Category Archives: Living and working here

Getting a Thai driver’s license in Bangkok

I just got my Thai driving license in Bang Chak. Before my own experience I struggled to find fresh information about Thai driving licenses on the internet, so here goes my input.

I’m writing about getting my first motorcycle license, and a lot of the text is very relevant for a car license, just the practical test is different – theory is the same for both. If your car license has English writing on it, you can get a Thai (car license) without taking the practical test. You just need a certification from your embassy. The same goes if you have a motorbike license from your country and want to get a Thai motorbike license. If it’s expired OR if you have a car license, but want to get a Thai motorbike’s license – you need to do both the theory and the practical parts.

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I have a car license, but I didn’t register to change it to Thai at the same time, because being a Lithuanian national getting it translated alone would take months and cost a fortune as the nearest embassy is in China. The first license you get is considered a temporary license valid for 1 year (officially. For some reason the license that I got is valid for 2 years). As for license renewals – I don’t know.

What you need:

Passport: original plus photocopies of photo page, visa page, most recent entry stamp, and departure card. All photocopies need to be signed, with phone number written on them.

Medical Certificate: original, not older than 30 days.

Work Permit OR Residency Certificate (you do not need both as work permit has your address in it); original and a signed copy.

How much does it cost?

Once you pass the tests, the temporary license is 205 baht. Taking the tests doesn’t cost anything.

Register well in advance.

As a foreigner you need to physically go to your local Department of Land Transport Office to register for any test you want to take. “Local” may have a very broad and flexible definition. I live in Samut Prakan and my local office was apparently in Bang Chak, Bangkok. Thai people with a Thai national ID can register online, which makes it easy for them. My Thai friend registered me for the earliest slot available: nearly 2 months ahead (!!). One of my relaxed colleagues who’s also getting a bike was laughing at this until he spontaneously turned up at the transport office to get his license, and left empty-handed. Well, not empty-handed, he was given a slip saying to come back in two months.

I forgot how Thais love paperwork (it’s 2016, people…) and didn’t prepare anything during the summer holidays. Just the night before I thought I might need a medical certificate. The next day I went to Samrong General Hospital at 6am before the test, but they only do them from 8am, and they charge like 600-800 baht. Luckily, the motorcycle taxi guys at the DLT can take you to a local doctor to get one instantly for 100 baht.

No Certificate of residency was issued at Samut Prakan immigration. I almost cried after going through all the different officers. I didn’t cry though, I must have sweated all my fluids out, it’s 40 degrees you know.

Me: “I need residency certificate to get driver’s license”

Officer: “You go Embassy”

Me: “There is no Lithuanian embassy in Thailand”

Officer: *scratches head… “You work permit”

Me: “I guess I am work permit…wait, what?”

Officer: *points to address in work permit.

Me: *ahhhh, so my address IS in the work permit. The school admin had put the school’s address as my home address in my work permit, though. Not a problem. No need for the residency thingy. Fun. But if you don’t have a work permit you can get a residency permit from your embassy. (A guy before me had to present an original from the British embassy, as he didn’t have a work permit)

On the day:

I brought my Thai friend with me, but I guess if you have been exposed to more Thai conversations than “An-nee tao rai kap?” and “Pai park soi kap”, you could handle it yourself – some staff even speak English. Even though I had a slip that looked like an appointment, we had to queue to register.

7.20 Arrived at Bang Chak transport office. Many people queuing outside. Took a motorcycle taxi to a recommended doctor basically across BTS, other side of Sukhumvit. 60 baht for bike, 100 and a smile for the doctor (checked heartbeat, asked if I smoke). The taxi driver waited outside for the whole 5 minutes. Got back at 7.30. Appointment slip said 7.30-8.00 generically.

7.35 The sea of people flooded inside. I went to copy my documents and was done at 7.40.

7.47 I was sent to the long queue at counter #9. Outside there was a list of Thai people who had registered online. Many Thais who were queuing up hadn’t registered. Many Thais also seemed to be confused with the order of the queues and stuff (so it wasn’t just me!).

