Seven Things to Consider about Longer Stays in Thailand


It’s one thing having a 2-week holiday in a much warmer country than your own where everything seems exotic and welcoming.

Better still if you are in a coastal location where the only difficulty you encounter is trying to figure out how to best divide your time between visits to the beach and the bar.

But how does all that change for people who visit Thailand and then decide to go for a somewhat longer stay? Certainly any extended vacation – one that exceeds the 30 visa-free days usually given on arrival at the airport — requires a bit of consideration.

Image by quelpolisson from

Ask any expat or seasoned long-term stayer in the SE Asian nation. You’ll soon realise there may be a significant number of ever-changing hoops to jump through for anyone thinking of making an attempt at relocation in Thailand.

Communication issues related to language, as well as relative and cultural understanding of context are likely. Culture shocks and clashes become increasingly likely for many people the longer they stay. This is true no matter how adaptable they may have previously considered themselves to be.

The immigration office, along with anything else requiring even a hint of paperwork, is one of the biggest hurdles that many people face when looking to chill in the land of smiles. Uh-huh.

Many say that life is what you make of it in Thailand, and certainly moaning will never help any situation. Taking the rough with the smooth is something that you may actually have to craft to a fine art. But hey it’s all part of the journey, right?

Well let’s take a look at some of the potential obstacles to a life of bliss in the land of smiles, just in case you thought it was simply a case of turning up and staying as long as you like without having to face any hard truths or having any major hurdles to jump over.

Here are 7 things to consider about longer stays in Thailand.


Image by duane storey from

This is the main thing to get clued-up on before even considering a stay longer than the standard ‘visa on arrival’ in Thailand permits (although actually it isn’t a visa at all – just an exemption for up to one month).

You have plenty of options but things do change constantly. You also need to read the requirement for each specific type of visa at least 3 times and make sure you haven’t overlooked anything important.

The list of options includes the Non-B visa (usually for business or work purposes), the ‘Retirement’ visa (for over 50s), an Education visa, a Tourist visa (good for 3 months), or the ridiculously expensive ‘Elite’ and ‘Smart’ visa options – only really for those with more money than sense.

And then there is the marriage visa, which, unsurprisingly, requires more paperwork than pretty much all the others put together.  

Most of these visas are only good for a year and require annual renewals along with possibly a few visa runs and/or trips to your local immigration office. One-year visas all require 90-day reporting of your address and whereabouts.

Either way, expect fines and penalties for over-stays or any other visa misdemeanours if you get checked or caught without the necessary paperwork. Visa problems can be quite a bit more difficult to negotiate your way around now than in the old days, and the list of requirements for each visa type seems to grow every year.

This is definitely one of the main reasons why people who wanted to stay here longer – or perhaps indefinitely – get tired of the whole rigmarole and look for different pastures.

Two-tier pricing

Image by mynameissharsha from

You may or may not have picked up on your last holiday in Thailand the subtle ways that this much-maligned practice is carried out. It could be that you noticed several versions of the menu in a bar or restaurant – and if you are able to read Thai you’ll see how it doesn’t stop there and becomes much less subtle.

Basically there is one price for locals and sometimes more than one for tourists – depending on where they are from. And we are not talking small amounts here by way of differences. Sometimes it is more like 10 times higher, and then some.

Go to any national park or leisure facility in Thailand and the entry price can be at least 10 times higher for tourists. It’s one of those things that you may have to live with unless you are pretty fluent in Thai, and even more to the point, have some kind of paperwork such as a Work Permit or a local driver’s licence to beat it.

Getting different treatment to when you were on holiday

Remember when you had the beach holiday and you stayed in the 5-star resort and seemed to get flattering attention all the time – especially from the opposite sex (if you are male that is)?

But what happens when you finally realise that the young bar girl with the short skirt and lovely smile – the one so willing to keep you company during your previous trip — probably doesn’t love you. In fact, when it comes down to it, just the opposite is more likely.

It’s no real secret that many male westerners seem to gravitate to Thailand to indulge in…well, a spot of self-flattery. But when coming from a different perspective – i.e. not being a holidaymaker – they will soon start to notice how they are not treated in quite the same way.

And this is not just the case with the opposite sex. Most people who are on a longer stay than normal will start to report something akin to indifference, if not brusqueness from the majority of people they meet. It’s a fact that Thailand, having never been colonised, has never really cared too much for what they see as ‘outsiders’ who they feel don’t know or understand their culture, except purely in terms of tourism.

