Useful to know
Housing and apartments
As the metropolis of Bangkok keeps expanding, apartment buildings have become an increasingly popular type of housing. They usually provide good maintenance and security services. Rents for apartments tend to be more moderate than for private houses with a central location. While apartments are typically rented furnished (with basic furnishings), it is often possible to have the furniture removed. The lease is usually signed for 1–2 years. The required rental deposit is the rent for 1–2 months, payable in advance. It will be returned at the end of the lease period.
Located at about 30 km from central Bangkok, the Suvarnabhumi airport is a major aviation hub in Southeast Asia, with flights to all corners of the world. Depending on the season, Finnair operates one or two daily direct flights between Helsinki and Bangkok, and the flight time is roughly 10 hours. There are frequent flight connections from Bangkok to the neighbouring countries.
Thailand has 5–6 sea ports for ocean traffic, the largest one being Laem Chabang north of Pattaya. Sailing to Europe takes around 5–7 weeks.
Bangkok enjoys good road connections in all directions, all the way to the country’s borders. The main rail connections run from Bangkok to the north to Chiang Mai (661 km), to the east to Aranyaprathet on the Cambodian border (284 km) and to the south to Padang Besar on the Malaysian border (990 km). The north-eastern line splits in Khorat into two branches, one of them continuing to Ubon Ratchathani on the border with Laos (647 km) and the other to Nong Khai (616 km). Rail transport is managed by the State Railway of Thailand.
The rail and road systems are supplemented by a waterway network of rivers and canals commonly used for shipping and passenger traffic.
Internal flight routes cover some 30 cities and towns across the country. Domestic flights are operated by Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways and Air Asia, among others.
Public transportation in Bangkok
Getting from one place to another in Bangkok can be very time-consuming – even over short distances. Bangkok’s traffic jams are legendary. Often the most rapid means of transport within the city is the elevated train system, the BTS Skytrain. Its network, however, only covers a limited section of the central area. The Skytrain currently has two lines, but an extension of the network is foreseen in the near future. You can by a single ticket or a stored-value ticket for it. Central Bangkok is also served by the MRT metro line.
The moto taxi (or motorbike taxi) is the fastest but also the most hazardous form of taxi service available in Bangkok’s busy traffic. Another common sight in the Bangkok street scene is the tuk-tuk, a covered three-wheeled motor vehicle (an auto-rickshaw). Tuk-tuks are typically owned by individuals or companies. Always negotiate the fare for the ride in advance. Taxicabs are fitted with a meter and have air-conditioning. Always make sure that the driver starts the meter and that it shows 35 baht as the initial charge. If the driver refuses to use the meter, it’s better to get out and wait for the next taxi.
The Bangkok bus network is fairly extensive. Some bus routes are operated with non-air-conditioned vehicles. They are packed during rush hours, and air pollution and the heat often make the ride uncomfortable. The fares for buses with AC are higher.
You can take a boat to travel along some of the Bangkok canals or khlongs. Note, however, that when running in high speed the oncoming boats often splash water on the passengers.
Education and schools
There are dozens of high-quality international schools across Bangkok, each with their own specialisations. They have attracted foreign families with children to Bangkok in large numbers. Their teaching staff generally comes from different Western countries. Keeping up the Finnish skills of children of Finnish origin is backed by the Finnish Language School in Bangkok that meets regularly.
The risk for traffic accidents is very high in Thailand. According to some estimates, more road accidents occur in the country than hardly anywhere else in the world. An estimated 36.2 people in 100,000 are killed in traffic in Thailand every year. The traffic culture is undisciplined, the rules of the road are observed only incidentally and the technical condition of the motor vehicle stock varies. Taxis seldom have seat belts for passengers. As practically all taxis and many other types of motor vehicles in Thailand run on gas, road accidents present a risk of explosion.
A registered partnership of two persons of the same sex is valid also in Thailand, provided that it is official and lawful under the laws of the spouses’ country of origin. Instead of ‘man’ and ‘woman’, the relevant Thai legislation refers to ‘spouses’. As long as two individuals living in a registered partnership are regarded as ‘spouses’, their sex is not an issue. Marriage between same-sex individuals or registering their partnership is, however, not allowed in Thailand.
Conditions in tropical Thailand differ radically from those in Finland. Getting used to the hot climate may take several months, and it is very important to stay well hydrated. In a hot and humid climate you also get tired much more easily than in cooler conditions.
Despite the improvement in traffic arrangements, air in Bangkok remains highly polluted. You should therefore have any respiratory conditions properly treated. Air quality can be particularly poor during the “cold” season, from December to March.
Before arriving in Bangkok, it is better to check the validity of the most common vaccinations, such as polio, tetanus, and the Finnish vaccination programme for children. Your doctor will tell you what other vaccinations may be required. Current recommendations can be found in the online “Health library” of the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL:n terveyskirjasto) and on the WHO website. Due to varying hygiene levels, it is recommended that people who travel to the region for a longer period are also vaccinated against hepatitis A. Japanese encephalitis is found in Central and Northern Thailand, so do take a vaccination against it if recommended by your doctor. While the danger of malaria is regarded as non-existent in urban areas and tourist destinations, the infection risk is highest along the Thai borders with Myanmar and Cambodia and in the Kanchanaburi and Trat provinces. Dengue fever, which has no direct cure and may therefore be fatal, is most commonly found in populated areas, including Bangkok. Dengue mosquitoes are active also in the daytime, so remember to protect yourself against their bites by appropriate clothing or other means.
There are several good private hospitals and clinics in Bangkok. Most of their doctors, both of Thai origin and of other nationalities, have been trained abroad – in Europe or in the United States. You can usually have a doctor’s appointment quickly, and the rates are moderate.
The quality of pharmacies varies. It’s better to buy your medicines in hospital-based pharmacies when visiting a doctor.