Moving to Thailand with only 1 million baht and making a go of it.

First to prevent any confusion, I am assuming most people cannot get jobs here so you need to create your own job,  in other words you need to buy a job,  alot of people do not actually realise when they are buying a business here you are buying a job and if you don’t work enough you will fail. Its unlikely you can be fully staffed and hands off without being short of personal money monthly,  you cannot just buy a business here and let it run itself,  (at least not to start with) unless its perhaps a medium to large sized business or you are experienced or lucky.


There are many potential business ideas here and its a tough market everywhere in Thailand. I do not recommend restaurants as its one of the toughest markets for us.  If you did a business back at home, look into doing the same here.  I have seen multiple bar owners try various businesses and fail, the easiest for us to make money is to run bars. I do think real estate is a good business to be in but its highly competitive therefore you will have to work your ass off and compete with many established expats. Buying a bar is an easier market to penetrate, if you get enough ladies you can be busy from the start.

For the average Joe lets say its best to buy a bar,  ok you can buy a guesthouse but the profit margins will be lower depending on what you do downstairs.

I believe if you wanted to make a go of it and with the right planning, listening to advice and mentoring off various successful business owners,  working long hours, adapting and having deep connections with various people so you can source all workers/staff etc. You cannot fail, but that’s a big IF.

Assuming a guy doesn’t get pissed everyday, overspend on alcohol or women then hes in for a fair chance, sorry to cover all the angles but the comments will be asking about all this.

Step 1.  Build a community/following online – find something you specialise in maybe sports, maybe just ladies etc. Join all the forums and facebook groups and contribute, try and use the same name across all platforms, start a group on facebook even. Don’t spam people with adverts, be a real person helping people and offering advice,  if you can’t offer advise then share content or create discussions. (you can do this all in farangland while you wait for your chance)

Step 2.   Find landlords details and ask them to contact you when a free unit comes up, it will be empty and there is likely a deposit. But your not buying an old business owner out or paying for the lease.

Step 3.  Start small so you have less to lose, just a single unit to start with then you costs are alot lower and you look busier which attracts customers.

Step 4.   Before you buy any place please make sure you can definitely get girls, lots of people promise they can get them but they don’t deliver, maybe get them working in a friends bar while you are waiting for yours. I see so many guys buying bars, do refits then they message me how to get girls wtf,  that’s like opening a factory without any orders, its utter madness. Anyone can open a bar, anyone can find the money, but finding girls is the hardest bit.

Step  5.  Once you find a place that is available for free (I mean not free rent but to take over the lease)  then move to Thailand and get the downstairs renovated for around 300-500k  maximum (upper end price)  You can start doing the upstairs with profits later or even upgrade renovation later, if you do the upstairs and the bar fails its just more money potentially lost.  (please make sure you nail the layout, it makes a huge huge difference)

Step 6.  Live upstairs in the bar to save time and money.

Step 7.  Set up a company 45k, work permit around 30k and visa around 30k.  105k approx. (might be 20k more)

Step 8.   Work your ass off very long hours and stay in the bar every waking hour.

Step 9.  Use profits to do the upstairs, improve the bar, maybe expand, maybe find a bigger unit etc.  Once you are busy enough you may be able to get a good manager and even move out of the bar into a nice house.

Lets say here is total costs for setting up, assuming no silly decisions or mistakes happen.

180 k for 3 months rent and a deposit maximum
105-115k for work permit and visa
300- 500k to renovate the bar (including music)
POS system is anywhere from 5k up to 100k but that is not urgent, buy from the profits
Cameras 60k
Licensing (entertainment, alcohol, cigarettes, music license) around 36,000 baht

Minimum  686,000 baht spend (with the cheapest POS or no POS and a cheaper renovation)  to a Maximum of 981,000 baht spend with the best POS and best renovation.

I would go for the minimal spend and start off with a cheap POS and buy a better one later with profits or dont get a POS until you can afford it. And leave the 300k in the bank as a safety net to make sure you can get by or face any fines or closures.

You will have to work your bollocks off for this, I can’t emphasise this enough, you need to outwork everyone else. On top of all this if you are not a decent guy or socialable then you need to quickly focus on the ladies, make enough money to get a manager.  The chances of a business owner in Pattaya being the best bar managers is very unlikely because they appoint themselves, rather than others appointing them because they are very suitable for the job.

This plan will fail for most as many guys know best, or they don’t ask for advice, but if you follow all the other articles on my blog posts, you have a far better chance of getting by.


Avoid lawyers

Avoid paying for anything you can do yourself or get staff to do it

Live as cheaply as possible until the business is steady

To the guys saying its not possible, I started my journey with 30,000 baht but I had to work whatever I could, I worked for myself but offered various services. I adapted continually to survive here. Thats why I have been here 10 years.

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  1. david on April 20, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Hi Bryan,
    I would like to know which are the best strategies to find girls to work in bar.

  2. Lee Heart on April 20, 2017 at 9:03 am

    (The chances of a business owner in Pattaya being the best bar managers is very unlikely because they appoint themselves, rather than others appointing them because they are very suitable for the job) could not agree with that more

  3. roland on April 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Hello Bryan, could you please elaborate on the following you wrote?

    > Avoid lawyers

    Thanks a lot

  4. admin on August 24, 2017 at 6:51 am

    Because most of the time they are not needed here plus they are daylight robbery. I am disappointed time after time with them.

  5. admin on August 24, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Thank you

  6. admin on August 24, 2017 at 6:53 am

    That is the one thing i cannot help with.