Expect Culture Shock

Every newcomer experiences culture shock when they move to a new country, especially if they do not speak or read the language. The reality here in Chiang Rai, is that English speaking staff, in most government offices, condos, apartments, stores and shops is almost non-existent.

Retire in Thailand can help you by leveraging the knowledge and experience of local people thereby removing the stress and frustration of dealing with the everyday problems that come with starting a new life in Chiang Rai.

Expect dual Pricing

Dual, or Two-Tier pricing. On almost everything there is a price for Thais and a price for foreigners and the price difference is often very significant. Avoid the trap of believing the smiling person you are dealing with will treat you fairly. They won’t!

I have a friend who thought he could rent a house himself and is paying twice the market rate. Had he spoken to Retire In Thailand first we could have saved him almost $200.00 per month. Another person I know who thought he could do it all himself bought a used car and spent about $1000.00 more than he should have. I could tell you many similar stories but that would require a book.

Expect to be misunderstood


When asking a Thai who seems to speak some English, a seemingly simple question they often do not understand your meaning. I often get answers that are totally wrong. This is not because the person is stupid, it is because they thought they understood your question, but in reality, they didn’t, and they don’t want to admit that and lose face, so they give the best answer they can. This is because what little English they learn in school does not include the everyday language used by English speakers so the words you use daily, they never learned. Expect to be able to have a very simple conversation like “How are you?” and get a rote answer like “I’m fine and you?”. But do not expect to be able to say, “How has your day been going so far?” and get a sensible answer. They will probably think that you think their day has traveled far away and you are crazy.

Expect things to be Different

If you are unable to accept that most things are done differently in Thailand you will make it hard on yourself.

Thais do many things differently. 

  • They drive to a different set of rules
  • If you ask for information they don’t know, they will give wrong information to save face
  • They have a different view of timeliness (2 hours may mean tomorrow)
  • They will protect someone who is wrong (to save the other person’s face)
  • They will serve food in a restaurant as it is ready rather than all at one time
  • They do not raise their voices in anger and if you do, they will shut down
  • Their idea of punishment you will think is either too light or too heavy
  • They avoid and dislike confrontation.

It’s a long list, all I am saying is if you constantly compare with the way things are done at home rather than take the attitude of “when in Rome, do as Romans do” you may find yourself becoming disillusioned.