Why Thailand will bounce back after COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has left the world a very different place from that which we used to take for granted back in 2019. Our travel has been curtailed, many of our freedoms have been taken away, and families have been separated. However, with seemingly being good news on the horizon regarding a vaccine, there is now a genuine hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and next year we can start to see some normality return.

If there is one thing that we have learnt in 2020, it is that expat health insurance in Thailand and indeed other places around the world is essential. Although Thailand has often said that health insurance is compulsory, it has never been effectively enforced, although that has undoubtedly changed now the country has started to re-open its borders. Once tourist flights resume, there is significant optimism that things will get back to normal and the country will bounce back. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

  1. Climate

Thailand has a superb year-round climate, and this makes the Kingdom attractive to those living in colder regions. In many places in central areas, the waters are warm throughout the year are perfect for water sports enthusiasts, and the golf courses are always a great place to relax throughout the year. While several other countries can boast the same climate, very few can offer the complete package that Thailand has to offer in terms of hotels and facilities.

  • Lots to see and do

One of the main reasons why Thailand will bounce back quicker than many other countries in terms of tourism at least is because it has so much to offer. If you enjoy culture, you can visit the ancient capital of Ayutthaya or the temples and palaces of Bangkok. If you prefer sun-kissed beaches, you have the islands in the south of the country and if you enjoy golf – you can go pretty much anywhere! Of course, cities such as Bangkok and Pattaya have a superb nightlife scene, and every nationality and religion will be made to feel welcome.  

  • Inexpensive

Although you couldn’t regard Thailand as cheap any more, it is still inexpensive when compared to other places. With many people around the world hit hard financially, this could be a hook to catch more tourists than before. There appears to have been a recognition that hotel prices do need to be reduced to gain visitors and also some acceptance that dual pricing is not acceptable. Long-term, COVID-19 may prove to be a blessing in disguise for Thailand as the public no longer appear to take tourists for granted.

  • Easy to get to

Regardless of where you are in the world, Thailand is relatively easy to get to in terms of flights. Although flight times are quite long, particularly from the US, there is an abundance of flights offered by all the major airlines and Suvarnabhumi is a modern airport, which is more than capable of coping with these potentially large numbers. It is just another factor that will make Thailand more appealing than some other countries in the region that had previously been viewed as competitors.

  • Infrastructure

Thailand has superb infrastructure, especially in the major cities and tourist hotspots. As it already has the hospitals, the road networks and internet connections, it is ideal for expatriates and tourists alike. The BOI incentives that are offered by the government may also encourage businesses to move to Thailand to cut costs and rebuild. Of course, expat health insurance in Thailand for workers will be essential for workers, but serious companies will undoubtedly recognise this fact and proceed accordingly.

  • Friendly and safe

The country is often referred to as the Land of Smiles, and as soon as you leave the airport, you will quickly understand why. After what has been a miserable year for most, seeing a friendly smile is just the “pick me up” that many will need. The country also has relatively low levels of crime when compared to some others in the region, so it is safe for expats and visitors. It was the case long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19 and it something which is widely recognised around the world.

  • Adaptability

One quality that all Thais seem to have in their locker is their ability to adapt and deal with change. Cities such as Pattaya and to some extent, Phuket have undergone numerous changes and guises in the past to welcome more visitors and cater to their demands. After the pandemic is over, most accept that this is something that they will need to do again, and this will stand them in good stead for the future. No one knows what Thailand will be like next year and beyond, but what we do know is that whatever changes need to be made, they will be.

Why is it vital to have sufficient health insurance cover?

For many expats living in Thailand, health insurance is something that they have continual felt was a luxury rather than a necessity. Sadly, too many have found to their cost that this is a foolhardy approach and one that can leave them with medical bills that run into hundreds of thousands, if not millions of baht. Thailand is a country that is quickly becoming part of the developed world, and this means better quality care, but with it, increased costs.

Expat health insurance in Thailand is now essential for several reasons, some of which we will cover in this article. In almost every aspect of life, Thailand is a very different country to that which you may have visited or lived in a decade or more ago. It is vital regardless of your age you have not only some health cover but sufficient health insurance coverage to ensure that should the worst happen, you are adequately covered. Here are some of the reasons why.

  1. Medical costs rising all the time

As we touched upon above, the cost of everything is increasing in Thailand, and that is undoubtedly the case with medical care. Many private hospitals in major cities have facilities that are comparable with anything that you would find in the west. The medical professionals have often received training abroad and speak excellent English so are not surprisingly well rewarded.

For almost any stay in a quality hospital overnight, you can expect to pay over THB100,000. However, for anything serious, you could easily be looking closer to one million if not more. Some cheap insurance policies only offer THB50,000 worth of cover, which is woefully short. Is this something that you and your family could afford?

