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Banking in Thailand

Banking in Thailand

Opening a bank account is usually a simple affair in Thailand. Each branch however has their own set of rules when opening an account. One branch might want to see a visa while another might want to see a work permit. Opening a bank account is somewhat of a hit and miss affair so just walk down the road to each branch and see what they say.

When you do however get to open the account the bank will issue you with an ATM card while you wait and provide you with a “bank book”. This book is inserted into a special ATM machine and it will update the book by printing the last transactions of the account into the book. You also get to set your daily limit for withdrawals and this is always a good idea to minimize losses later.

For your retirement visa you must have a bank account since your money needs to be transferred from abroad to your local Thai bank account in order for the retirement visa extension to occur. For the retirement visa this amount is 800,000 Baht.

Moving Money from Abroad

There are different ways to move money from home and over the years expats and retired individuals have tried different types of money transfers. Let’s start from the safest.

Wire Transfers to Thailand

Certain banks do allow money transfers to be initiated via the internet. Banks such as Citibank and a few other allow these transactions. It is best never to use an internet café for logging into your bank account as key loggers which store the URL and password of the banking website you visited may be installed. It is always best when retiring in Thailand to use your laptop and connect your laptop to the network of the internet café. Wire transfers in Thailand take about 5 days and it is very secure and usually gives the best exchange rates. There is usually a 500 Baht charge per transfer when it arrives in your Thai bank account.

Automated Teller Machines (ATM)

Not the best way to draw money from your account back home, however it is easy, convenient but can prove to be very expensive. Withdrawal fees vary from bank to bank and some banks may also block you from drawing money in Thailand which they might consider to be a high risk country for ATM fraud. If you have a credit card, you can still draw money over the counter as long as you have your passport on you inside the bank. Always use ATM machines outside or in the bank as should the machine swallow your card, at least you would be able to get assistance immediately.

Credit Cards

Not the best way to access money from home as there are service fees in the range of 2-3 percent per transaction. Having your cards replaced in Thailand could also be a trying affair. The banks may send you the card in Thailand; however insist on sending the access code to you registered address back home. This would be the standard procedure so ensure that someone can access the mail back home.

Checks

Checks which are drawn in foreign currency and deposited in Thailand can take up to one month to clear. The only difference is companies that issue checks that are drawn on a local bank. Citibank is a good example. Google Adsense  pays each month with a Citibank cheque drawn on the account of Citibank, Bangkok branch. It takes 2 days for the cheque to clear. Also many banks do not always accept cheque’s from certain countries. You can safely assume that they would only accept US dollars and Sterling cheque’s drawn from the respective countries for depositing. Other countries and currencies are far more difficult.

PayPal Money Transfer

If you have a PayPal account registered in Thailand, you can withdraw the money into your Thai account. From clicking to receiving your money it usually takes 1 week. The Thai banks deduct a 500 Baht service fee. Using the PayPal account however if it was registered in the UK or US usually gets the account frozen as PayPal monitors where the person is logging in from and flags the transactions when it comes from high risk countries.

Through Western Union Transfer

This is the most expensive way to send money due to the costs involved and the poor exchange rates which you would usually get from the transaction.

Retire in Bangkok

Retire in Bangkok

Silom is without a doubt the party district in Bangkok. It is home not only to the infamous nightlife but also offers the retired individual a large variety of restaurants and pubs. Some of the better restaurants that can be found in Bangkok are not only in the Silom district but also in the Central Lad Proa area. The better known pubs in Bangkok are such pubs as The Saxophone Club near Victory Monument which offers some of the best jazz tunes in Thailand.

There is also Q bar and Bed Supperclub further away in Thong Lor or better known as Soi 55. There are many restaurants in Bangkok offering different variety of dishes. The Arab area in Soi 3 offers a wide variety of Indian and other middle eastern foods.Hippie hangout Khao San Road is also slowly gentrifying and there are even some Thais venturing into what were once mere backpacker bars, but most Thais still prefer to congregate around Ratchadaphisek.

Common Scams in Bangkok

Without a doubt one of the best scams around is the gem scam. These sophisticated and highly professional “special discount” scams, often involving promises of high resale value back home at a supposedly huge profit, sometimes even employ foreigners to act as satisfied customers.

Other than that there is also the Bangkok Tour. It is more of annoyance than a loss of money and that is the Tuk Tuk driver offering to take you on a tour of Bangkok for 10 Baht. This usually ends up being a visit to all the gem shops and other shops that offer the driver of the Tuk Tuk a commission on what you buy.

Medical Care

There are world class hospitals in Bangkok. Hospitals such as Bangkok Hospital and Bumrungrad Hospital are well known. They are some of the best hospitals in The Kingdom. As a retired individual or couple, having excellent medical care is of great importance and having medical staff communicating in English. Bangkok Hospital currently offers “Health Packages” which will be of interest to retired couples. Many hospitals also offer a dicount club at their hospitals. There are many pharmacies in Bangkok even such well known ones as Boots which can be found inside all large department stores. More of this can be found in the health section.

Living in Bangkok

If you are into books, B2S has a large variety of books available as well as Asia Books who stock a wife variety of English Language books and newspapers. Paragon also offers books inn French and German and there are many secondhand books stores down on Sukhumvit soi 33. As for clothing there are a wide selection of stores availabe to the retired person and the prices are far less than what you would pay for in your home country. Fabric in Asia in very cheap there the clothing tends to be cheap too. Electronics and the latest gadgets can be found at Pantip Plaza which is a huge building with electronics spread over many floors. If you cannot find it at Pantip Plaza then the product more likely than not does not exist!

Hobbies

Needing a new hobby not that you have retired? Well there is the Bai Pai Cooking School which offers courses in Thai cooking. There is also the well known Blue Elephant cooking school that is also well known for its cooking courses. If you are more in the spiritual side of life then The International Buddhist Meditation Center offers many courses in meditation. There is also The World Fellowship of Buddhistswhich also offers sources in meditation. Learning more about massage? Nothing better to take a course at the world famouse Wat Po alternatively at the Union of Thai Traditional Medicine Society.

Markets

There are many weekday and weekend markets selling goods at discounted rates. Having retired in Thailand you will have a lot of time on your hands. Try the Chatuchak Weekend Market also known as JJ Market in northern Bangkok which is easily accessible by the Skytrain and underground Metro. Take the MRT/Subway and get off Kamphaeng Phet station which opens right into the market. There is also the Suan Lum Night Bazaar. This is a large and colorful market offering bargains on everything from clothes, bags, crockery to organic foods. There is also the Patpong market but this caters mainly to the tourist as it sells a variety of counterfeit merchandise including watches, clothes, bags, and cosmetics as well as Thai tourist products such as model tuk-tuks and kick-boxing shorts.

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