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15 lessons learned from living in Thailand as an expat

I’ve lived in Thailand for 3 years now as an expat, and in this time I’ve learned some key lessons.

Here they are in no particular order.

1) The Thais NEVER stop smiling

It took me some time to get used to this because it’s not something you see every day in your hometown.

It’s not common here to see a smile on the face of somebody who is having a bad day, or has done something bad.

They’ll just pretend to be happy that you’re there, and they’ll always make you feel comfortable.

2) They respect their culture and religion

This is especially true when you’re living here, as Thailand has a very strong culture and religion. You’d be surprised how many expats don’t pay attention to this and they find themselves in trouble.

If you’re not very familiar with the culture then read up on it, and try to live by the rules. If you don’t then you’ll have an experience to talk about for the rest of your life.

3) You will get a lot of ‘Ny’s’ in your daily conversation

This is probably one of the first things that you will learn while living in Thailand.

There is a special ‘ny’ sound that they use whenever they want to answer with an affirmative or positive response.

It’s just a way for them to say “yeah”.

They also like to give a lot of attention to certain words because they make it sound more interesting.

This is true for when they’re talking in English.

4) Pattaya is not the best place to live, but it’s fun

It’s important to realize that when you’re living in Thailand, Pattaya is not on top of the list. It’s far from it. There are a lot of expats that live here, but they’re generally older, and I’m talking about people in their fifties and above.

Pattaya isn’t a place to live. But if you enjoy night life and the bar scene, then Pattaya will be your best choice.

5) The Thai people don’t judge you if you don’t speak the same language

When I first got here, I was a little bit shy, and it felt embarrassing to talk to people without being able to use words like “hello”.

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It wasn’t until I started living in Thailand and becoming more open that my confidence grew. And now that I’ve lived here for three years now, I feel comfortable talking to anybody at anytime.

6) Thailand is the best place in the world for street food

The Thais are amazing cooks. They will cook you some of the tastiest food that you will have ever tasted.

They don’t call it street food for nothing.

You can go out with your friends at night and get amazing food for cheap prices. It’s usually not up to your standard, but if you want to order something hot, then give it a try.

7) A lot of expats don’t know how important it is to have a work permit

When you’re living in Thailand, and you’re working here, then you must have a work permit. It’s very difficult to get a work permit the first time around so make sure that you do everything correctly or they will refuse your application.

8) The Thai people are very honest

It’s very important that you understand that the Thais are very honest, and it may sometimes be uncomfortable for you. However, the best thing is that they’re straight to the point and they won’t try to make you feel awkward.

This is a great quality to have in Thailand because it’s a lot easier to live here if you will able to look them in the eye and be honest with them.

9) The Thai people love foreigners

They might not let you see it, but they do. Why else would they give you all of that attention?

They really enjoy having foreigners over, and they will treat you with hospitality and respect.
It’s definitely something to take in.

10) Thailand is one of the the cheapest places in the world to live

If you’ll be living on less than 40,000 baht a month, then I highly recommend it. You won’t have to worry about paying anything extra, and you get access to so much food for free.

For example, just the other day I went to the grocery store and I had 400 baht in cash on me.

That’s around $8 USD.

With this money, I managed to buy 2 big bags of groceries.

11) It’s very important to never get too drunk in public

This is a very common mistake for a lot of expats because they’re not used to the culture or having alcohol in public. The Thai people don’t drink outside of their home, but when out at night with you, they will always feel comfortable drinking in public.

So, make sure that you don’t get drunk in public, and instead of getting wasted, just drink slowly with friends.

12) You’re safe as long as you know where to go and what to do

Thailand is a great place to live and travel all around the world.

If you will learn some basic things like knowing how to order food or where the banks are located, then you’ll always be safe and secure wherever you go.

13) It’s hard to get anywhere on time

Everything here runs late. I don’t know if it’s because they’re always smiling, or that they have too many other things on their mind.

But it’s important to remember that you’re expected to be on time every day, and this is crucial because that’s the way things are done here.

14) When you’re working in Thailand, you will have a lot of spare time

Everybody has their work schedule and this is something that has to be respected. But another thing to remember is that there are so many days off and holidays throughout the year, that you may not use all of your vacation days.

So make sure that if you do plan to move here, then you’ll want to be working at a job where there are a lot of vacations and holidays throughout the year.

15) You need to be aware that there are street dogs here

Thailand will always be a safe place to live, but there are still some disadvantages when living here.

They have a lot of street dogs that are dangerous and I don’t advise you leave your walking shoes outside at night. And make sure that you don’t walk around with anything valuable on you. Use it as an opportunity to practice self-defense by learning how to use your hands and feet.

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