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Moving to Bangkok

One of the world’s premier tourist destinations, Bangkok presents expats with a wholly different cultural environment within the familiar framework of a cosmopolitan, international city. The cityscape in Bangkok is carved by canals that branch out from the Chao Phraya River. Snaking through the heart of the city, this natural feature not only shapes the city’s layout, but also daily life. The influence of the river and its canals can be seen in its many floating markets and the cultural customs of its residents.

Living in Bangkok as an expat

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, its largest city and the centre of business, culture and politics. The majority of Bangkok's expat population moves to the city for the plethora of cultural attractions and boundless work opportunities. While skilled expats can be found in industries such as finance and logistics, many foreigners find that teaching English is still the easiest way to make a living in the Thai capital. Jobs in this field are plentiful.

Cost of living in Bangkok

Overall, the cost of living in Thailand is low, but as is typical of a large capital city, Bangkok can be an expensive place to live. Having all the conveniences and amenities that big-city living provides comes at a cost, especially if expats choose to indulge in luxuries such as fine dining and imported goods.

The good news is that, with some planning, it's possible to live in Bangkok on a budget, especially if expats are willing to live a simpler lifestyle more akin to the Thai way of living.

Expat families and children

Bangkok is renowned for its vibrant entertainment scene and the warmth of its residents. It provides opportunities for everyone from young, single expats to families, who can enjoy a laid-back lifestyle without sacrificing the quality of international schools and healthcare facilities. The city has even become a popular medical tourism destination thanks to the high level of healthcare available at affordable rates.

Climate in Bangkok

Heat and humidity are the prevailing conditions in this tropical city. During the hot season from March to May, the mercury frequently reaches and exceeds 30°C (86°F). The wet season arrives just as temperatures start to wind down around the end of May. Downpours are frequent, so it's best to get into the habit of carrying an umbrella around. In November, the rain abates with the arrival of the cool season, which still has pleasant temperatures around the 68°F (20°C) mark.

Sun-loving expats are sure to enjoy the many perfect beach days that Thailand offers between the wet and hot season. Whatever the weather, the vibrancy of Bangkok is hard to beat, and the city has a lot to offer new arrivals should they come with an open mind and a sense of adventure.

Weather in Bangkok

Expats relocating to Bangkok should take note that this is one of the hottest cities in the world. With a hot, tropical climate, daytime temperatures are commonly above 30°C (86°F) throughout the year with November to February being the driest time of year. March, April and May are the hottest and most humid months, and the rainy season runs from May to October. During the wet season, rain is common throughout the day and it’s wise to invest in a good umbrella.

 

Pros and cons of moving to Bangkok

Bangkok is a vibrant city, full of life. From the fascinating culture to the friendly people, living in the Thai capital is an enriching experience. As with any city, however, there are pros and cons to moving to Bangkok. 


Accommodation in Bangkok

+ PRO: Lots of variety

Bangkok has a wide variety of accommodation at a range of prices. Whether an expat is looking for an apartment, a condo, a townhouse, or a standalone house, there's something for everyone.


Cost of living in Bangkok

+ PRO: Possible to live extremely cheaply

Expats often find that things such as electrical goods, entertainment, living and eating expenses are far less expensive in Thailand than in their home country. There are restaurants to suit every budget and the many street stalls make it possible to enjoy authentic Thai food at an exceptionally low price. 

- CON: High price of alcohol

With unfavourable currency conversions and tax added to the price of imported wine, getting a decent bottle without paying a hefty price can be a challenge, even when buying from a supermarket. If you ask around among the locals, however, you may be able to scout out a few places to get wine at a slightly better price. Buying other imported goods such as Western food or ‘home comforts’ can also become expensive.


Culture in Bangkok

+ PRO: Rich and vibrant culture

Thailand’s culture is a rich experience for all the senses, much like Bangkok itself. Among the rising steel and glass structures of shopping malls, hotels and offices, expats will find temples, revered Buddha images and spirit houses with offerings piled high, jasmine garlands aplenty and incense burning day and night. Thai people are generally welcoming of foreigners visiting and living in their country, so respect for their cultures and traditions will go a long way.

- CON: Saving face

If another person becomes angry, demanding, or rude in public towards a Thai person, locals will go to great lengths to ‘save face’. No matter what emotions may be felt, they are not displayed or demonstrated in a negative manner towards another person. This is an important part of Thai culture that has great significance on how an expat will be treated. Keeping calm and remaining polite are better ways to deal with conflict. 


