Don't open a business in Thailand (part 4)

in thailand •  6 months ago

I have lived in Thailand for almost 15 years. I am one of the few business owners that escaped without losing everything I put into it. I was partially lucky and partially smart. The system is rigged and you are not allowed to succeed - at least not as a small business owner.


Before I start to sound too jaded, i want you to understand that I actually came out on top. I didn't lose all my money so this is not just the rant of someone that got burned by a system they didn't understand. However, I am going to present multiple REAL stories of people I personally know in an attempt to prove my point. I will include my own story at some point in this series.

I have changed all the names but I can assure you all of these stories are true.

Our fourth character is named Tom. He is from Germany and started out like many of us do over here. He was traveling through and fell in love with the ease of life in this country compared to western countries. The cheap rent / mortgages, the easy-to-access, inexpensive street food that is delicious, and the loads of cheap beers appeals to many people and Tom was not an exception.

Chang is probably the most popular and famous , but also my personal least favorite

Tom also did something that oh-so-many foreigners do when they come to Thailand, he found a girlfriend and ended up having a kid with her. I don't remember if they got married or anything because Tom and I weren't really friends. That's the thing about the expat community over here at least in small places like Krabi. You know or have heard of every other foreign member of the community because there are so few of us.

Since Tom now had a child, he decided to make his life over here a bit more concrete so he had a look around and started buying businesses. He bought an Irish Pub, which was strange because he is not Irish (neither was the previous owner and Irish pubs for the most part in Thailand are a bit of a gimmick.) He also purchased a fitness center, the first of its kind in Krabi - which was great but again quite strange that Tom would own it because he was in terrible shape. He also bought another bar which was more his speed: It was called "Cheeky Monkey" and it was just a dive bar with great outdoor seating and cheap beers. However, this bar was directly accross the street from the Irish bar that he also owned. So now he gets to compete with himself for customers.

I'm not going to say that Tom was a business genius because that, he definitely was not. However this was during the golden years in Krabi and you could open pretty much whatever and it would make some money. Krabi was new on the radar of tourism and foreigners were so much better at appealing to foreign travelers than the local Thais were at this point.

there is no wood and they don't sell Guinness yet it is an Irish Pub somehow

Tom was a relatively kind dude and the times I sat and had drinks with him he seemed a normal person despite having a German accent (kidding mostly, but if you are German and don't think you sound abrasive, well, get a sense of humor - because you do sound abrasive to non-Germans.)


What is coming up next is a mistake that all too many people make when coming over here and you might be asking "Why would anyone do that?" once you know what it is. The answer is simple: it is faaaaar easier to get the process complete if it is done this way.

Tom put all the businesses in his Thai wife's name. He actually had put everything in her name: his house, the bikes, the car, anything else that needed to be registered. I want you to understand that I personally put the business in a company name when i opened mine. This is a very long, very expensive process involving lawyers, multiple trips to various offices, and producing mountains of paperwork for some government person to stamp them.

Tom's process consisted of his wife signing one piece of paper. So yeah, it's much easier that way.

However, Tom now has no legal leg to stand on at all.

I think you can see where this story is going. Couples get into arguments, if you are a strong couple you work it out and move on for the betterment of your family. However, all too often this is not the case in Thailand.

Tom was constantly fighting with his missus. It doesn't matter what about and I never made it my business because it wasn't. However, i went into the fitness center one day to see a group of new faces behind the counters. This was the first time I had ever needed to show my membership card because the old staff just knew me. I wondered why everyone had been changed and also the music sucked now. I spoke to the ladies behind the counter and found out that they had just purchased the fitness center for 150,000B (roughly $4500.)

I don't know if you know much about fitness equipment, but with $4500 you can buy like maybe 4 weight machines and a treadmill. The value of all the stuff in the gym was more like a million or a million and a half baht (30 - 45,000 dollars.)

Come to find out Tom was out of the country for a while and his wife sold ALL of his businesses for a fraction of what they were worth. She did this LEGALLY too. It doesn't matter to her, this is all profit in her mind because none of it was her money. I don't know what kind of problems her and Tom were having - they could have been extreme - all I am trying to say is that Tom was not consulted nor did he agree to the sale.

