Stickman's Weekly Column August 18th, 2013

Craving Seafood


When I asked the other half what she wanted to eat on Friday night, she suggested the seafood buffet at one of the big hotels. They have fresh Alaska king crab, she said! There's no such thing as fresh Alaska crab in Bangkok, I said, and went on to explain how crab caught in Alaska probably makes a long, convoluted journey to get to Bangkok, and by the time it gets here "fresh" would the last word to describe it. Once we had established that it was not specifically Alaska crab that she wanted, but fresh seafood, I suggested we jump in the car and go and get some. Let's go to where it's really fresh, I said, let's go to Hua Hin! Ba, she said, the Thai word for crazy. But I wasn't, and we did. We hit the road for an impromptu weekend away in Hua Hin, a chance to relax for me, and to enjoy seafood for her!





Thailand motorway

It was dry as we left Bangkok, but that wasn't to last. By the time we hit Rama 2 Road, the outskirts of the city and the main road that connects the capital with the south, it was teeming down. Driving to the provinces early evening in the rainy season is not a bright idea; wasn't this something I had vowed against doing some years back? We were driving 220 km on a whim, not for a weekend away, but primarily so we could enjoy fresh seafood. Finding ourselves caught in a tailback, suddenly it didn't feel like such a good idea.




Thailand seafood

We would eventually make it to Hua Hin safely, in around 3 hours, slower than usual, but there was no way around that.

Chao Lay Seafood, one of the large seafood restaurants in downtown Hua Hin, was our number one reason for making the trek out of town. The beach may be better than Pattaya but we didn't spend a second there, the night market is pleasant enough, and the city itself is unlike most of the big beach resorts in Thailand in that it really is genuinely relaxing. But for us Chao Lay – and the excellent seafood – was the reason for being there.



Thailand seafood

Walking in to the huge restaurants, you pass by a large kitchen area, more like a small food factory than the kitchen of a popular seafood restaurant. Tanks are full of fish, there are rows of food preparation counters, bags and bags of vegetables and cooks and cook assistants are running around willy nilly making it a real hive of activity.



Thailand seafood

I can't remember seeing a single restaurant so completely dominant. Along the Hua Hin city waterfront are a number of seafood restaurants of a similar size and layout, each with a pier jutting out in to the ocean. The menu at each is much the same. Pricing is much the same. Decor is largely the same. Yet Chao Lay always seems to be busy and most other places quiet. And it's been this way for as long as I have been visiting Hua Hin.

A happy couple enjoys dinner at the adjacent restaurant. It's a stark contrast between where they're eating, which is deserted, and where we are, which is packed.



Thailand seafood

The restaurant is long, and the best seats are out on the pier, sitting out over the gulf of Thailand. From late afternoon onwards the breeze keeps temps comfortable and with a view of adjacent restaurants, the setting is hard to beat.

The best tables at the end of the pier over the sea fill up quick and if that's where you want to sit, it's best to get there around 6:00 PM. By 7:00 PM the entire outdoor area can be full.



Thailand seafood

The decor of the restaurant is basic, as if the food takes priority and the surroundings aren't given a great deal of attention.

Once the sun has dropped below the horizon there's surprisingly little to see out over the bay, just a deep far away blackness. The only advantage to being out on the pier once the sun has disappeared for another night is the cool sea breeze.



Candidography



Thailand seafood

Don't you just hate it when you order a shrimp dish in Bangkok and you get a small portion with a few piddly little prawns, which some places can gouge you for 350 baht or more? Nowhere is worse in this respect than a certain over-rated large Thai restaurant in Ekamai which for reasons I have never understood is popular amongst resident expats.

This photo is deceptive and doesn't show just how large this dish is, nor how big the prawns are. They were huge and there were a dozen of them! And at just 200 baht without any of the ++ nonsense, that's fair value for money.



Thailand seafood

I'm always dubious of large restaurants which at peak periods may serve hundreds of diners. You can't help but wonder if the restaurant has the personnel to keep standards up.