8.32 At the desk #9. Photocopy of my work permit was of poor quality so I had to ask my friend to go and make another copy. I glanced at the entrance and there was a queue still snaking its way outside…

8.40 Given a number 70 and told to wait for documents back.

9.00 Number called, and given my documents back and a form with incorrect date of birth! Then waiting at counter #10 again, form was corrected and signed. I was given all forms back, and an e-card.

9.10 I was sent opposite room 15 to watch physical test example videos. You don’t have to watch them, but they basically show you what to do in the actual test, so if your Thai is as basic as mine you might as well watch them while you’re waiting, so you know exactly what you’ll have to do.
9.35 The queue numbers were called and we were taken into room 16 to take the 3 tests. About 20 of us were split to make 2 queues, to take different tests for efficiency. Due to this “factory” nature the test ladies were rather generous. Many people who had poor reaction and vision, received an angry(ish) “lhuey”, which means again.

Part 1 was to sit down, press on the accelerator, and upon seeing a red light, quickly slam on the brake – super easy.

The second test got me worried as apparently my depth perception is rather poor. I put my glasses on for this. Basically you have a small box like 3 metres in front of you, and 2 vertical sticks in it. The right stick is stationary, and you have to move the left one back and forth to align it with the stationary stick.

Part 3 was to sit down and look at a thick dot in front of you. The machine shows a colour either on the left or right side of the dot, and looking straight at the dot and using peripheral vision you have to say what the colour is.

testing room
Sitting around, standing around – first testing room.

One girl was told to bring either pants or a longer skirt because of a short skirt she was wearing. She went out, and came back in like 5 seconds with a longer skirt. “OK ka”.

9.55 I got sent to counter #13 for a video and given 2 booklets in 4 languages. The video covered the booklets’ content and the online test question material that I had practised a few times at home.

12.00 Lunch break. There is a cheap place that does Thai buffet style dishes, just on Sukhumvit road, on the right as you walk out.

13.00 Back in the same TV area for 2 more hours. The video is in Thai, with English subtitles. Longer sentences go outside of the screen but you get the gist of the content.

Thai humor is not always appropriate.
Thai humor is not always appropriate.

14.45 Told to go up to floor 3, room 301 for the theory test. There are 50 questions and you have to get 45 right to pass. Saw one foreigner leaving the room, who got 43/50 due to strange wording (Thai English sometimes makes no sense) and he said he’ll retake the test in 2 days. So I guess the queue for retakes is not as long as for the initial sign up.

14.50 Theory test. Literally same questions as on thaidriving.info, which also has pdf files with answers available. Wow.

15.05 The machine prints a ticket with 48/50 – geng mak! Registered with the lady for a bike test next day at 8.30.

test example
“Which of the pictures…” Can you see any more pictures to choose from? Me neither. But that’s the kind of English you’ll have to deal with in this test. You really need to practise it at home a few times.

15.10 DONE.

Lady: “You have bike?”

Me: “No.”

Lady: “Only Honda wave.”

Me: “Automatic?”

Lady: “Nooooo, manual”

Me: “Yes I have a bike.”

Lady: “Okeeeeey.”

Only in Thailand you have to ride your motorcycle through the city to take a motorcycle test. Amazing. As per angloinfo.com, apparently it is not possible to make an appointment to take a driving test, but applicants who need to take the test must arrive at 08:30. The lady advised me to come at 8.30 and wait somewhere outside.

Next day:

7.30 Lurking around at the car park for an hour, no need to go inside the office, just park your bike at the back where the test route is.

8.30 Official start of the test. Sweating like crazy, still lurking around.

8.35 A handful of staff take all the car and bike applicants to the testing grounds. Car people sit and wait (a looong time) in the waiting area, the bike people are told to drive inside and park in a long line, given their forms from the day before to write registration numbers. I was the weird foreigner with no number plates and the lady was like “Ok, ok, mister, later”.