Healthcare in Bangkok

+ PRO: Inexpensive and high quality

Visiting a hospital or dentist in Bangkok is like walking through the doors of an expensive hotel without dreading the bill afterwards. Most hospitals are easy to get to and a high level of English can be expected. After registering, the patient will be seen to quickly with the relevant tests undertaken in a timely and efficient manner. Securing a consultation with a specialist doctor is also relatively easy.

- CON: Unnecessary tests

Whilst a visit to the hospital or dentist may not be expensive, it's common to hear about patients being sent for unnecessary tests, only to end up with a simple diagnosis such as the flu or a virus – with the result of excessive costs. While a person's health shouldn't be put at risk for fear of being taken advantage of, it is something to be aware of. 


Transport in Bangkok

+ PRO: Cheap and a large variety

Transport is cheap and plentiful. There’s the BTS Skytrain, which runs above all the traffic on the roads, and the MRT (underground metro). That's not to mention buses, tuk-tuks, taxis and motorbike taxis. The BTS and MRT are air-conditioned, a welcome relief on hot days, and the two are linked at certain stations. Getting around Bangkok is both affordable and in many instances efficient and clean.

- CON: Traffic jams

It is well-known that dealing with heavy traffic is a consequence of living in Bangkok, but it doesn’t mean that travelling around the city is as difficult and laborious as one may be led to believe. There are many great options for avoiding the traffic – they just require thinking ahead and planning journeys accordingly. Expats who plan on driving are sure to find rush hour a headache, though.


Shopping in Bangkok

+ PRO: Variety of experiences

There is an endless variety of shopping experiences all over the city which cater to all sorts of budgets. The city's many markets are perfect for those who are looking for a bargain and like to barter, while in the high-end shopping malls just about anything can be bought.

Working in Bangkok

For expats who have secured a job beforehand, working in Bangkok can be the doorway to a life of luxury. On the other hand, expats who arrive in the Thai capital looking for work often have a challenging job search ahead of them that can lead to being underpaid and unhappy with their expat experience in the country.


Job market in Bangkok

Despite being the epicentre of sporadic political unrest, Bangkok has a relatively stable economy. This economy relies heavily on foreign investment. While investors remain cautious, it seems that the city’s economic situation is likely to go from strength to strength.

The economy in Bangkok is largely built on its retail, real estate, business, finance and automotive industries. It also hosts the Thailand Stock Exchange and houses the headquarters of most major banks in Thailand as well as a number of multinational companies.

Owing to high levels of inequality, expats can expect to live differently to the majority of locals. Expats arriving in Bangkok after securing a job usually make more money than those who look for a job while already in the country. These expats, in turn, often earn more than the locals themselves.

Despite this, Thailand is renowned for having unemployment rates in the low single digits, and if an expat has the right skills and qualifications, they should be able to find a job. It is important to remember, however, that a Thai work permit is usually required for expats to stay and work in the country.

Popular job opportunities in Bangkok often come in the form of teaching English, while highly skilled expats can usually be found working in the financial sector and logistics industry.


Finding a job in Bangkok

The best way for expats to find a job in Bangkok is through online resources, preferably before they arrive in the country. English-language Thai newspapers are another valuable source of information for finding work.

Relocation packages usually include help with accommodation and, especially for highly skilled expats, may sometimes offer luxuries such as a car and driver.


Work culture in Bangkok

Business etiquette in Thailand will be familiar to most expats. The traditional wai greeting, where a person bows slightly with their palms pressed together, is quickly being replaced by the standard Western handshake. This is at least partially because many Thai businesses realise the importance of being able to communicate globally.

As with the rest of the country, businesses and companies in Bangkok are usually open from Monday to Friday, with a half day on Saturdays. Opening times differ between businesses, however; a bank branch may be open from 8.30am to 4pm while some shopping malls are open until 10pm.

Cost of Living in Bangkok

Famous for its vibrant street life, cultural landmarks and red-light districts, Bangkok is Thailand’s only cosmopolitan city among small towns and villages. While the general cost of living in Thailand is sensible, Bangkok can be expensive depending on how expats choose to live.

The 2022 Mercer Cost of Living survey ranked Bangkok as the 106th most expensive city for expats out of the 227 cities surveyed. Fortunately, expats working in Bangkok earn high salaries and can enjoy an excellent quality of life while building a solid nest egg.


Cost of accommodation in Bangkok

As is the case in most major cities, the closer to the centre one lives, the more expensive accommodation will be. Bangkok is well known for its traffic jams, so commuting may not be an attractive option for many. Owing to this, most expats live in serviced apartments in the city centre and the areas and suburbs close to public transport hubs. These typically come with cleaning services and sought-after amenities, such as gyms and swimming pools.

