I have only spent 2 weeks in Thailand and my experience was limited to Phuket and Bangkok. This post is not a comprehensive analysis of Thailand – it’s simply my experience.
The cornerstone of a strong economy is trust. However, trust in Thailand is somewhat of an issue. One big example I saw was the massive use of fictitious prices (where you always need to haggle) – I could never trust listed prices. Another “trick” taxis used was to list prices and not specify that these were per person and not for the ride. The mentality seems to be that you’re a sucker if you pay the advertised price.
One annoying thing was the taxi mafia, who have claimed various territory and other taxis are unable to pick people up from the “wrong” territories. This means that if you had a longer journey booked, you would effectively have to pay for the journey to your destination and back as the cab driver is unable to pick up any customers from my destination. It also bothered me that one taxi driver kept his hat on the meter during most of our journey, preventing us from seeing the price. This all left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Similarly, at some tourist attractions, they charge foreigners more than locals. One example was The Grand Palace in Bangkok where locals had free entry but foreigners had to pay £12 (500 BHT). This kind of discrimination rubs me the wrong way and if Thailand wants to be in the 21st century, they should end this practice.
Another example is the lack of trustworthiness. When we booked a taxi in advance to take us to the airport, it simply didn’t show up and nobody made an attempt to notify us. We had to book an alternative taxi. Similarly, we stayed in a hotel which advertised they have reception open 24/7. However, when it came to our check-out time (around 6 AM), nobody was at the reception and nobody picked up when we called the numbers on the door to contact staff. We had to say goodbye to our room deposits. I hope the scum hotel staff buys themselves something nice.
I also heard a lot of stories about getting scammed when renting something as they’d claim there’s damage to the scooter/jet-ski/car etc and you could end up with massive bills to pay. I heard the police seemed to always side with the locals in this kind of matters, which means it’s better to simply avoid renting anything.
I’m sure you have heard of geo-arbitrage i.e. moving to a low-cost area when retiring so that your money lasts longer. However, based on the above, I would not recommend Thailand as the destination.