The truth about Thai dating
For Western men, Thai dating can be both liberating and yet confining. Definitely contrasting however, this is pretty self evident. Do a quick Google search for Thai dating stories. You'll find a plethora of positive stories of western men in happy, long term relationships and others... Not so. You already knew this and the reason you're here is probably something along the lines of "how do I find the right Thai woman?". We don't have that answer (we'd be pretty rich if we did) however in this article we're going to prepare you with all of the tools you need to be successful. From finding your perfect Thai woman, to obtaining visas and living in Thailand, and cultural norms of Thai dating, marriage and everything in between.
Online Thai Dating
One of the most common questions we get from our users is something to the effect of "why do Thai women look online for foreigners?". The answer is that they don't particularly. There's actually a lot of Thai men on this site, and other Thai dating sites. I think what is true, is that relationships with western men more often than not start online. We have a few ideas and we'll break it down into: culture, confidence and availability. First though, many of you might scoff at that because don't Thai women want money as well? My answer would be that every woman wants money. Thai women don't expect anymore money than anyone else!
Thai culture plays a big part in pushing Thai women into looking for western men online. As you either know or will find out in many ways Thai culture === Buddhism. Thai women of all generations tend to follow the basic premises of Buddhism. Of course, as with anything there's degrees. In general though, it's true that activities like drinking, smoking, sex, being loud, brash are examples of what a Thai woman shouldn't do. Now, there's different images of western men in Thailand, one is the tourist. The tourist is essentially the antithesis of what a Thai woman should do!
Thai women don't necessarily lack confidence, it's more nuanced. They don't like confrontation. Confrontation is genuinely viewed poorly in Thailand, it's a losing of face and so, people avoid situations where that might happen. How does this apply to Thai women dating western men? Simple, English. Thai's are tough on each other, if a Thai woman tries to communicate in English but does so poorly, other Thai's will berate them for trying. Ironically, this is the complete opposite when a westerner tries to speak Thai, and will get praised even if they do so poorly.
Availability is an issue for Thai women looking for western men, especially when they live in the smaller cities, or even villages. There's either no western men, or the western men are already dating Thai women. Add onto this the cultural and confidence hurdles and well, you've got a situation where online is the easiest place for Thai dating. Ultimately, online Thai dating is the easiest method for Thai women to meet, talk and date western men.
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Time. Questions. Honesty.
Take your time.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to take things slowly when you start your Thai dating journey. Really, don't rush. Why? There's quite literally no reason to rush. Thailand and Thai woman are laid back and you should be as well. You should take your time to learn and understand the culture and your Thai woman.
It's almost guaranteed that there will be parts of Thai culture that you love and hate. It will take you time to firstly find the parts you love and then figure out whether you can reconcile with the parts you dislike. One example that instantly comes to mind is sin sod. Sin sod is a cultural practice that doesn't make sense to western men AND it's nuanced as to when sin sod is valid. We'll cover sin sod in more detail further down the page.
That's just the culture as well! You'll have ups and downs with your partner and that's why it's always smart to move slowly.
You should question absolutely everything. I've read and heard advice about dating saying that you should ask delicate questions. I believe that's utter rubbish. Think, you could spend the rest of your life with this Thai woman, is it acceptable to find out secrets 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the line? Don't be afraid to ask controversial questions.
The first question to ask is actually to yourself. What do you want? It might sound kind of silly but we unfortunately see so many western men dive head first into Thai dating without really thinking about the long term. Do you want to live in Thailand? If you do, where do you want to live? How much money do you want to earn? HOW are going to earn your money? What kind of life style are you happy with? These are just the icing on the cake, you really want to sit down and think about where you're going and what you yourself want to get out of Thai dating.
When it comes down to ask a Thai women questions, I'm not going to lie it will be difficult. You have a language barrier, that perhaps to some degree can be overcome by translation apps however ultimately means that one of you needs to know the basics of both languages! Next you have a cultural barrier, this one's not such a big deal for western men as you'll get a lot of leniency - since you aren't aware of every little detail. Next, you need to decipher the response. Okay, so what should you ask? Keep reading below.
Do you want to live in Thailand?
Most Thai women would prefer to continue living in Thailand. Emphasis on most, and that's why this is such a critical question. If the Thai woman does want to live in Thailand, that could mean that she wants to live either with, or near her parents and look after them into their old age. If she wants to live abroad, she may be obliged to send money back depending on her parents circumstances. And of course, there could be a mixture of both living in Thailand and abroad.
