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Thailand

So, you’re an IFA looking for an exotic setting that is a popular tourist destination, strategically located, and one featuring delicious cuisine, fascinating sights and local traditions, a thrilling night life, and a large high net worth expat community – then Bangkok it is!

The Kingdom of Thailand is located in Southeast Asia, sharing borders with Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. The country is also known as Siam - the country's official name until May 11, 1949.

Thailand’s capital and largest city – Bangkok - is located near the Gulf of Thailand, on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River. With a population of about 8.5 million, Bangkok is considered one of the region’s most rapidly-growing and economically robust cities.

Bangkok’s Dynamic Economic Picture and Large Expat Community

The country’ economic centre, Bangkok’s 2005 GDP of close to $220 billion accounted for more than 40% of the country’s entire GDP of $525 billion. Thailand’s largest commercial banks and financial institutions are located in its capital – with bank deposits totalling close to $177 billion at the end of 2005’s third quarter. About 20 of its banks boast assets exceeding one billion dollars.

In recent years, the city witnessed a substantial influx of expats – especially senior professionals and investors. By one estimate, the number of expat executives in Bangkok stands at about 65,000, with an expected increase of close to 2,000 per month. The city also hosts the largest number of European residents – about 45,000 – than any other Asian city, apart from Singapore.

Other long-term foreign residents include close to a quarter of a million Chinese, 30,000 Japanese (more than any other Asian city outside of outside of Japan), 100,000 Indians, 6,000 Americans, 15,000 Taiwanese, 7,000 South Koreans, 6,000 Nigerian, 8,000 Middle Easterners, 25,000 Malaysians, and 4,000 Singaporeans.

Deemed to be one of the most swiftly growing and economically strong cities in Southeast Asia, many peg Bangkok as a regional centre analogous to Singapore or Hong Kong. Among its numerous economic attractions, Bangkok is known for its relatively low cost of living.

Five Regions

Thailand is divided into five regions:

  • Central Thailand: The central plains include the capital of Bangkok, with its regal temples, enormous shopping centres and more than 100 museums.
  • Northern Thailand: The north is considered by many to be the cultural heart of Thailand, home to what is thought to be the first Thai kingdom of Yonok.
  • Northeastern Thailand: This flat plateau is a region Thais refer to as Isan, where you'll find many ancient remnants of the Khmer empire.
  • Eastern Thailand: East of Bangkok, the coast runs to the seaside area of Pattaya.
  • Southern Thailand: The islands and beaches to the south are the most popular destinations for sun worshippers, especially the islands of Phuket and Samui.

Thailand's regions are further separated into a total of 73 provinces.

Beautiful Settings and Hospitable Populace

In addition to its attraction as a dynamic, growing and profitable business centre, there are many reasons why expats decide to relocate to Thailand. Among them are the tropical climate, the extraordinary islands and beaches, the fantastic cuisine and the affordability of a superior quality lifestyle. In addition to all of this, the Thai locals themselves are an enormous attraction for many expats and visitors. The country’s populace is famous for being warm and friendly. Among the many superlative statements made about the hospitable people, one expat stated that you “…seldom smile at a Thai person and not receive a pleasant smile back…of all of the places that I have been…I have never met a nation of people as genuinely warm and friendly as the Thais.”

Leisure Activities

Regardless of how you like to spend your non-working time, Bangkok – and Thailand overall – will not disappoint you!

Beautiful azure waters and sandy beaches make sea-bound activities a much-favoured pastime. Swimming, wind surfing, big game fishing and diving are just of few of the popular waterside activities. Some of the best diving spots in the world are located along Thailand’s coasts.

Among the sports pursuits favoured by the locals are soccer and Takraw, a game in which players keep a wicker ball in the air by using their bodies. Many Thais also have recently adopted jogging as a means of keeping fit. Spectacular year-round courses are also available for Golfing enthusiasts.

Kite flying is another sport enjoyed by the Thais – it is, in fact, one of Thailand’s most popular pastimes. Many people go to parks on weekends to participate in – or simply watch – one of the many kite flying contests. The kites even have gender identities: ‘Male’ kites are called Chulas and ‘female’ kites are called Pakpaos. The Chulas are large and bulky and measure almost six feet. The Pakpaos are slighter and more elegant.

In addition, traditional temple fairs offer customary Thai entertainment and food. And air-conditioned museums, art galleries, cultural centres and cinemas provide respite from the tropical humidity.

Among Ho Chi Minh City’s noteworthy investment projects:

  • Quang Trung Software Park: The Quang Trung Software Park was launched in July 2000 by the Ho Chi Minh City government. The Software Park is the biggest software park in the South of Vietnam, and is one of twelve main projects in the city’s economic and scientific development plan.
  • Saigon High-Tech Park: The Saigon High-Tech Park is one of the nation’s only two high-tech park projects. The park covers 913 hectares and is 15 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City’s downtown area. The park is a technical economic zone, and has attracted significant foreign investment.
  • Thu Thiem New Township: Thu Thiem New Township is Ho Chi Minh City’s innovative and contemporary centre, located on an area of 770 hectares.
  • Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing Zones and Industrial Zones: The Vietnamese government encourages local enterprises, foreign organizations and foreign businesses to invest in industrial, export processing and high-tech zones. In Ho Chi Minh City, there are two EPZs and 11 IZs in operation. The government is particularly interested in promoting certain new businesses, and offers many incentives, including tax exemptions and eased licensing requirements.

The city is home to close to 300,000 businesses, including many sizeable companies in the high-tech, electronics, construction, building materials and agricultural sectors. In 2007, the city's GDP was estimated at $14.3 billion – an increase of 13 percent over the previous year.

Country of Superb Beauty

The beauty of Vietnam is always described in superlatives. Locals and expats alike describe a country that is overwhelming in natural splendour - from its subtle design to its extraordinary sunsets – and all points in between.

The country's natural setting is absolutely exquisite, including the Red River Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south and the entire coastline, which features marvellous beaches offset by towering mountains, some of which are covered by intense and gorgeous forests.

From the omnipresent natural vistas, to the vast and flourishing rice fields, to the hubbub of the cities where modern Asia meets ancient Asia, Vietnam is absolutely stunning.

Ho Chi Minh City is adorned with broad and graceful boulevards and celebrated French colonial structures, including Reunification Palace, City Hall, City Theatre, and Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Local Culinary Delights

As most of us know, much of the Thai cuisine is very spicy and hot, thanks to the inclusion of a variety of chillies. The ‘mouth on fire’ feeling resulting from the hotter chillies has caused a lot of water-gulping and mouth-fanning activity among stunned foreigners on their first sampling of the delicious – albeit hot – fare. The standard traditional Thai meal aims at being a harmonious blend of spicy, delicate, sweet, and sour.

Thai food varies from region to region. For example, in Chiang Mai, the food is generally milder than that of the central region; northeastern food tends to be very spicy; and southern cuisine very often uses the most delicious fruit of the seas – including lobsters, crabs, scallops, and squid.

Great business opportunities. Fantastic sights. Endless leisure pursuits. Extraordinary culinary delights.

Bangkok is a must for your career locale wish list!

For further information about Thailand we recommend that you visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thailand where you will find many useful links and informative articles to prepare you for your move.