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Wondering what to expect when you move to Krabi? It will certainly be different from being here on holiday. Here, we provide an expat living guide to Krabi, with details on the infrastructure, other practical info, as well as some possible causes of culture shock.

THERE are currently more than 200 non-Asian foreigners legally working in Krabi, so an educated guess would suggest that up to a thousand actually live here during high season (November - April), whether retired, working illegally, or with private means.

The permanent expat community in Krabi is small and tends to be fairly guarded towards newcomers; although it is not hard to meet friendly people, it will take a while before you are really accepted.

Below we have covered a few issues you may consider before deciding to move here, to Krabi - information and tips on expat life in general in Thailand are best sought on other websites dedicated to the subject, and we list some at the bottom of this page.

 
Visas and the Immigration Office
Anyone who stays in Thailand for longer than 30 days requires a visa issued by a Royal Thai Consulate or Embassy before arrival in the kingdom. The standard tourist visa is a single entry two months, extendable by a further month upon payment of the appropriate fees at Krabi Immigration Office (see below). You can also apply for a double entry x 2 (3) months. If you have this type of visa, you will have to leave the country once during your stay. The nearest border to Krabi is with Malaysia, some 4-5 hours' drive away.

The other types of visas are called 'Non-Immigrant' and come in several classes. they are given for various reasons such as business, retirement, or supporting a Thai spouse, and have a validity of 3 months up to a year (multiple entry with maximum of 3 months' stay at one time). To qualify for a non-immigrant visa requires a certain amount of paperwork; please see www.thaivisa.com for up-to-date information on each visa type.

Please note that a tourist visa strictly forbids employment of any kind, including voluntary work.

Krabi Immigration Office is on Utarakit Road in Krabi Town. Phone: 075-611097. All visa extensions must be applied for in person at this office. To extend the two months’ permission of stay on your tourist visa by a further month, you will need to present two photocopies of each of the following passport pages: personal information, visa stamp and arrival/departure card number; two passport-sized photographs; and a fee of 1900 Baht.

30-day stamps given on arrival in Thailand can occasionally be extended up to a maximum of 10 days by the same procedure - at the discretion of the officer. The office is open 8.30am - 4.30pm weekdays only.

Please note that overstaying your visa is considered a serious offence in Thailand, punishable with a daily fine and/ or imprisonment. Your right to re-enter the kingdom in the future may also be affected.

 
Language problems
By the far the biggest problem you will encounter in Krabi is the language barrier. Most expats try to learn some basic vocabulary, such as how to order food and drinks - and that may be all you need to get by, especially if you have a Thai wife or girlfriend helping you out.

But in other situations - work needing to be done in your home, buying electronics in Krabi Town, even making Thai friends - you may find your lack of Thai language leaves you in difficulty. English is spoken less well and by fewer people here than in almost any other tourist area of Thailand. So figure a Thai course to be essential (available here), and resign yourself to speaking 'pidgeon' English, affectionately known here as Coconut English. While you may not approve, practicality dictates that we all end up using it eventually.

Some expats who plan on living here for a while also learn to read and write Thai script. While not for everyone, it is highly recommended as it will give you a much better understanding of the language and culture.

 
Schools
There are no international schools in Krabi. The closest are in Phuket, and they accept boarders of all ages. There are, however, two home school projects in operation, set up by local parents, offering education in English and Swedish, following international curricula. The Swedish school is in Ko Lanta (although its future is in doubt). The English school is in Ao Nang and is currently more like a private tutorial group, with ten children, aged seven. More classes can be added if sufficient numbers of children enrol. For further information, contact Robin on info AT railay.com.

Within the Thai school system in Krabi Town, there are a couple of bilingual (Thai-English) programmes, with native-speaking teachers (although not all are qualified as school teachers). The majority of expats send their children here; often undertaking to give them extra tuition themselves before or after school if they feel the teaching is not adequate.

There is also a bilingual Montessori nursery school in Ao Nang, which accepts children from age 3 until age 6.

 
Health insurance and hospitals
There are no international hospitals in Krabi. The nearest ones are in Phuket, some 2-3 hours' drive away. Krabi Hospital is not of international standard, although some people find it adequate for minor treatments, particularly if you are able to tell them exactly what is wrong with you - diagnosis is not their strong point.

BUPA Thailand offers health insurance, or you may be covered by your insurance from home. These schemes usually cover treatment in international hospitals, although you still have the problem of getting there in the first place.

