Why Thailand Is Such A Great Place To Retire

The fantastic beaches, lush jungle landscape, warm hospitality, and bustling cities of Thailand all come together in making it one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. In more recent times, it has also grown to become a top retirement destination for many seniors. There are many reasons to want to make Thai your home in sunset years. Let’s look at some that may just sway your favour.

Culture

Thai people are known for being polite, welcoming and warm towards foreigners. They are happy to go out of their way to help and will make an effort to understand your need even if they do not speak your language. Thankfully enough of the population speaks English, making it easy to make yourself understood when you need to.

The culture is also particularly respectful of elders. They honour those that are older than them, which can be quite a welcoming experience for some foreigners. Seniors are never maligned or ignored. They are as much a part of everyday life as the very young and wonderfully accommodated in every way.

Idyllic Tropical Paradise

The older you get, the less inclined you become to have to contend with cold weather. Not only can it be physically demanding, but some conditions can also cause health conditions to flare up. For much of the year, the islands remain warm and humid. An ideal climate when you have to deal with age-related illnesses like arthritis.

The warm climate also makes for a more laid-back lifestyle. Casual wear becomes the norm with open shoes, hats and sunglasses to complete the ensemble. When it comes to exercise, being able to swim all year round makes for the best option for low-impact cardio.

The pristine beaches and lush vegetation also make for a peaceful and ideal backdrop for anyone looking to enjoy the end of their work-life and wanting to retire in paradise. The excellent infrastructure of the region also means that if want a change of scenery, you can easily get around whenever you want.

Cost of Living

This can be an important factor for those that will stop working and want to ensure they can stretch their savings longer. From housing to food, Thailand is quite an affordable place to live, with many variations to choose from. You will likely find more rural and northern regions to be more affordable than big cities like Bangkok.

But even in the capital, the cost will likely be determined by the kind of lifestyle you want to live. Luckily the region has easy and reliable transport links that make it unnecessary to have to buy a car. Though foreigners cannot directly own land, they can buy condos and take out long term leases on other ground properties. Medical care is affordable and utilities low cost.

The country also has numerous popular ex-pat communities. Here the cost of living may be higher, but it is appealing to those with a desire to live closer to those with a similar background. Chiang Mai and Pattaya are amongst the top choices with communities built around fun indoor and outdoor activities like dancing, golf, yoga, fishing, and swimming.

Quality Healthcare

Thailand has an excellent healthcare system that is far more affordable than what you get in most western nations like the U.S. Some treatments come at less than half the cost quoted overseas and have very short waiting times. This means that as soon as you see the doctor, you can start arranging treatment immediately. A big help where you may be dealing with a particularly painful or acute condition.

The quality of medical care is also impressive. Thai hospitals have recruited highly qualified doctors, nurses and other medical staff with international experience and English fluency. They have also invested in state of the art technology and earned Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation.

So no matter what health conditions you may suffer, you are assured of easy access to the best medical care at an affordable price and the highest standard. While ex-pats do not have the same access to the public healthcare system, even private insurance cover is relatively inexpensive yet comprehensive.

Retirement Visa Process

Acquiring a retirement visa for Thailand is fairly straightforward. This visa allows a person to remain in Thailand for up to a year and is renewable. The basic requirements include:

  • Being 50 years or older
  • Having accumulated savings of no less than 800,000 Thai baht, 2 months before making an application and in a Thai bank account
  • Or, having a monthly pension or other income of not less than 65,000 baht

You may also be required to support your application with police clearance and a medical certificate. The application may be made while in Thailand or from your country of residency. For those in Thailand, the process starts with applying for a 90-day non-immigrant visa and then making a non-immigrant O-Long stay visa application. Be sure to have completed a minimum stay of 60 days before applying for a retirement visa. Also, ensure you have proof of an address in the country. This can be evidenced by a utility bill or rental agreement that has your official name.

Those applying from their country of residency should first check with the local Thai embassy or consulate that they can facilitate a retirement visa application process. Not all Thai embassies or consulates can. If allowed, complete the non-immigrant OA-Long stay visa application and submit it alongside all other required documentation.

5 Reasons People Come To Thailand

While there are many fantastic vacation destinations to choose from around the world, Thailand should certainly always be on your bucket list. The land of smiles is home to a wide range of attractions that appeal to globe trotters with varied interests. Even in a family with mixed personalities, there is sure to be something that will strike their fancy and want to make them come back. Let’s delve into 5 of the top reasons you will want to make your next vacation a Thai vacation.

