The most up-to-date guide for entrepreneurs who want to go to Thailand to start a business.
With deep answers to 207 questions, this will save you weeks of research, or months of trial-and-error.
- insights into the local Thailand mindset
- advice on how to thrive in this unique market
- suggestions on where in Thailand you should set up your office
- negotiation insights : how to tell a yes from an indirect no
- the government departments you should know for best advantage
- predictions of what changes are likely in the next five years
- hiring and firing tips
- expected time and costs
- foreigner-friendly law firms, accountants, and banks
- hints at what products and services are missing in Thailand
- advice on marketing inside Thailand
Look at the Table of Contents for the full list of 207 questions.
The answers to each question were gathered by multiple researchers, both locals and expats with hands-on experience in Thailand, so that this book is not one person’s opinion, but the insights of many, combined.
By buying this book, you will have lifetime access to all research at woodegg.com, including the ability to ask us any question about Thailand, and we will find you the answer.
- What is the size of Thailand in square km? What is the distance (in km) from east to west? What is the distance (in km) from north to south?
- What is the total population of Thailand? What are the top ethnic groups and religions as a percentage of population?
- What are the economic statistics of Thailand? Gross domestic product (GDP)? Average income per-person? National debt? Growth percentage of last two years?
Quick history as it affects current business environment
- Give a short modern history of Thailand - just enough for basic conversational knowledge and context.
- Give a short history of Thailand’s last 5 years, focusing on aspects that would affect small business owners.
- How has the recent history of the country affected people in terms of their living and business environment?
- Give an overview of the current 2013 political, societal, and economic condition of Thailand, focusing on aspects that would affect small business owners.
- What social changes in Thailand seem very likely in the next five years?
- What economic changes in Thailand seem very likely in the next five years?
- What political changes in Thailand seem very likely in the next five years?
Relationship with other countries
- What is Thailand’s relationship with Cambodia? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- What is Thailand’s relationship with Indonesia? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- What is Thailand’s relationship with Malaysia? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- What is Thailand’s relationship with Myanmar? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- What is Thailand’s relationship with Singapore? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- What is Thailand’s relationship with Vietnam? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- What is Thailand’s relationship with China? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- What is Thailand’s relationship with India? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- What is Thailand’s relationship with Australia? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- What is Thailand’s relationship with the United States? Cooperative or competitive? Similarities or differences? What is the main trade between the two?
- Describe the mindset of most people in Thailand. Progressive or conservative? Future-focused or present-focused? Work-focused or pleasure-focused? Optimistic or cautious? Pressing for change, or maintaining traditions? Strict or easy-going? Or, if the mindset is very divided between groups, please describe the divide. (Feel free to just share your personal opinion.)
- What are some of the major internal conflicts that Thailand is going through now? (Between political parties, age generations, demographics, ideologies, etc.) Summarize each side’s argument.
- Is it taboo to talk about Thailand’s government?
- How would you describe the views of the general public about the government of Thailand?
Religion and Race
- What role does religion play in day-to-day life?
- Are there any types of businesses that are not welcome or looked down upon due to religious reasons?
- How does religion affect business dealings? Times or days when people do not do business for religious reasons? Any religious rituals that businesses follow?
- What basic cultural norms do you think foreigners should know about working with people in Asia in general?
- What basic cultural norms do you think foreigners should know about working with people in Thailand, as compared to Asia in general?
- What are some of the most common mannerisms when meeting with people?
- When people go out to eat or drink together, how is it decided who pays? (Describe business and personal situations separately.)
- As compared to American individualism, Thailand is more of a community/group-focused culture. Describe these differences from a local point of view.
- What are the cultural differences between people in Thailand and Cambodia?
- What are the cultural differences between people in Thailand and China?
- What are the cultural differences between people in Thailand and India?
- What are the cultural differences between people in Thailand and Indonesia?
- What are the cultural differences between people in Thailand and Malaysia?
- What are the cultural differences between people in Thailand and Myanmar?
- What are the cultural differences between people in Thailand and Singapore?
- What are the cultural differences between people in Thailand and Vietnam?
- What are the cultural differences between people in Thailand and the United States?
Personal attitudes towards foreigners
- How do people view foreign tourists in Thailand?
- What is the common opinion about foreign workers, coming to Thailand to work? Is it a business threat? Is it a cultural threat?
- What is the common opinion about foreign entrepreneurs, coming to Thailand to set up a business?
- Which foreigners are generally most welcome? Which foreigners are generally least welcome?