8.50’ish The lady takes everyone around the area and explains the track – where to obey the signs, where to indicate, and where to and not to place your feet on the ground. Then you walk around the track to familiarise with it. It was all in Thai, and it sounded very helpful, like giving out answers and tips. Too bad I couldn’t understand most of it lol. I swear I saw one boy (15 years old?) pointing to the red octagonal stop sign and asking his friend, “Ton nee jot lhor?” – meaning “You stop there right?”. OMG.

track1
The ‘green’ part of the track, where you have to mostly obey stop signs

9.00 Everyone sits on their bikes and waits for their turn. HAVE A HELMET. And your turn is when the next important section is free of people, for example if I’m idling at the stop sign and see someone who started before me at the railroad crossing – I need to wait. As soon as he continues driving, I can go and then stop at the crossing. If you don’t, I’d avoid you on the actual road… The same concept applies to all major parts. If there are four people on the track at the same time, and the lady’s not watching, don’t expect that you can discretely make a mistake: each important segment of the track has a camera filming it.

track2
Test-takers exploring the elevated plank and the cones – you cannot place your feet on the ground for a split-second if you want to pass.

9.10 Still driving around: as far as I could understand you have to pass the whole track correctly 2 out of 3 times*. If you do well the first time, but hit a cone on the second one – you still have one chance left. It’s just like Super Mario.

FAIL! I did well in all parts except the elevated plank – failed twice on the same thingy! Oh, I can still hear the sigh of the crowd at night… When you finish and watch someone else doing it, it’s like watching an important match on TV – you sympathise with all test takers.

*as I found out later, apparently there was some miscommunication between the staff and the motorists, or the ladies were in a good mood. In order to pass you only have one chance, and you have to get everything right. If you fail, you do not have another go, you have to come back next time.

The track:

You start right past the gates. First stop – the stop sign. Duh… Indicate right turn and continue. Turn right, stop at railroad crossing. Then stop on the ascending part of the bridge. Then go straight and stop at the sign, twice. So all this so far is in the green area with trees and benches and stuff. Then indicate a left turn and proceed to the cone area – turn right into a narrow cone hall, where it kind of goes around 180 degrees, and then once you’re inside the cone corridor, you have to go on the plank almost straight away – very lightly elevated, not too narrow straight line, basically. This is where I failed because I feel I didn’t have enough time or space to prepare for it (little confidence, little practice). Once you ride off the plank, turn left past more cones, and the last part is manoeuvring through 5 or 6 cones. They’re not spaced well apart, but it was manageable at slow speed. Some guys were slaloming though very fast though. You’re not allowed to place your feet on the ground ANYWHERE in the cone area. Most people who failed, failed in this part.

9.30’ish Everyone waits for the paperwork to be done. The ones who passed have to sign something, and are given their documents back and go to the office building. What they do in there is still a mystery to me.

10.00 A whopping 20% of people failed. So all of them, including the ones who cannot drive in straight line eghhm….had to sign their name, did NOT get their documents back, only their IDs, and were given a slip for a re-take. It has to be done within 90 days. There were two days indicated when you cannot take the test. I wasn’t allowed to do it the next day, and was offered nothing earlier than next Tuesday. Apparently next time you have to go inside the office and show your slip.

A week later:

This was my second chance at the practical driving part. I arrived around 7.30, at about 8am we got our papers from counter 13 and proceeded to the track at 8.30. Same scenario as before: you get your papers, you listen to the instructions in Thai, and then sit on your bike. The instructors collect your papers and you go on the track. I can call myself a legend now, as I have failed AGAIN on the same bloody plank. I CAN drive straight, I manoeuvred through the morning Sukhumvit traffic, I HAVE kept extremely steady while driving along between buses and vans – why is it so hard to do that?? It’s not that difficult! So I parked and waited for the successful ones to collect their documents, and in about an hour I was ready… to come back again next week. I was told I can come in any day from Monday onwards, either at 8.30 or 13.00.

Third time’s a charm:

This time I chose the afternoon slot as it was more suitable for me, and I’m glad for one good reason: there were fewer motorcyclists. I was late, because it took me way too long to drive all the way from Samut Prakan. 13.05 I exchanged my slip for the documents at counter 13. I’ve also noticed on the papers there were 5 rows, 2 of which I had filled already. My assumption would be that you have 5 attempts in total to pass your test. The guy assumed I was there for a car test and said I was too late (pointing at 11 AM printed on the paper), so it’s important to mention that you’re (re)taking a bike test.

