10 Years of Living in Thailand – Q&A with me and a Thai

It’s been over a decade since I moved to Thailand and while I’ve showcased photos of people from various nationalities on the blog, there haven’t been many Thais. I’ve written several times that Thai modeling agencies tend to have people from other countries, and if you do come across Thais, they don’t have the distinctive facial features associated with average Thai but rather look like a mix of different nationalities. To commemorate a decade of living in Bangkok, I did a Q&A with readers about Thailand, with questions directed to both me and Janine, who posed for the photos published here.

Janine Diamond on black studio background, Q&A about Thailand

Knowing what you do now, would you have chosen Thailand 10 years ago?

I’ve often pondered alternatives with friends living here (just in case big changes occur in Thailand). The conclusion is always the same – Thailand has no direct competition. The quality of life relative to costs is extraordinarily high here. Add to that the delicious food, the friendliness of the people, the standard of condos/apartments, nearby islands, the weather (and until last year, excellent tax rules) made it so that other countries seemed a lot less appealing, as you’d have to give up on many things.

However, a prolonged stay in Thailand is more complicated than in most neighboring countries, so it’s not an option for everyone. I wouldn’t also consider Thailand if I had to earn a local income – it’s a great place if you’re spending money earned abroad. I expand on both topics while discussing other questions.

How is the Internet used in Thailand? And are the apps the same as ours, or different like in China?

Computers are less popular than in Europe or USA, but tablets maybe more so, and of course, everyone has a smartphone. Social media is the same as in EU/US, and e-commerce is partly reminiscent of China’s, i.e., sales through social media (but not exclusively). The main communicator is Line. Some websites are blocked because they criticized the Thai goverment too much. I’ve always had access to everything, thanks to using NextDNS (and earlier Google’s DNS or Cloudflare’s). Maybe except for a few foreign websites that block foreign traffic – therefore, sometimes I have to use VPN. Generally, the Internet in Thailand is almost the same as in EU, not China. In shopping malls etc; instead of mobile data, encrypted WiFi is often used, which is included in the mobile internet package. Thanks to this, even years ago, there was very fast internet on smartphones.

For social media, we mainly use Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and maybe Twitter/X, and previously Facebook (older generations still use it to this day). For shopping apps (Shopee, Lazada, etc.), most people link debit cards, or they pay with bank apps or cash on delivery.


There’s been a lot of change in terms of prices and speeds. When I moved, the Internet here was much slower than in EU. Now it’s equally cheap, and according to the Speedtest.net speed report, Thailand is in 9th place globally with an average of 206 Mbps. In mobile Internet Thailand is 63rd (40.7 Mbps).

What do you miss from Poland in Thailand?

I don’t really miss anything for years, but generally, probably a few Polish dishes. Some big brands have distribution in EU and USA, but not in Thailand – Amazon store, Quest by Meta, Xbox by MS, etc. Often it’s cheaper to import things from the USA to Thailand and pay all import taxes than living in Poland and buying something from an official, local distribution. But in case of a breakdown, there will be a service problem and the delivery takes longer, which is a significant issue. The range of Eizo/Nec monitors is also limited, so I imported mine from Europe.

How does the health service compare to ours (e.g., do you fly to Poland for a dentist, etc.)?

In Poland, there are probably private hospitals that look like expensive hotels, but I haven’t visited them, so I only experienced marble walls and VIP treatment in Bangkok. My experiences with healthcare here were great, but I didn’t use public treatment or visit small clinics on the islands. Insurance covered almost everything for me, but if I had to pay for it myself, I probably wouldn’t have chosen Bangkok Hospital but rather Pharam 9 Hospital or somewhere else, as prices vary several times, and the level is still high. I had an excellent dentist in Poland, and it was only after not coming to Poland for several years that I decided to start going to a Thai clinic (the level is similar). Generally, there are many places with the highest level of healthcare in Thailand, which is why Americans and Australians often come here for medical vacations – holidays combined with dealing with health issues, as prices are much lower than in the USA, and the level is the highest. However, the public health service is a completely different story.