What to wear
- What is the most appropriate business/meeting clothing for men in Thailand? What would be considered too casual or disrespectful?
- What is the most appropriate business/meeting clothing for women in Thailand? What would be considered too casual or disrespectful?
- How can you tell by their clothing that someone is high-status or low-status?
Attitude towards time and promises
- What is the Thailand attitude towards punctuality? For example, if two people agreed on an 11:00 business meeting, what time range to arrive would be considered acceptable? What is considered late?
- What is the Thailand attitude towards promises? Are you expected to stick to your promise, no matter what? Or is it common to change your mind?
Common conversational references
- What is a common Thailand expression that a foreigner might not understand?
How to blend in
- How can a foreigner blend in to Thailand? What advice would you give foreigners on how not to stick out so much?
- How can a foreigner become a part of the business community in Thailand? What is a good way to meet many people and make connections?
When not to blend in
- Is it best for a foreigner doing business in Thailand to blend in? Or is there an advantage to not blending in?
- What books, magazines, newspapers, or websites would you recommend a foreign entrepreneur read to better understand Thailand and its business environment?
Quality of life
- Describe the general quality of life in Thailand (Utilities, cleanliness, safety, amenities, physical comfort.) If very different in different areas, describe each separately.
- Which parts of Thailand have the nicest quality of life? Which parts have the worst? Describe each.
Cost of living
- What is the average cost of rent for a 1-bedroom (unfurnished) apartment? What is the average cost for an unfurnished small house (or large apartment) for a 5-person family?
- What would it cost per-month for one person to live a nice, but not luxurious, life in Thailand? Include food, utilities, transportation.
- What length of time is a usual contract when renting an apartment or house?
Western standards vs local standards
- How does the general quality of life in Thailand compare to America, Australia, or Europe? (Utilities, cleanliness, safety, amenities, physical comfort.)
- What safety precautions would you recommend for a foreigner?
Language / English proficiency
- Do most people in the cities of Thailand speak English?
- If someone came to Thailand only speaking English, how difficult would it be to live and work?
- Is it common for merchants to charge foreigners more if they speak in English?
- Which parts of Thailand are safest? Which parts are unsafe? Describe each.
- How do people in Thailand deal with petty crimes like theft?
- How can one generally distinguish friend from foe? Any signs to consider, or scams to beware of?
Immigration / Visa
- How can a foreign entrepreneur live and work in Thailand for a few years? Do they need a work visa, investor visa, tourist visa, or something else?
- How can someone get a visa to live in Thailand long-term?
Where to live (short-term and long-term)
- What are some serviced apartments or furnished homes in the business district that can be rented month-by-month, for short-term (say 3 month) visits? Give examples and prices.
- Where should someone live to be in the middle of the most business, the most action, and to meet the most people? What specific neighborhoods?
- Where should someone live to be near to the business action, but to be a little outside, in a neighborhood that’s better for children?
- What are some places a foreigner should not stay, because of their lack of proximity, safety, or other reasons?
Typical living arrangements
- What is a typical living arrangement in Thailand? Do most people live in houses or apartments?
- Do families usually live together with parents, grandparents, kids, and siblings - or do they tend to live separately?
- How do working people normally get around? (Car? Bus? Train? Taxi? Bicycle? Walk?)
- What is the recommended transportation for someone coming to work in Thailand? (Car? Bus? Train? Taxi? Rented car? Please describe options, prices, and recommendations.)
Internet / Phone
- What are the most popular mobile phone/data providers in Thailand? Which one would you recommend?
- How much does it cost for a basic broadband (cable/fiber) internet connection in a home or office? Name speeds and prices.
- How much does it cost for a mobile data plan (3G) for heavy internet use through a mobile phone? Describe the current best plans.
- What’s the typical cuisine of Thailand?
- Is it easy to find western food? Are there western restaurants? Western food in supermarkets?
- What’s the etiquette of using your hands or utensils for eating? Any inappropriate manners that foreigners often have?
Credit card? Cash? Check?
- How do most people pay for things? Cash? Credit card? Check? Something else?
- What is the easiest way to get cash in Thailand? Are ATMs the best option?
Availability of products/services
- What goods and services that Western people are used to are not available in Thailand?
What’s not online
- What kinds of day-to-day necessary things do people do online? (Meaning: not just fun/social, but like online banking, shopping, paying bills, using maps/location services, etc.)
