
  • Internet domain: .th
  • Emergency numbers: 191 (general emergency number), 1155 (tourist police), 1554 (ambulance), 199 (fire)
  • Road traffic: Drives on the left

Weather in Thailand

The weather in Thailand is hot and humid all year round. The climate is tropical, characterised by monsoon seasons that come at different times depending on the region.

Monsoon rains and storms are heavy, but they’re usually confined to afternoons. It may take you a few months to adapt to the heat and humidity. In Bangkok, for example, the average temperature in April (the hottest month) is 35°C (97°F). In December, it drops to a ‘cool’ 26°C (79°F).

Key phrases in Thai

  • Hello sà-wàt-dee
  • Good evening sà-wàt-dee kráp
  • Goodbye laa gòn ná
  • How are you? sà-baai dee măi
  • Thank you kòb kun
  • Yes châi
  • No mai
  • Do you speak English? pôot ang-grìt dâi măi?
  • Can you help me? chûay nàwy dâai măi?
  • I'm sorry kŏr tôht

Shipping to Thailand

If you’re shipping goods to Thailand, it’s best to pay a little more for a reputable company and insure the cargo generously. You don’t need to take all your belongings -rented accommodation in Thailand is usually furnished, and household goods aren’t expensive.

Household goods

If you do decide to ship your household goods, you’re allowed to bring one sea shipment and one air shipment into the country duty free within six months of your arrival, as long as the goods have been used in your home country for at least six months beforehand. You can’t import household goods earlier than a month before you move.

Banned items

Items that can’t be brought into Thailand include arms and ammunition, pornographic literature, short-wave radios and inflammable goods. There are also restrictions on alcohol, food and plants.


If you want to take a pet to Thailand, you have to make sure they’re microchipped and have up to date vaccination records. Animals also need a pet passport or a permit from the country’s Department of Livestock Development. Quarantine isn’t mandatory as long as the arrival official is happy that all the paperwork is in order.

Top tips for Thailand

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in Thailand.

It can allow you to become more family centred. Enjoy the outdoor lifestyle. You'll find you're healthier, more privileged, more financially independent, and there'll be exciting personal business challenges ahead.
Don't make the decision to move based on your holiday experience! Living in Thailand is completely different to holidaying here. Do your research first.
Use legal firms for visa applications. Travel via coaches, plane or train in the countryside. Taxis are fine in Bangkok etc., but use meter only. The temples are amazing, as are major shopping centres, museums, zoos etc. Find English speaking-Thai friends and they will show you how to enjoy the place much more.
Respect Thai culture and don't show anger.
Try to learn the language and take full advantage of the quality but reasonably priced healthcare.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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