Many drugs that are prescribed in the west are available over the counter in Thai pharmacies; if you have a regular prescription, you should be able to get it here directly from a pharmacy - remember to bring the generic name, as some drugs are marketed under different names in the Asian region.

 
Driving / owning a vehicle
It will be essential to own your own vehicle if you plan on staying here long term. Public transport is very limited and taxis, if available in the first place, can be costly and unwilling to travel short distances (under 15km).

Only foreigners with year-long, non-immigrant visas can own a vehicle in Thailand - and that too, only after considerable paperwork. If you do not have such a visa, you will have to buy in someone else's name, be it a Thai or qualified foreigner, or a company. Regardless of nationality, they should of course be trustworthy.

You will mostly be expected to pay for the vehicle in cash; although finance options may be available in some cases. Standard motorcycles cost around 40,000 Baht; new pick-up trucks, depending on their spec, range from 450,000 to 1 million Baht; and saloon cars start from 750,000 Baht upwards.

It is possible to drive with an international licence, but you are also able to obtain a Thai licence if you have a non-immigrant visa. This can be done at the Land Transport Office on Tharua Rd in Krabi Town.

 
Comfort food
It will happen at some point: you will start to miss the food from home. For some a meal every few weeks is enough, others require western food every day. In the tourist areas (Ao Nang, Klong Muang, Phi Phi, Ko Lanta in high season), there is a reasonably good choice of western restaurants, that are run by expats themselves, and thus offer fairly authentic food. There are several fast food chains here, including McDonald's, KFC and Svensen's.

If you would like to cook at home, choices are more limited - the restaurants tend to get their supplies from Phuket. There are no big supermarkets in Krabi - again, the closest is in Phuket. However, it is possible to find pasta, potatoes, cereals, imported meat and a limited selection of bread and cheese. Fresh ingredients such as fruit (apples) and vegetables (bell peppers, asparagus etc.) can be found in the morning market in Krabi Town. Dried herbs and imported sauces and seasonings are also fairly easy to get hold of.

Drinks-wise, good wine is quite hard to find. This also goes for beer - although there are specialist pubs in Ao Nang which have a better selection than most, including draught Guinness. Spirits and soft drinks are widely available.

 
Internet and phone connections
Most of Krabi Town and Ao Nang have ADSL (broadband) access, which is quite reliable. This is available from the government phone company (TOT), as well as private ISPs. Other tourist areas often have a satellite connection in internet cafes, which gives a better speed than dial-up. You should note that not every house will have a phone line installed - and the waiting lists can be several months, so do check before you rent / buy if this is important for you.

Mobile telephones are widely available and quite cheap for domestic calls - most operate on a pay-as-you-go system, with top-up cards. Network coverage is widespread in all but the most remote areas - and look out for 'blackspots' behind one or other of those famous Krabi rocks.

 
TV, Newspapers
UBC (satellite TV) is available throughout the province and offers American and European news, sport, nature, children's and movie channels. It is quite costly to install and subscription rates are comparable to those for similar services in the west (around 1600 Baht per month). Some parts of mainland Krabi have cable TV access. This is much cheaper, both to install and to subscribe, but the service can be unreliable.

Some western newspapers and magazines are available in Ao Nang and Krabi Town. A new service called Newspaper Direct has just been launched in Ao Nang, which downloads and prints the same day editions of more than 200 major newspapers on A3 paper (black and white). Prices are around 200 Baht per copy, including local delivery.

There are two English-language national dailies in Thailand, The Nation and The Bangkok Post, both of which carry Thai and international news, sport and features. The Phuket Gazette, a weekly newspaper, has local news for that area, and is available in Krabi.

 
Expat scene / entertainment
There is a small, but lively expat scene around the tourist areas of Ao Nang, Krabi Town, Ko Lanta and Ko Phi Phi. There is nothing in the way of organised activities such as clubs and groups, however: the expats here are Krabi-style, i.e. very laidback and unwilling to be coerced into doing anything.

Communities tend to form by nationality, but also by occupation - diving, hotel owners, retirees etc. But Krabi is still small enough that everyone knows each other, by sight at least. It is quite easy to meet people, especially in the bars and restaurants favoured by the locals.