Non-serviced apartments are also available at more reasonable rates. Expat families generally live in Western-style suburban gated communities on the outskirts of Bangkok, but this option is significantly more expensive. Expats will also need to account for utilities, which can add up quickly thanks to Bangkok’s hot weather and the need for air conditioning.


Cost of transport in Bangkok

Bangkok boasts efficient and extensive public transport infrastructure. Expats will have access to the BTS Skytrain and MRT at fairly reasonable prices. Expats may also purchase the reloadable Rabbit card to reduce their commuting expenses. Taxis are also abundant and are a cost-effective way to get around Bangkok.

Expats who can brave Bangkok’s congestion and erratic driving can save by hiring or purchasing a motorbike. Those looking for a more adventurous mode of transport should look no further than the tuk-tuks and songthaews. That said, tuk-tuks can be quite steep as they are geared towards tourists.


Cost of eating out and entertainment in Bangkok

Bangkok is a foodie’s paradise, with an abundance of street food markets and fine dining restaurants. The Thai capital is most famous for incredibly cheap and tasty street fare. Still, expats yearning for a taste of home will be catered for with 30 Michelin-starred restaurants serving cuisine from around the world at a slightly higher but still affordable cost.

Thanks to Bangkok’s three red-light districts, revellers will not be disappointed in the city’s nightlife and lifestyle options. Expats can find everything from budget bars to high-end clubs offering more expensive drinks and entrance fees.


Cost of education in Bangkok

Thailand, and Bangkok in particular, boasts an exceptional public education system. The only downsides are that public schooling is not free for expat children, and the language of instruction is Thai. For that reason, most expat parents send their children to eye-wateringly expensive international schools. Some expats may be lucky enough to have this cost included as part of their relocation package, those who don’t will need to budget carefully.


Cost of living in Bangkok chart

Prices vary depending on the product and service provider. These are the average costs for Bangkok in October 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

THB 20,044

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

THB 9,654

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

THB 70,326

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

THB 32,589

Groceries

Dozen eggs

THB 68.51

Milk (1 litre)

THB 54.63

Loaf of bread (white)

THB 68

Chicken breasts (1kg)

THB 110.26

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

THB 150

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

THB 1.56

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

THB 539

Basic utilities (average for a standard household)

THB 2,882

Eating out and entertainment

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant 

THB 1000

Big Mac Meal

THB 194

Cappuccino

THB 76.27

Coca-Cola (330ml)

THB 17.26

Local beer (500ml)

THB 80

Transportation

Taxi rate per km

THB 43

City-centre train fare

THB 44

Petrol (per litre)

THB 42.31

Accommodation in Bangkok

Expat accommodation in Bangkok is highly varied. No matter how big an expat’s family is or what type of home they prefer, price and proximity will be the most important considerations when finding housing in the Thai capital.

Frustrating commutes are common, and the city’s regular traffic jams inspire many expats working in the city centre to live close to their workplace. The same line of reasoning applies to families who have children attending international schools.

The efficient BTS Skytrain, which runs across the city, has helped to reduce commute times and relieve traffic congestion. That said, the Skytrain does not reach all areas of Bangkok and commuting to a BTS station can be as woeful as commuting to work.


Types of accommodation in Bangkok

Housing in Bangkok is as varied as the city itself. Many expats prefer fully serviced apartments that resemble hotels. These usually come furnished and offer services such as cleaning staff and a lobby area as well as amenities such as small gyms or swimming pools. Non-serviced apartments are usually a less expensive option, but often require a longer-term commitment. These tend to resemble Western apartments but come in a variety of styles.

The quality of accommodation in Bangkok varies and expats generally get what they pay for. In higher-end serviced apartments, most expats report that the standard of housing is similar to what they would find in their home country.

On the outer edges of the city, expat families can find Western-style houses in gated communities similar to suburban housing communities in the USA. These get progressively more expensive closer to downtown areas, peaking in the city centre.


Finding accommodation in Bangkok

The most popular options for finding accommodation in Bangkok are online property portals, the property sections of newspapers and rental agencies. Another way of finding a place to live in Bangkok is to shortlist a few desirable neighbourhoods and explore the area in person, looking for properties available to rent.

Apartment buildings in Bangkok often have an information office or a building manager who can let prospective tenants know about any available rentals. Many of these may not speak English, however, especially outside of major tourist areas. It would be worthwhile for expats who decide on this approach to bring a Thai friend with them.


Renting accommodation in Bangkok

Signing a lease

After settling on an apartment, expats usually have to sign a fixed-term contract. It often happens that the longer a person commits to staying in an apartment, the better the monthly rental rate will be.

