Upshifting for a programmer in Thailand

Judging by the comments, the article “Downshifting for a programmer? Cambodia, the experience of survival and the experience of life ” aroused the interest of the Habrasociety and wanted to share its experience.

Most likely, the act of “quitting everything and leaving to live in SEA” seems reckless, and even dangerous. Among us IT people there are many thorough people who are pedantic to the little things and want to count every step, every little thing, know all the risks, plan every detail of their life. I, too, am such a person, I would even say that I “sin” by this far above average. Even before leaving for tai, all this caused me a subconscious fear: quit a good job, leave my family, friends and leave without a return ticket. This went beyond my state of comfort and multiplied by a misunderstanding of close relatives. However, the whole idea turned out to be completely not terrible, as I had originally imagined, and for almost a year now my wife and I have been living comfortably in tae. About the various aspects of permanent living here,


In recent months, citizens of the Russian Federation have become preoccupied with legal issues in tai, as immigration authorities began to tighten nuts in visa wounds. For us, the citizens of Belarus, absolutely nothing has changed - we do not have the opportunity to enter Thai under the stamp. At the same time, from my point of view, the vizars were, are and will remain an extremely dubious occupation in terms of material gain.

The visa issue is solved very simply with money. In order to enter the country you need to make a double or triple visa in advance. There is an office in Minsk that makes such visas in Stockholm without personal filing and any documents other than a passport. A double entry visa entitles you to stay in Thailand for up to 6 months from the date of issuance. At the first entrance, you can stay 2 months, then for $ 60 per person you can extend for another month. Then you need to leave and enter again - the second visa will start and again you can stay in the country for 2 months + 1 extension. Accordingly, a three-entry visa makes it possible to live in tai for almost 9 months, although you will have to leave the country 2 times, but this can be combined with tourist purposes.

Such a visa is ideal for wintering people, but for a longer stay you need something more reliable. This can be obtained at a language school by enrolling in Thai, English or other language courses, or even Thai boxing courses. The cost per person can be different, depending on how much you want to reduce the cost of your time:

- The training itself costs 500 $ -800 $.
- For traveling to Laos to apply for such a visa, you can spend about $ 200-300. In fact, before there was an opportunity for + another $ 500 to get this visa on the spot, but now with the change of government this opportunity seems to have taken cover. We still managed to use it in March.
- By default, a visa is given for 3 months and it must be renewed every 3 months in the local immigration (in my opinion, it costs $ 60). But in our school there was an opportunity to pay $ 400 from the nose and renew immediately for 12 months, without the need for further visits to immigration.

In total, we took advantage of the maximum package of services, we didn’t go anywhere for a visa, we extended it for 12 months and paid $ 3k for two. Considering that this makes it possible to stay in Thailand for 15 months (3 months at once + 12 months extension), as well as to leave and enter any number of times, a person received $ 100 per month. Which is practically comparable to the monetary costs of permanent vizars among Russians.

As for the training, we chose Thai and go 2 times a week for 2 hours. I chose a short course, it lasts for six months and cost $ 500. The wife chose the full course, it lasts a year and cost $ 800. As you can see, if you wish, you could save a little more. Classes are not intense at all, it’s even interesting to talk with a motley audience from around the world.

Insurance / Medical / Risks

We decided not to risk the Belarusian insurance because of their complete senselessness. As far as I hear, Russians like to use the Consent, which has good coverage in terms of active sports and motorbikes. But I also heard that recently Consent has changed the coverage from International SOS to some other one and the quality of service has gone down. In addition, it seems like they forbade remote renewal. In general, I can say little for sure on this issue - but I think that if not already, then soon the Russians will face the same problem of choosing insurance as the Belarusians.

What could happen in Thailand? The most common problems are:

1) Fall from a motorbike
2) Tropical dengue fever (and in Cambodia add malaria here too, which is much worse than what Thailand has only in regions close to Cambodia)
3) Urgent surgery is like appendicitis, but this has no direct relation to Thailand

From problems 1 and 2 almost no insurance will insure, or insure very limited. Therefore, we decided to take local (international) BUPA insurance. BUPA has about 6 plans, different in value, which differ in the range of services and the amount of insurance compensation. Trying to foresee everything, we took the most expensive plan, which even provides for helicopter evacuation from anywhere in Thailand, because the plans were to travel a lot. But as we already understood, it was not worth overpaying for this.

