(Illinois, United States)
One of the perks of traveling for business is the chance to learn about different cultures. In Thailand, the cultural and social possibilities are endless: even dedicated tourists would be hard-pressed to experience everything Thailand has to offer!.
Of course, if you’re traveling to Thailand for business instead of tourism, you won’t have much time to explore. But with a little planning, you can balance your business with the pleasure of being in a beautiful country with a rich history.
Business first: the basics in Thailand
Thailand is a business-friendly country, but there are still things you can do to make your stay easier. English is spoken in the business and tourism districts, but Thai is the official language. If you’ll be there for an extended period of time or if you will be traveling to more remote parts of the country, you might want to learn the basics to get by.
Because of Thailand’s robust agricultural economy, the post-secondary education system doesn’t put much emphasis on technology; as a result, an IT degree or any tech-centered education is valuable in the country. Consider learning as much as you can about Thailand’s still-growing IT industry, as Thailand could be a great country for companies looking to expand in the Asian technology market.
When interacting with Thai business colleagues, be mindful of showing respect to colleagues older than you; respect for one’s elders is very important in Thai culture. Planning ahead is also imperative, so make sure your meetings are scheduled well in advance, and that agendas and other materials are distributed before the meeting takes place.
Traditionally, the roles of women in business have been in support or subservient positions; for women doing business in Thailand, take care to note that attitudes toward women are changing in Thailand, albeit slowly. For men and women, business dress should be conservative.
If you’re doing business in Thailand, chances are that you’ll be in Bangkok, the country’s business and industrial center. It’s a city that straddles the line between East and West: modern buildings stand alongside ancient Buddhist temples. Bangkok’s nightlife scene is especially active, catering to a wide variety of tourists but caution should be taken when entering the city’s entertainment district, since there are areas that are less than safe!.
If you’re more interested in arts and culture, there is a strong arts community among many of the Buddhist temples in the city. Sports lovers will be able to find Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) matches, and bargain hunters can explore the floating markets scattered across the city. Be prepared, however, since haggling over prices is common. If you’re not in Bangkok, the smaller cities and rural areas have museums and temples that are open to tourists.
When it comes to food in Thailand, visitors have plenty of choices. There are restaurants that cater to Western palates, but traditional Thai food is rich and diverse, with influences from all over Asia. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can choose a meal from one of the hundreds of food carts dotting the city streets.
Doing business in Thailand can give travelers an opportunity to see it from several sides: from commerce to culture, it’s a fascinating and exciting country. Learning just a few details about Thailand can enhance your business experience.