Here are 5 expat hotspots in Thailand, each with its distinct personality. Thailand does indeed have something for everyone, which probably explains its surge in expat popularity over the years. Get to know some of the most popular cities here:
Otherwise known as Krungthep to the locals (City of Angels), it’s an interesting oddity that Los Angeles, which has the highest population of Thais outside of Thailand, is also the City of Angels but in Spanish. No write up of Thailand is complete without Bangkok. Not so far back it was considered an intolerable city to stay in because of traffic congestion and poor infrastructure, expected for a population of over 12 million people. Today’s Bangkok is a world favorite travel destination for expats to either live in or visit if dwelling elsewhere in the country.
There are two sides of Bangkok that appeal to different types of expats. One is the shopping mall paradise that extends along the main thoroughfare, Sukhumvit Road, but shopping can also be found in other parts of the city. These upmarket malls have the best designer brands, comfortable shopping vistas, and elegant restaurants and bars to hang out in. They are ideal for people-watching, purchasing the latest in designer goods or exploring Asian designer brands that are still nascent in European markets, but causing a stir among the fashion-inclined.
The other Bangkok is equally exciting, but a little more street-style and casual. In the eyes of some, it’s a little more hip and down to Earth. This is the Bangkok of markets and Klongs (canals), buses and roadside restaurants, bars and motorbike taxi rides. There are few cities that can match the excitement of zigzagging around town by motorbike or Tuk Tuk than the worlds favorite Oriental travel destination, Bangkok.
Chiang Mai is an exceptional jewel in the crown of the Kingdom of Thailand. The easiest way to explain its appeal to the expat community is by trying to describe its calming and soothing energetic pattern, as opposed to the bustle of Bangkok. The visitor notices the relaxing, chilled-out feel of Chiang Mai as restorative to the soul and to the well-being of the human experience.
Expats in Chiang Mai often talk about the good nature of the locals. In the land of smiles, which can often have an ambiguous interpretation, it’s fair to say the Chiang Mai people are among the sweetest and most authentic in the Kingdom. Aside from the usual modern living accommodations in condominium projects, the availability of elegant and spacious houses built to the local craftsmanship style in natural settings is an appealing part of living or visiting Chiang Mai. The proximity of the hills and clean air so close to the city makes a trip to Chiang Mai memorable.
Phuket is the glamorous yachting destination of Thailand. Upmarket kinds of expats and visitors tend to pencil in a stay in the Kingdom’s southerly location on the Andaman Sea. Phuket is an island roughly the size of Singapore, which isn’t so far away for the inter-Asia expat traveler. It’s famed for its long idyllic beaches of golden or white sands extending all the way up along the Andaman Sea on the Western coast, or on the Eastern side venturing North and then returning South again to Krabi.
Phuket is a major holiday destination for tourists from all over the world and this contributes towards a street-style haggle and barter living experience for sun and sea visitors, but don’t be fooled by this mainstream popularity. On the outer edges from the main Phuket tourist destinations, an elegant and world class, pampered style of life is at hand for the discerning expat.
Hua Hin is only three hours south of Bangkok by car and is a major destination for the high society Thai crowd to have a second home, condominium or villa. Because of the presence of the Kings Palace ‘Glai Gang Won’ (Far from worries) a certain sense of law and order or security prevails in Hua Hin and its neighbor Cha Am.
Hua Hin is a delightful place to spend time in. The locals aren’t the most welcoming in Thailand, but this stems from pride in proximity of the Royal family and deeper relationship-building will reveal all the usual friendly Thai traits, though it can take longer than usual here to kindle. Hua Hin is very popular with Scandinavian expats who have styled their businesses around the Thai culture to include butchers, pastry shops and restaurants, giving the location a smattering of European delicatessen-feel when ambling around town.
The Las Vegas of Thailand, Pattaya is the Kingdom’s fastest growing urban center. Not bad for a sleepy fishing village which catered to US soldiers on R and R during the Vietnam War years of the late sixties and seventies. Pattaya’s close proximity to Bangkok makes it a favorite with the expat community. The evolution of Pattaya has given birth to one of the most interesting and underrated locations in Thailand for those only familiar with its bright lights and sex bars’ reputation.
The condominium market in Pattaya at the moment is particularly vibrant around the outskirts, but not at the cost of sound pollution through construction that is often encountered in Bangkok.
Pattaya’s Supermarket needs are well-catered to, even for the most discerning international resident. Aside from the usual attractions close to the beaches and sea, Pattaya’s capacity for providing some of the most exciting and diverse activities in Asia from paragliding to kite surfing or Go-karting is on hand for the easily-bored to indulge themselves in.
All in all, Thailand has something for everyone. If a warm climate and equally warm culture are attractive to you, look into a visit or a move to this paradise!