Money in Thailand’s Booming Economy is something of a mystery. Thailand takes a libertarian approach to government, so if you’re a close libertarian, this is the place for you. Taxes are negligible and interference with your life is rare. To paraphrase the song, You can drink all the liquor down in Suphodthika: ain’t nobody’s business if you do. Or, to use the current phrase, Thailand is not a Nanny state. Nobody will stop you speeding on the highway, or acting weird, or dressing in clothes that bend genders, or singing karaoke until three in the morning, or blocking peak hour traffic while you dash into the ATM. Mai pen rai. Do your thing. Yet, for all its laissez faire approach to life, Thailand has a balanced budget, 1% unemployment, and 80% of Thais are satisfied with their government. Just let that sink in for a moment: the US government gets between 9% and 20% support on a good day, yet the Thai government, which hardly taxes anyone, gets 80%?

Yet despite all that, the streets are safe, clean and well lit, the roads well maintained, infrastructure is always being upgraded, and people are in a good mood 24×7.

Making money in Thailand is surprisingly easy because Thailand’s unemployment rate is 1%, everyone’s in a good mood,and the economy is growing at a steady 5-6%. Gross domestic product grew an impressive 19% last year. Much of that can be credited to the tremendous floods and the consequent rebuilding boom. But even so, the rate of growth surprised everyone. Experts had predicted growth to come in at 12–15% for the last quarter, but the resilient Thais blew that away. Here in Chiang Mai the signs are everywhere: building is booming and almost all of our hundreds of temples is on a major building or renovating tear. Exports are up, and so is domestic consumption. The ‘surprise’ part is probably attributable to the unofficial economy. Most Thai transactions are for cash, and almost all Thais have unreported income. When I rented a car last week, for example, the rental company refused my credit card and insisted on a cash deposit (only $170, on a brand new Toyota!).

After the USA, it’s fun to walk around in a booming economy. Normally happy Thais are now ecstatic. Everyone’s got a job, and everyone’s expecting bonuses. Friends who are hiring complain that most of the Thais who accept positions fail to show up on their scheduled first day – or ever! They’ve found better offers. Strangely, inflation has stayed low. I had an iced coffee, beef with noodles, and a large bottle of cold Singha beer yesterday for 134 Baht–$4.50. So… as the Aussies say, no worries! Here’s an Aussie video talking about exchanging money in Thailand:

And here’s more reading about money in Thailand:

3 Responses

    1. Still here. Air is still smokey but, for some reason does not bother me.

      “Democracy” (utterly lacking in the US) is a Trojan horse: it’s a way of dividing countries and it’s on its way out!

  1. Hi, replying to an old post but I’m new to your blog (great info and thanks)
    This entry :

    “and 80% of Thais are satisfied with their government. Just let that sink in for a moment:

    Is quite bizarre though. My first visit was in 2006 when Thaksin was in power and executing the drug dealers. There were daily protests at Lumphini Park. Then there was the whole yellow shirt/red shirt debacle that lasted almost ten years . Then Yingluck and the rice scandal, then the military coup. None of these are indicative of a people who are enamoured with their government. Most of the population are working their tails off just to get by, and have neither the time nor the energy to bitch about the government.

    Your comments about the booming economy are dead on, and even more relevant today with the baht being the strongest currency in the world, but the high tide isn’t raising many boats due to the high rate of inflation.

    Are you still up in CM? How’s the air quality?

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.