13.15 The same practical test process started and we lined up, listened to the instructions, walked around the track.

13.30 I started my bike and at 13.34 I had already finished and parked it outside.

I was the first in line, the only foreigner, so the guy looked at me with a questionable expression and asked my friend whether I understood any Thai or what to do. Then I heard she said that most likely I didn’t, because he speaks too fast. Haha, it was true though. It must have been funny: a foreigner on a shiny red Vespa with his shades on, going first, flying through the track in like one minute and passing first time. It felt good. Had they only known it was my third time there!

14.10 – up until this time it was all waiting around. This time they assessed the fails first, and then the rest. I heard them say that if you fail, you can come the next day, you don’t have to wait until the following week. It seems that the procedures depend on the day, the officer, and the direction of the wind, I guess. Then when you hear your name, collect your papers, and when you hear TICK, put a TICK in the pass box next to your name. I made everyone laugh because I signed it instead. The lady was like you crazy farang can you not understand English? It’s a tick!

14.15 Went to counter 13 where they mark something on the system and send you to counter 8.

14.40 Heard my number, took a photo and paid 205 baht for my licence. (This is the first time when you have to pay something. You don’t have to pay anything for taking the theory or the practical tests). This temporary license is valid for 2 years (I thought it was supposed to be 1 year…), unless they made a mistake like they made a typo with my name! The latter I corrected of course, because I didn’t want it to look like it was issued at the “Khaosan Road Transport Department” if you know what I mean!

14.45 I was done. Finally!

Vespa fb-2713

I would advise everyone, who wants to get a Thai driver’s license (or everyone who’s a bit of a geek or inexperienced or worried) to visit the following pages, as they helped me out a lot:

The actual test practice online, which kind of gave me a pass

Detailed 2010 post about Chatuchak test

Quality post including same questions from the test

Discussions about traffic rules

Tips and test material

Traffic signs

Comment about renting a bike for test

Some videos to get an idea of the practical tests:

Funny fail, fail, pass scooter video

Different bike practical test location

Pattaya bike test

Go pro style car

Happy driving!

Songkran – in and around Bangkok

Last Songkran we tirelessly splashed our way around Hua Hin, Samut Prakan and Bangkok, getting different feelings in each place, so we want to share some experiences from our week-long adventure and tips for this year.

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The idea:

No doubt this is one of the most exciting New Year celebrations in the world, so there are over a million (?) of visitors coming to Thailand just for this. For the majority of tourists it’s just a huge water fight, but for a large number of Thais it’s an important family celebration, and many don’t step a foot outside! Not because it’s too hot, but because this ceremonial, subtle and respectful event is gradually evolving into a real-life Call of Duty where you are often terrorised and/or assassinated by clueless young drunk foreigners and Thais alike with high-pressure ice-cold water filled guns spraying straight into your already pink, stinging eyes.

Tieland to Thailand have described it pretty accurately: “Everyone has a super soaker. Although you make an attempt at playful water fights, some people in the crowd go way overboard. Your orifices have never been so violated and you wish you had been smart enough to wear goggles, ear plugs, or better yet, a full faced anti-riot mask. Two days later you’ve developed a serious case of pink eye and an ear infection. You pay more than a few bucks to get these treated at the clinic.”

Songkran Bangkok-0331

Regardless of whether you’re Thai, an expat or a visitor, everyone has their own preferences of partying. For example, students go for loud music and drinks offers, families go for cultural stuff, and couples want a bit of both. So here we go.

Hua Hin, April 12-13:

We took a 3rd class train from Hua Lamphong to Hua Hin. It was only 90 baht, and we didn’t have to buy the tickets in advance, but we were advised that we may have to stand throughout the 3-hour ride. The four of us found seats together, yaay! Now, it’s illegal to consume alcohol on the train, but we were in a holiday mood and didn’t mind joining our friends for a sneaky drink. We had McDonald’s Coca-Cola cups topped up with whiskey and it was fun for a while, until a young family sat next to us and we realized we were the only people misbehaving on the whole packed train! We also played “I went to the store and bought…” – that was so much fun!

