What is it that keeps attracting foreigners who decide to live for years—sometimes decades—in or even to move permanently to the Land of Smiles?
Is it the warmth of its people, the car drivers that don’t honk the horn even in the worst traffic jam, the pristine beaches, or the jungle adventures? The delicious mango sticky rice, somtam, or Isaan chicken? Or just the “mai pen rai” (no problem) attitude that rules life in the Kingdom? Regardless, according to Thailand’s Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, in the capital alone there are more than 65,000 expats with work permits.
When you decide to relocate, you will have to pack up your house and find a new one in your destination city (should you buy it, rent it, and what type?). Find healthcare services that meet your standards (hospitals, insurance, etc.) Decide on which school to enroll your children in. And probably once you’ve sorted out all this, you’ll also start thinking about how to meet new people in town, where it is safe to invest your money, and where to find the trinkets that will slowly start making your house feel more like a home.
We’ve gathered the opinions of experts to help you find solutions to each of these topics, and here they are.
Healthy Living in Bangkok
Bangkok’s healthcare providers offer perhaps the best value in the world. The combination of expertise, modern facilities and technology, easy access and low costs, has turned this into the world’s most popular destination for “medical tourism.” Each year more than a million visitors come to Thailand for healthcare—everything from checkups to open heart surgery. They enjoy a quality of service that seems to take a little more interest in caring, and a little less interest in putting you on an assembly line in and out of the hospital. Most visitors say they would come back in a (healthy) heartbeat! Lucky you. You get to live here.
Bangkok tap water is safe for bathing, cooking, and washing. If small amounts are swallowed while brushing your teeth or in the shower, it should not be harmful to you or your children.
Thai food is delicious, nutritious, and often spicy! It is best to use a little caution, at least until your digestive system becomes as acclimated as your taste buds. Raw fruits and vegetables should be carefully washed and drained. Salads and other raw vegetables are best avoided in informal eating places. As delicious (“ah-roi”) as Thai fruits can be, don’t overindulge until your tummy is used to the new diet.
The tropical heat affects most of us. Unless you are arriving from another tropical posting, it will probably take some time for your body to adapt. A few changes in your lifestyle can help prevent sunshine, heat, and humidity from causing medical problems like heat exhaustion, tropical fatigue, and skin cancer.
The common medical problems for most expatriates will be the same ones you encounter at home. But a few health problems related to the local environment are worth considering. One good rule is to seek a doctor’s advice early rather than waiting as you may have done back home.
Common illnesses are fungus infections, sore throats and colds, traveler’s diarrhea, and tropical fatigue. Serious diseases go from avian influenza A (H5N1) to hepatitis A and B, and from malaria and dengue to HIV/AIDS, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, rabies, tetanus, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever.
Paying for Healthcare in Thailand
In Thailand, most hospitals require payment before discharge. Top hospitals accept major credit cards. If you have insurance the hospital might accept direct payment, but you should not assume so, as there are many types of coverage. While local hospitals can assist you with insurance claims and forms, you should study the specifics of your policy in advance.
The information on “Healthy Living in Bangkok” is an excerpt of the booklet with the same name published by Bumrungrad International Hospital (www.bumrungrad.com) to provide expats moving to Bangkok with updated health information such as the list of accredited hospitals, recommended vaccinations, and more. Visit the App Store to download the latest version for free.
● Asian Tigers Mobility (02 687 7888, www.asiantigers-thailand.com) is an international provider of relocation services with strong presence in Asia.
● Crown Relocations (02 249 0219, http://web.crownrelo.com/thailand) manages relocations programs and moving services worldwide.
● JVK International Movers (02 379 4646, www.jvkmovers.com) provides a complete range of packing and moving services, locally and internationally.
● Pacific Orientation (02 653 0805, www.pacificorientation.com) is a Bangkok-based company offering expatriate relocation and realtor services.
● Santa Fe (02 742 9890–2, www.santaferelo.com/global-network/thailand) offers corporate and individual relocation services.
● AGS Four Winds (02 662 78 80, www.agsmovers.com/branches/asia/thailand) offers international and domestic removals, export packing, storage, and pet relocation.