Deposits

Tenants are usually expected to pay a deposit of a months' rent along with their initial payment of the first month's rent in advance. Assuming that the property is in good condition, the deposit will be returned at the end of the lease period.

Landlords

As is the case anywhere, expats occasionally do have landlord issues in Thailand. A few basic precautions can be taken to avoid this, such as doing a thorough inspection of the property, taking photos of any existing damage, keeping any correspondence with the landlord and keeping rental receipts.

Utilities

It is usually the responsibility of the tenant to pay the cost of utilities in Bangkok, although this may not always be the case with some apartment rentals.

Areas and suburbs in Bangkok

The best places to live in Bangkok

Over the years, Bangkok has experienced something of a facelift. Where there were once humble wooden homes, there are now luxury high-rise apartment buildings, promoting themselves as must-haves for those who want a modern life with all the mod cons.

For many expats moving to Bangkok, these luxury residences come at a far more affordable price than similar accommodation in their home country.


City living in Bangkok

City living

Downtown Bangkok: Silom, Sathorn, Sukhumvit

Many expats favour living right in the heart of Bangkok. The centre of the city is in close proximity to the sleek and stylish Bangkok Sky Train as well as shopping malls, hospitals, museums, good schools, nightclubs, bars and international restaurants, not to mention plenty of green areas. The middle of town is also the primary place of business – for many expats, being near work and having access to the area's amenities is an attractive option.

People from all walks of life – expat retirees, engineers, journalists, teachers and UN workers – are found living in these areas, either with family or by themselves. However, being able to enjoy the privileges of city living will add to an expat’s monthly rent. For those with the time and energy, it is recommended to go by foot and see first-hand what kind of value there is in each area because many places that offer great value for money do not advertise. 

Nevertheless, while the pros are obvious, so are the cons. The quality of air in the city centre is poor, playgrounds and parks are fairly rare, and red-light areas are abundant. These aspects are more obvious in some neighbourhoods, and while the adventurous singleton can easily brush the risqué elements aside, expat families may prefer not to have to constantly dodge curious questions from their children.


Suburban living in Bangkok

Suburban living

Nonthaburi, Suan Luang, Samut Prakan

The heavy urban sprawl of Bangkok unfurls from the central downtown areas into many exclusive private housing estates. The Bangkok Sky Train extending towards the east and south of the city has presented an opportunity for expats to escape the city centre, set up base in the fresh air of suburbs, and still commute using public transport.

Naturally, these estates favour families moving to Bangkok rather than single expats. They are generally quiet and safe to live in, and some of these areas also play host to some excellent international schools. The downside is having to contend with a daily commute to and from work. 

There are, however, some areas which offer freestanding houses that are closer to the city. Demand for real estate in these areas is high, though, meaning that properties are more expensive and are a bit closer together than houses in areas further from the city centre. These places often have easy access to public transport as well as amenities such as shopping centres, schools, hospitals, parks and tourist attractions.

Healthcare in Bangkok

The system of healthcare in Bangkok is generally of good quality, and many doctors and specialists speak English. Private hospitals in Bangkok are first-rate and often employ staff members who have been educated in the West.

These institutions also tend to be far cheaper than expats from Europe or the United States may expect. The high quality of care and low prices for treatment have led to Thailand's rise as a medical tourism destination, particularly for cosmetic surgery, LASIK surgery and dental care. Some hospitals catering to overseas medical tourists resemble hotels rather than hospitals. This is especially true of hospitals in the south of the city, which market their medical operations alongside beach holiday packages.

Despite the reasonable cost of treatment, expats should make sure they have medical insurance in case of emergencies.

Some of the most popular hospitals in Bangkok are listed below. 


Hospitals in Bangkok

Bangkok Hospital

Website: www.bangkokhospital.com
Address: 2 Soi Phetchaburi 47 Yaek 10, Bang Kapi, Huai Khwang, Bangkok 10310

Bumrungrad International

Website: www.bumrungrad.com
Address: 33 Soi Sukhumvit 3, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110

BNH Hospital

Website: www.bnhhospital.com
Address: 9/1 Convent Rd, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500

Phyathai 2 International Hospital

Website: www.phyathai.com
Address: 943 Phahonyothin Rd, Khwaeng Samsen Nai, Khet Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400

Vibhavadi Hospital

Website: www.vibhavadi.com
Address: 51, 3 Thanon Ngamwongwan, Lat Yao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

Education and Schools in Bangkok

Education is a high priority for expats moving to Thailand with children. While there are some excellent public schools in Bangkok, due to varying quality, others are overcrowded and internationally uncompetitive. There is also a host of good private schools in Bangkok for expat parents to consider enrolling their children in.