Once in Hua Hin it took us ages to find our hotel, but only because we ignored all the tuktuks and walked a lot. It’s a nice seaside town with lots of beaches, restaurants, shops, and many visitors, but most of the places to stay are quite pricey. It was IMPOSSIBLE to stay dry. Even before we arrived people were shooting at the train. It was our first time to witness trucks loaded with people dancing to blasting music, endless sprinklers mounted to the middle of the road, sidewalks with barrels of water outside almost every shop, and people randomly approaching you to apply coloured chalk on your face. Wow.

Songkran Hua Hin Songkran Hua Hin

We were pretty dry most of the day, but in the evening tried to find a restaurant and both sides of this tiny alley had water stations, so we got soaked prior to buying that one essential item – a waterproof wallet. This was our first time diving into a swimming pool without the actual diving or the swimming pool. The fights didn’t stop until who knows when, but basically we could hear music all night even though we stayed further from busy places. We also went to the beach which was pretty fun even though it was cloudy. There were so many people just chilling out with their Changs and families were having food together. If I had to go to Hua Hin again, I would, because I really enjoyed the more relaxed “fights”, it’s just that the hotels are overpriced.

Songkran Hua Hin beach

Streets of Bangkok (13-14 April)

This was the most fun, exciting, and authentic experience of Songkran so far. We basically filled our plastic water guns, and a spray-bottle and just went outside. We didn’t go to any of the busy places, just walked through local streets and alleys in Samrong (Bearing side of Bangkok). Why was it so fun?

Just as we walked out of our condo, we bumped into a random parade with lots of people, police cars and a fire truck! All the locals were spending time with their families, they were super kind and welcoming, and very gentle with the water. Everyone was happy to see two foreigners NOT wearing Singha tank tops. And carrying a spray-bottle. That was the cutest naughty water gun you can find!

Songkran Bangkok-0154

We took a bus into Bangkok, because no water was allowed on the BTS. It was hot, but also intense as the bus became a big slow moving target. In one of the sois a family of partying Thais took pictures with us and invited to eat and drink with them. We stayed and played for a while, and it was so much fun attacking the passing-by tuktuks together!

Songkran Bangkok-0148

We had to go to Silom, because we thought we’ll have to check it off our list at some point anyway. I’m glad we did it then as we won’t go there this year!

Songkran Bangkok-0448

Silom Road, April 14:

If you’re between 18 and 21 there’s a 95% chance that you’ll go to Khao San Road or Silom. Or both. My key words to describe these locations would be: young, single, inconsiderate, horny, alcohol, too loud, rude, masses, mainstream, time-consuming, cold. Yes, cold. The Silom Road had a greenhouse-type tunnel constructed for the festival, which you’d expect to make you warm since it’s got the word greenhouse in it, right? In the afternoon the sun was hiding behind the BTS line, so all the icy water, little clothing and massive non-moving crowds resulted in shivers and discoloured lips.

Songkran Bangkok-0357

We haven’t been to Khao San Road or RCA for Songkran, but from what I’ve heard it’s supposed to be more fun, because there are more open-plan bars and restaurants with drinks and music, whereas in Silom it’s all indoors. But it could also be used as an advantage – to hide from all the water for a bit.

Ancient City in Samut Prakan, April 15:

On the last official day of celebrations we went to the Ancient City as we heard rumours the entrance was free during Songkran. Not bad since original fare for foreigners is like 700 baht! As it turns out it wasn’t free for foreigners, but it was half-price, so still not bad.

Songkran Ancient City-0013

It was fun, peaceful and very family-friendly. Most of the visitors (like 99%) were Thai families with kids and grandparents. Since it’s such a huge complex, there were no crowds whatsoever.

Songkran Ancient City-0045

There were still water guns and music going on, but all the water fights were very polite. In fact we could walk with our camera taken out of the waterproof case!

Songkran Ancient City-0275

We rented bicycles for the day, and it took us like over 6 hours to ride around exploring the objects. If you’re taking pictures more professionally, 6 hours will not be enough. The coolest part was the temple at the top of a big hill where you could see A LOT. The sun was setting so the lighting was very good for photos, or just sitting down to take a rest.

Songkran Ancient City-0248

Where are we heading for Songkran this year? We’ll be checking out the Water Festival in the temples along Chaophraya river to see the cultural side of the celebration. More info about the riverside events here.

If you’re into partying, then check out this BK magazine article and this one.