Not only have I never had a bad meal at Chao Lay, I've never had a bad dish. The meal pictured above included a plate of shellfish (100 baht), shrimp and broccoli (200 baht), pineapple baked rice (150 baht), fried kale with salty fish (100 baht), a small plate of crab fried rice (100 baht), making a total of around 700 baht when you factored in water. It was a feast and we were stuffed!

Where Chao Lay is often full – at least the outdoor eating area is – the adjacent restaurants can be empty at the very same time. I won't stick my neck out and say it's the best restaurant of its type in Hua Hin because I'm so satisfied there that I never try anywhere else, but it does seem to be the perennial favourite – and most guests are Thai.

If you crave seafood, you've got to try Chao Lay. The food is fantastic, much cheaper than anywhere similar in Bangkok and better than anywhere I've found within a few hours' drive of Bangkok, except for….



Thailand seafood

….Khao Takiap is a popular spot for visitors in Hua Hin. Translated into English, it means Chopsticks Mountain. Strictly speaking, Khao Takiap is the small hill with a temple on top where hundreds of monkeys run amok, but the name also refers to the general area. To get to the hill you pass through a small fishing village where fishing boats are moored, and from where the catch of the day is unloaded before going to local markets, restaurants, and no doubt up to Bangkok.



Thailand seafood

And just metres from where the boats come in are perhaps a dozen or so modest outlets that sell fresh seafood – real fresh seafood – none of this supposedly fresh Alaska crab (which as the other half admitted probably comes from Chile anyway!). The streetside restaurants are just metres from where the fishing boats dock. The only place to get fresher fish would be to cook it up on board the fisherman's ship!



Thailand seafood

Fancy cars, many with Bangkok number plates, park up beside the vendors and buy up large. The vendors sell seafood and many will cook it to order. Not only is it fresh, prices are about half of what you pay in Bangkok. Some buy up large and bring their own chilly bins to transport it all back to their Bangkok mansion.

The menus vary, but it's no problem parking yourself in one restaurant and ordering items not just from their own menu, but from vendors who offer items they don't. We order a Thai-style spicy seafood salad from one restaurant, butter grilled scallops from the vendor opposite and grilled crab from another.



Thailand seafood

Grilled scallops with butter, one of my favourite menu items from Chao Lay. It's so good at Chao Lay that I was afraid that it might not be as good at Khao Takiap and was reticent to order. The other half fancied it too so we took the risk.

At Chao Lay, they are good, but sitting on ice, fresh off the boats from where they have just been caught, the scallops at Khao Takiap are heavenly! And they are sold at giveaway prices. At Chao Lay you get 6 for 150 baht, which like everything at Chao Lay is fairly priced – not cheap per se – but fair. At Khao Takiap, they are sold in bulk – typically by the kilo but if you twist their arm they will cook up half a kilo for you. Half a kilo runs 150 baht and gets you almost 20!





Thailand seafood

Grilled crab is perhaps the most popular item with the Thais and a large tray costs less than 300 baht. Fill your boots, we sure did!



Thailand seafood

Someone once tried to tell me that extracting the flesh from the shell is fun. It may not be analogous but that sounds to me like saying sitting on a long-haul flight on the way to Thailand is fun. Nah, it isn't! As one not known for his patience, I sit back and let the other half do the honours. It's Thai food, I tell her, I wouldn't possibly know how to rip it apart without much going to wasteand wouldn't that be such a shame?! The attentive girl that she is, she obliges! :)



Thailand seafood

Thailand is known for its seafood but if you don't know where to go you might end up with a pretty average meal which costs much more than you expect. Hua Hin is where I've found the very best seafood. Amazingly, it's also amongst the most reasonably priced. Other beaches and the islands should be no different, but there's something about the quality of seafood in Hua Hin that keeps us going back again and again. Even in the better restaurants in Phuket it just isn't the same – and you'll pay twice as much or more for the privilege.

