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Doing Business in Thailand

An understanding of Thai culture and learning some basic Thai will improve your success with business dealings in Thailand.

Market Key Facts

Key Source Regions/Cities

Bangkok (capital city), Chiang Mai (hub of the North), Cholburi (Eastern Seaboard), Phuket and Hatyai (hub of the South)

Direct Routes into New Zealand

Bangkok - Auckland

Airlines

Thai Airways International

Leave Entitlement

10 days per annum

Population

67,448,120 (July 2013 est.)

Languages

Thai, English (second language among well-educated Thai)

Currency

Thai Baht (THB)

Total Outbound Travellers

5,397,000 million (2011)

Peak Booking Periods

February to March
August to September
Early December (Christmas)

Peak Travel Periods

March, April through to mid May
October
December (dependent on airline seat availability)

Source: CIA World Factbook (Currency, Population, Language)

Doing business in Thailand

  • Make the effort to learn some simple Thai phrases, particularly greetings. Although English is usually spoken in business circles, Thai is used generally. Thais will appreciate any efforts by a foreigner to learn some of their language.

  • Thai names consist of a given first name and a family last name. Khun is the Thai non-gender term equivalent to Mr, Mrs, Ms, or Miss. When introduced to a Thai, 'Khun' is placed before the first name and it is appropriate to refer to the person as 'Khun (first name)'.

  • Buddhism is important in Thailand. Religious artefacts in general and Buddha statues in particular are sacred. The head is the most important part of the Buddha statue and should not be touched. Any disrespectful handling of a Buddha statue is considered desecration, which results in severe criminal penalties.

  • The royal family is highly revered and respected. Jokes about royalty are not tolerated.

  • When sitting, ensure that the soles of your feet are never pointed towards anyone, particularly a monk or Buddha image. The feet are considered the lowliest part of the body. 

  • Smile a lot. Smiling is equated with patience and Thais greatly admire those who are patient. Thais avoid violence, conflict and confrontation. Losing your composure means losing respect in Thailand. Do not be surprised to encounter situations where an obvious injustice or abuse is tolerated with an outwardly submissive attitude, for the sake of not losing face.

Want to know more about doing business in Thailand?

Visit the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise website.