Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel
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Business Customs

Business relationships in Thailand are not as formal as those found in Japan, China, Korea, or the Middle East, but neither are they as relaxed and impersonal as is common in the United States.  Many business relationships have their foundations in personal contacts developed within the social circles of family, friends, classmates, and office colleagues.  Although Thailand is a relatively open and friendly society, it is advisable to approach potential business contacts with an introduction or letter from a known government official or business contact.  The Commercial Section at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok offers business matchmaking (Gold Key Service) services to help U.S. companies gain access to qualified potential partners in the Thai business community.

The Thai cultural values of patience, respect for status (such as age and authority), and not losing face are significant factors in business relationships as well.  Thais feel great pride in their country and have deep respect for tradition.  However, observance of traditional formalities may seem inconsistent with the tolerant, relaxed nature of living in Thailand.  This can be confusing or frustrating to Westerners who are more informal and more time conscious.

Respect for and consideration of one’s elders, superiors, and patrons are deeply rooted in the Thai culture and society.  Thais are very reluctant to hurt the feelings of others or to openly cause them discomfort.  As a result, Thais may not directly express negative answers or reactions. Losing one’s composure is losing face and losing others’ respect in Thailand.  

In Transparency International’s “Corruption Perception Index (2022), Thailand ranks 101 out of 180 countries.


“Khun” is the Thai form of address for Mr., Mrs., and Ms. and is followed by a first name or nickname.  However, government officials and doctors should be addressed by their title, such as Secretary, Minister, or Doctor, followed by the individual’s first name.  Nicknames are common in Thailand.  The “wai” is a traditional gesture of greeting and respect in Thailand made by placing your palms together in a prayer-like position at chest level and giving a slight bow.  The wai is used as a getting and as leave-taking.  Thais may also be familiar with the western-style handshake.

Business cards are an indispensable part of networking with contacts in Thailand and are exchanged at every meeting.  Bring plenty of your own as a general form of introduction.  It is considered impolite to write on someone’s business card in their presence, so avoid writing notes on cards handed to you during a meeting or event.

The head is sacred and the cleanest part of the body, so Thais consider it rude to touch someone on the head.  Likewise, feet are the dirtiest part of the body, and it is considered rude to point to anything with your feet.  Consistent with this, shoes should always be removed before entering a home or temple. Do not cross your legs in the presence of the elderly or monks.

Thais hold the Royal Family in high esteem, and disparaging or critical comments may lead to serious repercussions, including jail time, under Thailand’s lèse-majestè law.  Visitors to Thailand are expected to act consistently with the lèse-majestè law and not criticize the Royal Family.

Travel Advisory

To access the most up-to-date travel and safety information please refer to the State Department’s Country Specific Information for Thailand.  You can also report emergencies involving U.S. citizens by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-444, from other countries.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to enroll online in to receive travel alerts and security information from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok or the U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai.

Access to Thai government services, such as application for work and retirement visas, permission to buy and sell property, permission to marry, and obtaining a driver’s license, entails navigating an extensive, paper-reliant bureaucracy that often requires foreigners to obtain self-sworn notarized affidavits from their embassies.  Be advised that the U.S. Embassy and Consulate General CANNOT notarize documents that appear to “authenticate” state- or locally-issued U.S. official documents (e.g., birth/marriage/death certificates and academic degrees) nor can the Embassy and Consulate General “verify” income or domicile in Thailand.  For information on what the Embassy/Consulate General can and can’t notarize, and how to properly authenticate U.S.-sourced documents, please visit the U.S. mission to Thailand’s webpage.

Visa Requirements

For the most current information on Thailand’s entry requirements, please consult the website of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.  The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General are not able to intervene with Thai Immigration or the airlines regarding their regulations and policies.  Travelers must pay a Passenger Service Charge in Thai baht when departing from any of Thailand’s international airports; this charge is included in the ticket price for flights from Bangkok’s main airport, Suvarnabhumi International.

When a traveler enters the country, Thai Immigration stamps his or her passport with the date on which the traveler’s authorized stay in Thailand will expire.  Any traveler remaining in Thailand beyond this date without having received an official extension will be assessed an immediate cash fine when departing Thailand.  Any foreigner found by police to be out of legal status prior to departure (during a Thai Immigration “sweep” through a guesthouse, for example) will be jailed, fined, and then deported at his or her own expense, and may be barred from re-entering Thailand.