  • Self-insuring not an option

Many expats used to see self-insuring as being the best option for them, but unfortunately, with the increased costs that this is no longer viable. In reality, you would need to be saving significant sums each month, but these sums are often greater than the monthly premiums. While there is an argument that you are saving the money in a bank account and, therefore, it is yours to do as you please, could you realistically save several million baht to cover cancer care? For most people, the answer would be “no”, so taking out sufficient health insurance is critical.

  • Returning to your “home” country may not be possible

Another excuse which was frequently used by expats was “if I get sick, I’ll just go home”. While in some cases this may be possible, accidents and heart attacks can’t be planned for and require urgent medical treatment. In these circumstances, having minimal or worst still, no insurance cover could once again put you or your loved ones in a position where significant sums of money need to be raised quickly.

Another problem is that some countries, such as in the UK, expats returning to live have to wait for a specified period before they are entitled to free healthcare. Should you have a serious condition such as cancer, this delay could potentially be life-threatening.

  • Peace of mind

If you have insufficient expat health insurance in Thailand, it will always be at the back your mind causing you unnecessary stress and anguish. The argument that “something is better than nothing”, doesn’t work in this case, when you consider the significant amounts that you may need to find in addition to your premiums and on top of the minimal amount that your existing insurer is required to pay.

Thailand is a beautiful country, but you want to be in a position to enjoy it, but sadly accidents and road accidents, in particular, are common. Having the peace of mind, that should you be involved in an accident; you will get the best treatment in an international hospital rather than a local government establishment with inadequate facilities.

  • Protecting loved ones

Being landed with a huge medical bill can be catastrophic for many families and may mean that they lose everything that they own. Would you want this to happen to your family, meaning that they have to live in sub-standard accommodation or your children can’t go to an international school? Although it may seem harsh, having no insurance or insufficient insurance is selfish and potentially ruin your family’s future.

  • Legal requirement

A point that often goes overlooked is that for many visas such as the Thai Retirement Visa, adequate health insurance is a legal requirement. For foreigner re-entering the country, they will be required to have a minimum of USD100,000 worth of coverage for the duration of their visa. What this effectively means is that either your visa won’t get renewed (in the case of a Retirement Visa), or you will only have local coverage through local social security in the case of those with a work permit. Again this could have enormous implications for your long-term future.

What are the benefits of learning to speak Thai?

Sadly, very few of us expats living in Thailand can speak much Thai, and this can mean that we miss out on so much that the country has to offer. While we have no doubt got many friends, most of us communicate in English and act like the expat abroad. In Bangkok, this often doesn’t pose much of problem. However, in rural areas, very little English is spoken, and even in some tourist destinations, it is broken English meaning that conversation is minimal.

Even if you can only speak a little Thai, it will prove to be immensely beneficial, and just like having expat health insurance in Thailand, it will give you that added peace of mind. If you do make an effort, it will be welcomed by the locals who will do all they can to try and help you learn more. Of course, we can all come up with excuses why we don’t learn the local language, but here are just six benefits of speaking Thai.

  1. It will help you to understand the culture

Thailand is a beautiful country, but most of us appreciate that the culture is very different from what we are used to in the west. Learning the language will help you understand how and why people are addressed in a particular manner. We often hear the phrase “Thainess”, and once you can understand a few phrases, you will begin to appreciate what that actually means such as Thais often refer to another person’s child as their own.

Once you can speak a little Thai, you will soon find it easier to learn more, mix with the locals and make new friends. It will make your time in the Kingdom a lot happier, and you will gain far more from the whole experience.

  • Build stronger relationships

We all know that good communication is essential in any relationship, but if both partners speak different languages, it can be incredibly challenging. If you can both speak some of the other’s language, you will be able to fill in gaps where you don’t understand as well as helping each other to talk more and expand your vocabulary. All too often, the onus is placed upon the Thai partner to learn more English to make the relationship work.

Misunderstandings are the cause of most arguments in Thai-farang relationships, and often offence is accidentally caused, which can ultimately lead to the breakdown of the partnership. If you make an effort to learn, and it should be something that you want to do rather than a chore, you have a far better chance of finding long-term happiness.

  • Make Thai friends

There is a common misconception that Thais and westerners can’t be friends, but this is not true, but it is harder if you don’t speak the language. Once again, Thais in the larger cities do tend to be able to speak some English, so the chances of friendships forming are increased, but it is far more polite if you make some effort to talk Thai. Many friendships are formed by both people helping each other to learn the respective language.

When you can speak Thai, you will be able to speak to people in “normal” jobs, rather than just girls in bars and massage shops. The chances are that these friendships will be longer-lasting and more genuine as you will have far more in common.

  • Order food and be able to get around

Regardless of if you are in a relationship or not, there are some things that you will need to do, such as being able to order food and get from A to B. While in major cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai you can expect to see English on menus, if you go “up country” it is something of a rarity. You will need to be able to ask for what you want, understand the response, and potentially have an alternative.

