relocating to paradise city ...
Once you've made the decision to move to Hua Hin, you're going to have to consider what you want to bring over with you. Thai customs, import duties and taxes can make it cost-prohibitive for certain items.
There may be shipping costs as well. One of the problems is that Customs will decide on the value of any import and this may differ wildly from your estimation. So, if you wanted to ship a car over, Customs may decide that it has a value of 1 million Baht (you may feel that it's only worth 500,000 Baht). In these circumstances, you can appeal within 30 days of getting the Customs valuation, but it's debatable in practice as to how often appeals work in your favour.
The import duties and tax can be crippling. In the above example of a car that's valued at 1 million Baht, there will be an import duty of 65% and then 30% tax. You will have to hand over 2,145,000 Baht to clear your car. Over twice its value and this has not factored in shipping costs.
The above is an example only and in reality duties and taxes are variable depending on engine size, age etc. Unfortunately, the same restrictive charges can apply to electrical goods and many other items, and as they can be relatively inexpensive to buy new in Thailand, it quite often isn't worth the hassle and cost of bringing a lot of things over with you.
For more detailed information, refer to:
Electricity runs on 220 volts at 50 cycles per second. Most new sockets can accommodate both flat and round prongs, but if your accommodation is slightly older, you'll probably only find two prong sockets - the third, earth prong is missing. Even if your sockets are of the three prong variety, do not assume that the earth is wired in! Electrical work can seem extremely shoddy over here when compared to the western world, so always make sure that work is carried out by a competent, qualified electrician and have it double-checked afterwards.
As long as you have a decent water tank and pump, your water supply should be fine in Hua Hin. During the dry months January-June, there can be interruptions in supply as the Water Board ration and you'll find that this is done in grids and at certain times of the day, but if you have a decent amount in reserve, you're not likely to be caught out. Most Thai homes only have cold water showers for bathing, but hot water heaters can be installed quickly and cheaply. Just make sure that they're safe - see the above electrical section.
All land-line telephone numbers in Thailand and Hua Hin are 9 digit and you need to dial the area code even if calling from the same area. Hua Hin's code is 032. Calls, especially local ones, are cheap at 3 baht per call, but do be careful if you're calling internationally from a land-line.
A lot of mobile phone operators run regular international promotional rates and these can be great value. International phone facilities will almost always involve a separate connection and the payment of a sizeable deposit. For more information, contact the Communication Authority of Thailand (CAT) on Damnoen Kasem Road, almost opposite the police station.
You will normally have a choice between renting a line from the Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT) or Thailand Telephone and Telegraph (TT&T). There can be a lengthy waiting time for a line and your choice of provider may be influenced by any internet connection you want (see the section on Hua Hin technology).
Money and Banking
The unit of currency in Thailand is the Baht. Notes range from 20-1,000 Baht in denomination and coins from 1-10 Baht.
It is easy enough to open up a Thai bank account these days, particularly if you have a long-term visa. However, as a westerner you may find that interest rates do not compare to what a Thai person can get for the same amount of deposit. Some banks are now offering better rates for westerners, so it's worth checking all the major banks first before making a decision. They all have a presence in Hua Hin. Ayudhya Bank seems to be one that favours foreigners at the moment however you will also find it very difficult to obtain credit as a foreigner.
Almost all overseas banks offer international money transfer facilities, but rates for the privilege can vary enormously, so check at home first if you intend to be remitting a set amount each month to live on.
Increasingly, many ex-pats simply use their credit or debit card and withdraw money from the numerous ATM machines that can be found all over Hua Hin and Thailand. Most overseas banks will charge a flat fee or commission for their handling costs. Almost all Thai banks now charge a flat 150 Baht fee for any ATM withdrawal using a foreign card. In times of low exchange rates, this will not help your finances. NOTE: Thailand has a bad reputation world-wide for credit and debit card fraud. Be careful when using your's and certainly never let it out of your sight. More and more overseas banks are keeping a closer eye on where transactions are being made and it's quite possible that your card may be blocked if you haven't told your bank about your change in address. Normally a phone call to them will have it reactivated within minutes, but forward planning is advisable to ensure there are no embarrassments with withdrawals or purchases.
To follow the latest news on what affects your finances and to ask any questions, visit our Financial forum.
Unless you're working or bringing over expensive items from home, the only tax you're likely to come into contact with is VAT which is a standard 7%. You're supposed to pay this for all goods and services, but in reality you won't find it added at a lot of smaller places. At these, they're not paying their tax.
Time and Holidays
Years in Thailand are dated 543 years ahead of the western calendar, so 2011 becomes 2554. You are most likely to see the Thai year on bills and other official communication. In practice, the western calendar is widely understood and used as well.
The time zone is 7 hours ahead of GMT during British Winter Time and 6 hours ahead during British Summer Time. Although, the western clock is quite often used, the Thai method of telling the time is split into four six-hour sections, so "two o'clock" can mean 2am, 8am, 2pm or 8pm. It really is worth the effort to learn the way Thais tell the time to avoid miscommunication and confusion over appointment times.