International schools in the city offer expat parents all that they would expect of a good school, including high-quality amenities, a wide selection of extramural activities and highly qualified teachers. 


Public schools in Bangkok

Some public schools in Thailand are first rate, while the standards of teaching in others may fall well short of what expats would expect from schools in their home country. Bangkok in particular is home to most of the country's best public schools, many of which are associated with top universities that use the school to train student teachers. Admission to these schools can be competitive so it's best to apply well ahead of time.

Public education in Bangkok is free for Thai nationals up to the age of 15, whereafter most schools will charge fees. Foreign nationals can attend public schools, but they don't qualify for free schooling at any point unfortunately. Teaching is entirely in Thai, which can be a dealbreaker for some parents.


English Programme schools in Thailand

The English Programme (EP) is a government initiative offered by a number of public and private schools. In an EP class, almost all subjects are taught in English by a teacher hired from abroad. Some schools have more comprehensive EPs than others – classes may be held in a small section of a Thai-speaking school or larger programmes may be set in entirely separate buildings.

Both public and private schools with EPs charge Thai nationals and expats for these classes. Though private schools are more expensive than public schools, fees are still well below those of international schools.

For families who plan to live in Thailand long-term, English Programme schools may be the best option. They offer an opportunity for children to develop closer links to Thai culture and society while still giving them access to a bilingual education.


International schools in Bangkok

Bangkok’s international schools usually follow the curriculum of other countries, the most popular being the British and American systems. 

The vast majority of international schools in Bangkok will require prospective students to write entrance tests and undergo a rigorous application process due to the limited number of places they offer. Some international schools will only accept students of a particular nationality.

The International Schools Association of Thailand (ISAT) lists all the member schools and, although there are other schools that offer a good standard of education, all ISAT members meet international standards. The best international schools in Bangkok can be extremely costly, depending on the age of the child, and will usually have a fairly long waiting list.


Special-needs education in Thailand

By law, learning difficulties qualify for state assistance, but this is rarely enforced in practice. In the public system, special education teachers are scarce despite there being a demand for them, and resources are limited if available at all.

Many international schools offer support for special needs, but this is often at an additional price on top of standard fees. The level of support varies from school to school, so it's worthwhile to investigate different options.


Tutors in Thailand

The private tuition industry in Thailand is staggering. The country's massive multi-billion-baht tutoring industry emerged from the necessity to prepare students for the extremely competitive university admissions exams. The industry has seen considerable growth in response to the high demand for private tuition.

Local tutors can be a useful resource for local and expat families. They can assist with problem subjects and can support students in developing sound study strategies and essay-writing skills. For expats, tutors are especially useful in smoothing the transition of an expat child into a new environment, and they can help them with learning to speak Thai.

International Schools in Bangkok

There are a number of international schools in Bangkok, all of which cater to different nationalities and follow various curricula, including that of the US, the UK and Australia. The International Baccalaureate is also a common curriculum. Bangkok's international schools are popular with expats and locals for the good standard of education they offer.

The standards and popularity of these schools also mean that places are limited and prices are usually much higher than public education. Some of the most popular international schools in Bangkok are listed below. 


International schools in Bangkok

Verso International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 2 to 18

American School of Bangkok

Gender: Co-educational 
Curriculum: American
Ages: 3 to 18
Website: www.asb.ac.th

Australian International School Bangkok

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Australian, Cambridge IGCSE and A-Levels
Age: 1.5 to 18
Website: www.australianisb.ac.th

International School Bangkok

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Age: 3 to 18
Website: www.isb.ac.th

KIS International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Age: 3 to 18
Website: www.kis.ac.th

NIST International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Age: 3 to 19
Website: www.nist.ac.th

Rasami British International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A-Levels
Age: 2 to 18
Website: www.rbis.ac.th

Shrewsbury International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and A-Levels
Age: 3 to 18
Website: www.shrewsbury.ac.th

Lifestyle in Bangkok

Bangkok is a feast of sights and sounds. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shopping malls, open markets, golf courses, temples, parks and an array of exotic scents all combine to make up the lifestyle in Bangkok. New and established expats will find themselves with plenty to see and do in the Thai capital.

A weekend in Bangkok can fly by in a blur, and whether a foreign resident takes the tourist route through the city's countless side streets or prefers to settle in and sit shoulder to shoulder with the locals, there's never a dull moment. 


