How To Ruin Your Life As A Foreigner In Thailand

Last updated: February 7th, 2016 | in Living

How To Ruin Your Life As A Foreigner In ThailandYou may think living in Thailand is paradise and sure there is nothing wrong about it – as long as you are playing the rules and don’t make some major mistakes. I’m not talking about cultural faux pas like kissing in public, pointing to the queen’s picture with your finger or putting your feet on the table.

It’s much more severe things that you might not even consider problematic on a three week backpacking trip around the country but the longer you live in Thailand, the more likely you are to ruin your life as a foreigner with the following things.

Hanging out in Girl Bars

There’s no problem with hanging out in the beer bars or go go’s once in a while, if you are in Thailand for a holiday it might even be every other day just because you haven’t got it at home. But if you are really living in Thailand for months and years you should realize that it’s mostly a tourist thing.

I do enjoy going to bars regularly for playing pool and I mean all sorts of bars, and sure why not having a good time in Walking Street once every two months but the problem starts when you don’t go for “normal Thai girls” at all but pay bar girls for sex every other night. Worst scenario when a foreigner marries a bar girl and believes he can “convert” her into a good girl and ends up totally broke, everyone has heard the stories.

There’s a nice saying: You can take the girl out of the bar, but you cannot take the bar out of the girl. Dating Thai girls is super easy so just don’t get lost in Red Light Thailand.

Not Learning Thai

Okay, you probably won’t ruin your life in Thailand in terms of getting broke, but as for any other country in the world if you want to understand the local culture you need to learn the local language. If you go to Spain you study Spanish. If you go to Brazil you study Portuguese. It seems different with Asian countries and especially Thailand where I guess more than 70% of all expats are not fluent in Thai.

Most of them think it’s difficult but the truth is it’s not. The five different tones are indeed a bit tricky for the first few months but that’s just a matter of time until you got it and then the grammar is super easy, no conjugations of verbs, no past or future tenses, words that you can use from English, many combined words, just start learning Thai and you will see Thailand in a whole different perspective.

Setting Up a Company / Buying Land under your Girlfriend’s Name

Giving control over your business worth several thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to a woman that you know just for a couple of years or even less – would you do that in your home country? Probably not. So don’t make one of the biggest mistakes by giving a Thai girl a 51% ownership of your Thai limited company or buy land in her name.

Sure the law clearly states the majority of company shares have to be Thai owned – but that doesn’t mean it has to be a natural person! Inquire at some of Thailand’s legal firms and they all have solutions how you can keep control over your Thai company legally.

I remember how some German guy told me the first crazy Thailand story back four years ago down in Hat Yai. The parents of his best friend died in a car accident and all the money he inherited he invested in some quiet beach restaurant – giving the majority of shares to his Thai girlfriend. Three months later they had a fight and she told him to basically fuck off and never enter “her” restaurant again. Another classic to ruin your life in Thailand.

Not Making Money

May sound general but it’s true. If you don’t find a job that pays enough for your living or if your retirement pension is not sufficient – you will get broke. That’s easy. Very common thing in Thailand that you see are foreigners that open restaurants or hotels without having ever had prior experiences in these industries. Again: Would you do that in your home country? Probably not.

It’s not just the lack of experience in the relevant industry but also the constraints and difficulties for foreigners to run a business in Thailand (Work Permit, Company Set-Up, Corruption etc.). Do what you’re good at and make money or you’re broke quicker than Nok can say “short time”.

Eating Street Food

You may rather save money than getting broke by eating cheap street food but then be careful what you are eating. There are no two opinions that Thai food is great but the range of dishes and snacks is so huge that you can also get a lot of stuff that is just not good for you. Take all the fried food for example, Gai Tood (Fried Chicken), Gluai Tood (Fried Banana) or Manfarang Tood (Fried Potato). Not just the oil as such but also the fact that most vendors fill it up in plastic bottles by the end of the day and re-use it the following few days to save a few baht.