Total for insurance we pay about 110 $ per month for two. The contract is concluded for a year, paid in equal installments every month - they simply withdraw this money from your account in a Thai bank (more on that later). What this generally gives is 2 name cards such as plastic, with which we can contact any even the most expensive hospital in Thailand and we should be given all the necessary help. Further, the hospital understands the insurance itself, we do not need any letters of guarantee or confirmation from the insurance. I didn’t have to contact and I hope I don’t have to. By the way, insurance has coverage all over the world.

As for medicine in Thailand, different people characterize it differently, but I don’t think it’s worthwhile to reckon with the opinion of the bags that they try to rip off as much as possible. With more in every major resort town, there are several hospitals, from cheap local to expensive Bangkok Hospital. In the city where we live there are 3 large hospitals: Hua Hin Hospital - state. the clinic, the cheapest, all Thais go there; San Paulo Hospital - private and medium-priced and standard Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin - a five-star space hospital with the same space prices; as well as a small number of private practices, such as ENT, dentist, etc.

As a rule, a fall from a motorbike ends with bruises and abrasions, possibly even extensive ones. With such a problem, you can contact the state. a clinic where they will provide first aid at a low cost, treat wounds and inject some tetanus shot.

Dengue dengue fever is something like our flu epidemic every year, most common in the rainy season (summer and autumn), but you can get sick in winter too. The fever is carried by mosquitoes, or rather by their special appearance, which differ very well in white, I would even say as if glowing spots on the legs and body. We saw them in one of the jungle trips, as it seemed to me they are larger than ordinary mosquitoes and white spots stand out very well on them. Such mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and, as a rule, operate in the daytime at around 20 meters from the place of their withdrawal. To protect yourself while hiking, you need to wear body-covering clothing and use a repellent with the active DEET component in the composition. If you live in a house, then you need to make sure that rainwater does not accumulate on your site (pots, any containers on the street). As for natural reservoirs, I’m not sure that there is a risk, because There are villages of houses where channels are laid right in the village. It is unlikely that mosquitoes start there - most likely a fish lives in the channels, which feeds on mosquito larvae.

If you get sick of dengue, then the likelihood of complications is small. We were not sick, but our friends got sickon Samui. Hurt hard, more than a week. Hospitalization may be required in case of a severe course of the disease, when the level of platelets in the blood decreases and there is a risk of hemorrhage. The vaccine does not exist yet, but there is hope that it will appear in the coming years. In general, it seems to me that in our society, people perceive tropical fevers as something almost deadly. The media publish scary stories about how tourists fell ill in Thailand or somewhere nearby and then arrived and were treated for a long time. In fact, dengue fever is very common in this region and local doctors know everything about it. Severe dengue fever affects only locals due to periodic re-infection. Compared to the flu, the death rate from dengue specifically in Thailand is lower. In order not to be afraid, you can read thisarticle .

We did not face any other problems and health risks. They did not see the snakes alive, only on the roads in a crushed form. Any terrible insects too. You need to understand that the farther you are from the city, the higher the risk of meeting different animals, including snakes. By the way, the number of deaths from snake bites in Thailand per year is measured in only tens of lives.


The issue of housing varies markedly in different cities. With more, 4 types of housing can be distinguished:

1) Condo - an apartment in a multi-storey building, usually furnished, as a rule, it is possible to use a communal pool and gym, which depends on the house itself, of course. A condo is ideal if you do not have pets. Prices vary greatly, but we can say that this is the best option on the basis of price / quality. If you compare with the same Minsk - the prices are much lower, the quality is much higher. Prices - say from $ 200 to $ 1,000 and above for every taste and color. Pets are strictly prohibited, unless it is served as a feature of this condo. We spoke with an agent about this - hiding even a hamster is not an option. If someone sees from the tenants, 100% will knock and they will ask you to remove the animal or clean it yourself.

2) Townhouse - as a rule, a 2-storey house with several two-level apartments, each has a separate entrance and common walls with other apartments of this house. Townhouse is the cheapest option, some with animals. Because of their cheapness, Thais usually live there, no soundproofing, and Thais love karaoke very much - so this is not a good option for a long life.

3) House - there is nothing special to write here. A house, a fence, maybe a small or even a very large green area, your own pool. Typically, the price of a house includes pool maintenance and a gardener. Houses can be both in the city and in the suburbs. Of course, in the suburbs it is cheaper and you can count on a good territory, but less infrastructure around. House prices from $ 200 to infinity.

4) House in a closed village (moo-ban) - these types of houses are most often found in Bangkok and Hua Hin. The village is usually surrounded by a high fence, at the entrance there is a barrier and round-the-clock security, video surveillance. There is a communal pool and gym. The price is slightly higher than a regular house. The village in the local sense does not mean a separate town, it’s just a fenced area with its name and a group of houses in a single architectural style. The village can be located both in the city and in the open field.