Shopping in Bangkok

From trinkets found at the city’s famous floating markets to high-end fashion, Bangkok has it all when it comes to shopping. Expats merely have to decide if they are in the mood to trawl street stalls for the perfect bargain, or if they'd prefer the easy access of mega malls which house everything from cinemas to bowling alleys and even the odd aquarium.

For fans of shopping malls, an entire weekend in Bangkok can be spent at Siam Paragon, which is easily accessible by the BTS Sky Train. Other major malls are Iconsiam, CentralWorld and CentralPlaza WestGate.

Those after a more authentic shopping experience can try out Bangkok’s ever-popular open markets. Chatuchak Weekend Market, said to be one of the world’s largest flea markets, provides excellent value for everything unusual and unique that the country has to offer. 


Nightlife in Bangkok

Bangkok comes to life at night, and new arrivals eager to spend a weekend in the city will have no trouble finding a variety of vibrant entertainment venues to pop in to. Whether expats want to let their hair down and dance the night away or prefer to sip on cocktails at sophisticated rooftop bars, there's something for everyone in Bangkok. Sukhumvit is popular with expats and tourists alike, while Royal City Avenue tends to be frequented by a more local crowd.


Eating out in Bangkok

Locals in Bangkok are passionate about food. It won't be long before expats begin to understand what food means to the locals and to appreciate the amazing variety in Bangkok. Whether a streetside noodle dish with homemade broth or a local vendor concocting spicy somtam, a plethora of exciting dishes are available, tasty and reasonably priced.

Naturally, at some point, every expat experiences a yearning for different options, or something that tastes like home. Bangkok happily obliges with a whole host of bars and restaurants offering good quality international dining options, but at much higher prices.


Sports and outdoor activities in Bangkok

Dotted around Bangkok are a few green parks which offer residents the chance to enjoy a picnic, paddle around the pond, walk the dog, play with their children, or simply take a break from the rushed pace of city living.

Bangkok is the perfect place to try Muay Thai, a form of Thai boxing. Those wanting to escape the soaring outdoor temperatures will find a number of reputable gyms and yoga studios throughout Bangkok. There are also plenty of great cycling and running routes in and around the city.

Alternatively, those looking for something a bit different always have the option of heading out to a golf course. There are plenty of quality courses situated around Bangkok which offer excellent value for money.

Kids and Family in Bangkok

Expats who are considering moving to the Thai capital may wonder about how children in Bangkok keep themselves busy. Despite its frenetic nature, however, there are plenty of child-friendly activities and attractions in the city.

New arrivals will find that the weather often dictates how expat families in Bangkok spend their time. During the summer the city's various waterparks are full of visitors looking to cool off, while the frequent bursts of tropical rain are perfect for a day of indoor activities.  


Outdoor activities for kids in Bangkok

When the Thai summer is in full swing, families can head down to one of the many water parks in Bangkok. Siam Park City is one of the most popular of these. Children of all ages can spend an entire day riding down the slippery slides or splashing in its countless pools. There is also an amusement park with rides and activities to suit all ages. Other popular parks include the Pororo Water Park and Fantasia Lagoon, which is situated on the roof of the Mall Bangkae.

Older children might enjoy the FlowRider at Flow House in Bangkok. Here they can learn to surf in the middle of the city, courtesy of the wave machine. Those who prefer to enjoy the water from a distance could also take a boat trip down the Chao Phraya River and its many canals.


Indoor activities for kids in Bangkok

One of the most interesting children's activities in Bangkok is KidZania, a scaled-down indoor city where children can play at being grown-ups and take part in the local 'economy'. Here, children can be everything from dentists to mechanics in a controlled environment, learning and having fun while earning in KidZo – the official currency of KidZania.

There is also a wide range of museums in Bangkok dedicated to everything from the human body to Batman – although some of them would be better suited to older children. Those wanting a family-friendly way to learn about their new home should visit the Museum of Siam. Set in a neoclassical building, its combination of old and ultra-modern influences create a fascinating journey into Thai history and culture. 

See and Do in Bangkok

An eclectic city with everything from Buddhist temples to sophisticated rooftop bars, Bangkok has plenty for expats to see and do. While its seedier side sometimes gets the most attention, the whole city is filled with a variety of attractions to suit almost anyone’s tastes.

As a popular tourist destination, Bangkok welcomes millions of foreigners every year. The city's character is a unique mixture of glitz and grit, and expats will be able to enjoy a wide variety of cultural and historical attractions. 


Attractions in Bangkok

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Dating back to ancient times where water transport was an important part of daily life in Thailand, the city’s various floating markets are a reminder of a bygone time and a major tourist attraction. Chief among these is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, about an hour outside the city centre. Shoppers can explore the market with a guided boat tour, loading up on all kinds of cargo bought from floating stalls along the way.

