HOMES IN THAILAND: BAMBOO HOUSES, TEAK HOUSES, RAFT HOMES, CONDOMINIUMS AND SUBURBAN CONCRETE TOWN HOUSES

HOMES IN THAILAND

There are essentially three kinds of traditional Thai houses: 1) The first kind, usually lived in by affluent families, is a sturdy, paneled and clapboard-walled structure, made of teak or mahogany, raised off the ground, with a planked floor, a few windows and a roof of tile or corrugated iron. 2) The second type is low-pitched gable house on a bamboo frame with a roof and perhaps a porch. The roof may be made with palm or grass. The sides are usually made of woven bamboo, matting or grass or palm leaves. Some have an earthen floor. Houses built in a flat areas that receive a lot of rain are raised on stilts for protection from rainy season flooding. 3) The third kind, concrete homes, which started becoming more common in the 1970s, are more sturdy but hotter than bamboo frame houses.

Some Thai style buildings are open structures that resemble gazebos more than they do houses. They are built to catch breezes from all direction and dispense hot air. Air conditioning is still a luxury that many people can not afford.Many are built among gardens and ponds. According to Prof. Choti Kanlayanamitr, traditional Thai house architecture clearly expresses the relationship between the life style of Thai people and the natural environment. The different regional environment, culture and local traditions have a big influence on the architecture of Thai houses. Suggesting a shared cultural origin, the primary form of dwelling throughout Southeast Asia and some parts of East Asia is a gable-roofed structure built on posts or stilts. As depicted in ancient relics such as engraved bronze drums unearthed in Vietnam and Indonesia, this form dates back to the region’s prehistoric period.

Wooden Thai houses have traditionally been raised high above the ground, emphasizing the free flow of air, taking in cooling breezes from all directions, yet providing shelter from heat and rain. The space under the house can serve as a living room, a store-room, and a workshop. Inside the house, not many furnishings are found. People often sit and eat on the floor.

See Individual Hill Tribes for some of Their Homes are Like.

Kitchens, Showers and Toilets in Thailand

Traditional Thai houses don’t contain a Western-style kitchen. For cooking, a separate unit is built as the kitchen, located away from the living quarters, with complete ventilation as the main feature. This is meant to keep the house free of the penetrating smell of spices and seasoning materials, such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, fermented and salted fish, and also grime and soot, the general characteristics of the cooking place. A traditional Thai kitchen unit is therefore as open as possible. The walls are usually built of bamboo loosely woven or wood planks widely spaced, especially where the stove is placed. In some places, openings are made for windows, or folding wall panels are put up. In other places, the roof can be partly opened out during cooking time, to let out smoke and soot. [Source: Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department]

Traditional Thai houses don’t contain a shower or bath as we know them, instead there is a big 'tub' for the water and a jug. Thai people bathe by throwing water over themselves. Most toilets are squat toilets although the western style toilets are becoming more available. Near the squat toilets there is a container filled with water and a cup or a hose pipe. These are used to flush water down the toilet.

A typical rural bathroom in Thailand is an outhouse in back of the house with cinder blocks walls and a metal door and roof. The toilet is a hole in the ground surrounded by concrete. People squat instead of sit. Most guesthouses and hotels used by foreigners have Western style toilets.

Rural House in Thailand

A typical rural house is made of wood and has a tile roof. A typical family of four in rural Thailand near Chiang Mai (with a per capita income close to the national average of $1,697) lives in a 728 square foot house with two bedrooms, a living room and a basement kitchen.

A traditional rural Isaan home is made of raised wooden post construction, so that animals and creeping can not enter the house. The open area beneath the houses also served as a cool daytime workplace. Such a house is built above the ground on high posts and made with local material easily found in the area. The house occupants can perform most home activities in the house without going down to the ground. This kind of house offers a high level of security as residents can pull up the ladder up so animals or thieves can’t get in. Cattle and other animals are kept underneath some houses. [Source: woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk ]

In his doctor’s thesis on Thai Traditional Architecture, Wattana Boonjub wrote: “Generally, Thai people in the countryside still live near their rice paddies...Some farmers build rice barns not only for storing grain but also a temporary shelter when working in the fields away from the village. These structures are sometimes so important that they devote more attention to the barns’ construction and their aesthetic value than to their own abode. Like houses, these barns are usually built on stilts with a gable roof. A traditional Thai house typically features a rice barn and some small sheds for storage or livestock. Its vegetable garden consists of plants grown in pots or patches, which are used for cooking or auspiciousness rather than decoration.

