Thailand is a country rich in culture, history and tradition full of beautiful people. If you’ve ever travelled here, it’s easy to see how so many have fallen in love with the place and have chosen to make Thailand their new home. Whether it’s for work, a change of pace or a retirement destination, life in Thailand is different to anywhere else and you’ll have your fair share of surprises and even a few challenges along the way. In order to make your move a bit easier, here’s some useful information to help you understand what to expect when moving to Thailand.
Thai People & Culture
Apart from the pushy taxi drivers waiting just outside the airport, the Thai population is extremely friendly and accommodating. People smile more and tend to be very interested in you; which might feel a little unfamiliar at first. Thais tend to ask a lot of questions, which may mislead or be a cause for suspicion but don’t worry! It’s just plain curiosity – remember, to them you’re the exotic foreigner from faraway lands!
Unfortunately as in all places, some people might try to take advantage of you; especially where money is involved, but don’t let a few bad apples give you the wrong impression of these lovely people. In general Thais are extremely friendly, polite and patient people willing to great lengths to help out a complete stranger. They’re easy going, very trusting and treat close friends like family. You’ll start to notice this when every other person is introduced to you as “my brother” or “my sister”!
Cultural and religious differences are worth keeping in mind when interacting with Thai people. What may be considered a joke in the West might be an insult in Thailand and vice versa. For example, poking fun at a person’s appearance might be accepted amongst friends in the West, but can really offend a Thai. This is something to keep in mind as anything that may be considered as a personal insult is generally not acceptable. Similarly, a Thai person might say something that you’d conceive as an insult; for example by saying you’ve gained weight since the last time you met. In the West one might easily consider this an insult, but in Thailand it’s merely a casual observation and sometimes even a sign of concern by that individual.
A pat on the head might mean nothing to a Westerner but it can be a damning insult to a Thai. The head is considered sacred in Thai culture, as it’s the part of your body closest to Buddha. Touching someone’s head or face even though you might mean no harm, is very much frowned upon in Thailand. So think twice before grabbing that cute Thai baby’s cheeks! Similarly the feet are considered to be the lowest and dirtiest part of your body, so be sure to never point to or touch anything with your feet and avoid stepping over people or food.
Treat Thai people with respect and kindness and you’ll become part of their family. Treat them with disrespect and arrogance and you’re asking for big trouble.
If you’ve never lived in a South East Asian country before, the cultural, attitude and lifestyle differences may be a bit overwhelming at first, but they’re actually relatively easy to get used to.
Perhaps one of the more notable aspects of Thailand is that life here is much more relaxed when compared to what we might be used to in the West. It’s uncommon to hear horns honking even in the heaviest of traffic, service in restaurants might be slower (sometimes a lot slower) than what you’re used to back home and in general, life goes by at a much slower pace. Love it or hate it, you need to adjust to this way of life.
Smaller shops tend to have more “liberal” opening hours than advertised and many tend to close on Sundays, public holidays or whenever they feel like! It’s always worth double checking that a store is open before making a long trip and it’s never a good idea to rely on just one store for essentials.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when living in Thailand is that patience is mandatory. Most things need to be taken with a pinch of salt and situations need to be accepted for what they are. Try to fight this and you’re going to have a very hard time living here.
Even with the continuous development and rising prices, it’s still cheaper to live in Thailand than most countries in the West. This might even be the reason you’re moving here. Your money will definitely go farther; rent is generally cheaper and the cost of living is lower. This is what makes Thailand such a popular choice for expats wanting to live in paradise whilst making the most of their money.
Even on the more touristic Thai islands, such as Phuket or Koh Samui, one can still rent a fairly decent 2 bedroom house for about the same price as a studio apartment in most major Western countries. The cost of food is relatively low too and you can expect to spend around $2-4 per meal in most small restaurants; meaning you can eat out every day!
It might be a little hard at first adjusting to life in Thailand and you’re guaranteed to have your fair share of challenges and surprises along the way. No two days are the same and each day can be considered a learning experience. The sooner you can accept Thailand for what it is immerse yourself in this beautiful country’s history, tradition, culture and everyday life, the sooner you’ll be convinced you made the right choice!
When you are moving from Japan to Thailand and shipping your personal effects, the following documents are required to custom clear your shipment.
* Original passport
* Visa which allows you to stay in Thailand at least one year. This has to be either non-immigrant or resident visa. If you only have a tourist visa and the declared value is over THB10,000, then the customs will impose import duty and tax on the contents.
If the amount of a certain commodity is over the amount considered reasonable or if the goods are for commercial use, i.e. resale, there will be duty in any case.
*Detailed packing list. Use the same one you prepared on the Japan side. This has to be written in English.