- 1 Finding Works
- 1.1 Recommended Job Seeking Sites
- 1.2 Events, Meetups and Fairs
- 1.3 Off-the-Beaten Path Options
- 2 Send Money to Thailand
- 3 Opening a Bank Account Account
- 4 Credit Cards
- 5 Renting Apartment
- 5.1 Apartment Rental Websites
- 5.2 How to Find Amazing Deals
- 5.3 Bangkok Houses (whole article)
- 6 Buying a Condo
- 7 Health Insurance
- 8 Fitness
- 8.1 Free Fitness Options
- 8.2 Running
- 8.3 Swimming
- 8.4 Cycling
- 9 Thailand Deals and Discount (Whole Article)
- 10 Lawyer
Recommended Job Seeking Sites
Although less structured than JobsDB, Craigslist (Thailand) has proven to be a useful job-hunting site for me (it’s where I found my second job). The job listings are arranged according to broad job categories (Admin, Marketing, Finance, Technical Support, etc.. It is also one of the more ideal places to look if you’re after freelance work.
The main advantage to using Craigslist for job search is its simplicity. As posting on the site is free, the exchange between applicants and job posters is faster than in most job search sites.
One of the more noticeable differences between Craigslist and other job sites such as JobsDB and LinkedIn is that job posters on Craigslist are more upfront about their requirements. Also, with much fewer postings, it is easier to browse, since the headlines do not fall under an imposed job categorization that can muddle a user’s search. It wouldn’t be strange to find job ads with very specific headlines such as ‘Thai & English-speaking Telemarketing Team Development Manager’ under its ‘Marketing’ category or ‘Keynote Designer’ under the ‘Web/html/Info’ category, and many others.
Not until I moved to Thailand did I see the value of actively maintaining a LinkedIn profile. Through LinkedIn, I landed job number three and have observed that the time it takes for recruiters to respond to applicants is also quite fast. There are a few ways that help you make the most out of LinkedIn. Below are my go-to suggestions for everyone looking to find a job on the platform.
Company Career Pages
A recruitment specialist friend and former colleague who frequently uses LinkedIn when searching for potential candidates posts job ads on the company’s career page and gets anywhere from 50 applications or more, perhaps due to the convenience of submitting an application through the site. According to her, most applicants (or at least those looking for opportunities in Thailand) submit an application through their company’s LinkedIn careers page, whereupon the recruitment team narrows down the qualified applicants for interview regardless of whether the candidate is already in Thailand or not.
Still according to her, while it is common for headhunters to approach (via direct mail) promising candidates on LinkedIn, in-house recruitment officers in most large Thai companies prefer to select from the applications received via the career’s page and then create a shortlist out of that list instead of actively searching within the site.
That is somehow supported by this recruitment expert’s claim that there is no singular tried-and-tested way of getting hired by a Thai company through LinkedIn. This probably explains how I got hired on my third job via the professional networking site. When I was hired via LinkedIn, it was not because of any particular keywords in my professional summary that got their attention, but simply because I made it through the company’s routine shortlisting process.
Like JobsDB, job alerts can be set up on LinkedIn, and you can opt to set up these alerts based on your job search history or jobs you’ve saved previously. Expect to find a wide range of jobs in both medium-sized and multinational firms. I would strongly recommend looking at jobs here, especially in middle management, upper management, and senior or executive level positions. Positions in Digital Marketing, Hospitality, e-Commerce/IT and Finance are among the most common.
It’s an open secret that companies search for specific keywords when going out to actively recruit candidates. Aside from the obvious stuff like listing specific technologies you worked with, there also some lesser known ones that can help you pop up in a search
Companies in Thailand looking for candidates abroad want to see an indicator that potential hirees are flexible and willing to move. One way to showcase that is to list extensive travels in your LinkedIn resume (e.g. GAP years or sabbaticals). It shows that you are already familiar with spending extensive time abroad. You might as well use these specific keywords since that might be something a recruiter will search for when looking for candidates.
For more tips on improving your LinkedIn profile for potential candidate seekers, I suggest reading this.
Successful recruiters and hiring managers look at their current work force to see what organizations they have on their resume: previous employers, universities, high schools and sometimes even volunteer organizations (think Toastmasters and similar clubs). Make sure your profile is filled out completely and that it lists all the organizations you were an active member of.
In finding a job, going one step further than your fellow job hunters often can be the difference between finding a job and remaining unsuccessful. In LinkedIn, going the extra mile means getting a premium account: It allows you to message people outside of your network. Once you have a premium account, you can contact functional leaders and hiring managers directly at the companies you’d like to work for. Most won’t reply – but for some, you might be able to get on the radar of the people capable of driving or making a hiring decision. One day, this might stop working (when everyone does it…), but for now it’s fairly unusual in Thailand and will give you an advantage.
Events, Meetups and Fairs
Aside from the digital job hunt, there is also the good old in-person networking at meetups, events and job fairs. Some of them exclusively take place outside of Thailand (e.g. recruitment fairs for international school teachers) while others only happen in Thailand (e.g. networking events by chambers of commerce).
Bilateral Chambers of Commerce
Most countries have a joint chamber of commerce with Thailand, and nearly all of them host monthly or quarterly networking meetings and events. I would recommend bookmarking the social events calendar of some foreign chambers of commerce in Thailand to keep abreast of upcoming events.
Membership on most chambers comes with access to business, community and networking events, and discounted rates to these events. However, most chambers don’t require you to be a member to attend their events.
Attending an event might not land you a job directly, but it’s a good way to build a network and market your skills. It also shows you what kind of jobs other foreigners hold and which companies they work for, and therefore which companies are most likely to hire foreigners, giving you ideas on who you can approach in your job search.
Some of the bilateral foreign trade chambers hold either monthly or quarterly business and networking events. Below you will find links their respective events calendars:
- Australia: The Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- Belgium and Luxembourg: The Belgian-Luxembourg/Thai Chamber of Commerce – Holds events on a quarterly basis, some of which are similar to those posted in EABC’s events.
- Canada: Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- Denmark: Danish-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- New Zealand: New Zealand Thai Networking Event
- France: Franco-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- Germany: German-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- Italy: Thai-Italian Chamber of Commerce – Business meetings and lots of culinary events
- Netherlands: Netherlands-Thai Chamber of Commerce – Check the site for culinary and business events and a jobs board
- Singapore: Singapore-Thai Chamber of Commerce
- Sweden: Thai-Swedish Chamber of Commerce
- Switzerland: SwissThai Chamber of Commerce – Holds networking events, luncheons, management seminars and other business events.
- United Kingdom: British Chamber of Commerce Thailand
- United States: The American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand
In a similar vein, there is the European Association for Business and Commerce. While not technically a chamber of commerce, it holds networking and business events in various Thai cities and provinces and often works with other European chambers of commerce in hosting events.
Alternatively, you can check events organizing sites such as Eventbrite to search for networking events in Bangkok. Most of the networking events posted here charge fees for their events and are hosted by long-established groups of professionals in Bangkok. Again, you wouldn’t go here to land a job but to find groups that host regular networking events that could help you establish a footing in Bangkok’s business and professional community.
