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Thailand's foreign retirees see their good life slip away

Surging baht and new rules dull the country's allure for budget-minded expats

Pattaya has been popular with foreign expats and tourists since American servicemen flocked there during the Vietnam War.  (Photo by George Styllis)

PATTAYA, Thailand -- From the mountains of Chiang Mai to the beaches of Phuket, Thailand has long been a draw for foreign retirees wishing to spend their golden years in tropical bliss. But for the many who have enjoyed paradise on the cheap, their dreams are ebbing away as the country opens up to a wealthier class of retirees.

The Thai baht rose to a six-year high against the dollar last year to become one of the world's most stable currencies. Though it has depreciated in the past two months, it is still significantly stronger compared to three or four years ago. Seen as a safe bet amid the U.S.-China trade war, the baht has caused visitor numbers to drop and hotel occupancy rates to halve.

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