There’s nothing wrong with street food once in a while but the longer I have been living in Thailand the more I go to the food courts (especially in malls where I know it’s clean) to eat Thai food. Or if I eat on the street I’m at least more picky on what I eat. So be careful not to ruin your health in Thailand by eating bad food for years and years.

Do you know of other things that can ruin your life as a foreigner in Thailand? If yes please leave a comment below – I will reply to each of them.

About Redcat


Redcat lives his dream by living and traveling in Thailand. On Thailand Redcat he shares his experiences and advice to all aspects of (night)life in Thailand. Redcat is also fluent in Thai both spoken and written and is the author of the books Thai Beginner’s Course and Thai Love Course.

27 Responses

  • Cpt. Picard says:

    How to ruin your life in Thailand? Have feelings other than a stiffie for a bar girl. I believe the days of finding a good Thai wife have all but vanished. The country consensus is that farangs are ATM’s to be milked until dry. To have a good retirement here my plan is simple…cook much of my food, stay where big stores are, don’t give money to bar girls unless it’s ST (that way they don’t get in your house and steal your stuff, yeah, it’s happened. My friend also got drugged and robbed while just on holiday.) Realize that there is just not much to do here if you’re living on a pension or Social Security so you will be BORED unless you’re a drunk or monger! I’ve been ripped off by farangs, Thai women, (had “supposedly” months long girlfriends cheat on me), building owners, landlords. Etc. I’ve now been here 2 years with a retirement visa and I doubt I’ll stay in a land where lying and taking advantage of every foreigner is a way of life. Furthermore, some of the expats that run businesses here can’t be trusted. I’m American and I never met so many people that are just not credible, anywhere, in my life. I’ve experienced workers in major stores treat me with contempt while doing my best to actually buy something. They are too used to money just flowing in for doing as little as possible in regards to customer service. Note that the survey by ThaiVisa that said over half of expats are considering leaving. I am one that is. There is no place that is paradise unless you’re rich, and if I were rich, I wouldn’t be here.

  • Older people says:

    2000 baht a day is what I get approximately and no rent

  • Roberto says:

    I’ve never known such terrible people, thank god I have a well shaped blue eyed English wife, I would have nightmares waking up to a flat faced, flat chest and flat bottomed woman

  • Garry Hoddinott says:

    Head to a small city. I live in Lampang, have 4 businesses here and will add another soon. Met a lovely lady when I went to the local table tennis center, we have been together 5 years. Problem number 1 – HEAT / HUMIDITY. I am seriously considering a move to Mae Sot. I follow the weather both here and there – 4 hours drive apart. I have seen it up to 12′ cooler (feels like temperature) in Mae Sot. It is a few hundred feet higher. Now that a major new road is nearing completion the place will boom. Its on the border, there are lots of amenable Myanmar workers and some look most attractive and come without baggage that can be a concern. Although there may be pressure to marry, it is silly to do so. You must recognise that it is a total requirement that the children support their parents. A minimum of $50 month should be budgeted for that. In regional areas a modest house can be had for $150 a month. Dont buy no matter how cheap something seems to be. While you are paying the rent you will get some type of loyalty if you are half reasonable. There are 2 ways you can buy with safety and some others that are frowned on fiddles. There are innumerable ways to make money here and you don’t need a license for any of them. Don’t ever work, just direct.

  • Garry Hoddinott says:

    Most farang don’t look past the tourist areas. Truthfully, Phuket and Pattaya and much of Bangkok is not really Thailand.

  • S.B. says:

    I was in Thailand as a tourist for the first time and I am quiet sure that Thailand i a paradise if you have money and it is a hell if you have not enough. I am sure there are a lot of decent thai people, but I didnt met any of them in my short trip. All is about money.

  • [email protected] says:

    I eat Thai street food since birth, no problem. Just avoid the one that look dirty or unhealthy like deep fried foods.