If there are job fairs for your field of expertise, there’s a chance representatives from Thailand-based companies are present. For example, for aspiring teachers, attending education fairs is an excellent way to land a plum position at an international school in Thailand. Working at an international school is desirable as it often comes with an expat package that typically includes a bigger-than-average salary, housing and other benefits; understandably, these posts tend to be highly competitive. For more insight into this, I suggest reading this blog post.
The thing to remember when signing up for a networking site like meetup.com is that many of the free events have a high ratio of tourists, retirees and interns, which make it harder to find people who are in a position to give advice or make offers to potential job seekers. The best way to go is via paid groups.
A group such as Bangkok Entrepreneurs, with over 4,500 members, would be a good group to join – the groups offers a monthly networking event for professionals in Bangkok and Thailand.
Off-the-Beaten Path Options
The above are the most common ways to find a job. However, there are a number of additional approaches that can yield results. Depending on your industry, some might be more successful than others, but with nothing much else to lose other than time, they might be worth exploring.
Facebook Groups and Pages
It is not uncommon to find job ads in Thailand and Bangkok-based Facebook groups, where several times a day, you will see posts both from recruiters and job seekers.
A major downside in looking for jobs in Facebook groups is being inundated with many non-job-related posts even in groups that are supposedly for job-seeking professionals. There is always an abundance of cheeky fellows, but cheer up as there are legitimate opportunities to be found. You can filter out non-job posts by using the tiny search field in the upper right corner below the group page’s header, and using keywords such as ‘job(s)’, ‘employment’, or if you want to filter further, specific job keywords such as ‘teaching’ or ‘marketing’. Granted, this doesn’t guarantee a whole lot of results but teaching job ads do get posted quite frequently; you just have to block out all those adopt-my-kitty posts.
Bangkok Expats (45,000 Members): This group allows members to promote their businesses, career opportunities, and ask questions (non-controversial ones). It’s one of the most popular and most active Thailand-based groups and provides great exposure for job wanted ads given its member count. A major downside is the predominance of real estate posts. Being a member of a Bangkok or Thailand-based Facebook groups also comes with other perks such as getting firsthand account of fellow members’ encounters on their visa and work permit applications and issues, which could be relevant to you as a job seeker. Also, by being an expat Facebook group member, you get updates on immigration laws and other relevant Thailand news.
Thailand Professionals (12,600 Members): Owned and managed by a company called World of Professionals Inc, this site is also an okay place to look for and post a job wanted ad. Despite having fewer members than other Thailand and Bangkok groups, users here are more attentive to job-related posts. Expect to find a few buy-sell-trade posts, though.
Desperately Seeking – Bangkok
Desperately Seeking – Bangkok (30,900 Members): This group is for members who are ‘desperately seeking’ all sorts of things, including bike shops, insurance providers, magicians for kids’ parties, extras for TV commercials, fitness centers, computer shops that sell very specific types of cables, places to rent or own, pets, the best fish n’ chips in Sukhumvit, and of course, employment opportunities. The group is quite strict with posts, but job ads and job wanted ads are okay. The only job-related rule in its long list of commandments is this:
*Seeking for JOBS, Please add a short description of your qualifications, background, what position type you are seeking and your contact details. Post not giving sufficient description will be removed.
Amidst the lease takeover and ‘where to find the best Khao San bar crawl’ posts in the group, you can spot legitimate job ads here. Although it primarily serves as tourists, expats and some Thais’ go-to Facebook group for ‘desperate’ searches, job opportunities can also be found in this very active community.
Everything Bangkok (17,000 Members): It functions almost exactly like Bangkok Expats, with not a lot of restrictions on posting, aside from the ‘one advertising post per week’ rule. If you’re posting a job wanted ad in one Facebook group, it would make sense to post on all the Facebook groups that you’re a member of, and this group is another place that increases your ad’s exposure. Just don’t be the guy who spams then gets banned.
Jobs in Bangkok and Thailand
Jobs in Bangkok and Thailand (Non-teaching) (34,000 Members): Another option for Facebook searches. There is no single job category that dominates the ads posted, but the group is specifically for expats and Thais interested in non-teaching jobs. What’s great about the group is the steady stream of job ads and minimal to zero non-job-related posts, and there is great variety of jobs posted, from skilled to executive positions. What’s not so great is posting job wanted ads can be a bit challenging.
Actors Association of Thailand
Actors Association of Thailand (25,500 Members): Posts here are not limited to acting and modeling; there are also some for voice talents, film crew, photographers and positions in the performance arts. What’s great about this group is that the moderators have laid out useful rules in posting job ads, eg, jobs should be based in Thailand. Mods also require ads to indicate a budget for job posters perhaps as a way to show the posters’ legitimacy. Quite a few of the ads require specific race and looks (eg, Eastern European blonde males, well-groomed Eurasian models with or without experience, etc.) and even include locations. It won’t hurt, however, to examine the profile behind some of the posters as it is a dangerous online world out there. There are other Thailand-based actors-artists Facebook pages but with much fewer members.
How to Advertise Yourself
On several occasions, I’ve posted a job-wanted ad on some of these groups and have received quite a few referrals through it. The best way to do so, it seems, is to provide a brief professional summary (remember: attention span is on short supply on Facebook) and the kind of job/career that you’re looking for. Just make sure to check your Message Requests and Filtered messages in your account, or else include your email in your ad.
Here’s a sample of a job ad that could work:
I’m a freelance content editor and manager living in Bangkok looking for full-time career opportunities. I hold a bachelor’s degree in commerce, major in Business Economics. Recent professional experience includes copywriting for a luxury resort brand and online marketing mainly, creating and managing content for various niche websites. Previously, I was a financial research analyst at Thomson Reuters. I’m passionate about writing and editing. Any leads will be appreciated. Thank you.
Your Personal Network
I wouldn’t exactly call it an off-the-beaten path option, but many people tend to forget about their extended personal network: Not only the people you know directly, but the people that they know as well.
It’s not uncommon to move to Thailand and then to notice that there are other people from your personal network that settled down here before you. Whether it’s a high school buddy or someone who went to the same university: Thailand is a big and popular place. It makes sense to check in advance (on LinkedIn, Facebook, by asking around) if anyone out of your existing network is here already. They can not only provide advice on moving and working here, but might also be aware of job openings at their employers, in the industry or at companies their friends in the country work at. Leveraging your personal network in Thailand is something you can do before ever setting foot in the country – and then to continue expanding those efforts once you arrive.
Send Money to Thailand
Depending on which country you’re sending money from, you can save a lot of money by going with the right bank.
Bangkok Bank has correspondence branches in a number of countries. When sending payments in those countries in a local currency, the bank has an amazing service: you can use the routing code of their local branch to make a domestic transfer. It’ll get credited to your Thai bank account at Bangkok Bank’s internal and very favorable exchange rate. This works for everyone who has an account at Bangkok Bank, no prior sign-up or account abroad necessary.
Below you’ll find details about where this service is available, as well as where there are more competitive services you can use instead.
