Six Months in Bangkok - Where to Begin?

Old Oct 12th, 2005, 10:11 AM
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Six Months in Bangkok - Where to Begin?

I'm thinking about going to Bangkok for six months or so, perhaps doing volunteer work while I am there. I will be living on my husband's retirement income, although he will remain in the US. What is the easiest way to accomplish this? I do have relatives who live near Bangkok who can help me find housing, etc., but I am unsure of the legal requirements, visas, etc.
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 10:22 AM
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Wow what an arrangement! Whats up with Hubby not coming along?
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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go onto the thai embassy site to review visa requirements...perhaps the easiest way is to leave the country each month for a day to laos or cambodia or malaysia and thus reenter with a new 30 days....a flight may only be $100-150 or much less by land...many do this...
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 11:23 AM
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Even for Volunteer work you will require a work permit. In order to get that you will first need to have a Non-Immigrant "B" Visa which has to be applied for overseas before you arrive, however, in order to obtain that you need documentation from the organisation that will employ you.

So first you need to visit in order to find that 'work' and then obtain the paperwork from them or find an organization in the U.S

If you have a qualification / experience for Volunteer work you should not have too much of a problem as long as you can approach those organizations. if you can actualy find such an organization in the U.S first that helps more than you might think, certainly better than just wandering into places. Note that you will have to find an organization that will accept you and you certainly to do work for the good ones need to have qualifications or such in a specific field. Try and contact U.S based people first as they will know all the proceedures. Anyone who tells you that you don't need such permits walk away from straight away!

Another option though is to spend that time relaxing or perhaps researching a hobby of some kind, see if you can kindle an interest in Thai history perhaps and enjoy the time visiting ancient sites, ruins etc, build up notes, photos, then you have a nice little book to publish at the end of the 6 months!

A double entry tourist visa will give you 60 days, you then have to leave and re-enter, then leave re-apply for another 60 days and so on.

Good luck.
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 06:47 PM
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Make sure you have adequate health insurance to cover you while you are living in Thailand. If your husband has an HMO or Blue Cross, make sure it will cover you outside the US. I don't believe Medicare provides coverage outside the US, you should confirm this if that is your coverage. If you can't get coverage under your husband's policy, you should be able to find pretty cheap major medical travel insurance available from US insurance companies or travel service providers. This should include evacuation expenses if you want to go to another country or return to the US for treatment. The good news is that medical care in Thailand is relatively inexpensive compared to the US and is quite good.

A few volunteer groups I know of which are reputable and would offer a good experience are:

United Nations Volunteer Program at http://www.unv.org/
Red Cross at http://www.ifrc.org/
Oxfam International at http://www.oxfam.org/
Habitat for Humanity http://www.habitat.org/
Earthwatch Institute at http://www.earthwatch.org/

I don't think the last two could sponsor you for any type of visa. A good source of info that is Thailand specific might be the American Women's Association of Thailand, take a look at http://www.awcthailand.org/

You might consider teaching English. There are also several websites run by or for people teaching English and other subjects in foreign schools around the world. Take a look at Overseas Digest (overseasdigest.com) which has a section on teaching overseas. www.overseasdigest.com/odsamples/ambrose.html The site has lots of information, links and contacts about teaching and living overseas.

You might try these links for other sources of volunteer organizations:

www.expatexchange.com
www.expat-essentials.com
www.expatforum.com
www.expatnetwork.com
www.escapeartist.com/expatriate1/expatriate1.htm
www.outpostexpat.nl
I agree with James that if you can't get a B permit or other work permit, then applying for a 60-day tourist visa would give you the most time, you can then leave Thailand for say Malaysia or Singapore and re-apply from those countries for another 60-day permit. In theory you are not supposed to enter a country on a tourist permit and then get sponsored for a work permit, but myself and most people I know have done this in Hong Kong and Singapore without any problem (although I have not done this in Thailand, perhaps James could speak to this specifically).

Finally, if you end up getting a B permit or other work-related permit, make sure you understand whether you are then responsible for filing any income tax return in Thailand. You may have to do this even if you are not paid for any work you do. If you earn any income, you will of course have to file a tax return in Thailand and pay tax, and your income will also be taxable in the US for federal income tax purposes (there is an exclusion for the first US$80,000 or so, but you do have to file every year regardless of your income). You may also have to pay social security tax or other wage taxes in Thailand.

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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 07:20 PM
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Let me recommend a book that Guenmai recommended to me. It's called Bangkok Survivor's Guide by Robert Hein. It's available from Amazon, and gave me lots of basic information on practical issues about living in Bangkok, visa issues, tax issues, etc.
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 09:08 PM
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You can't get the sponsorship/work permit without first having the Non-Imm "B" Visa issued overseas ( i.e U.S ) and that is why so much easier if you could arrange something with a U.S based organization who knows about all the requirements. If you stick by the rules then no problems, ( sadly some don't ). Do remember though that there are just so many people wanting to do this sort of thing, teaching I would not suggest, you need the qualifications first and the hours are very long ( very long ). I really think if you have some hobby or interest that would be an easier and nicer way to spend your time. I am not kidding about this because if you have some income and have or could get an interest on the historical / nature side you can travel around and have a great time. I pressume you have been to BKK already so know the lay-out of things. Living in a 1 bedroomed apartment on the 10th floor of some old condo block is not ( in my opinion ) that much fun at all, for a house although very cheap by U.S standards will still cost a fair bit for something nice, remember that old old saying in every language, visiting a place is 'not the same' as living there.
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 04:34 AM
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getting a work permit in thailand is siad too be a pain.

basicly everthng ya need to now about visas, living and working in thailand is found here. the forum can be very helpfull.
check out www.thaivisa.com

like james said finding a valonteer job is easer said that done. I was looking for something and most of the sites recuired that I pay a couple $$$$ to "volenteer"

the easiest way too get your visas is first aply for a tourist visa in US that gives you 60 days then go too the imigration office in BKK pay 1900 baht and they will give ya an extra 30 days. after you first 90 days you have too leave the country. Penang malaysia and Vientian (SP) are the best places for obtaining 60 day tourist visa.

keep away from phenom phen, cambodia.

if you choose do the monthly visa run many compainis ofer visa run services for 2000 baht $50 it include transportation and all visa services. Most (not all) of these companies go too poipet, cambodia . check the bangkok post when ya get here.


ohh and to get a work permit in many cases you will need a bachalors degree..
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Old Oct 13th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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Thank you so much! I'm overwhelmed by the wealth of information all of you have provided! I've spent hours on the internet already, researching the sites that have been recommended.

My main interests are Asian culture and history. And I'm an budding photographer. There will be plenty of things to keep me busy in Bangkok, but I was hoping to do some volunteer work, as well. It's a shame that it is so difficult to arrange this.

Thanks again. I'm sure I'll have more questions as my plans solidify.

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