  • Newbi says:

    Not an expert but I think to live here successfully the biggest things you need are self control, common sense and regular income. Surprisingly lacking with many who come here. If you know you have problems with drinking, hookers, drugs etc in your home country these will just magnify once here and this country will chew you up and spit you out leaving you broke or crazed..probably both. Get yourself set up with a good salary somehow, dont hang out in the red light areas and learn the language and culture. Then everything will be fine. Otherwise stay away!! Way too easy to dance with the devil here.

  • Steve says:

    Hi All

    Can anyone tell me how long an expat can stay in Thailand without any form of a special visa? I am from Ireland and curious if I need a visa to come and how long can I stay until I need to leave and do a ‘visa run’? Thanks – Guys

  • Ocelot says:

    500 USD you can scrape by in Chiang Mai, Bangkok or a resrt town ,no. 1000 usd, you can do okay if you are cautious, 1500 USD, you live well. 2000 or more a month, living well.

    At any point, if you have an addiction, ultimately, you won’t last in Thailand, because its so very, very easy to indulge.

    But the old retired guy can do well there.

  • DD says:

    I am not talking about the bar girl / sex worker types of ladyboy.

  • DD says:

    If you publicly date ladyboys will that ruin your reputation? Will normal thai girls not accept that you dated them before?

  • Dave says:

    Don’t west your life in this country. I live here 15 years already now . And I have 1 baby . This people have nothing to Do with love . Life . Baby . Wife or husband or even family . All is about money in this country and they have major cultur ( suck forgin blood till end ) you can see it everywhere.

  • bangkok Raiph says:

    Well its kind of difficult for Thai people to come to England, but in general we pay foreigners to live here, give them a house and treat them better than the indigenous population. There’s this whole fucked up situation where I couldn’t get a visa for my Thai girlfriend due to on paper poverty, whereas my polish friends could import her tomorrow on a marriage license due to different laws in there own country they don’t live in anymore. Go figure…

  • Milah says:

    It’s a funny situation… a lot of foreigners living in Thailand to live their dreams. But and if it was the opposite? Thai people moving to Europe? Would they also be treated very good and allowed to live in Europe?

    • American Input says:

      Different people are different. If there was only one person in Europe, you would have an answer. I believe that the British, Dutch and French share a fascination with the Thai people, and a humility about colonial abuses in SEA that causes them to maintain gentle manners even when there is a misunderstanding. People of certain European heritage seem to enjoy the beauty of people of certain Asian heritage.

      There are currently rising sentiments in the west against immigration, but this is about specific populations that have exploited and attacked us because of open policies. I don’t think the Thai have ever been among those people.

      I’m American and the Thai communities here are isolated in some very strange places not noted for openness. Houston, Texas, is an area of settlement for many Thai in America, and Houston is a very strange, very large city, not known for health and happiness and racial harmony. Why do Thai choose Houston? Many Thai immigrants in America seem to prefer the exclusive company of other Thai, and Houston is where they are. I suppose the wet, hot and humid climate is also familiar.

      Across most of America we want new immigrants from special places to connect with us, to share who they are and what is unique about their home countries. We travel abroad less than other nations, but it’s very comfortable at home. We also like mixed families, we tend to think that people of mixed race and culture are more beautiful and more American than people of a single heritage. We want to borrow from everywhere.

  • Alex says:

    I’ve met many men who left Europe in a rage at how badly they were treated, and had now settled in Thailand, where they raged at how badly they were treated. A very wise old man in London once said to me, “You know, you can go to the Moon to get away from it all, but when you get there, you must face the difficulty that you have brought yourself with you.”

  • Peter says:

    You forgot to mention dont get stupid drunk and wake up with a thai hooker in your bed who wont go away. I literally had to change hotels to get rid of one.

  • jo says:

    heard the tip with the food courts somewhere before. start too use them more and more. think about MBK. i bet many tourists don´t know the great options on the higher floors, so they go to burger king right at the entrance…

  • Brian says:

    What is your monthly cost of living and what is the lifestyle that you current have in BK?

    Also are you planning to stay in BK for the long haul?

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