Urban and Suburban Houses in Thailand

Many houses in towns have two stories. The bottom part may contain a shop or workplace while the top floor usually contains the bedrooms. Some houses and shops have rubbish bins made from old tires placed on the pavement outside the building. In almost all houses, even slum housing, there is a television, refrigerator, and radio. The interior of middle class suburban houses is similar to their counterparts in the West. Typically there is Western-style furniture, a kitchen, sitting room, dining room, bedrooms, shower room and flushing toilets.

Describing his suburban house outside of Bangkok, Nattawud Daoruang wrote in his blog Thailand Life: “I live in Samutprakarn Province. We are about 30 kilometers south of Bangkok. My house is near a Navy Museum and opposite the Naval Academy. I live on a soi off Sukhumwit Road. Soi is Thai for lane. My soi's name is Tetsaban 25. We live at the end of a terraced row. In my soi there are 20 houses. I know all of my neighbours. Everyone is very kind. [Source: Nattawud Daoruang Thailand Life ]

“I live in a terraced house. It is medium sized and has 2 floors, 2 bedrooms and 2 toilets. We don't have a dining room, but we eat our meals in the living room. There are 4 people in my family , my mum, my dad, my brother and me. My house doesn't have a garden but we have some plants in pots. We also have some small fish. My mum like the plants very much, she usually water and looks after them when she's at home. These are shops near my soi. Caltex petrol station, 7-Eleven, noodle shops, etc. [Ibid]

On the house he moved into after he got married Nattawud wrote: “We are living in a terrace house on Theparak Road in the area called Namdaeng. We live just a little further than Namdaeng market. The estate where we are is called "Baan Patcha". We live just about 500 meters away from the main road. The house where we live is really the same kind of house as my parents' house. It has two bedrooms upstairs with one toilet and downstairs has one big room with one toilet. There is a back door to go outside to the back of the house. We have a little garden in front of the house. [Source: Thailand Life ]

Traditional House Architecture in Thailand

In his doctor’s thesis on Thai Traditional Architecture, Wattana Boonjub wrote:“A Thai house, which is often located near waterways, is built from bamboo or unpainted wood with pre-assembled walls hoisted into place on the posts, leaving a multi-purpose space below the cabin. The most refined local expression of such architecture evolved in central Thailand during the prosperous Ayutthaya period. A house of this type may consist of one large house or a group of individual small cabins joined together by a raised terrace, which functions as an outdoor family area. These classic Siamese dwellings stand as one of Asia’s most appealing types of traditional house, combining gracefulness with marvelous adaptation to climate and lifestyle. [Source: Wattana Boonjub, The Study of Thai Traditional Architecture as a Resource for Contemporary Building Design in Thailand, a Thesis for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy, Program of Architectural Heritage Management and Tourism (International Program), Silpakorn University]

The beauty of traditional Thai house is achieved with almost no decoration. Its aesthetics is embodied in its form and structure: the shapes of the elements and the lines and proportions of the building as a whole. Its colours and surface textures are of raw and natural unpainted wood and unglazed clay roof tiles. Pure ornaments are simple, with the carved wooden panels, or yong, that decorate the exterior base of the windows in well-appointed houses and the geometric grid of classic wall panels. In the north, roofs are adorned with wooden horns called kalae. Elaborate ornaments are reserved for palace and temple architecture.

Despite the curves and trapezoidal shape of the structure, neatness is achieved because the house is essentially built from a kit. A master carpenter and his assistants construct most of the house elements, including the wall panels, windows and roof structure, before the house is erected. Since joinery is used rather than nails when assembling a house, each piece has to be fashioned with great care to ensure its precision.

The house’s exterior is rather important because occupants spend most of the time for family activities on the verandah and terrace, below the house or in the yard. The interior is dimly illuminated and minimally furnished. Because good quality timbers are now scarce and carpentry work is expensive, building a traditional house today is often.

A small family might start with a single cabin and a terrace, using a small cabin to the side as a kitchen. As the family grows, they will add two cabins at a time to reach a total of three or five; an even number of living cabins is considered inauspicious.

