Doing business in Thailand - Guide

Bangkok Skyline, Thailand

Our guide to doing business in Thailand

Exotic and tropical, cultured and historic, Thailand's ancient ruins and tropical beaches are a sight to behold and the capital Bangkok is the definition of a ultramodern city.

Thailand is the second largest market in ASEAN, accounting to 17% of ASEAN's total GDP. The UK is a one of Europe's leading investors in Thailand, if you enter the market with awareness and knowledge the rewards can be considerable but time is needed to develop the necessary business relationships.

The UK presence in Thailand is large with big investors including Tesco (their largest overseas operation), HSBC, Standard Chartered, Triumph Motorcycles and Prudential. It is also home to over 50,000 British Residents.

Benefits to UK businesses exporting to Thailand include:

  • growing middle class
  • well-developed infrastructure
  • ranked in the top 20% of countries listed in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Survey’
  • government’s pro-investment policies
  • hub for accessing opportunities in Greater Mekong sub-region, including Laos, Cambodia, Burma and southern China

Strengths of the Thai market include:

  • 50% of the world’s population within a 5 hour flight
  • comprehensive infrastructure investment plan
  • modern industrial estates and incentives from the Thailand Board of Investment

UK and Thailand trade

Top UK goods exports to Thailand 2013:

  • iron and steel
  • road vehicles
  • electrical machinery
  • power generating machinery and equipment
  • medicinal and pharmaceutical
  • specialised machinery
  • general industrial machinery
  • non-metallic mineral manufactures
  • photographic and optical goods
  • beverages

Culture and Language

The English language is used commonly in larger Thai Companies, but in SMEs an interpreter may be necessary.

You should:

  • never sit in a position where your feet are stretched out in the direction of a Buddha image
  • take age, seniority and rank seriously
  • use ‘Khun’ as the formal term of address followed by the first name
  • always give government officials and VIPs a gift if they are the guests of honour at an official event
  • avoid pointing with your finger at a person, or snapping your fingers
  • never point your foot at a person or an object
  • never sit with your feet up against parts of furniture
  • have the reverse of your business card translated into Thai


  • Are you interested in entering the ASEAN market?

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  • Get in touch

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    *Please note that new applications for EYGR under the Export for Growth programme are now closed. Support remains available for clients who applied and were accepted on or before the 29th November 2019.*

Useful links

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