Expat Enclave: Chinese expat population doubles, Ratchada becomes ‘Chinatown’

Bangkok’s expat population isn’t what it used to be, and that’s having an effect on the city’s property rental market.

In past years, the majority of expats hailed from Europe, North America and Japan. Today, Chinese nationals make up large part of the expat community as well. Today, Chinese nationals hold 13.3 percent of Thai work permits, which represents a 19.4 percent increase since last year. Over the last five years, the number of Chinese employees doubled, making them the second-largest expat population.

Japanese citizens have, traditionally, been the largest expat nationality in Thailand. They have accounted for more than 25 percent of expats working in Thailand. However, now they are down to 22.8 percent this year.

Over the last few decades, Japanese and Western expats usually chose to live along Sukhumvit, near Lumpini Park or in Sathorn.

Sukhumvit is still the most popular area that expats choose, as seen by their ever-increasing population on the eastern end of the BTS route. While Phra Khanong and Onnut used to be the far reaches for expats, these days there are lots of foreign faces as far down the line as Bang Na and Udomsuk.

Most downtown rentals are rented by these expats, who rent rather than commit to buying in Thailand. Most Thais buy condos rather than rent, reported Bangkok Post.

Because of budgetary reasons, Chinese nationals don’t usually choose the relatively swanky neighborhoods favored by other expats. Instead, they choose less central locations where rents are lower.

Over the last twenty years, Western and Japanese expats relocated to Thailand and were often given housing allowances of THB40,000 per month and up. Since many had children, they were often in search of pricy two-and three-bedroom rentals.

Chinese citizens, however, tend to have much smaller housing allowances. Because of this, they often choose areas far from the expensive, downtown expat hubs.

Ratchadaphisek is one neighborhood that is drastically changing with the influx of so many Chinese nationals. It’s become so popular with Chinese nationals working in the city, that some have even called it Bangkok’s new Chinatown.

As this population continues to grow, there will likely be more and more enclaves known for Chinese populations.


Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on