Keep in mind that for virtually all sending countries, using a money transfer service will be (significantly) cheaper than an actual bank transfer. You can find the current cheapest rates for your sending country using a money transfer comparison service.
Based on anecdotal evidence, German co-operative banks (‘Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken’) convert at 1.7% below mid market rate, public banks (‘Sparkassen’) convert at 2.1% below mid market rate for EUR to THB: Both are significantly worse than Thai banks (usually around 1% below mid market rate, with Bangkok Bank being the exception at 0.5%).
Based on this, you’re better off transferring the amount in EUR and have the Thai bank do the conversion. The fixed rates charged to senders usually tend to be lower in Germany than the receiving fees in Thailand, so set fees ‘to be paid by sender’ in your wire instructions.
From Hong Kong
There are no exceptionally cheap transfer services offered from Hong Kong that I am aware of. What’s noteworthy however, is that transfers sent before cut-off time from a number of banks (including HSBC) are usually processed in less than 5 minutes, making for the closest thing possible to an instant bank transfer.
When sending a payment from Israel Post, you only pay USD 8 (as sender) and THB 70 on the receiving end (if the receiver has a Bangkok Bank account). What’s unique about Israel Post is that you can also specify bank accounts other than Bangkok Bank, though there’ll be an extra charge of THB 100.
Bangkok Bank has offices in Tokyo and Osaka through which you can route payments as domestic transfers from Japan. They also offer a service in cooperation with Japan Post Bank.
In cooperation with Korea Post, Bangkok Bank has a service where they charge you KRW 8,000 in Korea and THB 200 in Thailand (plus an exchange rate spread of about 0.5%), making it cheaper than most international payment options.
From the UK
Through their London branch, Bangkok Bank supports ‘domestic’ UK bank transfers. Detailed instructions can be found on their website.
From the US
For payments in US Dollars and especially from a US-based sender, you can use the routing code of the Bangkok Bank New York branch (‘026008691’) together with the account number of your Thailand-based Bangkok Bank account. US-based senders can send payments as a domestic transfer using that routing number, and it’ll get credited to your Thai bank account at Bangkok Bank’s internal and very favorable exchange rate.
This is also really useful to receive funds from internet payment providers who only allow US-based accounts. It used to be a good way to circumvent PayPal’s exchange fee surcharge. Unfortunately, PayPal has since discovered this loophole and no longer allows accounts with the routing code of Bangkok Bank’s New York branch to be added.
When sending a payment via Swiss Post, fees are as low as CHF 2 per outgoing transfer. The recipient pays THB 200 or THB 250, depending if they have a Bangkok Bank account or one from any other Thai Bank.
From Anywhere Else
You can do your own research, but in most cases, you’ll find that you’re best off sending transfers to a Bangkok Bank account: their transaction fees are roughly half of what you pay with Kasikorn Bank or Siam Commercial Bank. In addition, if you transfer a larger amount (more than THB 1M), you can ask them to give you a quote for a better exchange rate. The actual transfer charges (e.g. THB 1,150 for a transfer from Thailand to the US with Bangkok Bank) are only relevant for amounts of less than USD 2,000.
Opening a Bank Account Account
Savings Accounts (Partial)
There are reports of some branches in Bangkok being happy with your passport alone, but the more common case seems to be that a proof of address is required. The easiest is a lease agreement, but any of the following documents might also be accepted:
- Thai driving license
- Thai house registration
- Letter of reference from a ‘reputable’ Thai person, an embassy, a university or a similar person or organisation in high standing
- Letter from a company stating that you are in the process of getting a work permit
- Message from your home bank to the Thai bank via the SWIFT messaging network
I recommend you bring anything that shows you’re in Thailand for a longer period of time, any ID with a picture on it, as well as any documents showing you receive a salary or pension. What specifically gets accepted will depend a bit on the officer on duty and the branch manager in charge.
For Bangkok Bank, there are online instructions available on how to open an account as a non-resident. Following them is probably a good guideline regardless of which bank you’re applying to.
Dress nicely and consider bringing a Thai person to help translate when opening an account. Sometimes indicating that you’d like to make a deposit of THB 30,000 to THB 50,000 rather than just the minimum balance will be looked upon favorably. None of that is technically required, but it makes life somewhat easier. As mentioned above, it’s a bit of a branch-by-branch thing.
If approved, you’ll receive a passbook and a debit card. For some things (e.g. updating the passport number on file), you’ll have to contact the branch where you opened the account, otherwise you can just use whatever branch is convenient.
The Malaysian bank group CIMB has a significant presence in Thailand. The recommended branch to deal with is the one on the 5th floor of Siam Paragon. What’s good about them is that they’ll allow you to open an account on a tourist visa and unlike many other banks will also set you up with online banking.
What you’ll need to bring and provide when opening an account with them:
- Address proof from your home country (e.g. an official ID that lists your address)
- Utility bill in Thailand (ideally the last three)
- Thai phone number
- A Thai national who’ll serve as a reference (they’ll have to go with you and show their ID)
They’ll give you a VISA debit card on the spot (fee: THB 300) and will expect a minimum account deposit of THB 1,000. Most importantly, if you are on a tourist visa, they’ll give you online banking access.
Credit Card Comparison Websites
There are comparison websites that allow you to look up different types of credit cards and their benefits in the Thai market.
The number and quality of covered cards, search options and available filters of gobear’s credit card comparison make it the most powerful comparison website in Thailand when it comes to picking a specific card. The biggest drawback of gobear? It’s only available in Thai. That said – using a comparison portal isn’t rocket science. If all else fails, you can enlist the help of a Thai friend or Google Translate.
A recent entry in the market is masii. The main reason to check out masii’s credit card comparison is their English language interface. While it doesn’t list as many cards as GoBear and doesn’t quite offer the same features, it’s still a decent option if you want to avoid dealing with a Thai language resource.
For most professionals in Bangkok, rent is their biggest expense. The easiest way to find a decent place is to go to hipflat (http://www.hipflat.co.th/), and check for places in your desired district.
If you’re looking for hidden deals in condo buildings, check the sub-forum for the building you’re interested in on on Prakard (http://www.prakard.com/). Many listings there are by owners or non-syndicated agents and sometimes these don’t show up elsewhere.
Should you have the time, you can also scout areas around desirable neighborhoods and take pictures of ‘for rent’ signs. This way I came across a furnished 90sqm apartment in Silom that went for THB 20,000 / month. If you need ideas for the right neighborhood, look online for a listing that meets you desired price per square meter (total size and other details don’t matter) and contact them. If it’s an agent, have them take you to the right building and street. From there on you can do your own research: The best deals are advertised on signs outside of the buildings that have vacancies and are rarely found online.
Apartment Rental Websites
Keep in mind that prices listed on websites are often negotiable. This means getting a discount of 20% off the list price is not unusual. However, it may take a while to find the place most suitable to your need.
There are many different ways to find a place to buy or rent, and depending on whether or not you are in Thailand, you should look at as many of these as possible. In case you need my help in finding, I can put you in touch with an agent I feel comfortable recommending with.