The next time you're in Hua Hin, make a point of eating at Chao Lay. Better still, if you have your own wheels, get down to Khao Takiap. You don't even have to be a huge seafood fan – I'm not – but if you're a foodie, you're going to love it.

You can have a pleasant and relaxing weekend away from Bangkok in Hua Hin including travel (be it petrol for the car or bus / minivan fares), a night's accommodation in a decent hotel downtown and 3 good seafood meals, all in for around 5,000 baht – no more than some pay for a night out in Nana Plaza. And fresh seafood beats something that resembles a can of smelly tuna fish any day!





Where was this photo taken?

Bangkok

Last week's photo was taken in Patpong soi 1, looking inside the wonderfully named bar, Pussy Collection. I received the best answer ever to a where is this photo competition this past week with one reader saying that he thought last week's photo was taken in Dana's bedroom!



FROM STICK'S INBOX (These are emails from readers and what is written here was not written by Stick. ) Preference may be given to emails which refer to the previous week's column.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK Resilient Thailand.

In 2010 there was uncontrolled mob violence, arson, murder, extrajudicial killings, insurance fires, and who knows what all else. Yet last winter I was walking Soi 11 amid dazed looking crowds of young farang women looking as if they were on their way to a Los Angeles nightclub. Volkswagen vans parked in the street sold buckets of alcohol to shirtless drunken guys sitting on folding chairs. And now it's one of the most visited cities in the world. It's as though the riots, deaths, and even the airport dingbat party had never happened. I can't explain this.

With time comes clarity.

In many ways we change, but in many ways we are the same. The rose-coloured glasses that brought us here come off and we see more things as what they are. Our feelings towards those aspects have never changed, our character and who we are never changed. After time we just see them clearly now, and know that despite our good intentions we can only make a difference on a small scale. I can't change Phnom Penh and you can't change Bangkok, but your contact with the locals over the last 10+ years has left a positive impact on many.

Why meet foreigners?

You wrote that you seldom meet with Farangs in Bangkok and I think that's a very good rule to stand by. I have always been that way and I am not interested in the slightest with meeting up with Farangs in the bar scene. With what you do, it is probably difficult not to have to meet with Farang bar owners but who wants to socialise with Farangs when one went to Asia to meet Asians?

Choosing where to do business in South-East Asia.

I represented a large multinational in the Philippines for many years and had many acquaintances in the business community. I got a call from a Filipino who was President of a large company who wanted me to play golf with an American fellow who was contemplating opening a large manufacturing facility. He had looked at Indonesia as well. His objective was for me to help him to extol the virtues of the Philippines, his connections, and lease the land he owned that was prospected for the factory. We met, played a round of golf and as requested, I honestly portrayed the advantages of the Philippines, and that the fellow he might be doing business with was indeed quite powerful, decent and I did believe would be of great assistance for his business. I later talked to him again in the hopes of pressing the advantage for the Philippines, but he said that his choice was Indonesia. The reason was that in Indonesia he could easily figure out who to bribe. There was only one person and that person made distributions. In the Philippines, he learned there would be too many people in power demanding something, from union people, police, mayor's office and he couldn't ever figure out his costs. And then there was the real fear that someone else would show up wanting something. I had to soften the reason to my Filipino friend. Interestingly enough, I did business with some people in the Singapore government and learned I couldn't give them a pen, or even pay for a dinner. Even at higher levels, one could only win or influence on merit.


The Strip Gogo Bar Bangkok


The modern veneer.

There are so many expats in Thailand that never really discover just how thin that "modern" veneer is because they never really leave their comfort zones and often are insulated in their own little recreations of their homeland here in 'Thailand i.e. pubs, clubs, social groups etc. Those who get out into the country and / or try to integrate themselves best they can in to Thai society are quick to find out just how third world this country is. As you pointed out the most obvious signs of that are the low level of education apparent in the majority and the high level of corruption in virtually all segments of Thai society, which indicates a "no rules" environment in terms of the overall social order.

