Why Do Middle-Aged Men Move to Thailand?
Why do so many middle-aged men make the move to Thailand? It’s a question often sniggered at by, well, those who are neither middle-aged nor living in Thailand. So what’s with the stigma? Why all this grin-grin, wink-wink, nudge-nudge say no more, any time a man announces his excursion to The Land of Smiles?
Watch the short video below to get a glimpse into the real side of Amazing Thailand.
It’s all about the Leg-over – Stupid!
A few reading here will be shouting at the screen something like: “THEY GO FOR THE HANKY-PANKY BLOCKHEAD!” But do they, really? Surely it’s unfair to tarnish every male visitor or expat resident to the old Siam as a tourist of ill repute. Can they all be seasoned sexpats or screwed-up undesirables who were unable to make things work back in the motherland? No, of course they can’t!
It’s the Country and Its People Stupid!
Not all middle-aged men are the same. Most do not travel to Thailand alone and spend their nights pounding dark alleys, sniffing out the meat racks of Pattaya or Bangkok.
A large percentage of foreigners in Thailand consist of couples and families. They come here to visit, work and even retire. Such people wouldn’t recognise a den of iniquity if it slapped them in the face!
There’s so much more to this country than sexual debauchery. In actual fact, the “sex scene” is a tiny fraction of the overall diversity that this ancient and mystical land has to offer.
Let’s take a look at the eight real reasons that make Thailand such a popular destination for everyone.
#1: The Thai Climate
The Kingdom of Thailand is a country located at the center of the Indochina peninsula in South East Asia. This means it has plenty of warm weather and guaranteed sunshine at certain times of the year. There are the tropical beaches in the south and the lush mountainous jungles in the North and North East. Furthermore, the people are welcoming and super friendly. These things and more besides all add to the mystical lure of this faraway paradise.
#2: Don’t Forget the Food
Thai food is second to none and people love it both inside and outside the country. In fact, Thai cuisine is one of the world’s most favourite gastronomies. It has evolved over time by merging and adapting the rudiments of various South East Asian traditional dishes. Most Thai meals are lightly prepared with strong aromatic components. Many dishes tease out the four major taste senses of sweet, sour, salty and bitter. If you’ve never tried Thai food you’re missing out. If you have tried it, there’s a good chance you’re already hooked.
Okay, so it can be a bit spicy, but there are few people who don’t enjoy the tastes and flavours of real Thai cuisine. Whether you buy it in or eat out, Thai food is always affordable within the country. All the major towns and cities have plenty of international restaurants too, which cater to the pallets of most nationalities. Thailand really is a food lover’s paradise.
#3: The Thai Religion
About 85 percent of Thai people are Theravada Buddhists. It’s perhaps best to describe Buddhism as a way of life rather than an actual religion. There is no single god to worship, just precepts (teachings), that when followed, help to maintain spiritual balance and wellbeing. Buddhism doesn’t have radical factions either. You will never hear of Buddhists blowing people up indiscriminately in the name of their faith. Nor do they cut off heads with kitchen knives or express abomination towards people of other religions or those without creed. No! Buddhism is not like that at all.
Above:Serene Buddhist temple, Samoeng, N. Thailand.
Other faiths could certainly learn a thing or two from the Buddha’s teachings. The focus is on how to live at peace and in harmony with the Earth and its peoples. This is irrespective of who they are, where they come from or what they believe in. Finally, Buddhists do not preach or attempt to convert anyone to their faith. It’s a peaceful, unobtrusive existence, and very much a part of the Thai way of life. Buddhism is a credit to the nation.
#4: The Cost of Living
The cost of living has gone up quite a bit in Thailand over recent years. Despite this, it is still an incredibly cheap place for foreigners to live. This is just one more reason why so many men of middle age take early retirement to move out there.
#5: Thailand Accommodation – Homes for Every Budget!
There’s a plethora of cheap accommodation available the length and breadth of the country. You can rent Thai apartments (condos) in central Bangkok for as little as 6,000 Baht /Mo., for a studio. Rents are even lower on the outskirts of the city.
The more spacious one bedroom condos start at around 15,000 THB/Mo., in low-rise buildings. For highrise units you can expect to pay between 22-30,000 THB/Mo.
There are plenty of great property websites to help you get an idea of what’s available where, and for how much. Other towns and cities around the country all have their own property sites, letting agents and expat forums. The internet has certainly taken the hassle out of home hunting, that’s for sure.