1. Beaches and Wildlife

The pristine white beaches and shimmering turquoise waters of Thailand’s coastlines are world-famous. But nothing beats actually setting foot on that sandy shoreline and being able to bask in that warm sun. While their popularity means that some beaches can be a bit crowded, Thailand is made up of multiple islands with over 1,500 miles of coastline, meaning you are never quite far from a less inhabited location where you can enjoy some relative tranquillity.

Thrill-seekers will enjoy the many opportunities to try out water activities like diving and snorkelling. From the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea, there are plenty of idyllic waters to explore Thai coral reefs and frolic amongst exotic sea life like manta rays and leopard sharks.

Beyond the tropical beaches are many wildlife sanctuaries and parks where you can catch intimate glimpses and even interact with some of the most amazing and rare wildlife. The country is home to over 10% of the world’s species and has a natural forest cover of about 25%, making it an ecological paradise for animal lovers. It hosts 147 national parks where you can discover everything from elephants to macaques.

2. Medical Treatment

Medical tourism has gained much popularity because it allows travellers to achieve dual purposes on a single trip. They can get the medical treatment they want and still enjoy a great tropical vacation. Thailand has become one of the top health and medical tourism destinations in Asia thanks to its appeal on both fronts. 

Medical costs in Thailand are often drastically cheaper than what you would encounter in the west. Some treatments can be as little as a tenth of the cost back home for many medical tourists. You may find that your insurer would be willing to foot the bill as long as it comes out less than a trip to your local hospital. 

The quality of medical care is also high, with the industry heavily invested in the latest technology and top medical talent with international experience. Many hospitals are JCI accredited and adhere to top ISO standards. The range of treatments also varies greatly from dental work in Phuket to IVF treatment in Bangkok. The industry is also well-developed, making it easy to transition from hospital stay to beach vacation. Some hospitals cater specifically to this niche and have built medical facilities that are just as comfortable and resplendent as some of the country’s top 5-star hotels. 

3. Inviting Culture

Thai people are known for having warm and inviting personalities. It is a part of their culture to welcome visitors with generosity and respect, making this a particularly great vacation destination for novice travellers. The laidback and friendly locals are eager to be helpful, be it in the countryside or metropolis. Even if you do not speak the Thai language, there is sure to be someone around who will lend a hand with translations. Many Thais speak some amount of English and will work with you to get your message across. Just be polite, calm, and smile too.

Those that have travelled in the country know the people to be both polite and well-mannered. Even under stressful conditions, they tend to take a more relaxed perspective and are rarely seen to display anger. Whether it is because of being predominantly Buddhists or just local culture, once you make a friend here, it can easily become a lifelong association.

The party lifestyle in major cities like Bangkok and Phuket is also a boon to night owls. There are many restaurants, clubs, and bars that operate all night long, with a wide range of entertainments and plenty of booze to indulge in. For those of the LGBT community, destinations like Bangkok make for a wonderful place to meet friendly people and revel in the nightlife.

4. Delectable Cuisine

Thai cuisine is famous for its delicious taste and easy accessibility. From high-end restaurants to street stalls, there are many options to choose from in terms of continental and Thai dishes. The flavours and smells of the local delicacies can be found around virtually every corner. Budget travellers are especially appreciative of the affordability of local restaurants and street food, which give them the chance to enjoy generous portions at great prices.

From mild to spicy, the diverse range of colours, fragrances, and unique flavours that make up Thai cuisine are a delight to any palate. And with many of the best dishes served fresh and cheaply from outdoor stalls, you come to realize that Thailand is quite the foodie’s paradise.

5. History and Festivities

Thai history is long and colourful, dating back to the Siamese Kingdom. You will find various locations within the cities and rural areas where there is ample evidence of the people’s architectural ingenuity and artistry. Many amazing structures date back to different dynasties and speak to the vibrant Buddhist culture of the region. Every province has its stock of palaces, temples, shrines, pagodas and statues that date back to different eras and architectural styles that mark significant periods in Thai history.