Travelers to Thailand MUST arrive with at least six months’ validity remaining on their passports or they will be denied entry.  In addition, travelers may be refused entry if their passports do not have two or more blank pages remaining; be advised that Thai immigration authorities may not consider the “endorsement” pages found in some older U.S. passports as usable for immigration stamping purposes.

U.S. citizens should be aware that private “visa extension services,” even those advertising in major periodicals or located close to Immigration offices or police stations, are illegal.  Unofficial or illegal visas obtained through illegal service providers can lead to an arrest at the border.

Suvarnabhumi International Airport is located 18 miles (30 kilometers) east of downtown Bangkok and is a thirty-minute drive to/from downtown Bangkok in light traffic.  Traffic conditions may result in longer drive times. More information is on the Suvarnabhumi Airport website.


Upon arrival in Thailand, money exchange centers are available after clearing the customs checkpoint.  The money exchanges are generally located immediately outside of baggage claim/customs at the international airports.  There are ATM machines for direct withdrawals and cash advances. Credit cards are widely used in major tourist locations, but small bills should be carried for incidentals and taxis.  In recent years, digital payment options have increased in popularity and 94 percent of consumers in Thailand reported using digital payments across multiple forms, including QR codes and wallet payments.  Digital payments more more common than card payments in Thailand.


Thailand’s telecommunication services meet international standards, especially in urban areas like Bangkok.  Thailand is the first country in ASEAN to launch 5G services.  The Bangkok metro area is served by two fixed-line operators: The National Telecom Agency (NT), a state enterprise, and True Corporation PLC (TRUE), a private company.  Local calls are not timed and carry a fixed charge of 3 baht per call (from fixed line number to fixed-line number).

Areas outside Bangkok are served by the National Telecom Agency and a private company, TT&T Public Co., Ltd. The fixed-line network has a total capacity of over 8 million lines.

In 2022, Thailand had 90.7 million mobile subscribers (130% penetration rate) and 561.21 million internet users (85.3% penetration rate).


Air Travel

Thai Airways International is Thailand’s national airline serving both domestic and inter-continental routes. Thailand currently has 36 commercial airports, including 16 international airports.  Thailand’s two main airports are Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang; both are in Bangkok.  The remaining international airports are in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Krabi, Khon Kaen, Mae Sot, Nakorn Si Thammarat, Yala, Surat Thani, Udon Thani, Samui, Ubon Ratchathani, and U-Tapao. 

The Public Transportation Center, Suvarnabhumi Airport offers pubic bus service to popular destinations in Bangkok. Airport limousines and public taxis are available at the airport with a small surcharge.  Transport form the airport to the innercity can take 40 and 60 minutes or more depending on traffic.

Taxis and Ride-Hailing

Thailand offers a range of ground transportation in Bangkok and major cities. Metered taxis are common, and most hotels offer limousine services.  Chauffeured cars can be rented for extended stays.  In Bangkok, an extensive public bus network with both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned vehicles serves all areas of the city.  Ride-hailing services like Lineman, Estonia’s Bolt, and Grab are legal under a regulation that allows the use of personal cars for ride-hailing taxi services.


Bangkok has two mass rail transit systems: the Bangkok Transit System (BTS) and the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT). The BTS, known locally as Sky Train, is an elevated train network that operates in Bangkok’s most congested business districts, including Silom Line, which starts from National Stadium to Bang Wa, and the Sukhumvit Line from Mochit/Chatuchak Park to Bearing.  The MRT is a subway system that includes a Blue Line that runs from Hua Lamphong to Tao Poon, and a Purple Line that runs between Khlong Bang Phai and Tao Poon.

Krung Thep Apiwat Central Terminal is Bangkok’s new main train terminal, which opened in 2023, with 52 long-distance Rapid, Express, and Special Express services. A limited number of ordinary trains still depart from Hua Lamphong Railway Station, the former central passenger terminal of Bangkok.


For inter-city travel, public regular and air-conditioned buses are available. These buses run regularly between Bangkok and provincial cities in Thailand.  Three regional bus depots serve the eastern region destinations (Ekamai), northern and northeastern region destinations (Mo Chit), and the southern region (Sai Tai Mai).


Thai is the national language. English is the next most spoken language and is especially prevalent among the business community in Bangkok.  There are four distinct Thai language dialects in Thailand, with the Central Thai dialect being the first language of 75 percent of the population.  Many Sino-Thai also speak Chinese dialects.