Tom has no legal recourse when he returns to the country. Tom came back to Thailand only to fight for custody of his daughter, which he won. He aged 10 years in 6 months over the stress from the process. His daughter now lives in Germany with Tom and I have not heard from them since they left. As I said, we weren't really friends. I never saw his wife again because she moved far into the north.

Perhaps it seems a bit callous to say to "never put a business in your wife's name" in Thailand but I can assure you - you are not protected in any legal way if you do. Many foreigners have been burned by precisely this. When a divorce happens in this country, the government pays no attention at all as to which person put the money into the asset, only whose name is on the documents. Since it is not possible for a foreigner to have their name on any business - don't be like Tom, don't do it this way.

As a matter of fact, do what the title of these articles say and DON'T open one at all.

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Thailand or not, legally giving all to a woman he barely knew is straight out retarded. No sympathy for Tom today

Well the guy made a big mistake, even in your country home where you know the ins and out and you know your way around, its still a big risk buying "Everything" you own in your wife's name. Now not to talk of a country where you're a total stranger and your wife is a citizen. Fine the love might be so great that you would think she won't do a thing like that, and also since it saves you some money and paperworks, but its way too risky. I always think of the day someone i trust will betray the trust, that way i try to be ever ready, especially in business


absolutely. I agree. It seems a lot of people throw their good sense in the garbage as soon as they hit the sand over here.

Rule No.1: Never put your assets in somebody else's name.
It just isn't a good idea, and it doesn't take a genius to figure that one out.
I feel for Tom, and I do not want to come off as a prick,
but he had it coming. At the end of the day, we walked away with something worth more than all that he lost, his daughter...

I am a restaurant owner in Bangkok, I was planning to open one in Thailand. But now i will rethink about it.

Nice information you shared here. This blog is really for me and me only. I badly needed that kind of review so that it can help me to male some decisions about my restaurant plan.

Thank you Thank you for sharing this to me.

By the way i am a traveler and i have started my travel series blog here, so i hope you may like it.
Travel Series (Part #3) St. Lucia Island, A Romantic Getaway


where are you a restaurant owner? :)

Your stories are really weird @gooddream

Seriously!!!! This is the situation there! Oh, i feel sorry for Tom. Also selling the items on the value of a fraction. Too much to bear.
I am agree with you about the idea, do not put anything on the local person, no matter the person, as long as you have the chance to name it by yourself.
Thanks for sharing. Lots of people will be benefited from it.

Poor Tom. Thailand is something else. If the government doesn't f*CK you over.. the people will. If the people don't do it.. your wife will. This is really getting complex. That was a rookie mistake too- putting everything in the name of your wife. I hope it serves as a lesson to many people 'cause it is to me.

Your post has been very good as you presented it, which has impressed us. You picked up the image by matching the things in a very nice manner in the bar, because of the picture that we find impossible and it seems to me the best that I think later that many more posts like you That will give us so much love and we can learn a lot in your post In many ways related to real life, you benefit from it
Thanks for the nice post

I'm sure these facts are convincing enough to be cautious of a cheating spouse.

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This is bad, but it even get more complicated because we are not even sure of Tom's marriage to this Thai woman.
I'm sure, he did everything out of his curiosity to get things done easily, now see how short cut is turning to be a very long journey.
But that woman must be very mean to go that far, how can you sell those things half of their original worth even if you had no penny in the business.

The more I read about this, the more I'm afraid of Thailand... Lol

You are vary smart @gooddream to stay in Thailand for that long..... Smile

Life lessons that is very good that you share, I do not think that Tom will want to put his business back on behalf of another wife. Although I have already read similar stories of wives who go crazy for marital conflicts, who end up doing any amount of nonsense, this story let's say it had a happy ending, because even though Tom was left with nothing, he won the best prize that was to stay with his daughter, which the mother does not. At the time that everything happened the wife will have felt victorious, but in the end all of that is momentary, because her daughter is not with her. For my Tom he lost money, yes, it's true, but he got something better.

That was a big mistake and it doesn't matter the country, but definitely the laws there don't help. I'm glad he won the custody.

Your article is very good. Thanks for sharing!