In public hospitals, the service is unpleasant, and you wait in long queues – you can come to the doctor early in the morning and be admitted in the afternoon.


Is Apple Pay widespread, and if not, how do you pay in stores? If I fly on holiday to Thailand, how can I pay for everything?

Thai banks still don’t support Apple Pay, so you can only pay in this way with linked foreign cards. Additionally, not everywhere has contactless terminals. In Thailand and most of Asia, payment is made with QR codes, which are incredibly popular, and even a roadside fruit stall supports such payment. However, QR payment requires an account in a local bank, so the tourist is left with cash or traditional, physical cards (however, they are not accepted everywhere, and besides, there are common minimum amounts from which you can use them).

Janine Thai girl

Do Thai people find you attractive?

Blonde hair, blue eyes, ultra-pale skin, and tall stature are exotic and considered very attractive. For most Thai women, I’m much more attractive than for women in Europe.

What cultural barriers and differences can one encounter?

Like a Chinese person, a Thai can lose face, so admitting to a mistake is rare. Being late is normal, and in services, no one probably expects the job to be done very well. Even a boss doesn’t necessarily point out a mistake, and if they do, they probably do so without indicating which specific employee made it. Cars stop on the road, block pedestrian crossings, and road traffic regulations are treated more like guidelines than rules. People don’t raise their voices during a conversation and try to be kind to everyone around. If I bumped into someone on the street, they would smile instead of getting outraged.

People in Thailand don’t openly say if something is wrong and don’t complain. Instead of hurting someone by telling the truth, they often choose a lie. A man is the head of the family, and marriage is a union of two families, not just two people. When getting to know someone, it’s very important to establish who’s older so that they can be addressed with proper respect.


Is November a good month for holidays in Thailand?

Everyone asks about November, and in November people from all over the world come here. This continues until February, and then the tourist season ends. During this period, perfect weather is guaranteed throughout the country (although in recent years the beginning of November was still rainy). From March it gets warmer, in May temperatures reach their maximum and the rains start on the islands, and in September and October, they are frequent even in Bangkok. That’s why I always advise early March – smaller crowds, lower prices, and the weather is usually still great.

Janine Thai model

In Thailand, what is the situation with women’s rights, LGBT rights, possible racism, and discrimination? In this respect, is Thailand closer to Russia or the West?

Everyone wants to have the whitest skin, and people of darker complexion are considered inferior. Mainly because white skin is regarded as more attractive and people of lower status don’t stand a chance due to working in the sun, lack of funds for proper cosmetics, treatments, etc.

This has changed a lot over the last few years (2-4) thanks to social media like Instagram and Tik Tok. Young Thais follow people from all over the world there and now have idols of all skin complexions. However, older generations have racist beliefs that are unlikely to change.


Differences in the treatment of women are due to tradition and patriarchy, not to the law (no legal regulations restrict women’s rights, although only a man can be a monk). In the capital, most women work in offices and as saleswomen, e.g., in shopping centers, shops, cafes, etc. In rural areas, they often work on farms, fish, sell food, etc.


Damian Black can talk about what the situation with rights and acceptance looks like from the perspective of an LGBT person. You know him from doing make-up for several models I photographed.

Thai society is very accepting, however, it is still evolving. LGBT rights in Thailand are gradually reaching the level of Western Europe. It may sound surprising, but until recently homosexual marriages were not legal here. And even 5-6 years ago, when I was about to go to work at a school as a teacher through an agency, they asked me not to tell anyone that I’m gay. Currently, fewer people care about such things, and that is a true sign of acceptance. No one cares if you are gay or not, as long as you are professional. The entire LGBT scene is slowly developing and growing, the drag queen culture, opening of more new clubs and bars. Until recently in Bangkok there were only 3 places with drag queen shows and worked there only about 10 drag queens. It has only become more popular and accessible in recent years and more people are engaging in this scene.

Damian Black

Are people unhappy with the monarchy, or are they afraid to speak out on this subject, due to draconian law?