What are your hobbies?
There's a lot of questions to ask that aren't specific to Thailand. We won't list many of them, and this serves as the perfect example. You need something in common with a partner. It doesn't have to be everything but you do need something that you can both work on and have common goals to achieve.
What is your job?
This isn't really so much about the job. Firstly there's a bit of a misconception that Thai women are poor. That's not true. Whether or not she currently has a job right now doesn't really matter. What you want to hear is that she's hard working and conscientious. That she's willing to give back to the relationship.
It could also be that your financial situation means she doesn't need to work and that's totally fine as well. You still however need to discuss what your, and her, expectations are.
Do you have any debt?
Okay, this one's a little abrasive however money and arguments about money are the leading cause of divorce and break ups world wide. With loans and credit so easily obtainable, and student loans given out without any thought, you really need to know what you're getting yourself into. Personally, I would ask about the family as well. Let's face it, it's not the most elegant question to ask and perhaps you want to spring this one later on. It is however a must ask question.
What you should look out for.
A good Thai woman won't ask you for money, it would be embarrassing. A lot of Thai women will try to take advantage of western men, because they see us as, perhaps the best way to put it, "too nice". We still largely hold the view that Thai women aren't well off and as we mentioned above, that's just plain false. The majority live a middle class life. If a Thai woman does ask for money early on in a relationship, it's such a massive red flag and you shouldn't walk but run away!
Shows off excessive amounts of wealth. Everyone likes to show off a little and most of the time it's harmless. In Thailand this also feeds into "face". Excessively showing off wealth however is definitely something to watch out for. There's a lot of Thai women who are actually poor but act rich. Then there's the people who are rich, that act rich. A lot of this depends on your personal perspective but be warned, that you might be being used as a cash machine!
Honesty is such a huge subject and you already know that honesty is important in a relationship, of any kind. We will tackle it from the perspective of Thai dating, specfically the language barrier and cultural norms.
If you do not know Thai, there's a very good possibility that at some point, you will have a misunderstanding perhaps over something small, or big. The point here is that you need to know it was a misunderstanding and not a lie. It's up to you when it comes down to discerning misunderstandings from lies and that's a process that will take time to learn.
Thai culture, often promotes white lies. Usually the purpose of a white lie is something along the lines of avoiding confrontation. That can actually be quite annoying for westerners who are usually more upfront about their concerns. How you deal with this is really up to you. What can you accept?
At some point in your Thai dating journey, you're going to need to enter Thailand. You'll need to work out what visa works for you and come up with a long term strategy to visit, live and work in Thailand. Below are your basic options. What we really recommend is that you read the below and then go visit a facebook group called "Thai Visa Advice". They will help you for free with the most up to date and accurate information.
The easiest way to enter Thailand for a short term stay is a tourist visa which will grant you 60 days entry. You can then extend the tourist visa for 30 days inside the country, you can apply for this extension at any point during the 60 days. We recommend that you do so early rather than later. The cost of the extension can vary but usually it will cost no more than 2k thb. You can at some embassies apply for a ME (multi entry) tourist visa which is valid for 6 months. That means that you can stay in Thailand for up to 9 months by re-entering Thailand on the last valid day of the visa and then applying for an extension.
Tourist visas are not a good solution long term. While there's no written law on how many tourist visas you can use during a given year, Thai immigration will refuse you if they believe you are not a tourist. This can seem unfair and arbitrarily applied and probably is. That doesn't change the fact that you risk being refused entry by using multiple back to back tourist visas.
You cannot work with a tourist visa but you can apply for jobs and try to arrange more permanent visa options. Tourist visas can be obtained from most near by countries, please check online for embassy holidays and also, some embassies like the one in Vientiane require an online appointment.
Non Immigratant Visas
Non immigrant visas come in many different shapes and sizes. You can obtain a non-o for, working, investing, studying, visiting family and being retired. We will cover the most common of these and how to obtain the visa.
A Non-B can be obtained by people who are in the process of, or are employed by a Thai company. The initial non-b is valid for 90 days. During the 90 days you will switch from a visa to an visa exemption which is also valid for 90 days. You will continue to do a 90 days report for as long as you employed by the Thai company.
People often confuse a non-b and work permit. These are totally different things. The non-b allows you to stay in Thailand but you cannot work in Thailand without the work permit. Conversely, the work permit does not allow you to stay in Thailand but does allow you to work in Thailand with the correct visa.
