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Published on October 14th, 2013 | by Aira


Tips For Foreign Businesses In Thailand

Thailand is a great place to do business, especially for foreign companies and businesses due to Thailand’s export economy, price,and the country’s free trade laws. However, there are some things you need to know before planning your trip there for business purposes:

  • Do not plan a business trip from April to May if you can help it, as these are the holiday periods. Most people won’t be working, this is also the traditional New Year Songkran festival period!
  • Many business owners or high level employees in business and companies Bangkok speak English and will feel more than comfortable with contracts, presentations and other documents being in English, how ever you should check first. If in doubt, offer and plan for interpreters.
  • Accept invites to social activities. Not only will this make the possible Thai partner like you know, but it also helps them to get to know you better before they decide to do business with you. Thais normally want to “like” potential business partners or coworkers.
  • It is customary to present gifts when you have been invited to social business gatherings in Thailand. Avoid alcohol unless you know them very well, a very common gift is a bunch of flowers. Florist flowers are used more widespread than in the west where they are typically a romantic or grieving gesture. In Thailand different flowers and their colors have alternate meanings than in the west, simply ask your florist for advice.
  • Do not touch anyone else’s head, as the head is considered sacred in Buddhist tradition.
  • Greet others with the traditional wai. Place your hands high to show great respect, palms together, fingers pointing upwards and bow your head. The lowest ranking people at an event or meeting initiate’s this greeting.
  • Take off your shoes if invited into a Thai person’s home.
  • Don’t plan for meetings and the beginning or ending of the day, as transportation is difficult, especially in Bangkok due to horrific traffic jams and may interfere with these meetings. The Thai business day is structured similarly to the United States’ office day.
  • Women should wear skirts and blouses and take special care to cover their shoulders and upper legs.
  • For both men and women, address business colleagues with by the honorific Khun, then their first name. Often you will be called Mr ‘your first name’.
  • Always respect seniors in the business or company, as respecting elders is very important in Thai culture. Understand how hierarchy plays a part in the workplace, the vertical structure of the business and take not of social class. In Thailand, money is every things as well, the wealthiest person, even if corrupt and in-morel is the most respected.
  • Understand that Thailand only allows a foreigner to own 49% of a company, the exception being a very large, multinational size company that has been approved by the Thai Board of Investment, (BOI). Basically you need initial start up capital of several million dollars to even be considered for this.
  • It is okay to be a bit late for meetings, especially when traveling in Bangkok or a large city due to transportation issues. Just be sure to call ahead, this is called “Thai Time”.
  • If you keep the above tips in mind, perhaps your next business venture (or even leisure trip) to Thailand will be much more successful. Many have accidentally made plunders that have cost themselves or their business time, money, or even destroyed potential partnerships. Do not let that happen to you. Just be calm, collective, professional, and remember the above tidbits.

    About the Author: John Shoane is experienced in the practicalities of Thailand with 22 years experience working in the Kingdom, he currently design floral arrangements and teachers staff at Bangkok’s Gogo Florist.

    License: Creative Commons image source


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