Bangkok, Thailand Report of what it's like to live there - 08/05/11
Personal Experiences from Bangkok, Thailand
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Yes. After finishing university, this was my first real job.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
My home base in in the North West of England. It takes approximately 15 hours to fly from Manchester to Bangkok. The best flight deals are from Etihad and Jet Airways.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
I work as a teacher.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
I live in a condo close to the city centre. It costs me $220 a month. Not bad considering it has a swimmiing pool, gym, 24-hour security, shop, table tennis, and basketball court. Accommodations in Thailand are very cheap.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Cheaper than in the west.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Fast food is widely available. MacDonald's, KFC, and Burger King are all found here. Thailand has a huge food culture. Decent restaurants from every area of the world are available, but, when in Rome, eat Thai food.
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
A lot of vegetarian food is available. With such a high number of people of Chinese descent, things like tofu are widely used.
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Some friends have complained about cockroaches. Personally, I can't remember the last time I saw one. No problems with any insects.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
Sent to my condo.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
On every street corner! They are widely available.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Bangkok Post and The Nation. Passable newspapers and TV are available but quite expensive for decent English channels.
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Very little. Thais appreciate you learning, but I know people out here who can survive using no Thai whatsoever.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
I imagine it would be very difficult. This is not a mobility-friendly city.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes, both safe and very affordable. Taxi-bikes can leave you a little worried, but not enough to stop me from using them!
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, at approximately $20-25 a month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
AIS has a good network.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Teaching seems to be the ideal way to start out here. With a base in the city, you can start to look for other areas of work. Wages won't be as high as in the west, but you can afford so much more and have a far better time with your money. I consider it a perfect recession getaway!
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Shirt and tie are standard. I don't think many places expect you to wear a jacket.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Far safer than anywhere in the West, as long as you don't act like a total moron to the locals.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Private healthcare through BUPA is reasonable.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Not sure really. I would assume it is probably not very good but I have never studied it. I wouldn't want to stand by a busy Bangkok road for too long.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Three seasons: -Hot - Between 30 and 40 degrees. Rainy - Just as hot but with added rain showers. Cold - Between 25 and 30 degrees.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
I sometimes teach International students at my language school. They are mostly very intelligent, polite and courteous. Usually the children speak quite highly of their teachers.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Throughout Bangkok it is huge. Almost every street will have a few expats.
2. Morale among expats:
Mostly good. We appreciate Thais for being accommodating and great to live alongside. Unfortunately, some people come here to complain and moan about how Thais can't do anything right. These people, though, can be avoided and ignored.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Bars / Clubs / Parties / Shows (both naughty and clean) / Cinemas / Bowling / All manner of sports to watch and play
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Bangkok is a very versatile city. There are many activities for every generation. The only people who may find Bangkok difficult are the frail and the elderly. The noise, heat, pollution, and lack of mobility may prove to be an issue.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Anything goes in Bangkok.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Religion: As far as I can see, there are no problems. Gender: The PM is female, and females are strongly represented throughout most walks of life. No issues, I think. Race: I wouldn't know, really. I have never come across any racial discrimination against westerners. But just as Americans laugh at Canadians, and the English laugh at the Welsh, they love a good laugh at Laotians!
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Food has been incredible to experience. You never stop learning and I enjoy finding new types of food regularly. Temples - Wat Arun at sunset always sticks in my mind. Ayuthaya is a great place to visit for temples in vast numbers. Golden Mount is an impressive temple with an equally impressive panorama over Bangkok. Beaches - More than you can shake a stick at. See the Lonely Planet
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Eat, shop, dance, sightsee, see Thai cultural shows.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
All kinds of tourist tidbits are available at JJ market and throughout the city.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Salary - I am on quite a low rung on the teacher salary scale, but even from my gutter position, I can still quite easily afford a very comfortable lifestyle and I do manage to save a little bit each month. Weather - Even when it is cold, it is hot. If you like your weather hot and occasionly chokingly hot, Bangkok is the place for you. Even if you don't like it hot, fierce air con follows you into almost every building. Culture - Every mix of culture is interspersed throughout Bangkok. It is a great way to experience a new culture without losing out on a few home comforts and the safety of quite a large expat community. Food - Thai food is by no standards done credit in your local Thai restaurant back home. It can only be truly appreciated in it's finest form; In Thailand, by the side of a road or in a small restaurant. I write a lifestyle blog which can be read at http://www.bloggingbangkok.blogspot.com/
11. Can you save money?
Yes, but not substantially.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Definitely. I recommend it to almost everyone!
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Jumpers, your jackets, and your inhibitions about Bangkok's "sex capital" reputation. Warm clothes you won't need. Seedy areas you can avoid.
3. But don't forget your:
Long novel to read on the beach, which is only a couple of hours away from Bangkok.
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
6. Do you have any other comments?
For further information on Bangkok, please follow my blog at http://www.bloggingbangkok.blogspot.com/