And it does become frustrating for those who have made genuine efforts to understand and integrate into the culture. But this is another one of those things that you will die before you change, so it is again a case of accept it or go home.

Encountering endless cultural differences

This point is something of a follow-on from the last one in many respects.

You may get the feeling at some point when staying longer in Thailand that your own take on western efficiencies and customs is challenged whenever you want to do pretty much anything.

Depending on your location and situation in Thailand, there will undoubtedly be times when you will be asked, or invited, to put your hand in your pocket. This may even be the case in what seems like a formal encounter, like in some kind of government facility (or God forbid, dealing with police).

Image by kents from

Being determined to point out your distaste about such matters – particularly in terms of corruption – is not going to have much effect on a system and business culture that’s been in place forever.

And losing your cool will do even less to help the situation. Stamping your feet, raising your voice, and pointing out the absurdity of the situation has its place, if not just to attract attention to the perpetrator. But it certainly isn’t recommended. In most cases it will make absolutely no difference to the final outcome, or may even affect it negatively.

They will smile in silence, slowly losing interest, while you point out that their website said something completely different, for instance. Or the sales staff who you made the purchase from told you the goods were guaranteed for 6 months, etc.

The way you tackle some of these day-to-day little ‘impediments’ should be treated as a part of the adventure, at least if you are serious about staying a bit longer in the land of smiles.

Whilst Thailand certainly has more than its fair share of rules, regulations and laws relating to just about everything, they are often not applied, enforced, or adhered to by natives. This may start to feel frustrating and unfair after a while.

But guess what? You might just need to get used to it – or go home.

Realising that business and work is very challenging

Image by 427 from

Many have tried, and many have failed — starting a business in Thailand can be challenging, to say the least. As can working. But that’s not to say neither are possible.

Anything you think you know about work or business in the west is pretty much out of the picture. Running any business or doing any job never really goes the way you expect it to anyway, but in Thailand that’s a given.

In light of visas, business registrations, dealings with the Department of this and that, Thai bosses and staff, your resolve will be tested to the max at every turn.

And that is not to say there aren’t many who work happily and successfully in Thailand, or even start a business and profit from it. But the vast majority don’t, which is one of the main reasons why they don’t hang around forever.

Finding out that driving is virtually out of the question

Image by tohr from

Despite their many positive attributes, most people (including themselves) would have to admit that Thais don’t do the driving thing well.

It’s dangerous. In fact more so than you could imagine, and in this year alone the death toll on Thai roads is past the 12,000 mark. Thailand has actually been listed among the top 10 most dangerous places to drive in the world for more than ten years, and it is usually at least in the top 5.

If you really need to drive you are probably that bit safer in a car. The motorbikes are the main problem, coming from all angles by riders with no comprehension of rules or care for other road (or path) users.

This is again a case of unlearning anything that you think you already know about driving or road use. Road markings, traffic signs, and even traffic lights mean little here, as do indicators or giving way.

The main contributors to the carnage are drunk driving and speeding, and often both. On a positive note, Thailand has some of the best medical facilities in SE Asia, at least in terms of private, paying facilities.

Waiting not moving 

Image from

It’s not that the Thais like queuing – or even that they do queueing, for that matter. But eventually you’ll start to notice that hold-ups of some sort are commonplace in lots of different situations that you encounter.

Whether it’s endless waiting in the Immigration queue, or at the local 7-eleven or supermarket, you might need to get used to the fact that queues – or rather, hold-ups, to use the correct context – are commonplace in Thailand.

In most cases, you’ll have no option but to just keep smiling Get good at taking deep breaths, and ponder all the positive things that made you want to spend more time in Thailand. When it starts to seem like there are seemingly endless annoyances and inconsistencies, try and remember why it’s still a wonderful place to live.

Image by by uwebkk from

There might be something in the idea that many expats in any country ever do is whinge and complain, and plenty who end up spending long periods in Thailand are often no different.

But if you are going to stay in another country for any period of time, particularly one that is radically different from the one you originate from, there are a few things to bear in mind.

You’ll have to keep an open mind, and not expect everything to adhere to your own perception of what should and shouldn’t be. You’ll have to expect a fair amount of adaptation on your own part, but most importantly, you’ll need to have a clear idea of the reasons you want to go there.

It could be that you have the wrong idea about the place from your 2-week holiday in Phuket and made a grave error coming to live and work here. Or it could be that you see things for what they are, and figure that the benefits still outweigh the negatives, at least for the time being.

If not, there are plenty of airports in Thailand with outbound flights.