Similar structures are also found in other parts of Thailand. The northern version is somewhat boxy and big with walls sloping out towards the roof rather than in, as they do with houses in the central region. Houses in the northeastern region are comparatively rustic while the Malay-influenced southerners often decorate their houses with painted fretwork and blend local arts with colonial architecture.

Houses in Northern and Northeastern Thailand

Wattana Boonjub wrote: “The architecture of local houses in northern Thailand represents the distinctive culture of Lanna Kingdom, which flourished between th e 13th and the 18th centuries. The largest and most refined type of Lanna residence is the classic timber kalae house, named for the V – or X-shaped wooden decoration extending from the gable end peaks, thought to represent the horns of water buffalo. [Source: Wattana Boonjub, The Study of Thai Traditional Architecture as a Resource for Contemporary Building Design in Thailand, a Thesis for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy, Program of Architectural Heritage Management and Tourism (International Program), Silpakorn University]

The kalae house, like its central Siamese cousin, is assembled from pre- carpentered wooden panels on a platform over wooden stilts with a multi-purpose space underneath. The house typically has twin cabins joined at the eaves along a rain gutter, with wooden - rather than earthenware - tiles on the roof. Walls on the lateral sides lean quite steeply outward towards the roof, not inward as in the central house. The roof is not as steep and curved as the central version, so the slopes form a triangular pediment. Windows are small and placed only on the lateral walls, to better retain heat during the cold season, when temperatures sometimes drop close to freezing.

There are four types of kalae house, which vary in size and floor plans and include as many as four cabins as well as secondary terraces. Other types of northern houses are smaller and less luxurious than the kalae but share many of its basic features. The northern house’s most important part is the verandah or toen, which is usually built facing south for warmth and used for family activities, entertaining guests and, sometimes, sleeping. The main cabin has a single room that serves as a bedroom for the whole family.

Centuries of migration from nearby Laos have helped shape the architecture of Thailand’s northeast, known as Isaan. Unfortunately, the region has chronically been hit by economic hardships resulting from drought, poor soil and a less developed education infrastructure in the rural areas. Thus, its architecture is simpler and less elaborate than elsewhere in Thailand.

Northeastern-style houses are similar to central Thai houses. They are built of wood on stilts, but their roofs feature a gentler slope since there is less rain to cope with. Thatch and corrugated iron roofs are more common in Isaan than other regions. Walls are perpendicular, not slanted, and often made of simple wooden planks rather than the prefabricated panels used in other regions. Homes are built in a compound structure, starting with a main cabin; a second cabin may be added as the family grows.

Houses in Southern Thailand

Of several styles of houses in the 14 provinces of Thailand’s south, the most distinctive are the houses of Thai Muslim. Owing to their exotic Malay features, these houses are especially common in the four deep-south provinces of Pattani, Satun, Yala and Narathiwat, where most of the populace are Muslims of Malay ethnicity. The roofs of these houses take one of three forms. Hipped roofs, known as panya or lima, are popular in the south. It is an influence from colonial Dutch and English architecture that spread from Indonesia or the Malay Peninsula. The same is true for the hipped-gable roof, which is called locally blanor roof. Gable roofs are also visible in this region.

Malay style, with its roots in Islamic art, is expressed in carved ornamental details: gable end panels, roof finials and the fretwork of ventilation grilles often painted in many colours. The posts of southern houses of all sorts typically stand on column bases, or teen sao, made of stone or cement slabs. This protects the posts against termites and 61 moisture during the rainy season. This feature also allows the building to be relocated easily.

Houses on the Water in Thailand

From the vantage point of the traditional Thai lifestyle, with its heavy reliance on boat travel, fishing and frequent bathing, the only place better to live than next to a river is right on top of one, in a house on pontoons or stilts. These houses are comfortable and well suited to commerce, given the ease of water transport. [Op. Cit, Wattana Boonjub]

A raft house, or ruen pae, can be built much like a house on land, with a gable roof, low eaves and wood-or bamboo-panelled walls. The cabin wall facing the water, usually made of woven bamboo or corrugated iron sheets, has hinges so it can be propped open, often to display goods for sale to passing boats. Bathing is done directly in the surrounding water, so no bathroom is needed. Below the cabin is the pontoon used to support the raft house. They are usually made of wood or bundles of bamboo.