9apartment focuses on the lower end of the market and is great if you’re looking for the cheapest place possible. You can, for example, specify that you want an apartment for less than THB 4,000 / month and get pages of results for a single neighborhood. The cheapest place I came across was THB 1,600 / month. The limited information often available is in both Thai and English. It’s also the best online site if you’re looking for very small buildings that are often not listed on any of the other real estate sites.
Really not the most aesthetic site out there, but Craigslist is good for finding places offering wheelchair access and permitting pets (the site offers filters for both).
DDproperty is by far the most visited real estate site in Thailand. You can search for proximity to a specific type of transportation (MRT, BTS, Airlink) or even a specific station (in which case, it lists nearby places together with the specific distance). Some descriptions in Thai. Also has houses. Try searching by price per square meter (since you can select specific square meter and price range). DDproperty provides a limited list of details, so you’ll occasionally find yourself having to call up the agent who listed a property (or even head there in person) to get the remaining details.
At the time of writing, Hipflat is my favorite real estate site in Thailand. It offers a very intuitive, map-based interface with one of the largest inventories for Bangkok. Based on the included offers, I actually suspect that they pull part of their inventory from other websites and forums automatically. When selecting a specific part of the city on the map, you can immediately see the exact locations of places and prices. At the moment, this is the third biggest real estate site in Thailand by visitors, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it surpasses DDproperty in the coming months.
The Thai equivalent to Craigslist: Prakard is a forum-based real estate website that has a sub-forum for each major condo building in Bangkok and the provinces. What makes this site so valuable is that a lot of owners post their apartments here directly. You might encounter a language barrier with them, but it’s one way to find a good deal online. Prices posted here tend to be more realistic than what you find on agent-dominated real estate sites. The downside is that it’s mostly in Thai, though Google translate can help with the essentials and the building names are in English. Another big benefit is that you see the original posting date, possibly giving you an idea of how long the unit has been on the market.
Not far behind Hipflat, RentHub is an especially good choice if you’re looking for something temporary that comes a bit cheaper than your average Airbnb place. A very nice feature is that it allows you to search for places with daily rates. Other filters unique to RentHub include places that allow smoking, have an in-house laundry or are okay with pets.
As a Thai-language only website, ThinkofLiving is the second most visited website at the time of writing. It features a lot of editorial content, including condominium reviews. My impression is that compared to other sites, it has a stronger focus on buying rather than renting places.
While the above sites are the biggest ones featuring the most offers, you can also check out some of the smaller sites including MrRoomFinder, and Thaiapartment.com. A relative newcomer in the market is FindYourSpace which launched in 2015 and similar to Hipflat, focuses on a map-based search interface (they also offer an Android app, though I haven’t tried it yet).
How to Find Amazing Deals
So you decided on a budget, neighborhood and possibly accommodation type. How do you go about finding a place there? Although things are moving more and more online, the best deals might be not be found on a website, especially when searching for information in English. These strategies I recommend to newcomers, as well as people looking for a new place in the city (in which case. you can skip finding temporary accommodation)
Discovering Hidden Deals
A lot of offers on the above listed websites are dominated by agents. Sometimes this is clear from the get go, other times you find out when you show up at the place. Especially with freehold units, agents might not want to disclose the exact building or unit until you meet them.
If you do not want to deal with an agent (e.g. due to looking for less than a twelve month contract duration), you can still use this to your advantage by searching for place that is in the right ‘price per square meter’ range. Show up, take a look at the place and if it doesn’t fit what you’re looking for, do a walk-around in the building and in the neighborhood.
That’s where your real search for a deal starts: keep an eye open for apartment-for-rent signs in front of condo buildings, on doors of individual units and posted on streets nearby. If you can’t read Thai, just take pictures with your phone of any sign listing a phone number and ask someone for help later on.
In addition, talk to the administration officers of freehold buildings. Their first reaction will often be to refer you to agents or show you a list of vacant units. Some freehold owners refuse to pay commissions and will thus get omitted in those listings. If you are persistent in asking if that’s all they have, they grudgingly might pass you the details of one such owner. Example, in my office building, there’s an entire floor completely empty because the owner had a falling out with the administration. Those units are always missing from the vacant unit lists that gets shown to prospective tenants. For you, that’s a recipe for a great deal. Your advantage? Lower rent or shorter contract durations.
Another strategy is to hire a motorcycle taxi for half a day and ask him to take you around an area with places that have vacancies. Since this is not something they do on a regular basis, you might need a Thai friend to help explain what you want. On the plus side, it means they don’t have commission deals with the apartments. If you can find someone who can be of assistance, it’s pretty much a steal at the THB 500 you pay them for a few hours of research.
Selecting Older Buildings
Go with a building that’s 8-14 years old. Apartments in Bangkok often lose value and similar to second hand cars, are sold at a discount. Part of this is a certain cultural aversion to second hand condominiums, part is the lack of maintenance. I’ve sat in on condominium ownership meetings where it was announced that the administration had not only no money left, but the mandatory seven-year cable replacement date for the elevator was coming up. I moved out before the deadline of the maintenance, so I’m not sure what happened, but the elevator is still running. So if you go with a building that’s not brand new, you can save quite a bit. You might want to take the stairs though.
Commuting by Motorcycle Taxi
There’s a significant surcharge for locations within 200 meters of a BTS or MRT station (something that would be considered ‘walking distance’ here). If you move a bit further away (400m+), prices drop significantly. If you don’t mind a short hike or a motorcycle taxi ride, this can save you a lot of money. Personally, I don’t use them on main roads, but for back alleys that lead to BTS or MRT stations where traffic proceeds at a reasonable pace, I’m okay with them. If you want to play things safe, just get your own motorcycle helmet. It’ll earn you some chuckles, but whizzing through main roads and traffic on a scooter every day is one of the things in Bangkok you don’t want to do without protection.
Avoiding Unnecessary Parking and Facilities
The run-of-the-mill nice condo comes with a pool, sauna, fitness room and a parking spot. If you can make do without those, your accommodation options expand a lot. In fact, you might specifically want to seek out places that don’t offer the above – they’ll come at a significant discount (especially the lack of parking spot makes a difference).
Negotiating Your Contract
Usually you can get a discount of 8 to 20% on the initially quoted price (either in form of a lower rent or a free first month). Agents might not be thrilled about giving in on that, given that also means their commission is 20% lower. It’s best to talk about it when the home owner is present, rather than just through the agent. It’s also another reason why you might want to seek out a place that is offered directly by the owner.
If there’s something missing (e.g. a flat screen TV, a washing machine), this is also a good time to negotiate for that. Here’s a good guide to negotiating for a place in Bangkok.
Bangkok Houses (whole article)
Townhouses in Bangkok can offer some really good deals in terms of space and ‘feeling of home’ you get for your money. Prices start around THB 7,000 in less desirable areas of the city. For a basic, older but central place, you’ll have to shell out THB 20,000 to THB 30,000. If you’re doing a budget flat share, this can be an interesting option that offers a lot of space, if you’re willing to put up with some inconveniences.
