Hugh first came to Thailand in 1969 as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and has visited many times since.  Starting in 2001 he and his wife Pikun lived in Chiang Mai Thailand during the winter months and returned to their home in Seattle during the summer.  Since 2007 they have lived in Thailand full time.  Hugh writes a retirement column for Chiang Mai City Life magazine called “A Retiring Attitude”, hosts his own website,, and writes a column on Thai language for called “Thai Language/Thai Culture”.  He is also the author of the English language series Professional English for Thailand, Silkworm Press.  When they have nothing else to do the Leongs have an endangered tortoise sanctuary, work in their garden, and travel when they can.

25 Responses to “About”

  1. arthur tan said

    i like to continue to get info on retirement in Chiang mai. Sounds exciting.

    • Arthur,

      The best thing to do is get the book Retiring in Thailand which I have reviewed earlier in this blog. It is full of good stuff. Then check out my website for lots of general info. That will get you started. There is a website called which might help with questions about Chiang Mai.

      Lots of Luck

  2. Michael said

    Aloha Hugh:

    Ernie flagged your excellent piece “What Color Is Your Shirt?” Excellent advice and a nice summary of the situation. Keep up the good work, and let me know if you come through Hawaii.


    PS: Do you have an Apple iPhone? You’ve probably heard about their “apps.” I recently bought one for $15 which teaches you Italian. Each podcast is only 5 minutes long, and the series is 110 podcasts. The guy who created the podcast has about 20,000 subscribers. It’s a lot of fun and he’s not even a professional, native, Italian language teacher — just an American who loves the language and culture of Italy, and spent a few years there. It occurs to me that you could do the same thing for the Thai language. let me know if you want the name of the podcast.

  3. Hugh,

    As the author of MY THAI GIRL AND I, an autobiographical account of retiring to live in a village in Isaan, I am intrigued to see your current endeavours. Congratulations on all of this. Serious stuff on retiring in Thailand is very much needed.

    I was also interested to see your ebook site. I have a blog at and have often thought it would be fun to put together some of the less ephemeral articles as an ebook.

    Retiring in Thailand has been good for me and I can recommend it though the usual trbulations of the world do not magically disappear when you land at Suvarnabhumi. They’re simply reincarnated in different form that the old stagers can help you recognise.

    All the very best to you,

    Andrew Hicks.

  4. Anyone interested in putting pen to paper (or just typing on the computer) and is considering publishing as an eBook drop by and see how easy it would be.

  5. sidney leonard said


    I met my Thai wife when I was a WorldTeach volunteer English teacher at Suansunandha Teachers College in Bankok, where she was an ajarn, in 1991. We have been living in the US since our marriage 17 years ago,and now plan to move permanently to Thailand. We recently spent 6 weeks there for the purpose of surveying the country for the best place to live; we decided upon Chiang Mai (ampur Mae Rim)about 30 min north of the city – close to the Prem International School, or Hua Hin. – I discovered your website and have read all your articles and blogs and look forward to future offerings. – Would you please comment on three issues: How has the reoccurring smoke-air pollution problem affected your life in Chiang Mai? Is health insurance necessary in Thailand, given the very reasonable health care costs? And, please give your opinion of living in Chiang Mai vs Hua Hin.

    KawpKhun Khrap,

    Sid Leonard

    • Sidney,

      Good luck with your plans. I live in Chiang Mai but I have been to Hua Hin. It is very nice, right on the water, and is developing a large Expat population of retirees. See some write ups here ( If you want to live near the sea then it is a good place, although without the nice coral reefs like the west coast has. Chiang Mai has around 20 thousand plus Expats but is big enough that they do not stand out. It is a cultural center, no beach, but the mountains surround it.

      The Mae Rim area where you are thinking of is very nice but the big problem is traffic. That is one of the most crowded roads. If you come into town often then traffic will be a problem.

      As to the smoke pollution, it can be very bad some years. Last year was bad. It comes from the burning of the forests, much of it on the Myanmar side. The smoke can be pretty dense and can last for a few weeks. Couple that with the fact that the hot season seems to be getting hotter and longer and Mar Apr May can be difficult months here. See my recent post Escape from the Hot Season ( to see how I plan to deal with it. We might even go down to Hua Hin when the smoke gets bad. BTW, it is not only CM that has this problem but the whole north from Myanmar to Laos does.

      Hope this helps a bit. Two books you might want to look at: Retiring in Thailand, from Paiboon Publishing ( and my own eBook Retired Life in Thailand (

      Again, lots of luck and do your homework before coming.

  6. David said

    Hi I just found your blog, love it. Can I buy these books when I get to Thailand? Where, please? I can’t get ‘retiring to Thailand’ here in Switzerland (‘not currently available’).


  7. malcolm said

    Hugh, Malcolm here again, from “Retired in Thailand and Loving It “, I’ve added you to my blog list and ask if you would do the same ,that is if you are interested in sharing sites , Love your blog and have sent several of your post to friends. Malcolm

  8. Malcolm,

    Glad you are enjoying your retirement here. From your site ( I can see that things look pretty nice in Kanchanaburi.

