Despite mainstream stereotypes, Thailand is more than just a tropical hot spot for tourists. Hollywood films like The Hangover and The Beach do little justice to showcase the country’s cultural depth and rich historical traditions. Teachers looking for opportunities to teach abroad should not underestimate the benefits of living and teaching in Thailand. High demand, job flexibility, and quality of life are just a few reasons why the former Siam is the ultimate teach abroad destination. But who’s counting?
High Demand = More Opportunities
The demand for native English speaking teachers in Thailand is evident. Numerous TEFL, TESOL, and ESL certification programs are available in several locations in Thailand, some of which guarantee an English teaching job in Thailand after certification. In general, certified teachers will have more teaching job opportunities to choose from in Thailand. Plenty of schools hire regularly, especially in cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. But you can easily teach English in Thailand’s rural locations and smaller villages, as well in places like Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Saraburi, AngThong, and Lopburi.
Freedom of Choice
With so many available opportunities to teach English in Thailand, teachers have more freedom to decide on the location and type of teaching position. The geographic diversity of Thailand is magical. If you like the beach and plenty of fresh seafood, you can choose to teach in south Thailand, on the warm sands of Krabi or Surat Thani, or even look at islands like Koh Samui.
If you prefer a cooler mountainous region, try Chiang Rai or Pai. If you enjoy jungles and monkeys, look in Lopburi or the Udon Thani region. If you prefer the big city lights, Bangkok is the place for you, or perhaps busy neighboring cities like Chonburi, Pattaya, or Rayong.
The type of schools will vary depending on the location you choose, but there are generally several types to choose from. You can teach in government or public schools, or you can elect to work in privately run schools, universities, or even in language centers and workplaces. The condition of schools and quality of teaching tend to be higher in private schools and language centers. You can choose to teach English in Thailand to young children, middle or high school students, or adults, either teaching general or business English.
Salary & Cost of Living
Besides Singapore, Southeast Asia is considerably more affordable than the U.S. Most individuals who teach abroad in Thailand make a minimum of $1000 per month (roughly 30,000 Thai Baht), and experienced teachers can easily earn twice that working in higher paying jobs. Your average one bedroom apartment in Bangkok rents for $330 per month, monthly transportation passes are $30, and a delicious plate of Pad Thai is $1.00 on the street, or up to $5 at a higher end restaurant. So teachers have the opportunity to save money, or put it in their travel fund!
Quality of Life
Thailand is sometimes referred to as “The Land of Smiles.” This comes from the fact that Thais are a naturally happy, friendly, and peaceful people who like to smile a lot! Perhaps their relaxed vibe comes from the majority of people practicing Buddhism. Whatever the reason, Thailand’s quality of life ranks second according to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). There’s also a rather large network of expatriates living in Thailand, which makes it easy to search apartments, jobs, and find suggestions for all things local, including easy trips to neighboring Cambodia or Laos when it’s time to extend the visa.
Travel & Adventure
Thailand is a highly central nation bordered by Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia, with Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines nearby as well. The ease and affordability of transportation in this region makes it easy to travel to all sorts of destinations, both within and outside of Thailand, including tropical jungles, waterfalls, ancient forests, National Parks, sublime ruins like Angkor Wat, huge limestone cliffs, exquisite beaches, and incredible cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, and Manila.
Food, Foot Massages, & Fish Spas
Thai cuisine is some of the best in the world, especially if you enjoy spicy. Of course you have your traditional coconut chicken and sweet n’ spicy shrimp soup, Pad Thai noodles, and plenty of curries, but there are many other dishes and items entirely foreign to most Americans, like exotic fruits, oyster omelettes, or fried grasshoppers. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous, but do be aware of signs to help you avoid food poisoning!
Massages in Thailand are cheap and authentic. Whether it’s a traditional Thai massage, foot massage, or even Swiss deep tissue, they know what they’re doing, and they don’t charge an arm and a leg. Be sure to get your fill while there, and try the fish spa too if you’re not too ticklish. It leaves your skin feeling silky and smooth, and it’s not legal in the States.