Will the shine return?

I have been in Thailand 8 years, in Pattaya for 7 of them. For the first 5 years I considered Thailand to be the greatest country in the world but over the last few years the shine seems to have rubbed off. I have a good business in Pattaya but I constantly have problems with staff. I can never get a straight answer out of any of them, in fact the longer I stay in Thailand the less I understand them. Work permit problems saw me locked up in a police station. I did my best for months on end to have everything correct in my work permit but the red tape surrounding changing work locations was impossible. I had to throw my old work permit away and spend a lot of money to get a new one. I used to love the bar scene but now I tend to avoid going out much. When I have a friend in town I show him around but I have no desire to talk to the bargirls. When I remember I put on a fake wedding ring which gives me a good excuse to keep them away. Many of the guys I know have had big problems with bargirl girlfriends. The whole bar situation seems to be a set-up for stupid farangs to fall in love with hookers and then get screwed over by them. I have a 2-year old son with a bargirl. She did not want me to be the dad but that was what the DNA test showed, much to the anguish of her Welsh boyfriend. We get along ok and she is happy to take my money in return for raising our son. Things have been pretty good since her boyfriend left but it is certainly far from a conventional relationship. Now I find myself thinking it is time to go back to my homeland. I have had a great ride but I want my son to grow up to be a kiwi, not a Thai. I will be back for holidays, and hopefully the shine will return.

Vietnam, no alternative.

I can relate to your article, "How I've changed". I know of your infatuation and love for Vietnam and it is a lovely place. Once you get past the tourist experience though, it is totally different. What lies underneath all the hype is pretty grim. Vietnam is a dog eat dog environment. I am Vietnamese, was raised western and I get to see what the average foreigners or even Viet Kieu's don't see. Living here has changed me dramatically and although I'm still friendly, everything has to have an air of caution. Every time I lower my guard, I am reminded soon enough of my mistake. I am not as I once was, one of the dreadful pitfalls of living in Vietnam. I also want to state that Vietnam is very fun and has many friendly people. I have a unique perspective though – I get the disadvantages of both being a foreigner and a Vietnamese and too few of the advantages.

Wild fillies.

I thought I'd take another look at Crazy Horse. They've now put a couple of tables on the right where there were none before, a good move. As I did a circuit of the place I was accosted by a young filly wearing nothing but a tiny skirt and she looked nice enough to deserve a drink. I ended up staying for over 2 hours. She was asked to go upstairs to dance on the glass floor and I followed. As other readers have told you, it is very much a hands-on place, not as slutty as Baby Dolls and Windmill but the closest to them that I've found in Bangkok. Spanky's might come close, but Crazy Horse is wilder. Certainly a fun place, if you're into that sort of thing.




Girl of the week

Summer, Devil's Den, Soi LK Metro, Pattaya.

Summer comes from Chaiyaphum and likes spending time with friends.
Oh yeah, before I forget, yes, they are real!



Devil's Den, Pattaya

Devil's Den, Pattaya

Devil's Den, Pattaya





Nana Plaza interior


All week I've been scratching my head, trying to figure out what was going in with the sign out front of Nana Plaza. You see, earlier in the week I became aware that the part of the sign with the slogan the world's largest adult playground slogan which was taken down – and which I had reported and been put back up – was in fact still down! Confused? Just trying to explain it gives me a headache! The part of the sign with the slogan was sitting in the Nana Plaza office, next to Spanky's, where it could be seen through the glass door. To confuse matters, the part of the sign they replaced it with looked exactly the same as that which it replaced. It wasn't until Friday when I finally figured out what was going on. As per the photo above, the landlord has replicated the sign outside Nana Plaza, on to the back of the sign, so it can be seen from inside the plaza too. It looks good and makes the entranceway brighter.

