With a fast-rising free-enterprise economy and nearly full employment, Thailand is proving to be a development success story.

For most Canadians, Thailand probably conjures up images of the sandy beaches of Phuket, one of the places hit by the 2004 tsunami that devastated tourism for a brief period. But, according to the World Bank, Thailand is “one of the great development success stories.”

The Southeast Asian country became an upper-middle-income economy in 2011, and did so in less than a generation. The economy is free enterprise and based largely on exports of electronics, agricultural products, processed foods and automobiles and their parts.

The country has nearly full employment among those of working age, including nearly 65% who are underemployed. Thailand also attracts millions of migrant workers from neighbouring countries.

Thailand is home to frequent military coups, which can affect tourism. The latest coup, which took place in 2014 and whose leaders are still in power, preceded a 6% to 7% drop in tourism.


1. Resist red ink. Red ink is used for funerals so avoid using it in documents.

2. Card me. Present your business card to peers and elders with both hands to show respect.

3. Punctuality is key. Thais will be forgiving if you’re late once but will lose patience if you do it again.

4. Dress to impress.
Thai men dress in business suits similar to western attire; women should also wear business suits with skirts below the knee, or pants.

5. Watch the eye contact. Thais don’t make constant eye contact. An occasional look is fine, but they’ll be uncomfortable if it persists.

6. Silent is best. During meetings, put your cellphone notifications on silent or vibrate. You can glance at emails but ask for permission to step out if you receive an important call.


1. Bangkok is the capital and the financial centre.

2. In 2015 Thailand ranked 49th out of 189 countries on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business indexx.

3. It is the world’s
23rd-largest exporter and 24th-largest importer.

4. The country is ranked 75th out of 144 countries surveyed in Forbes’ 2015 Best Countries for Business list.


1. Weather never better. Bangkok’s weather averages a beautiful 25 C to 35 C all the time. Its rainy season runs from May until September and it can rain three to four times a week during that period. The hottest months in Bangkok are April and May, and December to February are the coolest. Weather varies regionally in terms of the rainy season and temperature, occasionally reaching 40 C on the coast.

2. Don’t count on Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is not available everywhere, but you will find it in office buildings, where it usually requires a password. Feel free to request it.

3. Mother tongue. Thai is the predominant language, so a translator is a good idea in business; in tourist areas, English is understood well enough to communicate your needs.

4. Tipping. Check the restaurant bill as the tip may be included; if it isn’t, leave about 10%. Add a small tip of 5% to 10% to taxi fares.

5. Getting around. Buses run from Bangkok to every corner of the country and several low-cost air carriers connect to common tourist destinations such as Chiang Mai in the north, Chonburi in the east and Phuket and Krabi in the south.

Thailand statistics