If you’re looking for a detached house that’s central, well maintained, furnished and has a garden, you’re going to have a hard time finding anything for less than THB 75,000.
The main concerns people have with houses in Bangkok are facilities, maintenance and security. With no facilities, you have to take into account the cost of gym, hotel or club memberships if you’re looking for an air conditioned place to work out. There’s no staff on payroll to fix something right away when it breaks or anyone around to keep an eye on things while you’re out of the house.
A friend of mine employs an interesting work-around to deal with security: he rented a house opposite a condominium building that maintains a 24-hour staff of security guards. By befriending them and giving them gifts for the holidays, he not only stays in their good graces, but also has someone who keeps an eye on his own house. Get a membership at a nearby sports club and the address of some good mechanics from your neighbors, and you’ve got things covered.
The easier option is to go with an apartment that comes with all the amenities – at a price the administration takes care of all these guys.
Buying a Condo
Buying in Foreigner or Thai Name
One big decision which many Thai/Foreign couples need to decide on is whose name the condo should be registered under. While it is possible to register the condo under a foreigner’s name, there are several factors to consider.
We have already talked about financing a property and the fact that a Thai citizen can get a mortgage from a Thai bank so long as they have a good credit history and a salary of at least 15,000 Baht a month. Because of this, some foreigners decide to register their condo under their Thai partner’s name. It makes the process easier and monthly mortgage payments can be made. However, if the condo price is over 1.5 million Baht, the Thai partner will need to earn over 30,000 Bat a month to get a loan that big, which could prove an issue for many couples.
Next you have to consider that Thailand doesn’t allow foreigners to finance a property for their partner and then claim that the condo is theirs. Any money given to a Thai partner will be considered a gift and that you claim no right in terms of ownership of any property purchased. This means that any condo funded this way will remain the property of the Thai national, and they have the legal right to kick you out and maintain ownership even if they didn’t pay a penny of their own money for it.
Putting the property in a Thai person’s name might be the only option for some couples, and in the end it comes down to trust and the stability of your relationship. It is true that some people have been burnt and lost their property, but there are also many who are happily reaping the benefit of purchasing this way. In the end, if you aren’t sure then my personal advice would be just to rent somewhere. You can save up over time, and in the future, the banks might offer foreigners mortgages which are affordable and accessible.
Buying Off Plan
Buying off plan is an option that many people take up when buying a condo in Thailand.
This option means you have to rely on pictures and blueprints provided by the developer to imagine what your future condo will look like. I have seen a few condos in this circumstance, and the beautifully furnished showroom isn’t always what you get. Often the ceilings will be lower in the real room and the expensive extras wont be included. It is more important than ever to read your contract and know what you will get for your money.
Buying off plan does have a couple of advantages. At this stage of the development, you can normally get the lowest prices as the developer is looking for deposits to cover the costs of starting the building work. It is possible to make savings of around 5-10% of the final price, and many developers throw in free gifts such as iPhones or tablets for early purchasers.
The other thing that attracts people to buy off plan is the ability to flip the unit and make a quick profit. I just want to say that this is highly risky and shouldn’t be seen as an easy way to make money – if things go wrong then you can lose a lot and be stuck with a condo you don’t want or can’t afford. Condo flipping is where early buyers take advantage of initial low prices and put a deposit on the condo. When all the rooms are sold out or the price increases a lot, they can then sell the deposit on to another buyer at a decent profit. As I said above, the price can be 10% lower buying off plan, so a 5 million baht condo can go up half a million – the seller can then ask for 250,000 or more to get a sale from a desperate buyer who really wants a room in the building.
Finance Option (Partial)
This leaves you with a few options if you require a mortgage to purchase your Thai condo.
The first is to look at a bank such as UOB or Bangkok Bank, which have branches overseas, and apply for a mortgage in USD and then transfer it to Thailand. The downside to this method is that you will pay higher interest rates and often have to pay a deposit of around 50%.
The next is to look at getting a loan from your home country. With condo prices starting at around 1 million Baht, it could be possible to get a loan or remortgage another property you have. The likelihood of being accepted depends on your credit history, but it is a viable option with most banks covering up to 80% of the appraised property value.
The final viable option is to speak to the developer and see if hire purchase is an option. Hire purchase works where regular payments are made totaling the final amount, at which point the condo is then registered under the buyer’s name. This means you are, in theory, renting the property until all payments are made. Bear in mind though that all payments need to be remitted from outside of Thailand and when registering the property, you will need to get evidence of all your transactions. As an example, a foreign engineer working in the gas industry in Thailand will likely be paid in their home currency and can then remit this to Thailand on a monthly /quarterly basis to the developer.
Another option which is seemingly popular is to get a mortgage under a Thai partner. We will look more about the implications of this a little later in the article…
Going Without Insurance
Some people prefer no insurance at all. According to a broker I’ve talked to, the price for health insurance in Thailand is driven up by expats picking the most expensive hospitals and following a not too healthy lifestyle. If you speak Thai, go to local hospitals and live a healthy life, skipping health insurance altogether might work out for you. In case you decide to forego insurance, that’s not the end of the world in Thailand. You can keep your medical costs low while still receiving good coverage. Here are some suggestions:
- Google your doctors: Many doctors at top end hospitals were trained at government hospitals and still have a contractual obligation to work there. If you find a specialist at a top tier hospital, you can google them and check where else they work (you might have to look up the Thai spelling of their name). This even works for surgeries. Equipment will be a bit older at their government location, but costs can be a fraction of what you would pay otherwise.
- Find good value hospitals: The social security system above lists a number of good hospitals that provide great value for money. You can go to any of them and just pay in cash. Waiting times will be shorter than with social security. In addition to the social security hospitals listed above, I heard very good things about the private clinic at Ramathibodi Hospital, Veterans General Hospital and Rajavithi Hospital (especially for Ear-Nose-Throat issues). Make sure you compare prices though – the ‘private’ department of some government hospitals can get quite pricey as well.
- Carry credit cards: Even though required by law, some hospitals refuse emergency care if they believe you won’t be able to pay. Proving otherwise can be difficult if you’re unconscious. This is the reason why I never leave the house without some sort of ID and a credit card. I’m not sure if that will help, but I assume it improves my chances.
- Stay Put: If you ever get admitted to the emergency department of a government hospital: Don’t leave the building until you’re completely recovered if you don’t have the necessary funds on you. Even though hospitals are required to take in emergency cases (and more reputable ones will do that regardless if you are able to pay or not), once you leave the building, their obligation ends and they can and will discharge you. I saw that happen with a guy involved in a motorcycle accident. Not a good situation to be in.
- Get prescriptions: Try not to buy medication from the hospital. You can always tell the doctor you’ll need a prescription for traveling abroad and then use that to buy it from an external pharmacy. They are not happy about it, but it’ll cut your medication costs by 50% to 90%. You might still be forced to buy some medication from the hospital, in which case you can at least ask for the minimum supply and then buy any additional medication you need later on yourself.