Tips:

  • BTS does not allow any water to be carried through security, you have to empty your guns there and then.
  • Consider taking extra water as this year (2016) the water stations will be limited due to efforts to save water (it’s a drought after all).
  • Don’t be THAT GUY and shoot everyone in the face. Everyone’s got a gun, but it’s not about hurting others, it’s about making others feel good. And no one likes being shot in the face.
  • If on Silom Road, there is a million people turnaround, literally, so the crowds move at a pace of like 10 metres per minute. It’s a long road too. And it’s cold.
  • Wear Songkran glasses (welder’s glasses) – sunglasses will NOT protect your eyes.
  • Having a jumper or even a large towel in your backpack (wrapped safely in several layers of plastic bags) will save you from getting a cold on that freezing BTS ride back home.
  • In Thailand, in local shops and 7-11’s you can buy booze only from 11.00 until 14.00 and from 17.00 – 24.00, so plan your drinks with friends. Bars and restaurants serve booze all day.

Have fun and be nice!

Getting braces in Bangkok (dental)

So I got mine done in Suan Luang (south-east) area of Bangkok, Srinakarin road, very close to Seacon Square and Rama IX park.

Even though I get all my dental issues fixed at a good clinic in Bangkok, my former colleague recommended getting them done for half-price at a local clinic in Srinakarin. So I did. It’s half-price, right? I was advised the doctor speaks English, but I still didn’t know what to expect. I went there and was greeted by a lovely doctor’s assistant (the receptionist didn’t speak much English), and then sat down to have a chat about braces with the doctor. She was so informative and passionate about her work. They both spoke almost fluently, and the doctor knows her stuff. A year later, I am still their client, and each visit is a breeze.

During my first appointment she explained everything, including the technical details, possible complications, timescales and so on. Then we discussed the payment options – there were 3: either paying the lump sum up front (35,000 baht for mine), paying every quarter (for a year), or paying like 30% and then 1,500 every month. I chose the third one, which is very convenient, because you only pay a small part on the first day, like 20 or 30 %, then 3,000 for 3 months, and then 1,500 each visit. This worked out 50% cheaper than in Bangkok, and the quality of work is brilliant.

Every time I make an appointment, they don’t write a specific time, as I come late quite often. They’re open till like 8 PM, so if you’re working – that’s a good option. One of the tiny rubber gums came off one time and they accepted me with like zero notice. It’s like the best clinic I’ve been to, in terms of service and value for money. And fun staff (see picture!)

Dentists just being cool.. :)
Dentists just being cool.. 🙂

The braces themselves I have to wear for one year, and then I’ll have to wear a retainer for about 2 years. The doctor said after the braces are removed, I can use other doctors’ services if I move abroad. I got used to wearing them in like a couple of weeks and haven’t had any problems. I change the tiny rubber rings each month and they let me choose different colours. I feel just like my 7th graders, and they always point at my mouth at school when they see my new colours – “teacherrrr!” Haha. I used the opportunity to get braces here in Thailand, because in Europe adults don’t really wear them and it looks inappropriate, but here it’s a fashion thing. People actually get them just to look cool, or to change the appearance of their jawline, which makes their face look slimmer… Crazy stuff!

The clinic is called ‘ple dental clinic’ (Apple Dent) and this is their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pledentalclinic and a Google-friendly address in Thai ไปคลินิคทำฟันหมอเปิ้ล สวนหลวง ถนนเฉลิมพระเกียรติ์ซอย14.

Getting there is very easy: Songthaew for 8 baht (or a taxi). For songthaew take the BTS to Udom Suk, get off and walk down Udom Suk road for less than 5 minutes (there is a white/green UDOM SUK ONE community mall sign on the corner of that road). Stay on the left hand-side of the road until you walk past some street vendors, and you’ll see anything from 1 to 4 red songthaews – some of them are old, some new, some go to Seacon Square, and some go to Suan Luang – that is want you need to ask the driver (unless you can read Thai). Just say “Suan Luang Suan Luang” and they’ll tell you straight away or show you to another red truck. Once the driver feels he’s got enough people, he starts driving. Once you pass the Udom Suk-Srinakarin intersection (after about 60 Sois on Udom Suk road), stay on the truck and get off at Soi 14. Then just look it up on Google – it’s very easy to find in one of the hidden alleys (it is actually easy to find).

