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Top 10 Expat Destinations in Thailand

28 Aug 2023

Top 10 Expat Destinations in Thailand
Thailand has an exotic appeal that is truly irresistible, particularly to those who are sick of dreary English winters.

Beautiful islands, temples, highlands and beaches are just a few of the things to enjoy once you’ve made the leap to the so-called Land of Smiles. 

Don’t write Thailand off for the party scenes you might have seen in films - there is a buzz not to be missed in Thai cities, with modern developments creating exciting opportunities. Once you’re sure you’re ready to start planning your move to Thailand, it’s time to start thinking about where you should live among the 76 provinces.


Crystal clear water and bright white sand of Koh Lipe.


1. Koh Lipe for Laid Back Beach Life

If you're searching for Thailand’s most beautiful beaches, then you won't need to look much further than Koh Lipe. The small L-shaped island is located near the Thailand-Malaysia border, and boasts the brightest aqua waters and underwater views, making it the ultimate picturesque destination. Koh Lipe is the perfect destination for those in search of a laid-back beach-centric new life in Thailand. You might even have heard Koh Lipe referred to as “paradise” due to its sandy, palm-tree-fringed beaches.

The whole island can be explored in about 30 minutes on two wheels, so don’t expect the hustle and bustle of large Thai cities. You’ll find that tourists also love the relaxed vibes - while not a so-called “party island”, you can still expect holidaymakers to be clogging up your favourite spots during high season.


Iconic Pagoda at sunrise in the national park at Chiang Mai, Thailand.


2. Chiang Mai for Bustling City Life

Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand. Known for its delicious Thai food, Chiang Mai is undoubtedly the best food destination in the country, with influences from migrants throughout the centuries. There are many places to eat in the city, a popular one being the Sunday Walking Street Market near Tha Pae gate. The streets are bustling with night markets and live music from across the country and the world, so there is plenty to discover in this exciting city.

You’ll also find that the community in the city is welcoming to newcomers, as the city has a strong history of accepting new people from across the world. Chiang Mai is home to a wealth of magnificent temples such as Wat Phra Singh and Wat Suan Dok, making it a great place for history buffs to explore during their days off. Chiang Mai is around 1 hour north of Bangkok by plane, so the city is relatively easy to access if travel is required.


Boat approaching the beach out of blue waters on Krabi Island.

3. Krabi for Affordable Remote Life

Krabi is said to be one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets, however, it is still home to some of Thailand’s most world-famous beaches. The province is blessed with coastal vistas and towering limestone cliffs, white sands and small coves. Because it’s not a major resort area, you’ll find that tourists are actually kept to a minimum here, not disrupting daily life like on other “party” islands. Amenities are easy to access, with supermarkets and other services found on the outskirts of town, making a comfortable life easy to lead here.

The local community is warm and friendly to those who respect their surroundings, and outdoor activities are in abundance for those searching for that island life. More and more professionals are making Krabi, specifically Krabi Town, their home to work remotely from. What’s more, Krabi is actually more affordable than its larger counterparts, so you’ll find your money goes a little further here.


Lights of Phuket Walking Street Night Market in Phuket Old Town.

4. Phuket for the Best of Thailand

Often labelled as the best place to live in Thailand, Phuket is always worth a visit. The island is modern and well-developed, being home to a number of shopping centres, bars and restaurants. The beautiful beaches are great to relax on during the day, and there is also an opportunity to visit neighbouring islands. If you’re a fan of swimming, snorkelling or any other water sport, this will be the ideal destination for you.

Due to the draws and the popularity of Phuket, the cost of living can be higher than other Thai destinations. However, you’ll find that this doesn’t act as much of a deterrent for expats, and you’ll be living alongside a diverse international community of like-minded souls in Phuket. This can play a huge role in settling in while you’re living the dream. The connections to other parts of the country and the world make Phuket one of the most accessible locations for expats in the country.


Sunrise over the Grand Palace of Thailand with soaring skyscrapers in the distance.