- Stay healthy: You can also reduce medical costs is by reducing the need for medical treatments. Aside from common sense things traffic safety, having the right vaccinations, and not missing out on regular checkups, it pays to be aware of local health hazards. Reading up on health issues in Thailand (especially in the countryside) is a good way to get started.
- Medications: Private hospitals are in the healthcare business to make a profit. Yes, they help you and give you excellent care. But they also need to make money. It’s just the way it is. So most private hospitals mark up the cost of medication, sometimes by 400%. A private hospital in Bang Na charged my wife and me 200 baht for meds one time. We found out later we could’ve bought it for 50 baht from the pharmacy.You have the right to decline buying medication from any hospital. In this case, ask for the list of meds you need and buy them at the pharmacy. Public and premium clinics don’t usually mark up the cost of medication. But it’s best to check.
However, what happens if you run out of cash? In practice the hospital might keep you there, won’t allow you to be transferred out, and bill you for that time on top – until you paid whatever you owe them. You can check newspaper reports and interviews that detail cases like this.
Unfortunately, things can go even worse: The half-brother of a friend of mine is said to have died because the hospital refused to provide emergency treatment until ‘funding was secured’.
In the end, even if you yourself don’t consider it worthwhile to get insurance, keep in mind that it might be your relatives footing the bill if things go seriously wrong.
Free Fitness Options
Even though Thailand is a lot cheaper than many European and North American countries for a great many things, fitness often does not seem to be one of them. Monthly memberships in popular gyms frequently surpass what I would pay back home in Germany. Every so often though, there are budget options and real bargains to be had. If you don’t mind putting up with a bit of a commute, you can get access to top class facilities – some for free and some for about USD 1.10 / year.
While Bangkok doesn’t have a lot of parks, there are a few options that allow for decent workouts, especially before 7am or after 5pm (that is, if you don’t mind the national-anthem-standing-still interruption at 6pm sharp). Parks open as early as 4.30am with the last ones closing down at 9pm.
A lot of parks offer running tracks (see below for recommended loops), some even allow cycling (not a given). Larger parks tend to have free workout equipment, though it’s more geared towards people trying to maintain mobility, rather than those who are looking for weight lifting or cardio workouts..
The open air aerobics classes you see throughout Bangkok’s parks every evening from around 5pm onwards are a great budget alternative to subscription-based gyms. It can be a bit intimidating to join these classes as the only foreigner, but Gaby Domain wrote down her own account which makes it seem a little less scary. Sometimes local supermarkets also have an aerobics meetup.
Less eye- and ear-catching are Tai Chi groups meeting in the morning, as well as various other groups in the evening – including a ballroom dancing group that meets at night in Lumpini park (which features the biggest selection of free open air classes). Most of the activities you can discover by going for a stroll at the right time through the park – cardio activities are usually in the evening, while everything focused on mobility, flexibility and spiritual well-being in any form is more of a 5am to 7am activity.
Some universities offer sports and fitness centers that are available for use free of charge. The most prominent is the Chulalongkorn University Sports Complex which is located near MRT Sam Yan. Especially if you’re staying a bit outside the city center, checking with your local university to see if there are any facilities you can use (either free or at a low fee) is a worth a shot.
On meetup.com, you’ll find groups meeting up to exercise together. Most meetups tend to charge a small fee or request donations in the range of THB 100 to THB 200 and are a way of exploring activities like beach volleyball or yoga. It’s a good way to meet some people, get a regular workout and discover new parts of the city.
There are also some entirely free ones. Bangkok Runners is one of the biggest ones.
Of course, you can also start your own group, which is now easier than ever. Posting a message on the Thaivisa Sports, Hobbies & Activities forum, or in one of the popular expat groups on Facebook (e.g. Bangkok Expats, Thailand Expatriates DMK, Bangkok & Expats Forum) can quickly find you exercise partners and teammates.
Home Sweet Home
A lot of apartment buildings in Bangkok offer fitness facilities that can be used free of charge by the residents. Usually those are of similar quality to what you find at a hotel gym: some dumbbells, resistance training machines, as well as some cardio machines. You can check out my guide to renting in Bangkok for some help on finding a place that offers fitness facilities.
If your place doesn’t have a gym, one of your friends might have access to one at their building and can take you along. Lots of people would love to have a workout partner to keep them accountable (plus, it’s more fun). Ask around on Facebook and you might be surprised who’s up for regular non-boozing activity.
If all else fails, there are also YouTube workout programs that require little to no equipment. Friends of mine swear by the fitness workouts from Shelly Dose, Scooby the ‘German’ Bodybuilder and FitnessBlender. Other workouts include Yoga with Adriene and Do Yoga With Me, which the subscribers at /r/Fitness recommend.
Technically not free, but at THB 40 per year, Youth Centers are among the best fitness deals you can find in Bangkok. In spite of the name, they’re open to anyone, locals and foreigners alike. Main reasons for people not using them more are fewer locations, shorter opening hours, a stricter dress code and a more extensive sign-up process when compared to commercial gyms.
- 1 photo (1.5in)
- A copy of your passport
- Medical certificate issued by any hospital or clinic (in order to use the pool)
- Membership fee (THB 40, or THB 20 if you’re younger than 25…)
Dress Code (Gym)
- top with sleeves (no singlets, no tank tops)
- long pants (no shorts)
- clean and dry trainers (need to bring them, can’t walk in with them)
- must bring a towel
Dress Code (Pool)
- Staff usually doesn’t like seeing people in baggy beach shorts. Speedos are your friend. I wonder if the place is receiving subsidies from one of the European embassies.
Lumpini Youth Center
- Monday to Friday: From 7am (pool), 8am (gym) till 7.30pm
- Saturday, Sunday: 8am to 5.30pm
- Holidays: Same as Saturday, Sunday (gym) or closed (pool)
Khlong Toei Youth Center
The Khlong Toei Youth Centre has a swimming pool in Benjasiri Park that’s open from 10am to 7.30pm, though it’s a bit of a peculiar system: they have time slots starting at 10am, 1pm, 2.30pm, 4pm and 6pm that each last 90 minutes. For every time slot you’re present, you have to pay THB 15 (so staying from 3.45pm to 4.30pm would cost THB 30). Sometimes there are school classes there. You probably want to avoid the 6pm time slot since it gets super busy. Yearly fees, sign-up requirements and dress code are similar to the Thailand Youth Center at Lumpini park (see above).
Thai-Japanese Youth Center
The Thai-Japanese Youth Center is another THB 40 per year option. Even though its location half-way between Victory Monument and Central Rama 9 is a bit out of the way from public transport, it makes up for it in facilities: a well-equipped gym, an Olympic-sized pool, squash courts and a stadium with a football field that has a running track looping around it.
Unlike its more basic counter parts in Lumpini and Benjasiri Park, the facilities at the Thai-Japanese Youth Center actually exceed what’s provided at a lot of commercial gyms and sports clubs (see below). While some of the equipment is a bit older, the place offers a comprehensive set of training facilities.