#6: Luxury Living
For those who can afford it, Bangkok, or Bangers to the locals, has no shortage of luxury accommodation. You can choose high end studios in state of the art tower blocks. Or you can go right up to the most spectacular penthouses you’ve ever seen. Most of these are perched on the top floors of the city’s most impressive buildings.
Other parts of Thailand are also investing heavily in smart new homes. Chiang Mai, in the north of the country, is currently leading the way in expat housing, second only to Bangkok.
#7: No Major Language Barrier
“Pom poot passer Thai dai nit noi khrap.”
The majority of expatriates in Thailand choose to live in mixed neighbourhoods. This way they get to interact with their fellow colonials as well as the local Thais. In these areas, most of the natives speak passable English, meaning there’s no real language barrier as such. Cultural differences are likely to cause more misunderstandings than actual dialect. Still, that’s something for another article.
The official language in Thailand is Thai, or more accurately Central Thai or Siamese. Although there are some regional variations, Thai is the native tongue of the Thai people (the dominant ethnic group). Anyone who wants to learn the lingo is in luck. There are countless language schools and private tutors dotted all over the country.
#8: Getting Around Thailand
Bangkok is still the cheapest taxi capital in the world with fares starting at just 35 Baht ($1.14), at the time of writing. Air conditioned taxis are not so popular in other parts of the country though. Even in cities like Chiang Mai, you’re more likely to see tuk-tuks and songthaews as the main form of public transport. A songthaew is a sort of shared taxi, adapted from a pick-up truck (see images below).
However you choose to get around, it’s still cheap to move from place to place in Thailand. You can travel just about anywhere using the country’s many transportation services.
Other Modes of Transport
Another fab way to get around Bangkok is to use the river taxis. The Chao Phraya River and its network of canals, known as khlongs, have many options. You can choose express boats for longer distances and river taxis for shorter trips. There are also plenty of boats that just do river crossings at certain points. Let’s not forget the famous long tail-boats too, though many of these are tourist attractions nowadays. The most common, and the safest form of public transportation, though, is on land not water. If they go to where you’re heading to, the Sky-train (BTS) and the Underground (MRT) is the best way to travel. They may not be as much fun as tuk-tuks or river taxies, but trains are certainly more practical.
Busses, Bikes and Bicycles
If you’re unafraid to stare death in the face, you can hop on one of Bangkok’s thousands of manky old buses. You can see them everywhere, zipping dangerously in and out of the Thai traffic. It’s a memorable experience but not always for the right reasons.
You also have the motorbike taxis, which usually tout for business on street corners. It might seem like a dangerous way to move around, but they’re actually quite safe. Most riders are considerate and have excellent knowledge on the layout of Greater Bangkok. The majority of these guys can navigate the city’s traffic with impressive skill.
Expats and long stay tourists who live outside Bangkok usually invest in their own vehicles. It could be a motorbike, car, bicycle, or all three. Chiang Mai, for example, is not a place you would want to live if you didn’t have your own mode of transport.
Images of Thailand’s Transport Options (click to enlarge)
|Taxi Meter||Songthaew Taxi||Thai TukTuk||River Taxi||Longtail Boat|
|Transit Map||Bangkok BTS||Bangkok MRT||Bangkok Bus||Motorbike Taxi|
Expats and long stay tourists living outside of Bangkok (referred to by Thais as ‘Up-country’, irrespective of geographical location), will usually invest in their own mode of transport, be that a motorbike, car, bicycle, or all three.
Tens of thousands of middle-aged guys go to Thailand each year to work, retire or just for long holidays. They travel alone or with family and friends, but no, they’re not all heading to the GoGo bars and other seedy nightspots. Despite what some people think, in their ignorance, plenty of men enjoy Thailand for all the right reasons, namely:
- The culture
- Friendly atmosphere
- Natural beauty
- Easy going way of life
- Warm climate
- Delicious food
- Affordable accommodation
Let’s not forget the country’s great geographical location too. Thailand is in the heart of South East Asia, making it a very sought after destination and hub for the entire region.
And yes, there will also be some single men who end up marrying younger Thai women, but so what? If both the Thai woman and her older partner are happy with the “arrangement”, then there’s nothing wrong, illegal, or sick about any of it.
Just for Fun
And finally, let’s finish this piece with a bit of fun. Did you know that the full Thai name for Bangkok is actually the longest name of any city on earth? The Thais call it Krung Thep, but that’s the shortened version of its full ceremonial name, which is:
“Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”
For anyone who’s interested, there are some more Thai facts and figures in the left side column. Oh, and if you have anything to add to this piece, please leave your comments below.