Expat Magazine

How To Get Stuff Done Without Going Mad in Thailand

By Harvie

Getting shit done in Thailand is nothing like back home. For example, don’t expect to walk into a bank to setup a bank account just because your friend did the day before.

Don’t expect to be able to take part in a promotion or upgrade your Internet package just because the company’s website says it in plain English that you can.

Thailand doesn’t work like that.

On any given day, anything can happen and it’s usually for the worst.

Whether you plan on getting a Thai bank account, extending your visa at immigration, buying a mobile sim-card or any other annoying task that involves you interacting with Thai employees, follow these tips to save yourself time and brain cells.

Don’t bother talking to entry-level staff

Let’s say you’ve been told by your Internet provider that if you visit their branch they can upgrade your account using a letter or voucher.

Your first interaction will be with a shop assistant. They will most likely make up some reason why you can’t upgrade and that it’s not possible, even though they told you on the phone or on the letter in your hand that you can.

Ignore this person and ask to speak to the manager or someone with a bit of pull. If they tell you nobody is here (they will), kick up a little fuss until they get someone.

Once you have got yourself to the next person in the chain, demand (without making them lose face) that you’re in fact correct and you won’t leave until they resolve your problem of the upgrade, account creation or whatever it is you need.

I don’t know why employees in Thailand do this, my guess is that many of them think they can palm you off so they can carry on playing with their phones. And because they aren’t taught well enough during training in regards to what the company offers so are often dumb-founded.

Call the place before you leave

Personally, if I have to travel some distance to get something done that involves talking to Thais, I’ll call them up in advance to get the complete low down on what I need to bring.

When I say I, I actually mean someone else who can speak Thai and talk to them coz…

The amount of people who try to get a driver’s license only to be rejected for the stupidest of reason annoys me. I’ll get my friend to get the person’s name and telephone number of who they spoke to on the phone for when the inevitable happens and I get told I cannot.

This way when I’m told I can’t get a driver’s license for some obscure reason, I call up the contact and 9 times out of 10 everything is fine (assuming I bought the necessary paperwork, which I cleared up during the phone call).

Get yourself a Thai friend

Unless you have a very strong grasp of Thai, understand the culture and have common sense (most people lack all 3), it’s so hard to get anything done in Thailand.

Something as simple as scheduling a meeting to view an apartment can be a pain in the neck, never mind trying to setup a bank account or applying for a new visa.

Get yourself a Thai friend unless you enjoy being messed around.

Take online research with a pinch of salt

Whatever you read on forums or websites, take with a pinch of salt. Just because someone crossed a land border with a 10 year over stay doesn’t mean when you cross you won’t get any problems.

This is especially true with bank accounts, over the last year or so it’s been incredibly difficult to get one, even if you do have a work visa and the correct paperwork.

Thailand isn’t like England, Australia or Murcia where processes are adhered to and followed.

Demand rather than ask

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is to force what I want on the staff in a friendly but authority way. Instead of asking if I can setup a bank account, I would rephrase the question in a way where I’m demanding them to do with.

Again when I say I, I actually mean my Thai friend.

I practice this with them before I enter any establishment, and make the point that we cannot take no for an answer, because we’ve done our research and brought all the relevant documents to get what I need done.

It helps to dress well and portray yourself as a figure of importance, rather than wearing flip flops and a vest. This method only works if you’ve got all the correct paperwork to complete your task.

What do you do?

I’ll get a few emails asking how to setup a Thai bank account or how to get shorter rental contracts at condos. You’ll have to use a combination of the above and hope to get lucky for stuff like getting a Thai bank account.

I recommend everyone to use Bangkok Helper for all banking related queries (yes they are my website sponsor and they’ve helped me a lot with paperwork).

What was the last thing you got rejected for in Thailand?

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