Some of the nuances of renting a house:

- Usually a security deposit of a monthly rental is required. The deposit is refunded after eviction and inspection of housing. Also, if agreed in the contract, then a certain amount for cleaning the house after departure is deducted from the deposit.

- If you rent directly from the owner, and not through a real estate agency - be prepared that the deposit may not be returned. In this case, you should not leave the house just before leaving somewhere, but you should go to a guesthouse for a week. Then you can tell the owner that you are moving to another house / condo and he will not be "late" to bring you a deposit, and you will not rush to the plane.

- It is not very advisable to have a house with a private pool, since as a rule such a pool is small, i.e. it’s damp and you won’t swim in it. But if there is a filtration system there, he will eat a lot of electricity.

- Rental prices in winter are higher than in summer. Often, when renting for a period of one year, you can achieve a significant discount. As a rule, an advantageous offer can be found in the spring, when all tourists / wintering people disperse and an excess of supply appears on the market.


For many, Thailand is probably associated with a hot climate, stuffiness and other “charms” of tropical life. However, this is not quite true. The nuance is that after a while the body gets used to the high temperature and the climate is already beginning to feel completely different. I myself can hardly stand the heat. When we arrived in November, it seemed unbearably hot. I had to turn on the air conditioner at night too, in order to somehow fall asleep. The rainy season was coming to an end, the "cold" season began by Thai standards, naturally far from ours. When December came, it got a little cooler. Toward the end of December, the temperature at night began to drop to 24-25 degrees, and here we began to freeze. From the end of December, all of January and almost all of February, we did not use air conditioning even in the afternoon. Despite the clear sky, the temperature did not reach 30 in the afternoon, at night we closed all the windows, otherwise it was cold to sleep. I must say that in Hua Hin in December and January, the season of strong wind, therefore, it was specifically blown out of the window. We forgot about the pool for almost 2 months because of the cold, as it seemed to us, water. About the sea almost the same. True, Thais say that this winter was abnormally cold for these places.

In February, it became a little warmer. From mid-March, a rapid rise in temperature began, and by the beginning of April it was hot. It was no longer possible to go outside into the daytime, not a cloud in the sky every day. The water in the sea became very hot, I would say in shallow water above 33 degrees. It darkens in the tropics at about 6 all year round. In the spring, everything around usually comes to life after 5 pm, markets open, and more people are on the street. The heat lasts all of April and almost all of May. In mid-May, the weather begins to change. If before the clear sky from morning to evening, then from mid-May afternoon clouds appear. They close the sky closer to 4 pm, a little rain can pass, which however does not bring coolness. By night, the clouds are stretching.

Since June, cloudiness is increasing, the heat is gradually receding, many where the rainy season begins in Thailand - but not in Hua Hin. There is some enchanted place here, probably due to the landscape (from the west of the mountain, in the east of the bay). You can often see a picture of black clouds gathering over the mountains or over the sea in the evening and lightning flashing, but in Hua Hin there is no rain and the blue sky above your head. There are days when the sky is captivating as in Minsk - gray and dark.

Then July, August, the beginning of autumn - what we will do next we do not know yet. But you already feel the coolness in the air, it becomes comfortable to be on the street. The air conditioner set to 28 works only during the day; at night it turns on only occasionally. The active rainy season in Hua Hin is August and September.

Traveling by car in Thailand

What Thailand is especially good for is the opportunity to travel a lot and safely. There are more than 100 national parks in the country, where there are a lot of interesting things. In general, I had never driven a right-hand drive car before. It was scary. And then we ordered a car right from the airport, and I realized that we did very right. The road from the airport in Bangkok is the best road to learn to drive. 4 lanes, few cars. During this time, you can get a little comfortable with other controls. For switching turn signals, forget at least up to 2,000 kilometers driven - you will still often include wipers on the machine. But in general, after 2 hours of unhurried driving along the highway, you already get used to it. On the first day in tai, I drove 700 km behind the wheel, a week later - another 900.

Trails in Thailand are organized in such a way that you will practically not have the opportunity to turn and go along the oncoming traffic. If you need to turn right through oncoming traffic, then as a rule you need to drive further, turn around and already returning turn left, where you immediately leave for your lane. There are places for a U-turn on the roads almost every 5-10 km, for a U-turn, a pocket is usually created in your lane and oncoming lane. U-turns have one big minus - in the right-hand lane (the fastest) there are often slowly moving trucks, trucks, etc. that go to the nearest U-turn. Because of this, often to stay ahead you have to change lanes.