Differences in service standards
- What’s the difference in customer service between US/Australia/Europe and Thailand? More service? Less service?
- Is good customer service a necessary part of successful business dealings?
- Are there a lot of foreign expats in Thailand?
- Where do expats live in Thailand?
- Where do expats hang out in Thailand?
- What are some good books that describe the life and culture of Thailand?
- What are some good internet resources that help describe life in Thailand?
- Summarize the business mindset of people in Thailand. Ruthless? By-the-book? Improvisational? Considerate?
- Are there any particular business dealings that foreigners should not get involved in?
- Foreigners sometimes don’t understand the Asian concept of “face” (dignity / prestige). How would you explain “face”?
- How is “face” (dignity / prestige) a part of Thailand business culture? Give examples.
Direct vs indirect communication
- Give examples of direct (saying exactly what is meant) versus indirect (gestures, avoidance, vague language) communication style in Thailand.
- Is direct communication (saying exactly what is meant) considered rude?
- How can someone understand the meaning behind indirect communication? Any hints to help translate?
How to tell “yes” from “no”
- People used to very direct communication find it hard to understand when someone with a more indirect communication style has told them “yes” or “no”. Give examples of some indirect statements that actually mean “yes”, and indirect statements that actually mean “no”.
- How important is hierarchy in business in Thailand?
- Is it disrespectful for a foreigner to deal in business with a certain class of people?
- Give an example of a business situation where the norms of hierarchy are not followed, (by a foreigner who doesn’t understand), and explain how they should be followed according to the norms of Thailand.
Who to speak with in organizations
- When a foreigner wants to do business with a Thailand company, who should they contact? Go directly to the top? Start in the middle?
- Are personal recommendations important in doing business with new companies or can they be reached purely on a basis of business?
Business attitudes towards foreigners
- What is the general attitude of businesses in Thailand towards foreigners coming to Thailand to do business?
Signals of respect
- What are some social etiquette actions that show respect for someone?
- What are some social actions that would be taken as disrespectful?
- How do people in Thailand express anger? Do they usually stay quiet or express their feelings openly?
- How do people view laughter in Thailand? What kinds of jokes are not acceptable?
How to build trust
- How can a foreigner doing business in Thailand build trust with local businesses or people?
- Is it important to make local friends in order to spread your business?
- What is the standard polite way of doing business introductions? (If someone asks you to introduce them to another business person you know.)
- How important are business cards (name cards) in Thailand? Do most people have them?
- What is the standard business card format in Thailand? What information goes on it? Bi-lingual with one language on each side?
- Are there proper manners for how to give your business card to someone, and how to receive someone’s card?
- Give some insight and advice about business negotiations in Thailand.
- How can you tell that a person is successful? Clothing? Manners? Neighborhood? Events? Friends?
Innovation vs status quo
- Do you feel that business is Thailand is attracted to innovation, or attracted to the status quo?
Passing-through vs Full-time
- Is there a stigma against business people that are just passing through Thailand, looking for opportunities, versus foreigners who live there?
- What advantages do foreigners who live full-time in Thailand have over those who just visit?
Advantages to foreigners
- What advantages do foreigners have (versus locals) when doing business in Thailand?
Advantages to locals
- What advantages do local people have (versus foreigners) when doing business in Thailand?
- What are the top risks of doing business in Thailand?
- How pervasive is corruption in business in Thailand? Can you give some examples? (Change the details to protect people.)
General role of government
- How involved is the government in the dealings of small business?
- Is the government of Thailand open to foreign businesses or restrictive?
Who’s who: departments you need to know
- What government departments will a small business probably need to interact with? Please describe each.
- What are some government regulations that need to be considered by foreign businesses?
What the government is emphasizing now
- What sectors is the government emphasizing development now? Any current mission or push?
- What government incentives are available to new or small businesses now?
- Do many small businesses use government incentives?
- What government grants are available to new or small businesses now?
- Do many small businesses use government grants?
Ease of doing business
- How does Thailand rank on the “Ease of Doing Business” index?
- What’s the hardest part about doing business in Thailand?
- What’s the easiest part about doing business in Thailand?
- If a foreigner is starting a business in Thailand, is it required to have a local partner? Or does the government allow foreign-controlled businesses?
Business structure choice
- What are the options for business structures in Thailand? (Sole proprietor? Partnership? Corporation? Other?)
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of business structure in Thailand?
Business name choice
- Any advice on naming a business in Thailand? Are English names OK, or should they be localized?