Another type of house on water is the stilt house. Built over a canal, river or lake and supported by tall posts, this traditional Thai house is called baan rim naam, literally meaning ‘house by the water’. Sometimes, part of the house is built over land, but the entire house can easily be built over the water with a walkway leading to the river or canal bank. In either case, the main entrance will face the water, usually with a roofed verandah and stairs leading down into the water, in case of bathing and boat transfer.

Raft Houses

In his “Study of Thai Traditional Architecture,” Wattana Boonjub wrote: “Thai houses in the central region were located on flood plains. Therefore, it was necessary that the houses were designed to enable occupants to continue a normal life in their houses during floods. Some groups of people like traders and fishermen, whose livelihood depended particularly on water preferred living on rafts, which allowed them to move from place to place and earn a living. [Source:Wattana Boonjub, The Study of Thai Traditional Architecture as a Resource for Contemporary Building Design in Thailand , a Thesis for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy, Program of Architectural Heritage Management and Tourism (International Program), Silpakorn University]

In the past, rivers and canals were the most convenient channels of transportation for people and goods. They are also an important source of water for farming. All ancient Thai cities were located near water sources and when cities were expanded inland, people dug up canals, mainly to get water for their farm and use them as transportation channels. They were designed specifically for people to live on or to use in making a living. During the reign of King Rama V, the number of rafts along the canals and rivers was substantial. Now only a few remain in provinces like Uthai Thani. The number of raft houses is dwindling since the maintenance cost is high. Besides, the increasing number of boat population makes living on the rafts no longer convenient.

Thai Bamboo Houses

The structural characteristics of Thai bamboo house are very similar to the wooden ones: one-storey, raised on stilts, a gable roof and prefabricated walls. They tend to be smaller, however, with a single cabin, not clusters grouped around a big terrace as in the case of some wooden houses.[Op. Cit, Wattana Boonjub]

Apart from being the primary form of the traditional Thai house for commoners, bamboo dwellings can be considered the original design of the wooden version that was developed later. The Thai system of pre-assembled wall panels, for example, probably evolved from the bamboo houses since woven wall mats needed to be completed before the house was erected, a technique that proves efficient when building with wood.

Nowadays, bamboo houses are still built among low-income families and also for temporary use; for example, as a ‘starter’ house for the newlyweds until they can afford to have a wooden house. Since the structure is simple, some homeowners build their bamboo houses themselves without professional help. The house can be made almost entirely from bamboo, but other materials are commonly used as well. Posts and beams, for example, may be made of wood for greater strength, relegating bamboo to roofs, joists and floors. Walls are woven of split bamboo, palm leaves or, in the south, pandan leaves.

In central Thai parlance, the structure is called ruen khrueng phook (house assembled by binding), while in the north, it is known as ruen mai bua . Low-income levels in many districts in the northeast still prefer bamboo houses because they are not expensive. In the south, bamboo houses are the most common among fishing communities. Those in Muslim districts are remarkable for the beautiful geometric woven patterns of their walls: herringbone, diamonds, stars and others.

Rice Barns and Field Huts in Thailand

Wattana Boonjub wrote: In rural areas, most houses have a rice barn or granary (yung khao), built to protect the produce from spoilage and vermin. The granary is virtually the family’s cash box since rice is a major cash crop and needs to be stored for sale. The size of the rice barn is an indicator of the economic status of its owner. Those growing rice for sustenance may not have a rice barn but will keep their rice in the house instead. [Op. Cit, Wattana Boonjub]

In most of Thailand, the granary is a rectangular cabin built on stilts, parallel to the main house but far away enough to maximize sunlight and ventilation in order to keep the grain dry. Gable roofs are common, and are usually made from corrugated iron or earthenware tiles nowadays, instead of traditional thatch. Sometimes the underside is built with wooden walls to form an enclosed space for storing tools.

In the north, the barn is called long khao, yung khao or ye khao. It has massive pillars and a balcony on all four sides, making the cabin appear to float in mid-air. The roof may be either gabled or in the hipped form called panya . Northeastern granaries usually resemble local houses, with metal gable roofs and small entrance terraces suitable for keeping tools. In the South, soil conditions are less suitable for rice farming. Thus, villagers mainly grow rice in small fields only for family consumption, not trade. For this reason, most villagers tend to set aside a place in their house for rice storage instead of having a separate barn. There are some granaries, known locally as ruen khao, but the size is usually smaller than those in other regions.