King Rama 9 was beloved, but he died a few years ago, and now his son has taken power. In cinemas during commercials, a short film about the king is always played. As long as the previous king was alive, everyone would stand up to show respect, but in recent years, not many people get up from their chairs. Protests are against the government, but not against the royal family.

Is the education system as competitive as that in China, Korea or Singapore?

It is not. There’s no obsession with filling childhood with various additional activities/tutoring, so it has no comparison with Malaysia, China, etc. Foreigners usually want to send their child to a private international school. Every time I mention the prices of such schools, I’m asked if it’s really the price per month, not per year or if I didn’t mistake the digits in the amount. Living in Thailand can be cheap, so $1200 or more (sky is the limit) per month for primary school is a huge increase in expenses for many (and many foreigners spend less per month on everything together, still having a quite nice life).

Among public schools, only universities are at a high level. Money alone won’t get you into a good higher education institution, you also need to be a suitably talented student.

Janine on black studio background, color photo

When you return to Poland, what differences between Thailand and Poland strike you the most?

In Thailand, everyone is friendly and smiles, so the first shopping trip in Poland is a shock every time. It doesn’t go along with the quality of service. When ordering a meal in Europe, I expect to get exactly what I ordered. In Thailand, I am used to mistakes. Polish cities seem deserted when one returns from Bangkok (both in terms of people and cars) and streets marked in red on the navigation in the capital of Thailand would shine green, because the difference in traffic is so huge. There are no large shopping malls in PL, and even so, there are long distances between shops in them, there is little assortment and services. After 10 PM even in the center of Warsaw, it’s hard to eat something, and shops closed on Sundays always remind me how much the world needs robotization. Apple Pay payments are much more convenient and faster than the QR codes common in Asia.

Rental or home ownership, what is the predominant model? Is owning your own apartment an exorbitant cost in big cities, and are people doomed to rent?

Most people cannot afford to buy an apartment and therefore rent.


Buying an apartment that is still being built or planned is a bigger risk than in EU because if the developer folds, we don’t have any state guarantees. However, buying a completed place is obviously significantly more expensive than a risky investment. The apartment I’m staying in, not counting inflation, would only pay for itself after 30 years of renting. Of course, the owner bought it cheaper, investing very early. In 10 years there will be plenty of new buildings in even higher standards in the neighborhood, so rent changes the place and that’s it. In Europe (for sure in Poland) due to the lack of swimming pools, gyms, stores, cafes, etc., in the condos; such differences do not exist.

How do you rate the level of computerization? Could you live without a smartphone?

You can live without a smartphone because, in addition to QR code payments, cash still functions, and companies use regular mobile numbers in addition to messengers. Bills can be paid in stores or dedicated machines, transfers can be made directly from ATMs. There are physical ID proofs, and generally, you can buy regular tickets at the counter or from machines. So a tourist, despite not being able to download many smartphone apps due to regional restrictions, will manage to get around almost everywhere. However, smartphones took over Asia much faster than Europe. Siri in Thai has been around for a long time, there are two Apple Stores in Bangkok, and computer stores are found at every step, even though the era of good PCs around 2000 skipped this country (but internet cafes with gaming computers were everywhere until a few years ago).

Only the elderly or very poor live without smartphones. They do not use social media, VOD, etc.; they only have satellite television, but there is nothing they would not be able to handle without a smartphone.

Janine. Thai model lying on studio background

Is Thailand clean? How do people approach the issue of taking care of the common good?

Outdoors, there are places with a lot of dirt and rubbish. Beaches are clean, in shopping centers, condos, etc., cleaning crews can be sizable, and you frequently see them cleaning handrails in escalators, floors, etc. However, the level of cleanliness in the city is very uneven – there are clean places right next to completely neglected ones, but it is not as dirty as, for example, in Bali. In condos, residents have no obligations like cleaning the stairwell, etc.; there are employees for everything.

In the past 10 years, have you ever had moments of doubt and considered returning?

No, but when I was learning 3D because I wanted to start making things for games, it turned out that juniors in this industry are essentially only employed stationary, so if I wanted to accomplish something, I would have to at least move for some time to another country, or look for local employment, which would be another visa complication (and poor earnings), so I have abandoned this idea for now.

