Relationships

Dating in Thailand

Find out about dating in Thailand, including where to meet singles, what to expect in a relationship, and how to impress your first date.

A young couple on a casual dinner date, the woman is taking a picture of her food
writer

By Gary Buswell

Updated 25-3-2024

Thailand (ประเทศไทย) has a unique and rich culture that differs from those found in many other parts of the world. While exciting, this can also make meeting other singles and dating in the country a bit intimidating for internationals.

How do you go about meeting people, what are the dating norms, and how do you navigate your way around some of the stereotypes about dating in Thailand?

Start looking for love with confidence once you’ve learned about the following:

An overview of the Thai dating scene

Thai dating (การออกเดท, garn ok date) is similar in many ways to dating in other parts of the world. Although things remain fairly conservative regarding Thai gender roles, things are changing – especially in the major cities and among younger generations – and people frequently date on more equal terms. For example, bills are often shared equally between both parties.

Two women are on a hiking date in a beautiful rural part of Thailand
Photo: Jackyenjoyphotography/Getty Images

The family still plays an integral role in Thai society. So, whatever the age or social background, you can expect Thai people to seek approval from family members if things get serious.

Like many other countries, online dating (การหาคู่รักออนไลน์, garn haa koo rak online) has taken off in Thailand and is now a major industry. People typically meet for initial dates in restaurants, bars, cinemas, picnics in parks, or for walks. One thing to note is that you don’t often see public displays of affection among Thai couples beyond hand-holding or gentle hugging.

image of insider

Local expert

Jane Evans

Insider tip

Kissing in public is generally not acceptable, and men and women do not touch each other unless they are in a relationship. For example, a female passenger taking a motorcycle taxi will sit sideways and avoid physical contact with the driver.

Things typically progress at quite a slow rate with Thai dating. However, serious relationships often end in marriage, and rates have increased in recent years.

Thailand also has a strong LGBTQ+ dating (การออกเดท/การหาคู่รัก, LGBTQ+ garn ok date) scene in busier cities, although gay marriage (การแต่งงานของเกย์, garn dteng ngarn kong gay) is still illegal.

How do you meet people in Thailand?

Like singles in other countries, people looking to date in Thailand can meet others through various methods ranging from online dating apps to getting acquainted through peer groups such as work or social networks. Here is an overview of the main avenues.

Online dating and dating apps

Unsurprisingly, in the modern era, one of the best ways to launch yourself into the Thai dating scene is to investigate the world of online dating and download a couple of reputable apps. Many single expats in Thailand now rely on online dating. Whether you’re looking for friendship, something casual, or a serious long-term relationship, online dating in Thailand can be worthwhile and rewarding.

Some dating platforms are app-only, so you’ll need an iPhone or Android phone. Bear in mind that you’ll have to spend some time creating an attention-catching profile and choosing a few nice and up-to-date photos of yourself.

Popular dating platforms in Thailand

There are numerous dating sites and apps that cater to expats, whether they are looking for locals, other expats, different-sex, same-sex, or transgender relationships. Some of the most well-known dating platforms in Thailand include:

  • Thai Cupid: Popular local site with over three million members
  • ThaiFriendly: Another very popular local site that leans more towards linking up expat men and Thai women
  • Badoo: Great app for meeting new people in Thailand
  • Locanto: Classified ads website that has a dating section where many people in Thailand find dates
  • My Ladyboy Date: Dating site that caters to men who are looking for trans women

There are also reputable global sites and apps you can try, including OK CupidTinder, and Bumble, which are prominent in Thailand.

A woman looks down at her mobile phone, checking dating app notifications
Photo: Johnce/Getty Images

As in any country, online dating in Thailand comes with its risks. People might not always be who or what they say they are on their profile or during initial chats. Never agree to send money to someone before meeting them, arrange your first date in a public place, and be sure to tell a friend or family member where you’ll be.

Social media and meetup groups

If you’re feeling a little hesitant toward dating apps, social media can also be useful for meeting new people with similar interests. You can use these platforms to connect with people one-on-one or join local groups. Popular social media sites and apps in Thailand include Facebook, Instagram, Line, and TikTok. Facebook is good for seeking out local interest groups, such as neighborhood forums or groups dedicated to particular activities.

Another popular platform is Meetup, which offers both a website and app to find gatherings in your local area. This is a great modern way to meet people in your community who share common interests. For example, you can look for local walking groups, supper clubs, or learning Thai language groups.

Meeting through friends and personal networks

Of course, you can also use the more traditional approach of friendship or professional networks to find dates. If you have friends or close work colleagues you trust, see if they know of any suitable singles they could set you up with. Otherwise, keep an eye out for social gatherings and do some searching yourself.

If you’re feeling confident, Thailand’s big cities have plenty of opportunities to acquaint yourself with strangers, for example, in bars, at the beach, or at a local event or festival.

This method requires more effort, and you won’t reach a pool as vast as on a popular dating website. Still, it can be a rewarding way of finding appealing singles without the worry that their online personality might not be matched by their real-life one.

Local speed dating events

Speed dating (เดตด่วน, date duwan: literally meaning urgent dating) is another fairly common event where single people meet at a venue and are matched for a series of rapid (around 5-minute) conversations with potential partners to see if compatibility or a spark exists.

