Live abroad

An expat guide to your first days in Thailand



Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 24/05/2024, 00:00

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Your first days in Thailand can be a bit overwhelming. New conditions, new people, maybe a new job. It seems that there are so many things to do, and the day has only 24 hours. Organizing your life in Thailand is not as complicated as it may seem. It’s definitely easier than you think.

My experience may be slightly different. I moved to Chiang Mai being aware of the realities of my life there. I also spent a month at the SEE TEFL teacher training course, and everything was sorted out without stress. I met a few people who had to organize themselves immediately without too much time. That’s why I put the most important things in the list to help you.

Do not forget to check other articles. The links can be found in the following paragraphs.

Your first days in Thailand

Are you already in Thailand and are you wondering how to arrange your life here? I know that this may seem like a big task to you, but do not worry. Here, some matters are dealt with quickly and you will certainly manage them with a little patience and good organization.

If you have not yet made a decision to move, see what to do before you go to Thailand.

Your plan for your first trip to Thailand

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    Find an apartment

    The first thing you should definitely do is find the right accommodation for you. Fortunately, it is very easy in Thailand and should take you a few days. The rental conditions for foreigners are much more favorable than those in Europe, and you can rent a flat for 3-6 months. The cost of renting varies depending on the apartment and location, but in comparison to prices in Europe, it is much lower.

    If you want to know more about finding an apartment in Thailand, go to my previous post.

    Connect with the world

    For me, buying a Sim card when you arrive in Thailand is the most important thing. Without it, I can not contact the owners of the flats I want to see, or let my family know that I am okay. Sim cards are available for free at airports, in 7-11 or in stores in shopping centers. All you need to buy a card is a passport.
    In Thailand, you can also easily buy an internet package for your apartment. It is quite simple and requires minimum formalities. To buy the package, go to the nearest shopping center.

    Embrace transport

    Transportation in Thailand is an important matter, even if you live somewhere in the province and it’s easy to move from one place to another on foot. In Bangkok, you will have to get used to continuous traffic jams, subways, using BTS and taxis. In Chiang Mai, you have to limit yourself to the so-called songtaews and Uber. A good way out is also a scooter in Thailand, but here you must definitely have a good insurance and a lot of courage.

    Where ever your journey leads: Missed flights, lost phones or sudden illness can easily drain your bank account and ruin your holiday. That’s why I use World Nomads. Get travel insurance

    Find a job

    Let us assume that you have not done it yet and you come to Thailand with the assumption that you want to work there. Unfortunately, the country is not so kind to those who want to stay there longer than to tourists. You must meet certain conditions to be able to weld the place here. There are a few ways to live in Thailand. The simplest way is to become a teacher. It’s harder to open your business. If you do not have enough cash, you will be able to take a TEFL course and find a job in one of the Thai schools.

    Visa and work permit

    You can start making these two documents before you leave. It all depends on what you want to do in Thailand and whether you already have employment before you leave. For longer stays in Thailand, you must think about a non-immigrant visa or immigration visa that will protect you from endless visa runs, as is the case with tourist visas.

    Take care of your finances

    It is always worth opening a bank account in Thailand. This will significantly reduce your costs – no more paying commission at ATMs! It will also allow you to send money to and from Thailand. Currently, some of the banks open accounts without a work permit and a non-immigrant visa. It is worth using this opportunity. You never know when the law will change again.

    Remember about your health

    Your health is the most important thing you have. Look after it. It’s easy to forget about it when you live in Thailand. There are so many new things to discover!
    However, before you start enjoying it all, insure yourself. There are plenty of options when it comes to insurance for expats in Thailand. 
    I would recommend going with a local brand, such as Luma (which is cheaper).

    Once you get your insurance sorted, find the nearest hospital, or a surgery, so in case of any emergency, you know where to go.

    I hope your first days in Thailand are easy and stress-free. Remember to take it slow at first. Once the initial shock is over, you’ll be fine and ready to start your new life in the Land of Smiles.

    If you have any questions about living in Thailand, leave a comment and I will definitely answer.