In recent years, Bangkok has experienced quite a boom in running. It’s gotten to the point where the most popular running routes actually become crowded during after-work hours. This boom also extends to races: if you’re competitive minded, there are now several shorter and longer races, including marathons, to choose from. While I used to be an avid runner a few years back, I’m now a bit out of the loop. My friend Chris Bickle helped me out a lot with the advice below (mistakes are all mine of course).
Tracks and Loops
The most well-known running tracks are located inside Lumpini Park (a 2.5km track), Benjakitti Park (1.8km), Wachirabenchathat Park (2.58km), and Chatuchak Park (3km). Due to their central locations, these parks are also among the busiest ones. There’s a number of alternative parks and stadiums scattered throughout the city that offer loops of similar and shorter length, which might be more conveniently located for you.
Since training for a marathon isn’t that fun on a 2.5km track, it might be worth heading out a bit further for your longer runs.
Rama 9 Park offers a 5km loop with lot of corners, features and well manicured gardens. You can even link it with the 4km loop in Nong Bon Park (or the ‘Nong Bon Swamp Park’ as Google Maps calls it…). If you don’t mind backtracking, it can be extended to become a nearly 15km long route.
Bangkok’s ‘green lung’, Bang Krachao is another option for long-distance runners or athletes in search of scenery. Mostly known for cycling, it features a 14km loop that can be done by runners just as well.
In addition, there are various khlong-based routes and back alleys that would be impractical to describe in specifics. The best way to discover those is to join a running club (see below). Not only will you get to exercise and do some urban sightseeing, but also meet like-minded runners.
Bangkok Runners is a large group of primarily foreigners who run regularly in Lumpini Park and Benjakitti Park. In addition, they do runs through Bang Krachao, BTS line runs, and the above described routes through back alleys and along canals. Aside from Bangkok, they also do trips out to places like Khao Kheow and Khao Mai Keao for trail runs.
Hash House Harriers also has a chapter in Bangkok. They tend to go for runs every Monday, followed by a calorie-replenishing beer-drinking and socializing session. The after-run beer is included in the running fee (THB 200 for men, THB 150 for women).
Similar to other sports, running has become a lot more popular in recent years. If you want to take part in a race, you should sign-up early as especially the bigger races tend to sell out quickly. While some experienced runners argue that the best races are to be found outside of Bangkok, the city offers a number of interesting competitions. There is the Thai Sikh Run in March, the Supersports 10 Mile International Run in July, the Bangkok 10km International Run in October, the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon in November, as well as a host of other smaller runs scattered throughout the year that can be found on sites like Amazing Field, Gotorace, Jog And Joy, Run Thailand and the huge Facebook group WingNaiDee: Running Event (they also have a website with additional details).
A lot of the mid- and high-end apartment buildings come with swimming pools, some come well maintained, some come in colors suggesting they are capable of photosynthesis.
Free swims aside (you probably don’t want to open that link at work), the cheapest swimming pools are to be found at Benjasiri Park, Lumpini Park and at the Thai Japanese Youth Center (Olympic-sized). At THB 40 per year, they are a steal (though some charge a per visit fee as well). Come prepared though since they require some documents and a medical certificate. See the as-good-as-free section above for additional details on these places.
A fancier indoor option with more liberal opening hours are the Virgin Active gyms at EmQuartier and Empire Tower that come with 20m swimming pools (their branch at West Gate doesn’t have one). Depending on the club and duration of your membership, you’ll pay roughly THB 3,000 per month for access.
If you don’t have time to sign-up for the Youth Centers and just want to use a pool during a short stay in the city, the following places offer 1-day passes.
|Pathumwan Princess Hotel||฿642||BTS National Stadium (map)|
|Marriott Executive Apartments||฿600||BTS Phrom Phong (map)|
|Evergreen Service Apartment||฿350||BTS Ratchathewi (map)|
Over the last years, cycling has gained a lot of popularity. Whether that’s part of the general fitness boom or due to them shaving off an hour of some people’s commute I’m not sure. Websites like Bicycle Thailand cater to dedicated cyclists by covering the best bicycle shops, tour operators and routes, as well as keeping a list of bicycle blogs in Thailand. For those in need of a quick run down on scenic and performance routes as well as bicycle groups you can join, I compiled a quick overview below.
If you’re serious about your cycling, you should check out the 23km green cycle track at Suvarnabhumi Airport (Richard Barrow has some additional details on best times to go and what to bring). For track cyclists, there’s the free Hua Mark Velodrome at Rajamangala National Stadium Ramkhamhaeng. The Peppermint Bike Park is your best bet in Bangkok if you want to give your mountain bike a spin (or one of the rental ones at THB 100 per hour). You can find additional details for these places on the FindYourSpace blog, including opening hours and admission fees.
If scenery trumps training, you might want to get off the beaten track so to speak. My friend Thomas Wanhoff shared a few good routes around the city that not only let you rack up some kilometers but also give you something to see around town. Here are his favorite ones:
A 40km route winds through the swamps south of the Suvarnabhumi Airport runway. Parts are on streets, parts are on concrete paths, and you can watch planes landing and storks breeding. The course can be modified somewhere around Thana Place King Kaeo Village, which gives a few more sois and pathways to explore.
A 50km route starting from BTS Bearing takes you through small villages all the way down to the seaside. have a stop at Bang Poo and feed the seagulls there. If you go on a weekend, stop at Wat Bang Bang Phli Yai Nai at the old market.
Another 50km of cycling also starts at BTS Bearing and goes to the ‘green lung’ Bang Krachao and finally to Soi Suksawat where an old Muslim community is located. At Wat Bangna Nok, you take a 10 minute ferry ride to the other side of the Chao Praya river. If you go on a weekend, be sure to stop at the Bang Nam Phun Floating market.
While there’s no specific expat cycling clubs, the Thailand Cycling Club (TCC) provides some information in English. Most of their events are announced on their Facebook page (Thai). A number of Twitter users get out on a regular basis; a search there can also find you some biking buddies. Another option to find co-cyclists is to check the Thaivisa cycling forum.
One thing a lot of visitors to Bangkok ask about are gyms offering daily rates. With the help of my staff, I compiled a list of gyms that offer daily plans and listed the closest MRT and BTS station (if you click on the link you’ll see their exact location in Google Maps). The list doesn’t include the Youth Centers due to their extensive sign-up requirements (though in theory you could sign up and train on the same day if you bring all the required documents).
|ครูเอ๋ GYM||฿90||MRT Rama 9 (map)|
|MDS||฿100||BTS Bearing (map)|
|Piyavantower||฿150||BTS Ari (map)|
|Jolly Fitness||฿200||BTS Talad Phu (map)|
|Muscle Lab Gym||฿200||MRT Sutthisan (map)|
|Fitness7||฿250||MRT Huai Khwang (map)|
|E&G ( Exclusive Gym)||฿300||MRT Sam Yan (map)|
|Now’s Fitness (Onnuch 16)||฿350||BTS Onnut (map)|
|Now’s Fitness Ari||฿500||BTS Ari (map)|
|Design Your Body||฿500||BTS Saphan Khwai (map)|
|The Olympic Club||฿642||BTS National Stadium (map)|
Thailand Deals and Discount (Whole Article)
I recently flew from Thailand to Germany for a bachelor party: One comparison website I checked listed a flight from Bangkok to Frankfurt for USD 480 – that was the return price and included all fees and taxes! It was more than 30% less than the next best offer with only a brief stop-over both ways. Pretty much unbeatable. The catch? The deal was listed as ‘only available at travel agents’. However, no travel agent I contacted was aware of that deal.
