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Thailand Weekly Vol. 29

Thailand news and stories delivered free every Sunday 🇹🇭

Happy Sunday everyone. Some interesting stories featured in this week’s edition of Thailand Weekly, with the third and final one being my favourite, so make sure you read that. On a totally separate note, I also recently realized that I’m only a few months out from my lease being up here in Bangkok, so I’ve started to search and see what’s out there not only in Bangkok, but also Chiang Mai. Who knows, maybe I’ll make the move North. If you’re considering moving over here and have any questions about that process, just let me know and I can share a bit as to what my house-hunting experiences have been like since moving here a few years ago. Hopefully it’ll help ya out!

Thai Baht Continues To Weaken Against US Dollar

Since the start of this year, the Thai baht has weakened against the US dollar by 8.8% and is at at its lowest point in the past 15 years. The current exchange rate at the time of writing this is 36.42 baht per dollar compared to 29.67 baht per dollar at the start of 2021. This past Wednesday, the Bank of Thailand reported that it hasn’t seen any unusual movements of capital and that the baht’s weakness over the past year is largely driven by the strength of the dollar. The BoT also mentioned that its reserves of USD $240 billion (48% of GDP) remain healthy when compared to other countries around the world and that it’s more 3x what the Kingdom’s short-term debts are.

Our Take

I decided to include this story because it’s proven to be an interesting progression that has definitely impacted my life (in a good way), since moving to Thailand just under 2-years ago. I earn USD, so the strength of the dollar relative to the baht has resulted in a bit more bang for my buck month-over-month, which has definitely been nice. I guess that’s a game that you have to play when living as an Expat overseas. Unless you get paid in the local currency, sometimes you’ll win on conversions, and sometimes you’ll lose. Beyond that though, the fact that the dollar is so strong these days is probably worth consideration if you find yourself planning out your next trip over here. Between this, and the fact that everything is 100% open, but not yet jam-packed with tourists, I really believe that we’re in this once in a lifetime period to experience Thailand at its very best.

Thailand Orders 20th Century Fox To Pay 10M THB

This past Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Thailand ruled that 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios), must pay 10 million baht (USD $274K) for long-lasting environmental damages caused by the famous Leonardo DiCaprio movie ‘The Beach’. During the shooting process back in 1998, with permission from Thailand’s Forestry Department, the studio modified Maya Bay for the cameras by uprooting plants, widening the beach, and levelling protective natural sand-dunes. Each of these things, plus the mass-tourism that came from the popularity of the movie, had devastating effects on the National Park for years and ultimately forced authorities to close Maya Bay for a 3-year recovery period starting in 2018. Under Thailand’s National Park Act and National Environmental Quality Promotion and Conservation Act, lawsuits were filed against both the production company, as well as the Forestry Department that had originally given permission to make these harmful modifications in the first place. The Kingdom’s Supreme Court demands that the Department of Forestry use the 10M baht payout to restore Maya Bay to its natural state.

Our Take

Did you know that 31% of Thailand is protected land? Think about that, almost a third of the entire country is made up of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Non-Hunting Areas, and Protected Forests. It’s an amazing stat, and if a 10M baht fine (which is hardly even a slap on the wrist for a company like 20th Century Studios), can be put towards the ongoing maintenance, preservation, and rehabilitation of places like Maya Bay, I’m all for it.

Thailand Travel Tip

There’s a lot of different travel insurance companies out there and often times it’s a pain to find the right one. We get all sorts of emails on this topic from those of you that watch the videos over on Retired Working for You, so I decided to share the company that both Chris and I personally use – SafetyWing. They’re a global travel insurance company that provides awesome coverage for anyone that lives abroad, but their rates make it ideal for those vacationing abroad as well. I think I pay around $50/Month, and I was impressed with their service when I actually had to make a claim last summer. Everything was taken care of, and I got solid service overall. Signing up takes a couple minutes and is super straightforward, so if you have a trip to Thailand booked (or anywhere for that matter), I’d definitely recommend considering them for your travel insurance.

Airbnb Reports Rural Thailand Gaining Popularity

A representative from AirBnb has reported that some of the more rural, lesser-known areas of Thailand such as Koh Lanta, Trat, and Cha-Am are gaining in popularity in this next wave of travel following the pandemic.

“More than two years since the start of the pandemic, we continue to see fundamental shifts in travel that are creating new opportunities for lesser known, off-the-beaten-track communities. It’s incredibly exciting to see travellers so enthusiastic about exploring new destinations, as well as the positive economic impact cascading to locals,” said Mich Goh, Airbnb’s head of public policy for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan. “This ongoing dispersal of travel is empowering locals to diversify their income through hosting and build financial resilience in the face of rising costs of living. We are committed to continuing to work together with governments and stakeholders to keep inspiring travellers to step off the beaten path and help ensure more communities can share in the benefits of tourism.”

With this shift in travel behaviour, destinations that have historically missed out on the lucrative dollars that comes with tourism are well-positioned to jump on the map and secure a bigger piece of the pie.

Our Take

This article was super exciting to read as I’m sort of at that stage where I’ve experienced a lot of what Thailand’s 4x major tourist destinations (Bangkok, Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai) have to offer, and am now looking into travelling to some more local parts of Thailand. I’ve heard amazing things about places like Petchabun, Nan, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trat, etc. and am certainly going to be making a point to explore a few of them over the next year or so, hopefully by bike. It’s interesting to hear directly from Airbnb that others feel the same way. I suspect that some new ‘enclaves’ will pop up in the coming years as they increase in popularity.

Only In Thailand 🇹🇭

One of the more interesting sides to Thai culture is the fact that many people tend to be very superstitious. I’ve always found it interesting given that it’s the total opposite back in Canada. The superstition was on full display this past week when dozens of Thais from all over the country waited in line for several days to get their fortune told at a temple in Chiang Mai. Looking for the guidance of a specific monk named Tui, people in the queue provided their birth date, birth time, zodiac sign, first name, and last name so the monk was able to predict their future based ancient scripture. If misfortune was in the cards, Tui suggested that they change their names to hopefully trigger some better luck. Many of those that actually had the opportunity to visit Tui have reported that their lives have improved greatly following his advice. In fact, one woman said that her entire family ended up changing their names to make their lives better. It seems like I need to pay Tui a visit! 🇹🇭

Press Worthy 🔥