There are a few bars in Pattaya where you can get a drink while the sun is still up while at the same time enjoy the view of ladies dancing. It would seem, however, that afternoon delight does not have the same lure in Bangkok. The Nana Group tried something new a few months back, opening a couple of its gogo bars on Nana's ground floor from early afternoon. That, however, has come to an end and the concept appears to have been abandoned. One of the bars which had been open, Lollipop, still has staff in the afternoon, but only at the small beer bar outside.

Big Dogs at the entrance of Nana Plaza has killed the Fred Flintstone theme with the cave-like railing removed and replaced with more conventional railings that not only look better, but which should allow the flow of air through the bar better too.

Angelwitch 2 opened on the ground floor of Nana Plaza last weekend. It can be found on the right-hand side, between Rainbow 2 and Playskool, the latter of which is currently closed for renovations. Angelwitch 2 is large with space for around 130 customers so it has the potential to overtake the original Angelwitch branch.

Erotica in Nana Plaza has changed its name to Erotica Chili but otherwise it's business as usual.



Bar Bar, one of two fetish bars in Bangkok (Demonia in Sukhumvit soi 33 being the other), will host a kinky sisters party this coming Thursday through Saturday, 22 – 24 August.

Drizzle and lingering rain hit the bar industry in Bangkok hard this week with downfalls at the worst time, between 6 and 8 PM. It may not have been heavy enough to drench anyone, but it was persistent enough to prevent many girls from leaving home, meaning the bars had fewer staff. Tuesday night the rain lasted for hours and if that was not the quietest night of the year so far for many bars, I'd be surprised.

The crackdown continues in Nana Plaza where the vibe is certainly off. Many bar staff seem more concerned about the authorities coming than anything else. Many girls have been scared away including those who enjoy substances which those in power say they shouldn't. Fewer girls means fewer customers and with nothing to be seen, Soi Cowboy seems to be the main beneficiary. It doesn't help that the average age of girls in Nana Plaza has jumped a good few years. Doing the rounds on Friday night it seemed that Soi Cowboy had more customers than Nana Plaza, reversing recent trends.

The one upside of this crackdown at Nana is that the bars are so paranoid about trouble that smoking isn't allowed and the bars are smoke-free. Of course, if you're a smoker you might see things differently.

There is a notice in a gogo bar changing room reminding service staff that if they perform hand relief on a customer in the bar to make sure they wash their hands before serving any more drinks. Which bar is it? Somewhere in Pattaya is all I'll say!

The closest I got to any bars in Hua Hin this week was a stroll through Soi Bintabaht, the main beer bar soi. Not much to report except to note that one building housing 3 beer bars was a burnt out shell. Police tape prevented entry to the building and the smell of burnt wood remained, suggesting it was recent. Buildings either side had escaped damage.

I received an excited phone call from the owner of PlaySkool this week who told me that he had stumbled upon a significant historical find! When he was able to overcome his excitement and catch his breath, he said that while Playskool is being renovated, the construction crew had come across old paintings and etchings on the wall with images of dancing women and the name of one of the original Nana Plaza gogo bars, Mon Cheri. The artwork is dated almost 20 years ago to the day, signed by Panil, August 12th, 1993. I am told that Playskool is on schedule to reopen on September 1st. In the meantime, if you're missing any of your favourite dancers from Playschool, stick your head in Mercury where a few can be found.


Playskool Nana Plaza


Checkinn99 will hold a poetry to music afternoon next Saturday, August 24th, between 4 and 6 PM (with a possible earlier start as more guests join the list). Simply called The Vibe, writers, poets and musicians will perform a range of works with many accompanied to music. Hosted by renowned performance poet and writer John Gartland, guest readers include Joe Shakarchi, John Marengo, James A. Newman, Tom Vater, Collin Piprell and Peter Mobtalbano. Music will be by Keith Nolan & Franco Garcia. Images, paintings and photography by Chris Coles & Eric Nelson. It sounds like an unusual experience and something different for a Saturday afternoon. As usual, Stickman jugs of Heineken draft will be on special at just 199 baht.

