Bangkok – The Market
It had been a while since I last visited Bangkok but I was sure things wouldn’t have changed much – snarling, grid-locked traffic within a chaotic city full of wonderful, smiling people. Well, the people haven’t changed – the “Land of Smiles” remains just that. What surprised me was that this bustling, energetic city has a transport system that really works. Although taxis are cheap, I made a point of testing the – even cheaper and air-conditioned – sky-train and underground systems to see if it was now possible to get to appointments on time and without arriving covered in sweat. Well, the answer is yes and yes. If you find yourself running late you can even hire a motorcycle taxi – OK, not for everyone!
Although there can be many distractions, there are lots of opportunities for financial advisers who are prepared to concentrate on work. The city has a large and diverse selection of expats who operate within a range of industries: Engineering, IT/Computers, Teaching, Hospitality, etc. A key challenge to financial advisers is finding a way to track down where the expats work – many of the telephone lists doing the rounds in Bangkok are out of date. So make sure to keep working on your LinkedIn connections and always ask for referrals.
Work permits in Thailand have become quite expensive for employers (they are also expected to employ 4 local staff per work permit and to add £150k to their paid-up capital per work permit granted). Unsurprisingly, our clients in Bangkok are therefore seeking only those who have a genuine interest in developing their financial services careers in Thailand. The days when Bangkok could be considered an easy option – a place where failure won’t hit their pocket too hard – are gone. The lifestyle remains as attractive as ever, the huge selection of international hotels, restaurants and shopping facilities continues to grow. But you will need to be prepared to work hard – especially in the early days.
Bangkok – Living and Working there
Bangkok has a population of 8m and has been named the most visited city in MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index, and has been named “World’s Best City” for four consecutive years by Travel + Leisure magazine. The 2 main shopping areas are Sukhumvit and Silom. Both have plenty of expat clubs, bars and restaurants – and some hidden gems such as Chez Pape (Soi 11 Sukhumvit Road).
The average expat is earning around £60k/£70k per annum – not as much as the expat in Hong Kong or Singapore. However, living in Bangkok you will have the choice to live comfortably/cheaply or lavishly/expensively. You should budget for £1,000 per month (Rent £500/£600; Food £300; Fun £200/£300). Taxis are cheap (£10 from the airport) but public transport is cheaper still (£1 from the airport in the air-conditioned sky-train). Eating out can be incredibly cheap: I had a wonderful green chicken curry with rice and a bottle of mineral water for £2 – right in the heart of Bangkok!
Getting around Asia from Bangkok could hardly be easier or cheaper. Air-Asia is the Easy-Jet of Asia. It is efficient, friendly, and cheap and has an extensive selection of flights to all locations. So, if you plan to live and work in Bangkok you can be assured that every other part of Asia – whether for business or pleasure – is within easy reach. Asia has so much to offer and its economy is thriving as the West struggles.
My attitude to Bangkok as a place to work has changed since my visit last month. This is not just a great city to visit, it is now also a city where you can do business, make money and live life to a very high standard and still have easy access to every other market in the region whether to work or play or both. The Land of Smiles beckons.
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