A non-o allows you to enter thailand for the purpose of visiting family and friends in Thailand. You can work with this visa IF you have a work permit. Most commonly, a non-o is obtained by foreigners married to Thai's but can also be obtained by having a half Thai child.
You can apply for either a single or multi entry non-o. Each entry is valid for 90 days and can be extended, the extension can be up to 60 days because the reason for the extension will be based on visiting family. The qualifications for the non-o visa change from embassy to embassy. Most require the equivalent of 400k thb in a foreign or domestic bank.
A Non-OA is for those aged 50+ wanting to stay in Thailand for an extended period. You cannot work with this visa. Much like other visas the requirements for this visa change from embassy to embassy. You will however be required to have either 800k thb or the equivalent of in your currency. The validity of each entry for this visa is 90 days. Once you're in the country you will apply for an extension based on being 50+. During this step you will be required to have 800k thb in a Thai bank that have been seasoned for 2 months prior to the application. Once you've been granted the visa exemption you will continue to do 90 day reports.
The Non-OX is very similar to the non-OA, the big difference is that the OX visa grants you a much longer stay, 5 years + another 5 years by extension. To be valid for this visa, you must have at least 3m thb OR a combination of 1.8m thb + 1.2m thb of income per year.
The Cultural Norms of Thai Dating
The first date. It's exciting enough as it is, and with Thai dating, you have an extra layer. There's a very real possibility that your date will bring along a friend or relative. Yes, you're expected to pay for both. How do you deal with this situation? Firstly just be your normal self, be courteous, make sure you're dressed nicely and arrive on time. That's all obvious anyway. What happens quite commonly is that you and your date struggle to communicate, and your date ends up spending the night talking with their friend! Well, that's pretty much the end of that date, and you'll likely end up paying for it as well. What can you do to avoid this situation? Accomodate her. Ask her where she wants to meet, make sure it's a public place and make sure she feels secure and safe.
Taking a Thai woman home on the first date is uncommon. I can think of exceptions where you have been in a long distance relationship for a long time, and you've met and hit it off, things happen. Use your judgement as to whether you feel it's a normal situation. What certainly is not normal, is talking online for a few days, meeting and then taking her home. It's not unheard of, just be safe!
Thai's are very reserved when it comes to dating, and what westerns would consider normal, like holding a hand can generate stares and possibly embarrassment for the Thai woman. Kissing is a more potent example, kissing in public in Thailand is universally looked down upon. This can cause confusion for western men, if you've been on a few dates and everything is going well, a kiss would be normal. A good Thai woman simply won't kiss you in public, and could cause her embarrassment.
Be assertive. If you want to meet her again, tell her. When it comes down to Thai dating, it will be the man who leads. It's another one of those situations where you could have a great date, but chances are, even if she really likes you, she won't ask to meet again!
Be aware that, by dating a foreigner, there will be a lot of people judging her. It's a 50/50 thing, as ultimately she doesn't care what other people think, since she's with you.
Wait to meet the parents! In Thai dating culture, meeting the parents is a pretty serious escalation in your relationship. It's a move toward marriage. This can lead to westerners feeling pressure for something that in western culture, doesn't mean too much.
If your Thai dating journey reaches this point, you'll want to be aware of what's expected of you and your wife to be.
When you've reached the point that you want to marry your partner, one of the first things you will do is meet her parents. Usually this is not just parents, but also siblings, possibly aunts, uncles and so on. This is also your first indication that you're not just marrying your partner, but actually you'll be tied to her entire family. You should already be well aware of what her family does by this point, but it's also your first chance to really get to know them!
We can't talk about marriage without sin sod. A payment made during official Thai weddings. The payment can be cash, gold and other physical goods. Typically the cash is "given" to the parents and gold or other physical goods are given to your wife. I quote "given" because there's a good chance that her parents will give you back the cash after the ceremony. This harps back to the concept of face, it's more about showing than being real.
If you've looked online about sin sod, you'll have seen that there's a lot of debate over whether or not you should pay. The truth is that it depends on the situation. If you are marrying a 20-something year old who has been to university and has not been married before, chances are you'll be paying sin sod. If you marry a 40 year with children and is divorced, chances are you won't be paying. In the second scenario, you might wish to give her family some face with a small payment on the basis that it's guaranteed to be returned. The actual size of the sin sod varies greatly and depends on the Thai woman and how rich her family is.