If you are somewhere new, you may need to ask for directions or be able to tell a taxi driver where you want to go. The chances are that the people you ask will have little knowledge of English, and even if they have, they may be reluctant to use it.

  • Find work in Thailand

Depending on your age, having a reasonable grasp of Thai will do your job prospects a world of good in the Kingdom. Before COVID-19, South East Asia was flourishing economically, and an increasing number of people of working age wanted to work in the country. Being able to speak Thai will give you a head start on others when it comes to applying for jobs meaning that you have a better chance of obtaining a long-term visa in Thailand. Employment and expat health insurance in Thailand will make that possible.

  • Stop feeling like people are talking about you

Finally, if you can speak Thai, it will stop you from feeling paranoid and always feeling like people are talking about you. It most cases, they won’t have given it a second thought, and even when they have, they are probably saying something positive. Once you know what is being said, you will be far more relaxed and comfortable in Thai people’s company.

6 unusual places to visit in Thailand

Prior to COVID-19, Thailand was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The country has so much to offer from the palaces and temples of Bangkok to the world-class beaches of Phuket, the Land of Smiles has something to offer everyone. However, it is easy to forget that expats are living in Thailand, and they have all this on their doorsteps, but often they never get the opportunity to enjoy it.

You should always take every chance to travel around the Kingdom, but if you are one the fortunate ones to be living here, you must have adequate expat health insurance in Thailand. If you feel it is time to get out and see some more, here are some of our suggestions about places that you could visit, many of which are away from the main tourist areas. All of these places allow you to see some that are unique and unavailable else in the world.

  1. Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is around three hours to the west of Bangkok and is perhaps best known for the notorious Death Railway. The railway was built by Allied Prisoners of War during the second-world and linked Thailand with Burma. The POWs faced the brutality of the Japanese army with more than 12,000 killed during its construction. The railway is incredibly scenic, but at the same time, places such as Hellfire Pass are frighteningly eerie.

There are many interesting sites to visit, such as the famous bridge over the River Kwai, Museums and war cemeteries. However, the province also has some amazing waterfalls, superb scenery and temples for those who prefer something about more relaxing than a history lesson. It is worth acknowledging that this is a popular tourist attraction with hundreds of thousands of visitors from Thailand and across the globe visiting each year.

  • Sam Phan Bok (3,000 Holes)

Often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Thailand, Sam Phan Bok is a spectacular volcanic rock formation on the Mekong River in Ubon Ratchathani province. You can roam around the area free of charge and experience the 3,000 holes that make the landscape appear mountainous. It is something that is best observed during the rainy season, although it does look superb throughout the year.

Sam Phan Bok is a highly photogenic place which often goes overlooked by western tourists and expatriates. If you are looking to go somewhere different away from the madding crowds, then this could be the perfect place for you.

  • Sra Nam Pud (Blue Maze Canyon)

If you find tranquil clear blue waters enchanting, then Sra Nam Pud in Krabi is a must-see destination. Surrounded by dense forest, you will find a stunning lagoon that is surprisingly unknown about by many visiting the island. It will give you a perfect break from the beaches as well as an opportunity to take some photos to remind you of your visit.

It is a place that is only open from November to April from 10am until 3pm. The sun reflecting off the lagoon is a memorable site, but there is very little protection from the UV, so it is advisable to take a hat and plenty of water. It is just another reason why you should have expat health insurance in Thailand.

  • Tham Phra Waterfall

There are some spectacular waterfalls in Thailand, but arguably Tham Phra is one of the most impressive and least visited. It can be found in Bueng Kan in northeast Thailand and is surrounded by stunning jungle. The waterfall itself falls on several large rocks and is impressive around the rainy season although it is advisable to wear non-slip shoes. The waterfall is stunning, and the cool waters are perfect for taking a dip.

Tham Phra is best reached by boat and is an ideal place to get away from everything, especially if you work or live in a city such as Bangkok or Chiang Mai.

  • Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn

You won’t need us to tell you that Thailand has literally thousands of temples although in many cases, they all look the same. Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat Phrachomklao Rachanusorn offers something different as it is a series of floating pagodas that sit on the top of the mountains. The temples were carried there by monks and around 50 willing workers.

 It is in Lampang province and has been a Buddhist site for over two millennia. If you go to the top of the peaks, you will be rewarded with some magnificent vistas which are as good as anywhere else in Thailand.

  • Wat Rong Khun (White Temple)

The White Temple is not a temple per se even those its appearance would suggest that it is. The temple is white to represent the purity of Buddha, and its architecture is said to represent karma, life, heaven and hell. It is a popular destination for Thais and can be found in Chiang Rai province in the north of Thailand. It is a very spiritual place as well as being picture perfect and appearing in many people’s holiday snaps.