When farmers live several kilometers from their rice fields, they need to build huts and cottages (hang na) for shelter. Most sheds are simple, temporary shelters for daily rest or short visits. In hilly areas, however, rice fields are scattered further away 64 from the community, and cottages need to be built for longer, more comfortable stays of four to six months. Such field cottages are found throughout the northern provinces, where they are known as theng na . These cottages are a bit like primary houses in the village, but are more quaint and charming.

Rice farming has increased substantially in some northeastern provinces thanks to improved irrigation system in recent decades. Field huts or thiang na have become numerous, and are constructed in a simple, folkish style. The gable roof is easily assembled and the house is only slightly elevated since flooding is infrequent in the region. In the central region, field cottages are less prevalent because rice fields are located close to the village. In the South, such cottages are smaller in number as rice is not the main economic crop for the region like other plants, including rubber.

Roadside Shops, Stalls and Pavilions

Until Bangkok’s canals started to be filled to pave the way for roads in the 1950s, water transportation was the main travelling mode for people and traders who directly sold from boats. Traders normally set up riverside stalls and shop houses. When the transport shifted to land, rows of shops sprouted along the roads instead of the waterways. Today, roads throughout Thailand, even deep in the countryside, are lined with wooden stalls and shop houses selling local produce, handmade items and packaged goods. [Op. Cit, Wattana Boonjub]

The simplest type of roadside shop is a small shed called ran kha rim thang. It normally stands by the road at the edge of a field. The shop may have a simple thatch roof with a bamboo table to display products and a chair. There are also temporary stalls for selling seasonal fruits or vegetables. Interestingly, groups of stalls often spring up together at some busy junctions and eventually become extended rows of permanent shops.

More elaborate is the traditional Thai shop house, ran ruen, used for both trade and living. It is a wooden house built with a front verandah where goods are displayed. The verandah is sheltered from the sun and rain by an extended roof eave. Unlike its Chinese-style counterparts, the Thai shop house is built on a single storey with a family unit at the back of the house. The reason for the single storey house is probably derived from the old custom that does not allow people to stand higher than a person’s head, which is considered the most important part of the body. Other huts and pavilions include roadside shelters for bus passengers and booths for outdoor restaurants.

Large Teak Houses in Thailand

Vimanmek Mansion (in the compound of Dusit Palace on Ratchawithi Road behind the National Assembly Building in Bangkok) is an impressive structure built entirely of rare golden teak. Constructed in 1901 and designed for King Rama V by his younger brother Prince Naris, it was the home of the king while nearby Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall was being built. Queen Sirikit oversaw the restoration of the palace for Bangkok's bicentennial celebration in 1982. Epitomizing the grace and harmony of imperial Siam architecture, Vimanmek houses a memorial to King Rama V, one of Thailand's most revered monarchs.

Vimanmek is the world's largest golden teak building. The three-storey royal mansion has 81 rooms, halls and ante-chambers containing royal memorabilia and treasure form the 19th and early 20th century. A one-story teak building situated on the east side houses the H.M. Queen Sirikits collection of handicraft masterpieces created by rural people.

Ban Pratubjai (Ban Prathabjai) House in Phrae Province is reputed to be Thailand's second largest teak house. Phrae is particularly well known for its teak forests and the house was built in 1972-1977 by Kitja Chaivannakoopt using teak recycled from nine existing teak houses in Phrae. It includes 130 large teak logs, each over 300 years old, used as house supports. It was opened to the public in 1985 by the family after the death of Kitja Chaivannakoopt. The contains a large collection of golden teak and other furniture and other objects. It is clearly a family house and indeed the wife of Kitja Chaivannakoopt, Lamyong Chaivannakoopt, still comes to the house most days, despite her age, and is quite happy to sit and chat with visitors (in Thai). [Source: Si Racha, Arthurrvr, tripadvisor.com

Walking from the car park one passes some gardens to the house itself built in the classic Northern Thai style. The first entrance on the left actually takes you to the basement where you can see some of the 130 large teak house supports. Walk further on and up the stairs by the second entrance will take you to the main part of the house. There is one large room full of furniture and other objects. Towards the back and right of the main room there is a doorway into a nice small courtyard with seats and further objects and a few plants. No-one seems to have any objections if one tries out the furniture and the chairs are generally surprisingly comfortable. The house sits in just under 5 acres of grounds and there are other smaller buildings about the place, including a couple of further small souvenir shops, as well as some pleasant gardens. Well worth spending a couple of hours here especially if you like teak.