Despite so much information online of the challenges one faces if getting involved with a prostitute, there's been no discernible slow-down in the stories of foreigners falling for Thai working girls. The most recent story I heard concerns not a girl who put pressure on the guy to commit to her i.e. marry her or buy her a house or preferably, both, but it is the guy who has tried hard to get the girl. One hears of guys supporting working girls with the sort of monthly stipends that would afford a seriously decent standard of living, but this case surprised even me. A relatively young American working in the Middle East fell in love with a lady working as an escort in Bangkok. 4 days after meeting her he transferred $US100,000 to her – in excess of 3 million baht – to show his love for her and so she could buy a house in rural Thailand. Needless to say, Bangkok now has one less escort!

The new English Premier League season kicked off this weekend with the mighty Liverpool proving their title credentials with a crushing win. With True Visions no longer holding the rights to broadcast EPL matches, there's uncertainty over which bars will show the matches live. So to all bar owners who will be screening EPL matches live, drop me an email so I can let readers know in next week's column. Stumble Inn on Soi Nana, home to Bangkok's Manchester City Supporters Club, is one such bar which will be screening matches live and all football fans are welcome, although you might be brave to wear a Manure shirt.

Don't be confused by the large advertisements from CIMB Bank which say in large letters in perfect English, "Free withdrawals at CIMB ATMs across the region." It would appear that this is not fee-free ATM withdrawals from foreign bank accounts at CIMB ATM machines, but free withdrawals from CIMB Bank ATMs in the region if you have a CIMB account. For foreign account holders, the 150 baht withdrawal fee still applies.

If you've got an hour or two free and feel like a leisurely stroll, now is the best time of year to see the monitor lizards at Lumpini Park. And the best time of day is late morning, from around 9:30 AM until 11:30 AM or so. Any earlier and there are still quite a few people in the park exercising – and all the activity tends to scare the monitors away. Any later and it gets warm and they stay in the water or in the drainpipes. When the masses leave the park and head off to work, the monitors go walkabout and hunt for food. Looking like half snake and half alligator can make their appearance not just dramatic, but scary – but you needn't be concerned. These magnificent creatures are scared of us and if you get too close they will run away. They're even scared of crows which love to gang up on them!


monitor lizard


I've never been a fan of salespeople and in Thailand they seem to be worse than home, especially when they're white. I hate the way so many salespeople tell you whatever they think you want to hear to effect a sale – which of course they benefit from by gaining a commission. As such I find most salespeople are not to be trusted at all. So it should come as no surprise that of all the foreigners in Thailand I warn against, foreigners on commissions are at the very top of the list. Sometimes desperate to make money so they can stay in Thailand, they'll tell you anything to make a sale. And unlike the West where there are means of resolving issues – such as when you've been lied to by a salesperson and purchased something which is perhaps not fit for the purpose for which you bought it, here things are different. I raise this because my telephone number has ended up on some list used by foreign salespeople in Thailand. I've had 2 pension planners call me trying to get me to sign up to some dodgy investment plan, and a large international hotel chain try to sell me a one-year hotel club membership. Some have an evangelical like tone and I almost expect them to say Jesus loves you. Sigh, it looks like I'm going to have to revert back to my old habit of only answering the phone when it's someone I know calling.

Are you an Australian expatriate or long-term traveller to South-East Asia? Australia's Curtin University is conducting a study about the relationships and social networks formed between Australian expatriates (or long-term travellers) living and working in South- East Asia, and especially Thailand. They are seeking volunteers to participate who are male 18 or older and are or have been Australian expatriates or long term travellers. If you meet the criteria, they would like to interview you to find out more about your relationships with and knowledge about other Australians living and travelling in South-East Asia. For more information or to participate, contact Gemma Crawford.