Medical treatment is good in Thailand’s urban areas (i.e., Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Pattaya) and facilities exist for routine, long-term, and emergency health care.  Basic medical care is available in rural areas, but English-speaking providers are rare.

Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States.  Many hospitals in Bangkok and other major cities will accept standard credit cards.  For additional useful health information, contact the International Travelers’ Hotline at the Center of Disease Control (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or 888-232-6348.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with Thailand Customs and the Thailand Food and Drug Administration to ensure the medication is legal in Thailand.

The following diseases are present in Thailand:

  • Dengue
  • Chikungunya
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Zika
  • Tuberculosis:
  • Influenza
  • Malaria
  • COVID-19
  • Rabies
  • Cholera
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Typhoid
  • Melioidosis

The air quality in Thailand varies considerably geographically and fluctuates with the seasons.  Seasonal smog is a problem especially in the winter months. In recent years, the air quality in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Lampang, Nan, and Samut Sakhon have exceeded Thai and U.S. government daily standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) for a portion of the year.  In Chiang Mai and other northern provinces, annual agricultural burning (February through late April) and forest fires cause days with unhealthy to hazardous air quality based on the U.S. index.  In Bangkok environs, airborne dust and auto pollutants are prevalent in the cooler, dry period (December to February).  People at the greatest risk from air pollution exposure include:

  • Infants, children, and teens.
  • People over 65 years of age.
  • People with lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
  • People with heart disease.
  • People who work or are active outdoors.

For Bangkok and Chiang Mai, U.S. Mission Thailand reports the U.S. EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI) calculated from PM2.5 data captured by monitors owned and maintained by the Royal Thai government. Various mobile applications are available for tracking the air quality index in nearly all areas around Thailand.  The embassy’s Air Quality site is linked here.  Air Quality Index (AQI) - U.S. Embassy & Consulate in Thailand (

For the latest health-related guidance, please see Thailand country-specific information on

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

The common professional workweek in Thailand is 40 hours per week, consisting of five 8-hour days, Monday through Friday.  Office hours in Bangkok vary to accommodate flextime travel through the city’s notoriously heavy traffic. Common office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Most business offices are closed on Saturdays and Sundays, although most commercial establishments remain open.  The Commercial Section at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is open 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The office is closed during lunch from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.

During the calendar year 2023-2024, the following are the commercial holidays on which most business and government offices in Thailand will be closed:

October13FridayHis Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great Memorial Day
October23MondayKing Chulalongkorn Memorial Day
December5TuesdayHis Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great’s Birthday/ National Day / Father’s Day
December11MondaySubstitution for Constitution Day (Sunday, December 10, 2023)
January1MondayNew Year’s Day
January2TuesdaySubstitution for New Year’s Eve (Sunday, December 31, 2023)
February26MondaySubstitution for Makha Bucha Day (Saturday, February 24, 2024)
April8ThursdaySubstitution for Chakri Memorial Day (Saturday, April 6, 2024)
April13-16Saturday-TuesdaySongkran Days (Thai New Year)
May1WednesdayNational Labor Day
May6MondaySubstitution for His Majesty the King’s Coronation Day (Saturday, May 4, 2024) and Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day
June3MondayHer Majesty the Queen’s Birthday
July22MondaySubstitution for Asanha Bucha Day (Saturday, July 20, 2024)
July23TuesdaySubstitution for Buddhist Lent Day (Sunday, July 21, 2024)
July29MondaySubstitution for His Majesty the King’s Birthday (Sunday, July 28, 2024)
August12MondayHer Majesty the Queen Mother’s Birthday / Mother’s Day
October14MondaySubstitution for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great Memorial Day (Sunday, October 13, 2023)
October23WednesdayKing Chulalongkorn Memorial Day
December5ThursdayHis Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great’s Birthday/ National Day / Father’s Day
December10TuesdayConstitution Day
December31TuesdayNew Year’s Eve

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

Thai Customs Department policy and procedures on temporary entry of goods for business practices and exhibitions are described separately.  Duty exemption is valid for temporarily imported goods that will be re-exported within three or six months of the importation date, depending on the entry purpose.  Travelers entering or departing from Thailand are exempt from duty for personal belongings in a reasonable quantity, which is worth no more than 20,000 baht, one liter of spirituous liquor, 200 cigarettes, or 250 grams for cigars or smoking tobacco.  For more specific information on the type of goods and steps of customs procedure, please visit the section on “Household Items Import Clearance” on Thailand’s Customs website.