Thailand is considered a financial powerhouse in Southeast Asia, the financial system is very modern and there are many opportunities to invest for locals as well as foreigners. If you choose to live in Thailand and repatriate your savings here, it is advisable to have investments here so that you can stretch your savings for longer, or maybe afford more luxuries.
As expats, your priority should be to beat inflation and minimize taxes, so you need to invest your money into something that offers more return than the inflation rate. Inflation rates in Thailand is around 3% and Thai banks only offer around 0.5% interest on savings, or around 3% on term deposits, so best case scenario, you will just be matching inflation while having your savings stuck in a fixed term account.
Securities could be a very lucrative investment if you invest wisely. There are minimal restrictions to foreigners to invest in securities in Thailand, both residents and non-residents can invest in securities. Furthermore, capital gains from the stock market are exempt from Thai income tax. The main exchange is the Stock Exchange of Thaland, or SET in short. The SET index has increased three-fold since the 2008 economic crisis, and is not back to the same levels before the 1997 financial crisis in Asia. The dividend yields are currently between 3-5% for higher dividend shares and 10-year government bonds can get you a return of 3.5% with very low risk.
Everyone has their own strategy and risk profile when investing, some of you might prefer high risk high reward, while others prefer lower risk for guaranteed returns. You must be responsible for how much risk you want to take on. If you invest a significant amount of money in Thai banks, they will offer you wealth management services which could be useful, or you could look for qualified wealth managers to help you get started. As with most stock markets worldwide, you should be aware of volatility, and put your emotions aside as they are often the reason you make irrational decisions which will cost you.
Mutual funds also provide you tax relief on long-term investments up to the lower of either 500,000 baht or 15% of your income. However, you must hold your mutual funds investments for at least 5 calendar years to be eligible for tax relief, however, some of them do require you to pay tax so make sure to check the tax relief policies in the information sheet. Usually, mutual funds are subject to higher fees tham investments in the stock market.
Thai index funds are a good compromise if you want to invest your money, but do not want to spend time studying the markets every week and go through an emotional rollercoaster while trading. Index funds such as the SET50, SET100 and industry indexes could be a good investment for you. From 2009-2018, the average annual return from the SET50 is around 17.77% pear, which is quite high, but the reason for that was that Thailand and the rest of the world was in the process of recovering from the Financial crisis from 2008. On the other hand, if you are an experienced trader and want to trade stocks daily, then it is not for you because you will not be able to choose what companies are in the indexes, you will have to invest in all.
In order to invest your money in securities, you will have to open a brokerage account, most Thai banks such as SCB and Thanachart have a securities division and you can open up a brokerage account at their branches. It is also possible for non-residents to open up a securities account. After you have signed up with a brokerage, you will get a login to access their app in order to manage your funds, however if you want to trade, you will have to either download the Streaming app or use the website, you then have to login using your brokerage credentials and you can start trading right away. These bank brokerages such as SCB also offer plenty of other apps to assist you in trading such as ROBOADVIOSR, which helps you pick stocks to buy, however in most cases, the user interface is not the easiest to use.
Cryptocurrency could also be potentially lucrative, especially due to the volatility of it these days, and you could earn alot of money from trading cryptocurrency but the risk is also very high. In Thailand, there are 2 major cryptocurrency exchanges, Bitkub is by far the most popular one and then there's Bitazza as well. Overall, both these platforms are very easy to use and make trading possible on your fingertips. However, keep in mind that Thailand has launched new regulations for anyone opening a cryptocurrency account that requires physical registration, and prevents online registration to help reduce money laundering which means that you will require a Thai ID card to register, preventing you from doing so. Cryptocurrency in Thailand has just started gaining popularity this year, and the laws governing it have not been created yet so there are still many questions to be answered. You can, however, sign up for internationally renowned platforms such as Binance, and if you already have an account you can simply keep trading in Thailand and transfer income from overseas to your Thai bank account.
Overall, there are plenty of investments possible in Thailand, you should definitely consider investing your money on securities rather than leaving your money in a fixed deposit which only offers you 3% per year. However, try to not invest in long term investments that tie up your money because you never know when you might need it. You should still maintain liquidity in case there are emergency expenses etc.