What can you do to get permission to take photos in a gogo bar? It's a question I'm asked often. If you find yourself in a bar and have a good rapport with the staff, and there's nothing on display, there's a decent chance that you *can* take photos, at least of those you are partying with. A good example is Tilac in Soi Cowboy where quite a few girls are happy to be photographed. As far as actually photographing dancing girls, that's where things get tricky. Often there are girls who don't want their photo taken and there are very few bars, if any, where it's ok to fire at will. Some girls have guys supporting them who mistakenly believe that she has stopped working. As such there are girls concerned that any photos featuring them may end up online, the guy sending her money will see it and he will stop sending money to her. And then there are girls who have the idea that family members, friends or those in their hometown or village may somehow see photos of them working in Bangkok posted on Facebook. It is, of course, possible, but very, very unlikely. So to answer the question, the best way of being able to take shots in a bar is to build up a rapport with the girls in that bar. Throw a bit of money around and you greatly increase the chances of them allowing you to take shots. At the end of the day, Thais generally like to have their photo taken so be nice, show them some nice shots you've already taken and you should get the green light.


Bangkok gogo bar




Quote of the week comes from the Dalai Lama "In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher."

Reader's story of the week comes from The Pretender, "My Life After My Experiences With Pattaya Ladyboys".

The New York Times takes a look at some Bangkok restaurants.

Villagers in rural Thailand think the Google car is a government spy and stop it!

Students at a premier Bangkok university are forced to wear ridiculous paper hats in exams to prevent them from cheating!

Forbes.com reports that Thailand is producing Asia's only super premium rum.

Plenty of claret is spilled after a man is attacked with a samurai sword in Pattaya.

An American is arrested in Phuket for overstaying, and slashes his own throat in the cells!

Another train derails in northern Thailand with 80% of passengers on-board reported to be foreigners.



Ask Sunbelt Asia Legal

Sunbelt Asia's legal department is here to answer your questions relating to legal issues and the law in Thailand. Send any legal questions you may have to me and I will pass them on to Sunbelt Legal and their response will run in a future column. You can contact Sunbelt's legal department directly for all of your legal needs.

Question 1: I tried to open a bank account at 4 different banks on Sukhumvit Road this week and none of the banks would let me. Each said the same thing – foreigners opening an account need a work permit. I know some expats who have a bank account who have never had a work permit. I am here on a tourist visa and wanted to get a bank account set up with internet banking so I could transfer money in to Thailand from time to time. Is there any way for me to open a Thai bank account without a work permit? I am a regular visitor to Thailand.

Sunbelt Asia Legal Advisers Responds: The required documents and / or status of an expat who wishes to open a bank account in Thailand is stipulated and governed by the Bank of Thailand. There are a few banks that request different documents (but only slightly different). But in most cases for an expat to be able to open his bank account, they would request the expat to hold either:

1. a work permit, or
2. a Non-Immigrant visa (any type as long as they are valid for more than 90 days, or
3. other proof (that the bank may require) that could verify that the expat would be residing in Thailand for more than 90 days (such as a lease agreement).

Such are available for opening a normal bank account without Internet Banking Service. But should you require this service, banks would request for official verification (which is a work permit).

It is the rules and general practice that nearly all banks would need to oblige.

But in the case if the expat holds a tourist visa, and will not be considering a longer term visa (the immigrant visa), that expat may want to consider an alternative type of bank account, which is Non-Resident Account (also known as Foreign Currency Deposit Account). This account will allow the expat to deposit his / her funds in foreign currency (the acceptable currencies) are stipulated by each bank. There will be no interest earned from this type of saving. There will be service fees (fee for withdrawals) impose on each withdrawal.



long fingernails


I appreciate the many responses to the note at the end of the column of July 28th, where I asked how you read the column. They made very interesting reading with a couple of surprises – one section of the column got a fairly big thumbs down, and another got barely lukewarm feedback. With that said, some like the section that others said they would rather see replaced with something else. One of the general comments was the inclusion of more photos. As always, thanks for your feedback which positive, negative or other is very welcome!



Your Bangkok commentator,

Stick


Firehouse