Making A Map Of The Land To Build A House In Thailand

When you have found a piece of land that has the potential to become yours and a suitable location for you to build your retirement house in Thailand, how do you make a map of it?

Why Make A Map Anyway?

Why on earth would you want to make a map of your potential back garden anyway?

One reason I need a map is to plan the position of the house I will be building on the land and plan the earthworks that I will have to do.

By earthworks I mean filling any deep holes or low areas with backfill material, making access roads and setting out the foundations for the house etc.

Normally, such a map would be made by undertaking a topographical survey. This means measuring the land using surveying equipment such as a theodolite or more simply, a measuring tape.

But that is time consuming and theodolites are expensive and you need training to be be able to use one.

Using A GPS SatNav To Make A Map Of The Land

My idea is to simply walk around the land with my SatNav in hand and plot the outline of the land by recording the GPS coordinates at intervals.

These would then be plotted onto a map – preferably a ‘software’ map ie a google earth map if this is available otherwise onto an existing paper map – if one can be found to a decent enough scale.

There are many questions to answer before this can become a serious proposition, such as:-

  • What type of SatNav to use to get the GPS coordinates?
  • How accurate can the GPS coordinate measurements be?
  • How easy is it to record the GPS coordinates?
  • What kind of ‘software’ maps are available for the area of interest in Thailand?
  • What kind of paper maps are available for the area of interest in Thailand?

Well, on this page I’ll start to answer some of those questions.

What type of SatNav to use to get the GPS coordinates?

Here I’m talking specifically about SatNavs for use in Thailand.

In the UK I have a TomTom SatNav and it’s fine, except for one thing – there are no maps of Thailand available for it.

Since I’ll be using the SatNav to map the land I might as well get one that has maps of Thailand also. So, the first thing to do is to find out the best type of SatNav there is for use in Thailand.

A quick google search brings up quite a few comments on the ThaiVisa forum:-

I did a lot of research before deciding which GPS unit to buy, and ended up settling on a Garmin (nuvi 260) – mainly for the ease of obtaining and updating maps.There are 3 or 4 different maps available that I am aware of:

  • Thai Street Map (now v10)
  • SE Asia (v4.5) – also includes Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia,
  • Hong Kong and Macau
  • Rottweiler (not sure about version)
  • a Topo map (version also unknown).”
  • .
    I have a locally purchased Garmin Nuvi 200 (I think thats the model – it was about B9900 from MBK).

    It’s slow to start up and locate the satellites, it looses satellite reception along Sukhumvit (under the sky train).

    On the positive I’ve found it useful with good maps both in and outside of Bangkok and it takes a lot of stress away from travelling to unknown parts

    Agreed with the above – I have a 3-year old Garmin 310 unit, and the maps are rather good, very detailed.GPS is definitely the most useful add-on I’ve had on the car, I have a rather bad sense of orientation, I’d probably be in Mongolia by now if I didn’t have it.

    And yes, best to buy it directly here from ESRI/Gadgettrend, you’ll get support and I think they offer free map updates for a year

    I use a Garmin Nuvi 260 W and my maps are from Rottweiler who I found through Thai Visa.The Rottweiler maps I have found to be very good and not that expensive though I cannot remember the cost as it was over a year ago.I also use it on my motorcycle and in hindsight I wish I had bought a model with Bluetooth so that I can hear it.All I can say it that the system works well for me though at times it misses a turn or tells me to go on a different road it is excellent for 99% of the time and the detail is very good down to 70 metres if I need it.
    We use a Garmin GPS that we bought in BKKIt certainly does work well although it helps if he is fluent in Thai writing as it can become a bit hard to find some shopping centers or other places with a official name and a nick name.But as for navigating to get from one address to another it has been great not always the shortest way but .. who am I to complain as without it would take 3 times as long to get from A to B.Worked well when visiting friends in Udon Thani and Korat as well as in BKK


    I have in my MU7 the Kenwood DNX7340BT Garmin with TSM V10 and external antennae mounted on the dashboard. It locks onto the satellites in seconds. If have an accuracy of 3 metres hence a great reception i.e satellite connection.

    NOTE: I have seen the Kenwood DNX7340BT Garmin advertised for sale at 43,500 Baht!

    I recently bought a Garmin Nuvi 205W in the UK for the equivalent thai price of 5000 baht, with the thinking of buying the thai map over here (Phuket).The shop I found which sells the Garmin’s (in Central Festival) the guy wouldn’t sell me the official ESRI map for thailand unless I bought one of their units (same model was 9,900 baht) so after a tiny tiny bit of research on the internet I managed to download the map (v.9) directly from the net.