There is no multiplex cinema in Krabi; the local movie theatre in Krabi Town shows blockbusters dubbed into Thai. But you will find plenty of stalls selling the latest releases on DVD. The girly bar scene is almost non-existent in Ao Nang and Phi Phi (what there is is fairly tame, with a mixed clientele, including women and couples uninterested in after hours activities); there is none whatsoever in Ko Lanta, Klong Muang and Railay. Krabi Town has a few sois of karaoke bars, mainly for a local clientele. Most nightlife is in the form of small bars and pubs, some with live music - there are no large nightclubs or entertainment venues.

 
Employment: teaching - diving - setting up your own business
There is very little in the way of employment for foreigners in Krabi - there are only a handful of international firms that hire them, mostly big hotels. The only real options are teaching or instructing dive courses. The first is limited by the number of schools using foreign teachers in Krabi - there are probably less than 10 such positions in the province. There are a couple of schools teaching English to adults, but again, their needs for TEFL staff are minimal. Diving is a popular option, as there are plenty of dive centres around offering work in the high season, both on the mainland and on the islands.

The most common route to working in Krabi, however, is to set up your own business. A work permit is not then guaranteed but, if you have a skill the local labour force cannot provide, you have a better chance of getting one. Working without a permit is not recommended as, if caught, you could be deported and banned from re-entering the kingdom.

More info on working in Thailand and about the different typres of visa available: www.thaivisa.com. TEFL courses in Krabi: TEFL Krabi.

 
Banking
Only foreigners with a non-immigrant year-long visa can open a bank account. You will need a letter from your landlord with proof of address and copies of your passport and visa. All banks in Krabi accept international money transfers; they also usually provide you with an ATM cash withdrawal card.

To receive money in Thailand without a bank account, you can use a service like Western Union, that delivers here; or use your ATM card to withdraw cash from an account in your home country - machines are widespread.

 
Transport connections Krabi is about to open a new international terminal at its airport, but for now, there are flights only to and from Bangkok and Singapore - both major international hubs.

Krabi transport connections A full list of the current plane and ferry schedules from Your Krabi.
Visiting Bangkok? Check out the comprehensive guide to the city from 1stop Bangkok

There is no train service in Krabi, but there is a reliable inter-provincial bus service for long-distance travel within Thailand.

More information
Useful phone numbers, times of local markets etc.

General info on expat life in Thailand
Thai Visa - see the forum in particular for the most up-to-date advice
Thailand Guru Bangkok-centred, but also has information on Thai culture, regional comparison etc.
Guide to living in Chiang MaiA glimpse of life in the northern city from 1Stop Chiang Mai
Questions about living in Thailand - answered by an expat teacher.
Visas and work permits for teachers - from Ajarn.com.


Above: Although life is mostly sweet in Krabi, it pays to remember the practicalities of living in a foreign country

R E S O U R C E S > > >

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Intro to your property rights
UPDATE! Your new property rights as a company owner
Land titles 101
The price of land in Krabi
Krabi Property Clinic: your questions answered

SCAMS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
Common pitfalls when buying real estate in Krabi
Beware of bogus agents!

CHOOSING A PROPERTY
Where to buy your home: a guide to the different areas
The Krabi holiday home checklist
Self-build or off-plan?
Focus on Had Yao: Krabi's next big thing?

DESIGN & INTERIORS
Design tips from a Krabi architect
Creating a modern Thai-style interior
Planning a tropical garden
Should you install a swimming pool?

SHORT STAYS AND RENTAL PROPERTY
Renting a house in Krabi: a guide to the different types of houses available, prices, and where to look
Long term hotel stays

LIVING IN KRABI
Case study: retiring to Krabi
Expat life in Krabi
(Practicalities for the long-term resident)

Expat testimonials: moving to Krabi - how was it for you?

KRABI PROPERTY LISTINGS
Homes and land for sale and rent in Krabi

Krabi property news - new developments, infrastructure etc.

WHO WE ARE('nt)
Krabi Property is not a real estate agent - we do not sell houses, land, or property of any kind, nor are we affiliated with anyone who does. We provide the only honest and independent information about the housing scene and the legal process of property purchase in the Krabi area, because we are not trying to sell you anything. Though you will find listings of Krabi villa projects and developments on our site, these are paid for as normal advertising and we do not receive any commission or kickbacks for sales. Finally, we regret that we cannot provide help for individual customers; those interested in property purchase should contact our advertisers directly, not us. More about us.

 

More from our partner sites - for your complete guide to Krabi Province:
Your Krabi (Ao Nang, Krabi Town, Railay and the mainland coast)
 
Phi Phi Islands Guide
 
Lanta Islands Guide

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