5. Bangkok for a City that Never Sleeps

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and is a huge metropolis, now home to over 9 million people. The city is popular among Western expats because of the low cost of living, with very similar draws to Phuket. There are numerous shopping centres and other amenities to keep your whole family entertained - in actual fact, there is barely a dull moment. In addition, transport in Bangkok is modern and reliable. Healthcare in Bangkok is of the highest quality, and this is critical when you’re so far away from home.

However, Bangkok is infamous for its soaring temperatures. At times, it can be as hot as 40 degrees Celsius and combined with humidity, it can be difficult to adjust to the tropical climate.


Stretch of sandy beaches at Hua Hin, Thailand.

6. Hua Hin for Beach Resort Vibes

Hua Hin is a well-developed destination for expats, located in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula. Good infrastructure and leisure services are common in Hua Hin, so there is no shortage of things to do and places to go in the surrounding areas. The beach resort atmosphere is appealing to those who like everything they need right at their fingertips.

There are a number of taxis and tuk-tuks, meaning that it is incredibly easy to get around the city, as well as the international airport offering both domestic and international flights to travel further afield.


Tall hotel building on the sandy shores of Pattaya, Thailand.

7. Pattaya for an Up-and-Coming Destination

While Thai residents may turn their noses up due to its past connotations, Pattaya is going through a real renaissance in the 21st century. The coastal destination is now welcoming the influences of around 40,000 immigrants from across the globe, both for its infrastructure and its cuisine. This is a great city to escape the larger crowds of Bangkok and Phuket while having all the same benefits.

Links to nearby Thai locations are rife, and you can escape to nearby islands with ease when the hustle and bustle gets too much. With the job opportunities in the city, you’ll be sure to find a career from which to escape into Pattaya's exciting nightlife! Expat communities have formed and are ready to ease your settlement into Pattaya whenever you choose to begin your removal. 


8. Kanchanaburi for a City of Contrasts

Despite being so close to Bangkok, you couldn’t find a location further from the tall buildings and pollution of the bigger city. Kanchanaburi boasts little traffic, and mountains and forests galore to enjoy, drawing lots of retirees from across the world. Meet with friendly locals or friends in local bars or eateries for authentic Thai experiences. Despite its location, the cost of living in Kanchanaburi is fairly low. 


Stretch of sand on a beach leading to a forested peak on Koh Tao, Thailand.

9. Koh Tao for Water Lovers

Whether you’re learning how to dive or you’re a seasoned expert, Koh Tao is a diver’s dream destination. Many even go for the picturesque diving and stay for everything else! In fact, the secluded and picturesque island is a popular place for digital nomads in this age of remote working, with ample cafes and good internet connections for young professionals to take advantage of. True island living is the ultimate goal for those who move here.

When it comes to settling in, Koh Tao boasts several absolute must-haves for expats. The first of these is an existing tight-knit community of expats who have already made the move. You’ll find plenty of like-minded expats ready to lend a helping hand where they can. What’s more, English is understood and spoken by a large percentage of the local population, making your new life easy to build from the ground up.


Field and small huts under tall forested mountains in Pai, Thailand.

10. Pai for Rural Thai Living

Looking to Thailand’s northern mountains, Pai is a charming village becoming more popular with professionals from across the globe. Travellers will know of Pai due to its iconic hippy atmosphere, with coffee shops and restaurants galore. If you’re after an escape into nature, this is the ideal expat destination, with an abundance of waterfalls, rivers, caves, hot springs and much more! Hiking is a popular pastime for visitors and residents alike.

Pai is a hub for creatives, there’s no two ways about it. Makers of all kinds draw inspiration from the nearby natural surroundings, making it another popular place for digital nomads. The slow pace and low cost of living are both factors leading Pai to be a growing hub of expats in Thailand. 


If you’re excited to join them, get started with your removal to Thailand. Get in touch with our expert teams today and see how we can help you on your way.