Aerial view of Phuket Town. Photo © Sunanta Boonkamonsawat/123rf.

8-Day Best of Phuket and Ko Samui Itinerary

This itinerary will begins in Phuket, where you’ll get a chance to tour waterfalls, snorkel, dive, explore the world-famous beaches, and do some island-hopping, too. After that, you’ll take a flight to Samui, where you’ll visit not only the main island but also neighboring Ko Pha-Ngan.

Aerial view of Phuket Town. Photo © Sunanta Boonkamonsawat/123rf.

Discover Phuket

It’s no wonder millions of people visit Phuket each year. The landscape, with its hilly, green, forested interior and clean, sandy beaches, is awe-inspiring. The vibes of the beaches and their surrounding areas vary from spring break fun to secluded romantic getaway to family-friendly. The accommodations range from unbelievably cheap to unbelievably luxurious. The tourism infrastructure is solid, and anything you want—perhaps a spur-of-the-moment diving trip, a midday massage on the beach, or a bespoke suit made in 24 hours—is available with no hassle.

Aerial view of a southern Thai island.

Geography and Climate of Thailand

Moving to Thailand means not only getting used to a whole new set of rules and social customs, it means navigating an entirely new physical country too. While a general overview of the lay of the land is helpful for a traveler, for an expat, it’s one of the keys to a successful life.

A pair of transgendered performers greet visitors.

Gender Roles in Thailand

Thailand is a traditional but increasingly progressive society when it comes to gender roles. Women are actively involved in what some might consider ‘men’s work’, but they’re also usually primary caregivers in the family. Additionally, Thailand has an extremely progressive and tolerant view toward homosexuality, and it may be one of the most open societies in the world when it comes to transsexuality. Despite this, Thai women and anyone identifying as LGBT face the same issues as their counterparts all over the world.

A new building at Srinakarin hospital in Khon Kaen,Thailand.

Health Care in Thailand

Health care in Thailand is generally good and inexpensive. In fact, people from all over the world come here for everything from routine plastic surgery to fertility treatments. The nicest private hospitals in Bangkok look more like five-star hotels than health care facilities, and doctors often speak three or four languages. Public hospitals are sufficient for many issues but are not always staffed with nurses and doctors that you will be able to communicate with.

A cargo ship with working crane bridge in a Bangkok shipyard at dusk.

Moving Your Belongings to Thailand

Thailand has nearly everything you’ll need to set up a comfortable home, so it really is feasible just to pack a couple of suitcases with the clothing, documents, and books you’ll need and get everything else while you’re here. If there are things you need to ship, author Suzanne Nam has advice about costs, timeframes, customs, tax exemptions, and tips on common items to consider packing or shipping that are either unavailable or very expensive in Thailand.

A row of kneeling statues with their hands in the wai pose.

Conduct and Etiquette in Thailand

Thais are generally an extremely friendly, social, and curious people. A mai pen rai attitude, which loosely translates as “no worries,” pervades casual social interactions. That said, failing to observe certain key social customs may offend. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the wai, daily conduct and etiquette, and how to properly address everyone from coworkers to shop clerks.

A woman sells meatballs and sausages on sticks in a bag with sauce in Phuket market, Thailand.

Enjoying Meals in Thailand

Thailand is having a love affair with food, which ensures that you can generally eat whenever you want to without worrying about offending anyone (the one place you can’t eat, however, is on the Bangkok subway or Skytrain). Learn about common meal times in the region and what to expect from Thai cuisine.

Floating market in Amphawa, Thailand.

Adjusting to Living Abroad in Thailand

The combination of a vibrant, cosmopolitan capital, a fast-growing economy, friendly people, a higher standard of living, and a beautiful landscape make Thailand a paradise. If you’re considering a move abroad to this Asian country, keep an open mind and learn what you need to know to make it home.

A worn Thai work permit rests on a map.

Work Permits in Thailand

If you are going to be doing anything in Thailand that produces income, the law requires that you have a work permit. Having a work permit not only entitles you to work legally in Thailand, it’s also an essential document if you want to open a bank account, get a nonprepaid mobile phone, get a driver’s license, and many other small necessities.