    Great piece of software, thousands of POI’s. Works like a treat. One happy GPS customer. !!!

    I have several Garmin units all bought outside Thailand. I have the Garmin map on SD I bought in the US and the ESRI downloaded for free. IMO the ESRI has much more detail and is better with street names.
    I bought a Garmin Nuvi 200 recently.Can not say I am very impressed with how it handles around Bangkok.

    Guided me to a shortcut which turned to be a dead end about 3 times already.

    Told me to take the expressway while I knew a shorter road…

    Guess I am spoiled with the more userfriendly TomTom in Europe.

    Can not remember which maps are off factory installed in the garmin, but I am sure there are better ones.

    Here is the web page where all those comments were posted:-

    There is a whole section of the ThaiVisa Forum dedcicated to GPS. Here is the link:-

    Well, from all that it seems like the Garmin GPS SatNav is the way to go. I’ll be getting the GPSMAP 60Cx and when I have it I’ll give you a report.

    Browse Garmin GPS SatNavs on

    In the mantime you may want to look at the Garmin GPS SatNavs available from so I have made a special page for you right here.

    How accurate can the GPS coordinate measurements be?

    Assuming this is Thailand, WAAS isn’t available. So the text book accuracy of a GPS navigation device is 10-15m, due the ionspheric component of the error.This can only be corrected by using a professional survey type GPS equipment that has a baseline corrected result based.The o/p might just as well pace it out, or use Google Earth if not wanting a professional cadestral surveyor do it.

    Here is the web page where all those comments were posted:-

    How easy is it to record the GPS coordinates?

    Some of the better Garmin hand held units will do a great job.Take your first set of waypoints clockwise and the second set counterclockwise. If thecalculation doesn’t repeat very closely, do it again.

    I think you’llbe quite surprised how closely it repeats.

    ADDED – The GPS does the calculation automatically. You don’t need any extra program.

    If you are going to buy a GPS for this, make sure it is capable of the automatic calculations.

    You can easily find this information by Googling GPS reviews. It’s a good excuse to buy a very handy little device.

    If you have a GPSMAP 60Cx, it is indeed capable of area measurement.Features:

    • Automatic routing (turn by turn routing on roads): yes
    • Electronic compass: no
    • Touchscreen: no
    • Barometric altimeter: no
    • Camera: no
    • Geocaching-friendly: yes
    • Custom maps compatible: no
    • Outdoor GPS games: yes
    • Hunt/fish calendar: yes
    • Sun and moon information: yes
    • Tide tables: no
    • Area calculation: yes
    • Custom POIs (ability to add additional points of interest):
    • Unit-to-unit transfer (shares data wirelessly with similar
      units): no
    • Picture viewer: no
    Hmm, thanks for that.I’ve been through all the menus on my unit and all through the user manual and see no mention of Area Measurement.

    I suspect you are right and that it can do this, but I have been unable to find out how.

    Any suggestions?

    If I remember correctly it is in the Tracks section of the menu.

    Quite right! Thanks for that – very well hidden. It’s on the menu button within the tracks screen. Well worth checking for the OP if his/her unit has that function.

    Here is the web page where all those comments were posted:-

    I bought from ESRI on Sathorn Nua Road the Tailand map, version 9.0 for 4,500 THB.

    Looks good and works good.

    I use the Garmin GPSmap 60CSx, a very powerful and sophisticated GPS machine with precision of about 3 to 5 meter (depend on what kind of satelite reception you have).

    Tracks and waypoint which are recorded by the handheld GPS can be downloaded on Google earth by the attached software Mapsource, included in the GPS.

    I only don’t know how to enter the recently bought Thailand Map in Mapsource…. I only succeeded in downloading the map on the mini-mini-mini SD-card of the GPS.

    The map from the USA is 8,500 THB…

    consult for further information.

    Here is the web page where all those comments were posted:-

    What kind of ‘software’ maps are available for the area of interest in Thailand?

    All I have found at the moment except for Google earth and the SatNav maps are the ESRI maps. Working on it though so please join the Announcement List and receive an email when the blog or website is updated.

    Make your own map here:-

    Other useful web pages:-

    Browse Garmin GPS SatNavs on

    What kind of paper maps are available for the area of interest in Thailand? is a great place to look for maps of Thailand. In fact I have added a web page to this website so that you can browse maps of Thailand from without leaving this web site. Just click here to go to the maps page on this website.

    Click to join the Announcement List and get a notification when the website is updated

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