Bangkok National Museum

As one of the largest museums in Southeast Asia, the Bangkok National Museum is sure to have something to interest everyone. Founded in 1874, the museum has a rich history and, today, it's housed in a former palace. With exhibited items dating back up to thousands of years, this is an excellent way to learn more about Thai history and culture.

The Grand Palace

The official royal residence since the 18th century, the Grand Palace is now largely used for ceremonial purposes and remains one of the most famous attractions in Bangkok. Located in the heart of the city on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, it showcases two centuries of construction and history in a variety of beautiful structures. It also houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Museum of Counterfeit Goods

Bangkok is famous as a hub of copyright infringement where a close copy of just about anything can be bought at a fraction of the price of the real thing. The Museum of Counterfeit Goods challenges the common perception that selling and buying such goods is a victimless crime. Run by a high-profile law firm specialising in intellectual property law, the museum showcases thousands of confiscated fakes to the public.

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

One of the best-known sights of Southeast Asia, the Temple of Dawn is famous for its colourful spires and the beauty of its unique architecture. Climbing to the top of the central spire is challenging but those up to the task are rewarded with stunning views. Visitors should be sure to dress modestly, however, as it is an active site of worship for Buddhists.

Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Known for being the home of one of Thailand's first massage schools, Wat Pho has a history that goes back to the 18th century. Its centrepiece, the reclining Buddha, is 43m (151ft) long and covered in gold-leaf. The Buddha's feet are intricately decorated with inlaid mother-of-pearl. This remarkable sight is matched by an impressive temple complex containing everything from the ashes of kings to a Bodhi tree said to have grown from the tree that Buddha sat under when he attained enlightenment.

What's On in Bangkok

Given its reputation for revelry, it is hardly surprising that there's always some kind of festival or celebration going on in Bangkok.

The various annual events in Bangkok reflect its unique character, combining traditional Thai celebrations, Buddhist ceremonies and contemporary festivities with a more modern feel.

Some of the most popular, not-to-be-missed annual events in Bangkok are listed below. 


Annual events in Bangkok

Chinese New Year (February)

With one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, Bangkok celebrates the Chinese New Year in its own unique style. Expats should dress in red, head down to Chinatown and enjoy the revelry, moon cakes and firecrackers.

Songkran Festival (April)

The Songkran Festival is a three-day celebration of the traditional Thai New Year. People all over the city douse each other with water in a symbolic ceremony of purification and cleansing in preparation for the coming year. It's a great way for expats who aren’t afraid of getting wet to enjoy Thai culture.

Amazing Thailand Grand Sale (July to September)

An initiative by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Amazing Thailand Grand Sale transforms Bangkok into a shopper's paradise. Each year, more than 10,000 shops and vendors from all over the country converge on the city to offer the year's best deals. From the city’s biggest malls and hotels to a good number of roadside stalls, expat shoppers will be able to find bargains on everything from designer clothes to traditional handcrafts.  

Vegetarian Festival (September/October)

For two weeks in late September or early October, vegetarian expats will have no problem finding good food in Bangkok. Although it's observed across the country, Bangkok's celebrations are centred in Chinatown. Religious rites are performed at Chinese temples, and participating restaurants and stalls around the city wave yellow and red flags to signal they are taking part. Expats should be sure to see a few of the various cultural performances that take place and try the mouthwatering vegetarian dishes that abound in the city during this time. 

Bangkok Marathon (November)

Due to the extreme temperatures Bangkok sees in November, the Bangkok Marathon is said to be one of the world’s toughest – all the more reason for new residents to cheer on the runners taking part in this gruelling race, or even take up the challenge of participating themselves.

Loy Krathong (November)

Loy Krathong sees residents gathering on the banks of the Chao Phraya River to place floating baskets containing lit candles on the water. Expats can then watch as thousands of them float away, flickering towards the horizon. Many people believe in different meanings for this event, and expats will therefore have the chance to find their own meaning. Some say it honours the Water Goddess, and others view it as a way to cast off negative feelings. Regardless, it's one of the most visually stunning annual events in Bangkok.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bangkok

Expats moving to Bangkok will undoubtedly have questions about their new home. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in the Thai Capital. 

Is Bangkok safe?

Bangkok is surprisingly safe considering the large income disparity and even larger population. Westerners, in particular, are treated with the utmost respect, and expats in general are nearly always welcomed rather than treated with hostility.

Most apartment complexes and hotels hire a security guard. Hospitals are extremely safe and expats shouldn't be concerned about political violence as long as they stay clear of protests.