The movement itself, especially in cities, I would call calm (though I didn’t go to the BCC itself). Thais are unhurried, this is due to both the mentality and the presence of a huge number of bikes on the roads that everyone is trying to skip and in general their attitude to bikes is completely different than ours. It is safe to say that every Thai is both a driver and a biker at the same time, since a bike is the most convenient form of transportation in cities. In general, with rare exceptions, they do not make sharp maneuvers and rearrangements, do not interfere with each other. But they like to ride on the on the side of the road, including cars. You also need to be prepared that Thais can greatly reduce speed until they stop in a strip near the curb, move very slowly (20-30 km / h). Due to the large number of bikes on the roads and in the cities, the roadside is wide,

Car rental in itself does not carry any problems if you rent from large offices. For rent, it is better to use the service. We came across a variety of offices and did not encounter any problems or nitpicking with scratches. As a rule, 300 $ or 600 $ deposits are blocked on your card, which are automatically unlocked somewhere from a week to a month - I don’t know what it depends on, but there were different terms. It is worth considering when renting a car that part of your available money can be frozen for up to a month. And in no case anywhere do not require to leave any documents as a pledge. If someone asks for documents as a deposit from you, they may scam you. The offices we used: Thai Rent a Car, Budget, AVIS. All offices include franchise insurance (called CDW or Collision Damage Waiver), where in which case you pay a small amount, the rest is paid by insurance. We have not encountered, so I won’t say how it works. In large offices, you can take a car in one direction, rent it in another city. It costs more, but sometimes there is no other option. On average, renting an inexpensive sedan on the machine for the weekend costs $ 70-100. I expected prices to go down during the off-season, but it didn’t.

The infrastructure on the roads is very well developed. Many network gas stations have 7/11 convenience stores, cafes, coffee houses, and macaques. The quality of the road surface is better, the closer to Bangkok. Route number 4 from Bangkok to the south, the only road that can be accessed to the south of Thailand, after Hua Hin has obvious problems with the road surface. The traffic is intense even on weekends. Sometimes I get the impression that the Thais work seven days a week, because on any day of the week there are tons of trucks and trucks.

Navigator (can be rented with a car) may be needed in Bangkok, because there are very not obvious multi-level interchanges. The rest of the above the roof lacks Google maps.

What are nat. parks? This is the area around a natural attraction, or several if the park is large. For example, a beautiful mountain range and several karst caves in Khao Sam Roi Yod Park , a coral reef in Hat Wanakon Park , several stepped waterfalls in Erawan Park , a lake in a karst fault in Khao Sok Parketc. Each park has a so-called headquaters, which usually have a small exhibition of photographs or artifacts from the park, information posters, showers, toilets, rental houses, a cafe, a parking lot and a camping site. In selected large nat. Camping parks can be organized in several places, close to popular attractions. The campsite always has toilets, showers and a cafe. Using your own barbecue is not prohibited. It is also usually possible to rent a tent for 5 dollars, sleeping bags, rugs and pillows. You can buy a tent and sleeping bags in any large Tesco - we did just that, and we take pillows from home. If someone thinks why sleeping bags are in such heat - wait. We were in April during the hottest season at a campsite on the sea and at night we climbed together in sleeping bags. For the weekend, many people with tents come to the parks.

Since November, we managed to visit only 7 (out of more than 100) nat. parks of thailand. In some parks I want to come again, in some parks there are so many interesting places that you can’t see them all in one weekend, the waterfalls look different in different seasons. In general, I think especially without repeating on weekends you can ride and watch the whole year. True, the distances are great and now we have come to the conclusion that we have already been to all the nearest national parks, we have to plan longer trips not for 2, but for 3 days.

Domestic issues

If you think that in tai you can eat only rice and seafood, or only at the macaques - then you are very mistaken. In the tourist cities there are many cafes where they cook delicious steaks from Australian beef at a price 2 times cheaper than Minsk. For example, in the Hua Hin Market Village there is a Sizzler restaurant, in it you can choose a steak with a side dish from $ 8 and use the huge salad bar for free.

In large grocery stores there are any products - milk, yogurts, cheeses, a huge selection of meat, vegetables and fruits. I would like to say something special about raw meat - in Belarus there is no such choice and there are no such prices! There is even crocodile meat. You also need to consider that Australia and New Zealand are near here, from where they bring good quality beef and dairy products. In some "premium" stores, you can buy the same buckwheat, if someone loves.