Buddhist temples and monuments are abundant with over 40,000 destinations spread across the country. They vary in size and design, with many built up using wood, stone, metals, and gemstones. If pressed for time, consider a visit to Sukhothai where you can explore replicas of many of the country’s renowned palaces and temples 

Festivals are also part and parcel of the rich history and culture of the people, with many of the temples being a focal point for such events. They mostly revolve around the lunar calendar, with festivities playing out across the country. From the flower and candle baskets of the Loy Krathong Light Festival to the water fights during Songkran, there are many different celebrations you can organise your next Thai trip around to ensure a more immersive and enjoyable vacation. 

Top 10 Things to See in Hua Hin

Hua Hin is located around 150km to the southwest of Bangkok and is in a picturesque setting surrounded by rolling hills and a rugged coastline. It is a popular home for many expats as well as a prominent tourist destination for both Thais and foreigners. It has a slow, relaxed pace of life, certainly compared to the capital and its lively neighbour across the Gulf of Siam, Pattaya. There are plenty of tours in Hua Hin and here are our 10 recommendations.

1. Water Parks

Hua Hin has two excellent water parks, Black Mountain and Vana Nava, both of which are located in the region of 10km outside of Hua Hin. They are modern parks which are designed to European standards and are perfect for families. Both have a comprehensive selection of slides and flumes with the Vana Nava Water Park having the tallest slide in Thailand. They are relatively inexpensive, have magnificent backdrops and allow you to take things easy or enjoy some thrills and spills!

vana-water-park

2. Shopping Malls

Of course, most of us want the opportunity to take in some retail therapy from time to time, and in Hua Hin, you will have a range of options. Seenspace is one of the most popular malls in Thailand, mainly thanks to its beachfront location and range of high-end and boutique fashion stores. In addition, you will also find some pool bars, restaurants and places playing live music. An alternative option is the Blue Port Resort Mall which has a similar range of shops, but more family orientated activities including arcades and a cinema.

3. Markets

Hua Hin, like many other towns and cities in Thailand, has an excellent range of markets. Arguably the two best-known are the Tamarind and Cicada Markets which both sell quite literally everything from food to clothes and everything in between. The markets also have live performers that help to create a vibrant party atmosphere as well as selling locally produced arts and crafts. The markets are very much aimed at families and are a great place to spend the evening.

cicada night market

4. Golf Courses

Golf is one of the most popular sports in Thailand and in Hua Hin you will find a selection of championship standard golf courses including the Black Mountain Golf Club, the Banyan Golf Club and the Royal Hua Hin Golf Course. The courses are all kept in immaculate condition throughout the year and are very reasonably priced. Non-members can play although they may need to be accompanied by a member. The best option is to arrange a round with one of the many golf societies in the area.

5. Beaches

Hua Hin is very much a resort and has welcomed the Thai Royal family for well over a century. As you would image, it is home to some simply stunning beaches including Khao Takiab Beach, Cha-Am and Suan Son beach. Water sports are available at most of the beaches, although the options are a little more limited than what you may find in other resorts around Thailand. Still, this does mean that they have more of an unspoilt feel.

6. National Parks

Some magnificent scenery surrounds Hua Hin and with it, some stunning National Parks including Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Kaeng Krachan National Park and Kunburi National Park. All three parks are with easy travelling distance of Hua Hin and make a fabulous family day out. All have plenty of wildlife that you can see as well as beautiful walks and places where you can camp overnight.

7. Theme Parks

In addition to the excellent water parks that Hua Hin has to offer, there is also some other more conventional theme parks including Santorini Amusement Park, Camel Republic – Hua Hin’s newest theme park and the Swiss Farm petting zoo that has lots of activities for families. All of these options make a fantastic day out and are suitable for children of all ages. As you would expect, there are plenty of places to eat and drink so you really can make an entire day of it.

santorini-park-6

8. Inu Café

There are lots of animal-themed activities to do in and around Hua Hin, but perhaps the most unusual is the Inu Café, a café which is designed with dog lovers very much in mind. The Inu Café is home to around a dozen Shiba Inus that just loved to be made a fuss of and mix and play with anyone that comes. It should be noted that although it is called a “café”, they don’t actually serve coffee, but they do serve juices, soda and a range of Thai and western food.

9. Sam Phan Nam Floating Market

There is something very typically Thai about floating markets, and indeed Sam Phan Nam floating market is no different. Here you will get the opportunity to weave your way around the stalls, by boat, of course, looking at the local crafts, clothing, fruits and other food that they have on offer. It is aimed at the tourist market, although you do get a feel of how life used to be like in years gone by. It is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon.

floating market

10. Temples

Like most places in Thailand, Hua Hin is blessed with a superb selection of temples and shrines, which bring a sense of mysticism and culture to the area. All of the temples offer something unique, but the most popular options include Wat Bor Fai, Way Wuay Mongkol and Khao Takiab Temple. All of these places are in easy travelling distance of the centre of Hua Hin and can be reached by taxi or tuk-tuk. Naturally, you should dress and behave appropriately when attending the temples.

