Thailand Weekly Vol. 11

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Time to clean up Bangkok’s air pollution? Stay here on a 10-year resident visa for only 50K Thai Baht? Rainy season on its way? Future predicting tarantulas? All of this and more in Volume 11 of the Thailand Weekly 🇹🇭

Time For Cleaner Air In The Big City Of Bangkok?

Bangkok isn’t exactly known for having the world’s cleanest air. There’s always a bit of a haze over the city, with certain times of the year being more extreme than others. After unsafe levels of smog covered Bangkok back in February and March, authorities are finally looking for ways to clean up the city’s air.

Chatree Wattanakhajorn, the deputy permanent secretary of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration mentioned that this year, they plan to coordinate with other agencies to tackle the source of the pollution problem. Pollution control initiatives will be dialled-in to align with an upcoming plan to tighten the PM2.5 safety standard to 37.5 grammes per cubic metre, instead of the 50 grammes per cubic metre that currently acts as the guideline. Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) is an air pollutant that can negatively affect health. The higher the PM2.5 level, the more polluted the air is. Just for reference, on any given day, the air quality in Bangkok would probably be two or three times worse than places like Los Angeles, New York, or London. As it pertains to tackling the problem over the next few years, oil fuel containing no more than 10 parts per million will be designated for use in Bangkok and its nearby provinces. Less contaminated oil for the big city. The BMA will also enforce stricter Euro 6 exhaust standards on vehicles starting this year.

Our Take

Coming up on a year and a half living in Bangkok, I’ve seen my fair share of smoggy-days. There have been times that it has gotten so bad, that authorities have actually had to shut down schools for upwards of a week. These are the kinds of days where you don’t really want to go outside. It’s no fun. Based on research and conversations with locals, there seems to be a few reasons why it can get pretty bad at different points throughout the year. There’s the vehicle component of it, but there’s also the crop burning component in neighbouring provinces, as well as the urban microclimate that exists because of all the concrete, buildings, and construction. My hope is that the crop burning component gets addressed as soon as possible. This is also what drives poor air quality at certain parts of the year in cities like Chiang Mai that are 15x smaller than Bangkok.

10-Year Long Term Visa For Only 50K Baht?

Thailand announced last week that the fee for a 10 year Long Term Resident Visa would be cut to 50,000 Baht from the original 100,000 Baht. The move is aimed at attracting ‘high potential’ foreigners to reside here in the Kingdom. Perhaps the most significant change to this program is not the fee reduction, but instead the added flexibility on eligibility. According to a Deputy Spokesperson for the PM’s office, the goal is that these changes will increase global investment and help drive the economy in these early post-pandemic months that we currently find ourselves in.

The Long Term Resident Visa is geared towards four groups:

  1. Wealthy Foreigners
  2. Retirees
  3. Working Foreigners
  4. Specialists

Groups 1 and 2 must purchase a health insurance policy that provides no less than USD $50K worth of coverage for at least 10 months starting from the date of the application OR provide a social security certificate covering medical expenses in Thailand OR provide proof of at least USD$100K held in either a Thai or Foreign bank account for at least 12 months before the application date. These groups must also have evidence of an average income of at least USD$80K for at least 12 months before the application date.

Groups 3 and 4 must show an employment contract or service contract with a domestic OR a foreign business, and must also prove at least 5 years of work experience in the relevant industry completed within 10 years of the application date.

Our Take

This feels like something that has been a long time coming. There’s always talk of making it easier for wealthy, retired, or skilled foreigners to live here in Thailand, so I’ll be looking forward to the day that it all becomes official and gets published in the Royal Gazette. I do think that in a post-pandemic world, more people will choose to work with a hybrid setup that allows them to spend a good chunk of their time working abroad, so I’d also love to see a clearer pathway in place for these individuals to live in Thailand. I think it’s a big opportunity to attract quality workers that aren’t looking to spend a decade in Thailand, but perhaps a few years. I think that something similar to the what the country of Georgia has done would be ideal.

Thailand Travel Tip

The private healthcare scene here in Thailand is world-class. No matter what you’re looking for, it’s likely that this country has options that match or exceed what you’d be able to find wherever you’re from. Whether it’s the quality of care, level of service or efficiency in getting an appointment, I have nothing but good things to say about the world of private healthcare here. Especially when you factor in the fact that it’s all extremely affordable.

The dental world is a perfect example of this. I can confidently say that visiting the dentist isn’t exactly something that many of us would call an enjoyable activity. Often times it can be unnerving, painful, and costly. A great dentist can be hard to find. Especially when you’re living or travelling here in Thailand. Thankfully, I was able to find Edelweiss Dental House in Bangkok. I actually made a video about my experience there once I realized that this is a spot worth recommending. Not only was the office itself impressive, but the care I received was top notch. The staff were extremely diligent and thorough, yet gentle in the treatment that they provided me. The attention to detail was off the charts and it was obvious that they’re highly qualified specialists. If you find yourself in Bangkok and are looking to get any sort of dental work done no matter what it is, make sure to visit to Edelweiss Dental House for any of your needs.

Rainy Season Has Arrived

The rainy season has arrived in Thailand. The Meteorological Department announced the start of the wet season this past Friday and expects that it will last through mid-October in most of the country. There is a chance that we’ll see less rainfall than usual next month, which could cause some issues for farmers outside the irrigation system, but will then see heavy downpours throughout August and September.

Our Take

Rainy weather is all part of living just about anywhere in here Southeast Asia. I’ve actually grown to like it as the temperatures are slightly cooler and the air is cleaner. I find that there’s a direct correlation in the early months of the year between the lack of rain and heavy smog days in Bangkok. I would say that if you’re planning to travel to Thailand in the coming months, don’t let the rainy season scare you away. Given that Thailand is located in the tropics, weather tends to roll through sporadically, often quickly and strongly before opening back up to sunshine.

Only In Thailand 🇹🇭

Hot Tub Time Machine? Monkey style? Well that’s exactly what was going down in the Southern Thai Province of Krabi this past week at a luxury resort by the sea. In a video shared on Facebook, a group of monkeys is shown relaxing in the hot tub, swimming under the water, and diving in from a high tree above.

Press Worthy 🔥