Quality Dental Clinic in Bangkok

There are two very different opinions about the Thai (dental) healthcare:

  1. It’s underdeveloped, unreliable but cheap.
  2. It’s very western, with well-educated, experienced doctors and quality service.

As with all things in Thailand, both statements are correct.

In terms of statement 1:

It is kind of true, but only to some extent. There are many mom-and-pop private dental clinics pretty much on every Soi in Bangkok. It’s just a business like a barbershop or a pharmacy, run by locals for the locals, so don’t expect exceptional service. They’re usually basic, relatively cheap, and depending on the clinic some staff speak English. You can have your fillings and other basics done no problem. And don’t forget Thailand is a country of contrasts, so they may range a lot in terms of cost, service and quality.

I had basic cleaning done at one clinic in Srinakarin (close to Seacon Square) and the service seemed perfectly fine. My girlfriend said that it was ok, but not as properly done as in Lithuania. Bear in mind though that we paid 600 baht each, and it would have cost us twice that in Lithuania, and even more in the UK. If you read on various online forums, many expats who have lived in Thailand for years recommend choosing a simple Thai clinic instead of a fancy one.

For basic needs I think the best bet is the local or mid-range clinics such as MOS Dental, situated mostly around BTS stations. The quality of work will be similar to more expensive clinics’, just for a lower cost.

Auste was like
Auste was like “stop messing about, let’s go!” and I was like “Asavanant… Dental clinic…pam pa-ra-ram..” – that song creeps up on you even when you’re not there!

In terms of statement 2:

The upper-range clinics such as Bangkok Smile, Bangkok Dental, etc, target the expat community, and high-income Thai customers. They also usually specialise in certain areas such as cosmetics, implants, surgeries, etc, and have state-of-the-art equipment. Many clinics do niche services with the names I can’t even pronounce! AND, they’re not that expensive compared to US or European prices.

So here’s my experience at one of the high end clinics – Asavanant Dental Clinic (right next to Thong Lo BTS).

I am very cautious of my oral hygiene, so if I ever have an issue, I tend to go for quality over price. Before my first dental appointment in Thailand I spent many hours reading up online. Nearly 90% of the comments stated that ‘Asavanant’ was expensive, but the quality of work was exceptional.

Stepping into the clinic feels like entering an art museum, as the hallways are full of statues, paintings and other accessories, and there’s a piano on the 3rd floor. Every appointment was a breeze – timely, with friendly service and quality work. There was only one time when I had to wait 30 mins for my appointment for whatever reason. The interior kind of shows that the paintings and decorations are one of the reasons the prices are higher. However, when compared to other upper-level clinics (or prices back in Europe) – certain things work out even cheaper.

I have paid:

2,000 baht for an instant x-ray for my braces (other clinics charged slighty less, but asked for a 2-day notice)

1,600 baht for a check-up and cleaning (quality work, done in under 30 minutes)

2,000 – 3,000 baht for some fillings (both surface and in between teeth) – I can’t remember how many fillings cost how much though, as I had a lot of them done.

6,500 baht for a wisdom tooth extraction with medicines (local anaesthetic included) – the operation was quick, painless, and I got to keep the big-ass tooth they extracted. Though it’s not fun to know that it is somewhere in my apartment.

An art exhibition in the main lobby of Asavanant.
An art exhibition in the main lobby of Asavanant.

Pros:

Ease of booking via telephone

Ease of rescheduling

Good opening hours, including weekends (open till 8PM or so)

Received a follow-up call for a check-up after 6 months

All staff speak English (reception – ok, doctors – very well)

Experienced doctors, with degrees from USA, etc

Modern equipment

Exceptional service, high-class interior

Good location (right on the corner of BTS Thong Lo)

Many different services

Relaxing music in the background

Cons:

No price list on their website, only list of services

More expensive than mid-range clinics

A cheesy ‘Asavanant dental clinic’ tune that gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day!

A bronze horse in the main lobby of Asavanant
A bronze horse in the main lobby of Asavanant
Waiting area on the 3rd floor at Asavanant.
Waiting area on the 3rd floor at Asavanant.