    Keep well and happy.

  9. drsunil said

    hello . its really nice to read about retirement life in thailand

  10. Hugh said


    You have a nice easy-to-read style for your blog. I liked, for example, in “Why the Retirement Stage beats all the others”:
    * Never have to go through an annual performance evaluation
    * Won’t have to contemplate murder after an annual performance evaluation
    * Don’t worry if my evaluation will get me that annual 2% pay raise

    Chuckled of course when, whilst wondering about whether Thailand would be a good place to retire (after spending 9 months in Chiang Mai), I saw that your name is also Hugh.


  11. Ruthie Cassidy said

    Hi Hugh, I’ve enjoyed reading many of your posts this a.m.–here in Panama–hoping to move to Chiang Mai in a few months! I haven’t been able to find info on– if immigration puts a limit on how many animals one can bring into the country. My friend and I want to bring 3 animals each (all rescued.) Any thoughts on where I can find this? Thanks, Ruthie

    • Hi Ruthie,

      Good luck on your retirement plans. I assume that your rescue animals are dogs and/or cats. We ourselves rescued endangered mountain tortoises here (I am sure I have written about that somewhere in my blog). We also have a few rescue rabbits. I don’t know about how many you can bring with you. My next door neighbor brought his dog from Ireland with no trouble.

      But how about considering this, Thailand has a huge abandoned dog problem (and sadly to say a problem of street dogs being sent to countries where they are used for food, Vietnam and China mostly). There are a number of really good rescue programs here. One I am familiar with is Care for Dogs ( I am sure they have some info that can help you and if you decide not to bring your animals there are many here waiting to be rescued.

      I am not a big dog and cat fan. Street dogs here run in huge packs with mange and rabies endemic, and outdoor cats have killed every fledgling bird, beautiful blue headed lizard, frog, and 19 of our baby rabbits here in our garden. So responsible ownership of these animals is pretty important.

      Lots of luck with your plans. Write to Care for Dogs and see if they can help.

  12. Hi Hugh

    My wife Diane and I were referred to your blog by Lani, who says you are an excellent source of everything regarding retirement in Thailand. Our long story short: Diane and I are applying for an MM2H visa in Malaysia in April as soon as I turn age 50 and planning to move to Penang. We’re retiring early and selling our house; since we live in Northern California our house should fetch almost 750K and we own it clear so we intend to use that money to live for awhile.

    Anyway, we love Thailand and it’s always been “Plan B” (either Chaing Mai or Hua Hin) but we absolutely hate the stupid visa runs. MM2H allows 10 years unlimited entry but requires a large cash fixed deposit.

    Anyway, Malaysia recently enhanced its rules and are starting to do random income verification checks in a way that US banks are not really allowed to do so we’ve been asking everyone about Thailand’s visas just in case we get rejected. Lani thinks we’re making a lot of noise about nothing but I just feel the visa runs are ridiculous when so many people want to emigrate there.

    I’m going to give your blog a long read and would really appreciate it if you check ours out at You can read some of our stories so far; I just started the blog 6 weeks ago

    We’re gathering a small list of contacts ahead of the move so we might be able to meet if we have questions or issues and we’d love to add you to our list.

    Hope to hear from you soon
    Rob and Diane

  13. JJ said

    Hi Hugh,

    My husband and I are going to be visiting Cambodia and Thailand from December 22nd (just in a couple of weeks) to Jan 5th (in Chiang Mai from 12/27-Jan 1st). While doing researching for our trip, I stumbled upon your blog site and have found it to be very helpful and lots of humor. We would love to meet you in person for lunch/dinner while we are in Chiang Mai if you are available!

    Feel free to email me at the email address directly. Thanks!


  14. JJ said

    ok – can you send me your email and I will put it in my address book.

  15. Bruce M said

    Sorry Hugh I wanted to email you but I’m not seeing the link.

    Anyway I wanted to thank you for your work. Your blog has been a highlight of my 2014. On Sunday we leave Vancouver for Bangkok and my last vacation in Thailand. The next time I go to Thailand, a year from now, it will be to retire! Your book and blog are really helping. Thank you.

    PS will be in Chiang Mai around Jan 20th in case you consent to meet one of your groupies.

    Cheers, Bruce in Vancouver

  16. Hello! I loved your post after finding it on a local forum. It was very interesting and so I was hoping you could identify some similar information. Keep Posting Thankyou.

  17. Ying said

    Endangered tortoise sanctuary now that’s something I would like to see.

    • Ying,

      We have since released our tortoises (about 90 of them) back into the forest – a safe place provided for us by the Chiang Mai Zoo. We really miss them though and even though they have more than 30 babies while living with us they are better in the natural (protected) forest where they belong.

  18. Daniel Tam said

    Do you still pay for Medicare from your monthly Social Security benefit while you live in Thailand? or no more need for that?
    Thank you!

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