It took me two hours of searching, but I finally figured it out: ‘travel agent’ in this case means Expedia. As it turns out, Expedia is trying to gain more market share by offering discounts of up to 30% on flights to and from Thailand as well as Thai domestic flights. Other flight comparison websites don’t list the Expedia fares (or mark them as ‘travel agent’ deal with no further details) in order to avoid sending business to their competitor. These discounts are not only available for traditional airlines, but also low-cost options like Air Asia (that’s because Expedia Thailand is partially owned by Air Asia).
When my brother planned a trip for his family to Bangkok, they were seriously struggling to find a place that fit his entire family with young kids into a single suite. Most hotels catering to larger families are very upscale and even at Bangkok prices that can add up very quickly. My advice for large groups coming to Bangkok? Airbnb.
Airbnb offers vacation rentals of private rooms or entire apartments for as little as 10 USD per night (though you can also find duplex penthouses with prices to match). As a sign-up bonus, they’ll even give you a discount of 15 USD to 25 USD on your first trip. Airbnb is particularly great if you want something with a bit more atmosphere, are on a budget or need something other than a standard hotel room.
If all Airbnb options are booked already, you can also find home stays and vacation rentals at HomeAway (owned by Expedia). While they don’t offer a sign-up bonus, the savings over hotels (and potentially lower rates than Airbnb) may make it worthwhile checking them out.
Thailand has some great food options – ranging from fine dining to home cooked meals. For a lot of them there are great discounts available that the average tourist probably never hears about.
The biggest saver in the restaurant space right now in Thailand is eatigo. It’s a website allowing you to place reservations at restaurants and receive discounts of up to 50% if you eat at off-peak hours. All you need to do is book it before you physically walk into the restaurant. It’s usually worthwhile checking the site if you have a specific place in mind and are a bit flexible on time. One of my favorites is The Coffee Club, which, despite the name, actually has amazing food. Their coffee is excellent as well – though eatigo discounts are only valid for food items.
Home Cooked, Classes and Tours
Prefer something more local? BonAppetour is the Airbnb for home cooking. A lot of the stuff is standard tourist fair (Pad Thai, Curry, …), but there are some extraordinary chefs in Bangkok, like this food blogger who does some really new and exotic dishes. Recently they started focusing more on food events, tours and classes that you can look up in their calendar. Use this link to get THB 515 off your first meal.
Big savings are not only available when eating out, but also when having groceries brought to your door step. Just like Uber and Grab are battling it out with discounts, so are HappyFresh and honestbee: HappyFresh has the occasional special and often does free deliveries on Thursdays. honestbee on the other side is new and thus tries to attract customers with discounts of up to 70%: Recently they offered a THB 300 discount on any order of THB 400 and more.
Usually the fastest way to get around Bangkok is the Skytrain and the Subway. If you want to go with taxis instead, there’s a great alternative: Grab is Uber‘s biggest competitor in Southeast Asia. These ride sharing apps are having a massive fight over market share, resulting in major discounts for passengers (not uncommon to see 50% discounts on the already cheap Bangkok taxi fares). Plus, the app interface of both companies is a significant improvement over having to explain destinations and directions to taxi drivers who barely speak English.
Nearly every country has a ‘cashback website’. In essence it means you receive a cash refund for any purchase you make. These sites require a few extra mouse clicks when making a purchase, but result in decent discount: On average they save you 5% to 8% on every online hotel booking.
A lot of these cashback sites give you an extra bonus just for signing up. In Thailand for example there is DeeDee Cashback, which will is pretty much guaranteed to save you 5% to 8% on every online hotel booking. If you use the coupon code CHERRYONTOP to get an extra THB 120 when signing up.
Here’s how it works: Let’s assume you want to book a hotel with Agoda. Instead of going directly to Agoda, you go to the Agoda page on the DeeDee Cashback Website first, then you click on the ‘Go to Store and Earn Cashback’ link. That’s it: The rest happens automatically and a few weeks after your vacation you’ll get a cashback worth 8% of the amount you spent with Agoda.
One tricky part about lawyers is to figure out who to work together with: Usually it’s a question of who is the best lawyer you can afford. While it’s often easy to find the best (and most expensive) lawyer in a given field, finding one within your budget for a specific problem can be more of a challenge. Below you’ll find a selection of firms that is meant to provide individuals as well as small and medium-sized firms with a starting point when researching options for legal assistance.
Cost Containment Strategies
There are a number of ways that can help you keep your legal costs in check. Here are a few strategies I’ve seen people employ over the years.
As with any major purchase or hire, it pays to shop around. Meeting up with a number of lawyers gives you not only a better idea of rates and qualifications, often you can pick up some interesting tidbits in these conversations. Lawyers might not be thrilled about it, but they also are aware that you have to look out for yourself and find a good deal.
Understand that lawyers have to justify to their bosses when spending time with a client without billing them. Many will do so by marking it down as ‘business development’. If you phrase your specific legal inquiry as part of a bigger picture, that may make the process easier for them as well.
Lawyers Formerly Known As…
When looking for a lawyer, keep your eyes open for local lawyers who used to work for big name firms for a few years before they set out on their own. You can often double-check this by looking up the LinkedIn profiles or resumes. For a small company with a limited budget, this can be a good strategy to get quality representation without breaking the bank.
Some firms do not negotiate on their rates, others are willing to offer a discount or may even be willing to do something that’s usually billed at an hourly rate for a fixed price. You won’t know until you ask and no one is offended if you do.
Multinational corporations tend to negotiate discounts in the range of 10% to 15% even with high end firms. While you may not fit that profile, it does hint at some billing flexibility on part of your lawyer. Making a compelling case for your cash-strapped startup or being on a fixed income may not always work but is worth a try.
Bangkok has no shortage of networking events. In most cases, it’s safe to skip the open and free ones considering the signal to noise ratio you’ll encounter there. Lawyers like to hang out at the AmCham and BTCC events. It’s a good chance to get to know them in a slightly more casual environment and some may even be willing to chime in with thoughts on legal topics. Lawyers you meet there are not vetted and asking them over a beer does not replace a professional consultation, but it’s a way to test the waters for issues where you are not at the point of hiring someone to work on it quite yet.
Academics and Law Clinics
Universities like Chiang Mai University operate law school clinics that aim to help out the local community who might otherwise not have access to legal consultations. I’m not sure to which extent these are open to foreigners or what issues they can consult on, but if you’re otherwise out of options, this might be worth a try.
There are also academics who provide legal advice. One way to go about finding one is to look in book shops for books about the topic you need advice on. Google the authors, and e-mail them to see if that’s an option. Again, I can’t comment on the quality of advice given, but if you’re super cash-strapped, it’s a path worth exploring.