Is it difficult to obtain citizenship/permanent residence (what are the principles on which you operate there)?

Most foreigners are on short tourist or annual educational visas that need to be renewed. It has become much harder than when I moved. Officials at airports, seeing that you have been in the country for a longer time, can make huge problems upon entry, up to and including canceling a visa and not letting you into the country. If someone is an employee at a Thai company, their visa is tied to it, and losing their job almost instantly loses their right to stay.

The fastest, hassle-free way to get 20 years of visa peace is the Privilege Entry Visa (also known as the Elite or VIP visa). This visa does not require difficult conditions to be met, but the fee has always been high (and required upfront), but because of the good tax conditions in Thailand, it was a huge saving compared to life in USA and Europe. Unfortunately, now the cost has increased several times (to about $130000 for 20 years, all payable upfront, plus an invitation is needed and you can be rejected if you previously had, for example, an educational visa, and almost everyone who lived here a little longer had one). The current price is absurd, and there is no other easy way to guarantee a trouble-free, long stay, because the rules are constantly changing. If I hadn’t bought the visa on the old, favorable terms, I don’t know what I would do.

Getting residency is such a hassle that few bother. You can also get a visa through marriage and renew it every year or have a “retirement” visa if you are over 50, but it is also unclear how long they will be on reasonable terms. There are also visas for employees of foreign corporations working remotely, but few meet the conditions, and even fewer actually get this visa. Visas are the biggest problem with staying in Thailand, and wondering how to survive visa-wise for another year is a standard element of the discussion of foreigners here.

Do you ultimately plan to return to Poland “in old age”?

I assume that a good life is one in which I have no stress, the weather is always great, people around are happy and smiling, and the standard of living is high despite low costs. Generally, I prefer to make my life easier, not harder, so my chances of returning to Poland are 0%. In Thailand, stress was more or less only related to visa issues. So as that problem is solved, I’m happy to enjoy life here.

Do you feel safe walking around the city at night (are there any “forbidden” areas)?

In the darkest alleyways of Bangkok, in the middle of the night, I feel a hundred times safer than in many places in Poland during the day. In Thailand, my stress level is always at the same level: 0%. I heard that there are worse places, but you don’t accidentally come across them, and it’s never happened to me. No one has ever even looked at me aggressively here (and I definitely don’t have the stature of Jack Reacher). Of course, it happens that in Thailand someone’s psyche may give out, and then it is loud in the media, but these are rather rare situations.

I have never felt fear walking through the city and have not had any dangerous situations. You also don’t really hear in the media about attacks on passersby, but there are very poor urban areas where only their residents visit, and it may be dangerous there.

Thai fashion model photo

Do Thais sympathize more with the West/America or with China?

I don’t know much about political matters, so I asked Piotr Moth, who helps in transferring businesses to Asia and has lived in Thailand for over a decade:

In terms of economic and trade relations, China is Thailand’s largest trading partner among ASEAN countries, and Thailand is China’s third-largest trading partner. Of the record 39 million foreign arrivals in 2019, over 11 million were guests from China. Thailand has always stood by China.

Piotr Motyl

If anyone can work remotely and is considering moving out of Poland to Asia, they can contact Piotr and he will provide a free consultation, just let him know that Thomas Voland sent you.

What will stop working on my phone after flying to Thailand (VOD, etc.)?

Everything should work – to this day I have Polish Netflix, Prime, many foreign services.

Which region of Thailand would you most recommend for holidays split between sightseeing and relaxation (beaches, beautiful views)?

For relaxation, southern Thailand, small islands e.g. Koh Lipe, Koh Tao, Koh Pangan, Krabi, Satun, Hua Hin (this direction is more for retirees). Temples in Bangkok and visiting the old capital – Ayuthaya. In the north: Chang Mai, Chang Rai (white temple). North-east: Udon Thani, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Ratchasima.


That’s all for the Q&A, but I post stories from Thailand on Instagram.