Jim Thompson's House (near Siam Square on the banks of Saen Saep Canal, five kilometers east of the Grand Palace ) is a lovely traditional Thai-style mansion made almost completely of teak. The home of the famous Thai silk entrepreneur, who disappeared mysteriously while on vacation in Malaysia's Cameron Highland in 1967, the mansion is comprised of six antique wooden buildings that were transported from northern Thailand to Bangkok in 1959 and reassembled according to Thompson's instructions.

The rooms of the house contain extraordinary carved teak furniture and paneling and Thompson's collection of Thai, Chinese and Khmer antiques and art, the oldest of which dates back to the 7th century. There is also a restored tropical garden and receiving courtyard with bellboys that greet you as you emerge from your taxi and jazz bar next to a canal and, of course, an outlet for the Jim Thompson Silk Company. Be careful touts operating scams are active in the area,

Luxury Condominiums in Bangkok

In the mid 2000s, $650,000 would buy you a three-bedroom condominium with sweeping views and a private pool in a luxury high-rise in the heart of Bangkok. While this may sound like a lot it was significantly cheaper than similar digs in Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai. In 2004, a square meter of luxury condominium space was going for one tenth the price of similar units in Hong Kong, one third in Singapore and 10 percent less than Shanghai. This meant a condo that sold for $450,000 in Bangkok would cost as much as $5 million in Hong Kong. Put another money used to pay for an average condo in Hong Kong or Singapore could pay for a luxury condo in Bangkok. [Source: Shawn W. Crispin, New York Times, December 2, 2004]

The real estate market in Thailand was devastated by the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis. A glut of more than 14,000 unoccupied units brought a halt to the start of new projects between 1997 and 2002. The slump was exacerbated by legislation that banned foreigners from owning property in Thailand.

By 2003 things had picked up. That year the price of luxury condominiums jumped 34 percent; half-finished buildings abandoned during the crisis were completed and sold; and developers were demolishing neighborhoods to make way for new buildings. On top pf that reservations for not-yet-built units were being traded on informal speculative markets like they were before the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis . The revival was helped by the partial repealing of legislation that banned foreigners from owning property in Thailand.

By 2006, the luxury condo market drew some foreign developers but other said there weren’t enough rich people in Bangkok to absorb the supply. In 2004, foreigners made up about 10 percent of the purchasers of luxury dwellings but buy 2006 they were making up almost 40 percent but by that time sales was starting to fall off.

Real Estate Boom in the 2010s

By the 2010s, Bangkok was again alive with cranes and choked wit construction dust. Janesara Fugal of Agence France-Presse wrote: An ever-increasing number of pristine new apartment blocks jostle for space in desirable areas, vying for custom as billboards written in idiosyncratic English promise swanky lifestyles. It is a far cry from a decade ago, when the city was littered with the skeletal remains of abandoned tower blocks, casualties of the 1997 Asian financial crisis that devastated the region. [Source: Janesara Fugal, Agence France-Presse, July 31, 2011]

The Bank of Thailand has described 2010 as the “golden year for real estate businesses,” with strong demand for homes – driven by low interest rates and increased consumer confidence – causing a flurry of new buildings. This resulted in a 13.6 percent increase in registrations of new homes in Bangkok to the highest level since the 1997 crisis, according to the bank’s 2010 annual report. The bank said it would be “vigilant” for signs of a bubble – which it defined as a “sharp” increase in asset prices combined with strong growth in home loans. A bubble could then burst if demand drops off and there is a glut of available properties.

As demand slowed after the June 2010 expiry of stimulus measures – such as two-year interest-free home loans for first-time buyers – developers increasingly resorted to high-risk strategies in their fight to fill properties. Homebuyers with “insufficient purchasing power or subprime customers” were persuaded to buy, the bank said, while lenders also boosted the number of loans at 90 percent or more of the property value.

To help “maintain economic stability,” the bank responded by making some high loan-to-value lending more expensive for financial institutions. Property research group Agency for Real Estate Affairs (AREA) said it had detected a build-up in oversupply and warned that the level would become unsustainable. Its figures show there were more than 135,000 unsold property units in Bangkok and its suburbs as of July 2011, including projects under construction. Another 100,000 units are expected to come in to the market next year.

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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