Two men sit at an outdoor cafe with coffee and pastries
Photo: wera Rodsawang/Getty Images

You can find events near you on websites such as ThaiSpeedDating, which advertises events in cities such as Bangkok and Pattaya. Social networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Meetup often have details of upcoming speed dating events.

Thai dating etiquette

In general, Thai dating etiquette centers around taking time to build up a long-lasting and respectful relationship. If someone likes you, they usually won’t want to rush things. Here’s what to expect in terms of initial dates with someone and what might come next if things progress.

A typical dating scenario in Thailand

Although things are showing signs of change, tradition still rules some of the basics regarding Thai dating. For example, the man typically makes the first move by asking for the date in different-sex encounters. Men may also take the lead when planning where to go or what to do, although these are more frequently becoming joint decisions.

Bars, cafes, restaurants, and parks are popular spots for a first date in Thailand. Later dates may take place at cinemas, shopping malls, temples, sporting or cultural events, or an activity such as bowling.

Dates in Thailand are typically friendly and relaxed but can be more formal and modest than in other countries. For example, there is rarely physical touching of any kind. It’s also possible that a woman dating a man may bring a chaperone to a first date, often a close friend. While it might surprise expats when their date shows up with a wingman, this is completely normal and doesn’t signify any negative feelings.

Dating behavior in Thailand

Although Thai customs and social norms are distinct in many ways, first-date etiquette is pretty typical. Thai people generally are easygoing and upbeat, meaning that the dating atmosphere is usually relaxed, warm, and fun.

However, there are key differences regarding greetings and body language. The standard Thai greeting is the wai, a gentle nod with the hands in front of the body praying. Embracing or cheek-kissing is not common in Thailand. The same goes for public displays of affection in general. Thai flirting can be as simple as eye contact, smiling, and polite laughing.

An older couple waits excitedly for the movie to start at the theater
Photo: staticnak1983/Getty Images

Gender roles are still fairly traditional in Thailand. Men often buy flowers, open doors, carry things, and pull out chairs, plus pay for everything on the first date. However, many Thai women now like to pay their share. If you’re an expat on a date with a Thai man or woman and are unsure about this, it’s okay to bring it up beforehand, or maybe go for an initial coffee or drinks if you feel awkward about the situation.

image of insider

Local expert

Jane Evans

Insider tip

If a woman insists on paying for a man, he may feel emasculated if he’s the traditional type. However, more progressive ones may prefer to share the bill.

The Thai casual attitude to punctuality doesn’t extend to dates, so don’t keep someone waiting. The dress code is well-dressed and attractive, although it doesn’t have to be expensive. Personal hygiene is essential in Thailand, so don’t rush to a date straight from the gym or after a hard day of manual labor. Indeed, most Thais shower at least twice daily because of the heat and humidity.

Taboos include discussing politics or religion and criticizing the royal family. Being too serious or having a negative attitude won’t go down too well either, and you’re unlikely to get a second date. On the flip side, you can learn a bit of the Thai language if you want to make a good impression when dating a local.

Moving into a relationship

As mentioned, Thai dating tends to progress at a slow pace. There might be quite a few dates before things get serious. Physical intimacy beyond kissing usually only occurs once things are fairly advanced, and anything more than hand-holding or lightly embracing is reserved for private places.

Another thing to note is that Thai dating culture is pretty monogamous, so if you start seeing someone beyond a couple of initial dates, they might expect you to be exclusive.

The tell-tale sign that a relationship has become a big deal in Thailand is when someone wants to introduce their partner to their family. Another is becoming acquainted with the inner circle of friends. Once you’ve had a handful of dates with someone in Thailand, they might want to plan a group date with at least one other couple.

Although Thailand is still a conservative country, it’s not uncommon for young couples to move in together. Typically, this will happen after around one or two years of dating.

Some Thais may prefer to wait until marriage (การแต่งงาน, garn dteng ngarn) before sharing a living space with someone, especially if their parents are more traditional.

A newlywed couple in their wedding attire ride a motorcycle away from the reception
Photo: Nathan Hutchinson/Getty Images

Speaking of marriage, this is still commonplace in Thailand. Arranged marriages are rare in the country these days, but people, especially Thai women, are still marrying quite young.

What role does family play in dating and relationships in Thailand?

Family (ครอบครัว, krorp krua) plays a significant role in Thai society, which still holds many traditional norms dear. You can expect to meet a partner’s parents and other close family members relatively soon into the relationship. After this, family visits or trips out can happen frequently, depending on how close everyone lives to each other.

In general, Thai families are very accepting of foreign partners. The most important thing is that someone is serious and has honorable intentions. Because of the prevailing traditional nature of Thai society, there can be a bit of pressure on men to show that they can provide financially for a potential family. At the same time, women may face pressure to get married and start families.

In different-sex relationships, before proposing marriage, it is customary for the man to consult with the woman’s family first. There is still something of a culture of Sin Sod (สินสอด) in Thailand, essentially a dowry payment that the groom-to-be makes to the bride’s family, though this is gradually becoming less common.

This payment is seen as evidence that the man can support his bride and also as a kind of compensation for taking the daughter from the family. Some parents return the dowry to the couple to help them start their new life. Other parents keep the dowry.

Useful resources

  • Similar – provides information on the top-ranking dating apps in Thailand
  • Cultural Atlas – information on a range of cultural norms in Thailand