Thailand now world’s top destination for Chinese home buyers

But does its air quality remind them too much of home?

Chinese tourist queue through the gate of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. luis2499/Shutterstock

Residential real estate markets in Thailand attracted more Chinese buyer enquiries than any other country in 2018, data revealed Tuesday by Shanghai-based property portal showed.

It marks the first time for Thailand at the summit of’s chart that ranks the most popular countries for Chinese buying enquiries, surpassing Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK, in that order. It ranked third in 2017, sixth in the previous year.

“We have never seen buying inquiries for Thailand property so high,” said CEO and director Carrie Law. “This reflects the excellent offerings of Thai developments combined with the quality lifestyle and investment prospects they provide.”

While the relatively low price range of investment properties and the rise of infrastructure developments in Thailand appeal to the Chinese, environmental concerns may yet dissuade some of these property seekers, Law warned. The air quality in Greater Bangkok has been deteriorating over recent weeks as a toxic combo of PM2.5-spewing factories and vehicles, atmospheric conditions, and wind direction trap pollution over the metropolis.

“There are long-term threats to Bangkok’s appeal, especially the high levels of pollution seen recently,” Law said. “Chinese buyers don’t want to go overseas just to encounter the same levels of air pollution they have to put up with at home.”

Bangkok was the preferred Thai market for Chinese buyers by number of enquiries in 2018, followed by Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, and Ko Samui.

Buyers from mainland and Hong Kong accounted for about half of all foreign buyer purchases in the Thai capital last year, with about 15,000 new Bangkok apartments sold to Chinese and SAR nationals.

Thailand only raked in THB75 billion (USD2.3 billion) in investments from Chinese buyers, however, ranking fourth behind the US (USD30.4 billion), Hong Kong (USD16.2 billion), and Australia (USD14.1 billion).