Thailand Weekly Vol. 20

Thailand news and stories delivered free every Sunday 🇹🇭

Well, I’m writing this from a hotel room just outside of Khao Yai National Park a few hours Northeast of Bangkok. Chris, our buddy Dana, and myself are now on the final leg of an epic 4-day motorbike trip through the hills and jungles of this magical place. It’s been awesome. One of the greatest perks about living in the Thai capital is everything you have at your fingertips just a couple hours outside of the city. The next time you find yourself over here, I’d highly recommend taking a few days and picking somewhere relatively off the beaten path to go and explore! The mini adventure we currently find ourselves on encapsulates the first story in this weeks volume perfectly. More on that below… Cheers guys!

Thailand Ranks As One Of The Best Places To Live For Expats

Thailand has been ranked as one of the top countries in the world for those looking to move abroad and enjoy life as an expat in a recent survey facilitated by InterNations. The Berlin-based group has an expat community of more than 4 million members and surveyed 12,000 people across 52 different countries. The Kingdom came in at number eight overall (just ahead of Australia and Singapore), and ranked especially high in the housing category with those that participated in the survey mentioning that their accommodation is both affordable and easy to find. The survey also shows that 85% of Thai expats feel that their disposable income is enough, or more than enough to lead a life that they enjoy.

Having said that, Thailand ranked relatively low as it pertains to the availability of online government services with 43% of expats stating that they are unhappy with what is currently available compared to the 21% average reported across all countries. All in all, the data shows that 77% of foreigners in Thailand are happy with their lives here in the Kingdom compared with the 71% average seen elsewhere.

You can find the the full ‘Top 10’ list below:

  1. Mexico
  2. Indonesia
  3. Taiwan
  4. Portugal
  5. Spain
  6. U.A.E
  7. Vietnam
  8. Thailand
  9. Australia
  10. Singapore

Our Take

Whenever Thailand ranks high in these types of ‘positive’ surveys, polls, studies, etc., the results generally don’t surprise me. I definitely feel that this is one of the best places in the world to base-up, and structure whatever type of life you’re looking to live. That’s the beauty of this place, as well as many of the other locations listed as part of the ‘Top 10’. As per the specific survey categories listed above (accommodation, disposable income, online government services), I’d also have to agree with what the respondents concluded. Just about any type of accommodation is easy to find and feels very reasonable from a cost perspective, my disposable income is enough for me to live happily at this point in my life, and the availability of online government services for expats could certainly be improved upon. One note is that these types of rankings, lists, etc. are all good guides, but if you’re actually looking to make a move overseas, I wouldn’t use them as your only data point as part of your decision making process. I do love to see Thailand rank high on these though!

New Tourism Insurance Fee To Cover All Foreigners Entering Thailand

Although postponed since the start of 2022, the proposed 300 baht (USD $8) tourism fee is now back in the cards with the Tourism and Sports Ministry providing more insight into how it will be collected and what it will be used for. Firstly, it will apply to all foreigners arriving by land, sea, or air (including expats, work permit holders, long-term visa holders, diplomats, etc.), and is payable upon entry, unless you’re arriving by air, in which case the fee will be included and built-in to the cost of airfare to the Kingdom.

The funds will be used to provide insurance coverage of up to 500,000 baht (USD $13,650) for each person, up to 30-days. The insurance will cover accidents, riots, terrorism, natural disasters, and ‘other’ incidents, while health, hospital, and COVID-related expenses wouldn’t be covered. It is expected that the government will confirm the plan over the next 30-days and then have it go into effect 90-days later when it is officially published in the Royal Gazette.

Our Take

You know, the whole concept of ‘tourist fees’ is nothing new and is extremely common in many hotspots around the world. In Austria, you pay an accommodation tax of up to 3% on your hotel bills. In Japan, you pay a departure tax of USD $9. In Malaysia, you pay a nightly hotel tax of USD $2.25. Point is, the fee that Thailand is looking to introduce is nothing new. The way I see it, if an arrival tax of eight bucks is too much for people to incur, then they probably shouldn’t be travelling in the first place. Having said that, I do understand the frustration that those living here will probably feel if the current structure of this program is implemented. It’s not necessarily about the money, but for some, it will feel strange in principle to pay a fee when returning back ‘home’. I personally don’t mind. For me, the benefits of living in Thailand far outweigh these minor costs, but I suspect that many expats won’t share the same viewpoint.

The part I don’t fully understand is the insurance? It was reported that it will cover accidents, but won’t cover hospital bills? Does this mean that if you get into a car crash for example, it would cover all damages up to 500,000 baht, but you or your travel insurance provider would still be on the hook for medical bills? This is one component of the program that I’ll keep an eye on as it moves through the process of actually getting passed and implemented. It’s entirely possible that this could change. We’ll only know for certain once it’s published in the Royal Gazette.

Thailand Travel Tip

Thailand is an easy place to explore at surface level. The tourist areas are well-defined, the locals are friendly, and things are relatively straightforward. Having said that, as soon as you want to start pulling back the hundreds of layers that make this country extra special, it can get difficult. Local restaurants, activities, attractions, nightlife, etc. can be tough to navigate. Bangkok’s back-alley noodle shops. Koh Samui’s secret beaches. Chiang Mai’s speakeasy bars. They’re all special places, but can be almost impossible to find unless you have local friends. That’s why we created the Teenee App. It’s a handpicked list of the best things Thailand has to offer, overlaid on an easy-to-navigate map interface. Every spot is recommended by Thais or Expats that actually live here. With the ability to search, filter, and enjoy bite-sized videos across over 350 recommendations, it’s like having a local friend in your pocket at all times. This is something that Chris and I created ourselves as a way to share our love of Thailand with the world. None of these videos are sponsored and the small subscription fee is what allows us to focus on just one thing… the Thailand traveller. Click here to check it out.

Ultra Rare Footage Of Tigers Captured Near Khao Yai

This past week, ultra-rare footage of a family of tigers feeding on a large animal carcass was captured in Isaan’s Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex by the Department of National Parks. In 2005, the forest complex was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its diverse set of wildlife, with over 800 different species living in this part of the country.

These videos are extremely rare as it’s estimated that there’s only 250 wild tigers left in Thailand because of the illegal wildlife trade. In fact, this past April, the Thai police rescued a 4-month old tiger cub that was smuggled into the country from Laos ready to be sold for 400,000 baht (USD $11,000).

Our Take

As I mentioned earlier in this week’s edition of Thailand Weekly, I’m currently on a 4-day motorbike trip through Khao Yai National Park which makes up a portion of the forest complex that this footage was captured in. There’ll be a full video of the trip on Chris’ YouTube Channel where you’ll be able to get a glimpse into what we’ve seen and experienced in all its glory. All I can say is that it’s been an amazing trip and I can’t recommend the park enough, especially given that it’s only a few hours northeast of central Bangkok. As per the footage itself, I have two simple words. Bad ass. Super cool that this was captured just an hour from where I am at this very moment.

Only In Thailand 🇹🇭

A bit of a strange situation this past week when locals called the police because they saw someone floating in a Bangkok canal. People were shouting at him, hoping that he was responsive, but did not hear anything back. Everyone thought that the man was potentially unconscious or dead, but once an onlooker finally jumped into the water to try to help the man, he suddenly woke up. Turns out he was alive and well in a deep meditation. As a mix of panic ensued around him, the elderly man was in such a deep meditation that he did not hear anything going on and was totally unaware of his surroundings. The medics arrived, confirmed he was in good health, and then sent him home. The one word of advice they gave? Find a better place to meditate. 😳

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