Mobile communication is as simple as a rake - at the airport you can buy a SIM card and use it, constantly replenishing in the nearest 7/11. No monthly fees, pay only for calls or for traffic. Fixed Internet is usually provided by the owner of the home, it can be either a shared Wi-Fi or a dedicated channel. We have 12MB dedicated, for the Internet we pay $ 20.

A foreigner can open an account in a Thai bank and attach PayPal to it. There is no specific instruction for opening accounts by foreigners, therefore, you may or may not be allowed to open an account in different banks and even in different branches of the same bank. We used Bangkok Bank and opened 2 accounts for us the first time. To open an account, you just need to come with a passport, in an hour they will complete everything and give you an unnamed card and some sort of record book (I don’t know why it is). In a week or two you will receive data for Internet banking and after that you can bind PayPal. We also need this account for insurance, a monthly fee is charged from it every month.

Military Junta / Coup

It so happened that in Thailand the military often come to power. In short, in Thailand there are 2 groups of elites: close to the King of Thailand and the Shinawatra clan. The population is madly in love with the king, but the king has become old and can no longer rule the country. When the Shinawatra clan came to power, they began using populist methods to distribute the loot to the poor right and left, which attracted a significant part of the simple peasant population in the country (which constitutes the majority). This was also accompanied by increased corruption in the country. Everything would be fine until Shinawatra encroached on the holy of holies of Thailand - the monarchy. He was thrown off by the military and sent into exile. After some time, elections were held in the country and the Shinawatra clan in the person of his sister defeated them. She continued to pursue her brother’s populist policies,

The essence of the problem is that if elections are held tomorrow, they will win ... someone from Shinawatra. The military, like the opposition, does not want this. Because they believe that this will continue to split in Thai society. They want to carry out a cunning reform of the electoral law so that even if the majority of the population supports the Shinawatra clan, they cannot come to power again.

What happened in the country during the protests from November to May - absolutely nothing. Life went on, only in the center of Bangkok, meetings were held and the movement was blocked.

What has changed in the country since the seizure of power by the military is absolutely nothing. Life takes its course, only now in the center of Bangkok and nowhere else it is impossible to hold rallies. For the first time, a curfew was introduced from 10 pm to 5 am. This caused some inconvenience in that round-the-clock shops were closed at night, and shops that were usually open until 10 began to close 2 hours earlier. Further curfew time was reduced. It was then canceled in a number of tourist cities and later throughout the country.

Now the country lives under "military oppression", but the fact is that the majority of the population is even happy about this. First, the protests and the escalation of tension ended. Secondly, the military junta voiced initiatives to eradicate many of Thailand's long-standing problems, which interfere with both tourists and locals. Wait and see.


If you are tired of the gray everyday life of Minsk / Moscow / another city and you want to change the situation, change your life in a more active and interesting direction - there is no better and more convenient country than Thailand. In fact, you can come here on a regular tour. a visa with a small capital in your pocket and without unnecessary difficulties to settle down for a year, two or more. The only thing you should not believe is the tales of downshifting in Thailand. Living in Thailand at $ 500 a month is probably possible - but I would not call it a comfortable and interesting life. You will constantly have to limit yourself in possibilities, in comfort, on trips, in food.

Is it worth it? This is another question, and each has its own answer. But you can always live in your native country, in a year, in two, in ten, it will not go anywhere from you. And who knows, Thailand will be just as comfortable and welcoming in a year, two, ten years.

[Update on visas]

Since the writing of the article, the visa situation has noticeably worsened, and now, apparently, it affects not only Russian citizens, but everyone else. So far, there is no reliable official information about the new rules, or rather the rules are old, but they will be applied in a new way. In short, today there is such information, but it can change, so if you plan to leave for Thailand and stay there you need to follow the information, for example, on this resource:

  1. A tourist in Thailand can now be no more than 90 days per six months. If you want to stay longer, then you will most likely not be allowed to leave and enter, even if you have a valid visa.
  2. Judging by reports from the borders, for Thailand it will now be normal practice to give a visa at the embassy and not to let it at the border. That is, obtaining a visa does not give any guarantees that you will be able to enter Thailand, unless of course you are an ordinary tourist and enter once a year. To increase the likelihood of entry, you need to prevent the border guard from suspecting that you are going to stay for a long time - the absence of a history of visas, the availability of tickets from Thailand (not necessarily to your country), and money for 20,000 baht per person.
  3. For those who have an educational visa, there are no problems so far. But it is logical to assume that many expats will want to legalize themselves through this opportunity and this issue will soon become tougher.

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