Is Bangkok accessible for children?

The city can be great for children. One drawback is pollution, but medical treatment is top-notch. There are also a large number of water parks, zoos and other activities to capture a child's imagination, and private schools are of a good quality. Often city neighbourhoods act as communities and it is common for children to be looked after and, in part, raised by the neighbours.

Will I need to learn Thai?

There are so many expats in Bangkok that it is easy to circulate primarily in English-speaking crowds and hangouts. That said, many locals cannot speak English, especially outside of Bangkok in more rural areas. Learning some rudimentary words and sentences will go a long way to enhancing the experience of the country.

Do I need a car?

No, expats definitely don't need a car in Bangkok. In fact, public transport, such as the Sky Train, tuk-tuks and subway, is much faster than driving. Frustrating traffic jams are also regular parts of any commute. Unfortunately, public transport does not reach all areas of the city, but there are plenty of taxis and motorbike taxis available.

Getting Around in Bangkok

Transport options in Bangkok are endless, so expats won't have any trouble getting around. Most expats tend to favour public transport, particularly the city's BTS Skytrain, and taxis are also popular. Travelling by foot is not ideal in Bangkok, while travelling by car is equal parts dangerous and frustrating. That said, driving may be essential for those living in areas not reached by public transport. 


Public transport in Bangkok

Trains

A popular mode of transportation among expats in Bangkok is the BTS Skytrain. This elevated train system navigates the main business, entertainment and hospitality districts of Silom and Sukhumvit. It is a reliable, clean and safe way to travel in Bangkok.

Alternatively, expats can opt to take the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT), simply known as the metro, which runs underground from the north to the south of the city. It's based on the Singaporean model and is popular with expats as well as locals.

Buses

There is an extensive system of buses in Bangkok, some of which are equipped with air conditioning. Although this is a cheap way to travel, it is often uncomfortable and can be slow due to the amount of traffic in the city. For this reason, it is not generally a popular option with expats, but buses are ideal for long-distance, rural, and intercity travel. A wide variety of private services operate routes to different parts of Thailand.


Taxis in Bangkok

Taxi cabs

Taxis provide the most reliable, convenient, cost-effective and efficient way of getting around in Bangkok. These vehicles are never in short supply and are available around the clock. Expats can simply flag one down, hop in and prepare to pay the fare.

Taxis are usually fitted with a meter which charges a set rate per kilometre – by law, the meter should be turned on, but some drivers deliberately leave them off in order to charge the passenger a higher price. If the driver refuses to use the meter even after a passenger has requested it, the best response is to promptly exit the taxi and find another one.

It is important to remember that most taxi drivers have limited English skills. Expats living in Bangkok will quickly learn that it is best to have the address of their destination written down in Thai, or they may experience an unsolicited tour of the city.

The language barrier, and the possibility of being overcharged at the last minute, is best circumvented by using ride-hailing apps like Grab.

Tuk-tuks

Expats in Thailand will quickly become familiar with tuk-tuks, open-air three-wheeled carriages attached to motorbikes. The city is served by thousands of them and while they are popular with tourists, they are also useful for expats and locals. Tuk-tuks are a speedy way to get around as their size allows them to weave in and out of traffic.

Songthaews

Also known as ‘red buses' or 'red trucks’, songthaews are another popular choice of transport in Thailand. These passenger vehicles are adapted from pick-up trucks and are used as a share taxi. Songthaews are used both within towns and cities, as well as for longer routes between towns and villages.


Driving in Bangkok

As a result of the city's constant heavy traffic, as well as the high death toll on its roads, many expats prefer to avoid driving in Bangkok. Expats who do intend to drive can buy new cars in Thailand or import their own from home, but both of these options are expensive. Foreign driver's licences are acceptable for up to three months after arriving in Thailand. A local Thai driver’s licence must then be obtained.

It's not uncommon for expats to hire experienced Thai drivers rather than braving the roads themselves. This is an ideal solution and some employers may agree to include this perk as part of the offered relocation package. 


Cycling in Bangkok

Compared to many of the world's other major cities, Bangkok is relatively bicycle-friendly. There are a fair few cycle lanes scattered around the city, though getting from one to the other may prove troublesome. Furthermore, these lanes are usually shared with pedestrians and streetside markets, making them tricky to navigate safely. Cycling on the road itself is extremely dangerous and should be avoided wherever possible. 


Walking in Bangkok

Thai locals tend to walk less than expats in Bangkok, which may explain why the sidewalks are often used for shopping rather than strolling. The city's high pedestrian fatality rate should be taken seriously. If travelling by foot is unavoidable, it should be done only over short distances.