- What are some mistakes that foreign businesses have made when naming a business in Thailand?
- How long does it generally take to incorporate a business structure in Thailand?
- What does it cost to incorporate a business structure in Thailand? (Including all service fees, helper fees, government fees, etc.)
- How does a foreigner create a business structure in Thailand?
Where to locate
- How should a new business decide where to locate in Thailand?
- How much does it cost to rent a typical 4-person office space in Thailand? Give a range from center-city expensive to outlying-area cheap.
- Can a foreign investor easily buy property for business in Thailand or renting is the only option?
Big city vs outlying areas
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of locating a new business in the big city versus the outlying areas?
What your location says about your business
- Does business location (center of biggest city versus outlying areas) communicate something about the business itself?
- Which neighborhood or street has the most prestige?
- How can a new office get set up with electricity, internet, phone, and other important utilities? Describe the utility companies and summary of process for each.
- Will a foreigner have a problem getting utilities for the business? If so, what solution would you recommend?
- How can a new business find out which permits are necessary to do their business?
- How can a new business get all the permits they need?
- Are contracts respected in Thailand? Or are they often ignored if need be?
- Which lawyers or law firms are best to help foreign entrepreneurs in Thailand?
- Which accountants or accountancy firms are best to help foreign entrepreneurs in Thailand?
- What are the current tax rates for businesses in Thailand?
- Are the taxes different in different regions in Thailand?
- How do business owners pay their taxes?
- Besides paying taxes, what ongoing maintenance bureaucracy is required by the government for small businesses?
- What books describe doing business in Thailand?
- What internet resources help someone doing business in Thailand?
Local talent strengths
- What are the main strengths of the local talent in Thailand? Any particular skills or fields more developed or emphasized?
Hiring local people
- What is the best way to hire local employees?
How much to pay?
- What is the average salary for a mildly skilled worker in Thailand? (Say: basic administrative tasks.)
- What is the average salary for a very skilled worker in Thailand? (Say: an experienced manager.)
How to find good people?
- What’s the best way to find and hire exceptionally smart and talented workers in Thailand?
Online vs offline
- How much of the finding and hiring of employees is done online? Is it rare or common to have job openings posted online?
- What websites do people use for posting jobs / finding jobs / hiring employees?
Hiring foreign people
- How can a Thailand business hire a foreign employee? What are the requirements, steps, costs, and time?
- What processes or documents are required for hiring an employee?
- What hours do most people work? (9am-5pm?) What days do most people work? (Monday-Friday? Also Saturday?)
- Is it very common to work overtime? (Extra hours at night, or extra days per week?)
- Give a summary of the most important labor laws in Thailand - that a small-business employer should know.
- What processes or documents are required for paying an employee? Do taxes need to be withheld or paid? Any ongoing forms to file?
- Are there labor unions in Thailand that will affect employees of small business?
- What processes or documents are required for firing an employee?
- What local companies or people can help with hiring?
- Give an overview of the availability and quality of small-business banking in Thailand.
- Compare the top three choices for small business banking in Thailand. Funds required? Costs? Online access? Visa/Mastercard debit card given?
How to open an account
- What requirements do the banks have for opening a business account?
- Any additional requirements for a foreigner to open a business bank account?
- How much of banking can be done online? Outgoing payments? International wires (telegraphic transfer)?
- What is the usual way for a business to pay employees in Thailand? What payment method and how often?
- What is the usual way for a business to pay vendors in Thailand? Bank transfer? Paper check? Visa/Mastercard?
Getting a bank loan
- How can a small business get a bank loan in Thailand?
- How can a small business get investors in Thailand?
What if they don’t pay?
- What legal procedures should be followed to ensure that customers pay as promised?
- If customers don’t pay, what methods are used to get them to pay?
- What are the main exports of Thailand?
- What industries are very well-developed in Thailand?
- What industries are not very well-developed in Thailand, and have much room to grow?
- What useful services or products are missing in Thailand now?
- What industries have the most opportunity in Thailand right now?
- What services or products are unique to Thailand? Any particular business or service that exists in Thailand, that you’ve never heard of anywhere else?
Growing the Business
- What methods do local businesses use for marketing their business?
- What language should local marketing use?
Expanding outside the country
- Do many businesses in Thailand expand outside the country?
- What are the best ways to sell local products from Thailand to other countries?
- Are there any government regulations concerning exports?
- What are some of the ways to open a franchise in Thailand?
- Can investors transfer their existing business in Thailand?