Other options

Of course, there are plenty of other places that you can see and visit in Hua Hin including the intricately decorated railway station, the Royal palace, Pa La-U Waterfall and Venezia Hua Hin. Our team of travel experts will be able to offer you any help and advice that you may require regarding the best places to visit in Hua Hin.

Top 5 Beaches in Hua Hin

Hua Hin is situated around 150km to the southwest of Bangkok on the western seaboard of the Gulf of Siam. It is a location which is renowned for its excellent beaches and warm seas which make the city the perfect destination for both Thais and foreigners. The traditional resort is steeped in history and has a long association with the Thai Royal family. Its slow way of life and stunning backdrop makes it perfect for families visiting the area for a short break.

It is perfectly feasible to spend the day beach-hopping with many of the beaches being in close proximity to each other with convenient and cheap public transport operating between many beaches. Many of the bays offer a range of activities including horse riding, kiteboarding and other water sports. Almost all provide sunbeds for hire and are lined by small bars and restaurants serving fresh Thai and seafood. Here are 5 of the best beaches.

1. Khao Takiab Beach

Khao Takiab Beach is located at the southern end of Hua Hin’s 20km long beach line and is a rugged, rocky section of coastline with north and south zones. This steep outcrop of land is clearly visible along the entirety of the beach, and the mountain is very much a focal point. The mountain itself is home to a monastery which is popular with tourists and locals. The temple is now populated by a large troupe of crab-eating macaques who have become one of the main attractions in the area. To the side of the mountain is a small estuary along with a canal from which fishing boats depart on a daily basis.

Khao Takiab beach

2. Suan Son Pradiphat Beach

On the southern side of Khao Takiab Beach is the beach of Suan Son Pradiphat Beach, a long stretch of beach heading away from the mountain. The military controls this area of the beach, and indeed the beach is only accessible via a military camp. There are no shops or restaurants on the beach, and it remains in a similar state to how it would have looked decades previously. The public beach has a very unspoilt feel and is lined by a casuarinas tree forest which makes it looked a remote beach in a Hollywood movie.

3. Khao Tao Beach

One of the smallest beaches in the Hua Hin area is Khao Tao Beach. Although it is small, this is one of the most popular coves and is around 20km from the centre of the town. Khao Tao has a very secluded feel and has rocks all around it as well as dense forest. At the top of a hill, overlooking the beach, you will find a large Buddha looking down. Although shops and restaurants are limited, there is a small hut offering traditional Thai massage. The beach is more steeply shelved than many others in the area, which makes it ideal for swimming and snorkelling.

4. Cha-Am Beach

Cha-Am beach is located to the north of Hua Hin and is one of the closest beaches to Bangkok which inevitably makes it very popular at weekends. This clean beach runs adjacent to a tree-lined road and has almost a party atmosphere, especially on public holidays. There are far more activities to do at the beach in comparison to many of the others, including banana boats, other water sports, football, volleyball and horse riding. Running along the beach, you will find a vast array of restaurants, bars, cafes and tourist shops. There is certainly plenty to do, and on a clear day, you can see for quite literally miles.

5. Hua Hin Beach

Hua Hin Beach is, as the name would suggest, the main beach in Hua Hin. It is approximately 4km in length and stretches from the town centre to Khao Takiab. This beautiful white sandy beach is large enough not to get too busy but still has countless activities which you can take part in including horse riding and water sports. For those who prefer to take things a little easier, you can hire sun loungers and umbrellas while taking the occasional dip in the clean waters to cool off. The beach has a magnificent backdrop and is relatively mountainous at either end. As you would imagine, it is lined by restaurants, bars and shops.

Hotels and Amenities

You will find hotels and amenities running along the coast, but it remains relatively unspoilt. The town centre has a reasonably sleepy and relaxed atmosphere and is perfect for families. Although this is one of the leading resorts in Thailand, it is far less commercialised than many others, such as Phuket and Pattaya, which can make it more appealing. The beaches are clean as too is the sea with most of the beaches and coves having gentle shelving, making it suitable for young children.