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A Guide to High School Programs Abroad in Thailand

Thailand is a country with multiple forms of enticing beauty; from natural scenery to golden temples and Buddhist inspired architecture, there is much to explore and see. High school programs in Thailand are ideal for young explorers, as Thai cities tend to be quite safe, programs are well-organized, and the culture is enchanting. Thailand also provides the perfect combination of opportunities, including exposure to a developing nation, relaxation on amazing beaches, and jungle adventures. And don’t forget that Thailand is the “land of smiles”, thanks to its kind-hearted, welcoming people. 

Locations

Thailand is one of the most sought after travel destinations in the world, known for its rainforest canopies, mountains, and tropical luxuries. Although a popular place for tourism, Thailand has a lot to teach students who are willing to embrace the country beyond the level that tourism allows. High school programs in Thailand are the ideal way for students to begin pursuing new experiences abroad, with a good balance between cultural immersion and service learning offered in each program. 

Bangkok is the capital and most populated city of Thailand. Located in the Chao Phraya River delta, the river meanders through the streets of Bangkok. Although it is a large and populous city, it is an ideal location for high school programs in Thailand because of its liveliness. Even if your high school program in Thailand travels to other destinations, you can expect Bangkok to be included in the itinerary in some way.

Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains, and home to hundreds of breathtaking Buddhist temples. Chiang Mai is a great location for high school programs in Thailand for those interested in exploring the cultural and religious center of the country. With rural villages dotting the province, homestays are an important component of most high school program in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is not only a quintessential way to get exposure to the culture of Thailand, it also has some pretty outstanding views too.  

Phuket is a southern province and the biggest island in Thailand. With mountains inland and gorgeous coasts in every direction, Phuket is a prime location for high school programs in Thailand. Program opportunities range from marine conservation to cultural exploration, and there is plenty to experience in Phuket that goes far beyond tourism.

High School Programs in Thailand

Many high school programs in Thailand involve service work, while also incorporating adventure travel! With a well-planned itinerary, each day will be full of activities and meaningful travel, all while connecting with and learning from locals. High school programs in Thailand may last anywhere from two to four weeks, but usually take place during typical seasonal breaks for high schools. Long-term exchange programs are an alternative option that allow students to stay in Thailand for a semester or even a full year.

Marine Conservation programs often provide students with the opportunity to take Open Water Courses, so they can become scuba certified and assist with observing and protecting marine life. Participants on these programs will also help with cleanups to protect the beaches along the coasts of Thailand. These programs are a great opportunity for students to work in preservation and conservation, and they may even get to dive in some of the clearest waters in the world along the way.

Elephant Service. Elephant conservation is a huge part of Thai culture, and there are many high school programs in Thailand that incorporate adventure travel with volunteer work at elephant sanctuaries. Students will get to know these gentle giants by riding them, bathing them, and even playing with them. Other animal conservation projects are also a possibility, but elephant service work is some of the most popular forms of volunteerism in Thailand.

Cultural Exploration programs allow students to immerse themselves in Thai culture, while also enjoying all the outdoor adventures the country has to offer. Cultural exploration is an important aspect of high school study abroad, as it is typically students’ first international experience. By learning about the Buddhist culture and the history of the Thai people, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the country and learn how to engage respectfully with different cultures.

Safety is of the utmost importance to high school program providers in Thailand. With a planned itinerary, students won’t be sent off to travel independently, but they can still feel a sense of independence as they learn how to travel. Students will be under supervision throughout their program, to ensure safety, but they are also given the right to make some of their own decisions. 

July through October is the low season, or monsoon, making it the off-season for travel to Thailand. The high season follows the monsoon season, and is known to be cool and dry. The shoulder season is a drier season and one of the best times to travel to Thailand if your program is up north or near the Gulf Coast. 

Scholarships & Costs

There are many scholarship opportunities available for students who wish to attend high school programs in Thailand. Each scholarship application process is different, so students should be sure to review the requirements of each scholarship before applying. Scholarship applications typically require an essay question response, a host family introduction letter or program acceptance letter, teacher recommendations, and basic information. Each application will likely also have a required fee.

Thailand is a country known for its affordable prices, similarly to most countries in Southeast Asia. Considered a bargain for  travelers in almost every way, Thailand not only has affordable food and accommodations, but travelers can even get into museums, temples, and other sacred sites for around $2 (just remember to dress appropriately). With breakfast costing around $2, lunch about $4, and dinner $7, students will be able to try some amazing Thai food for next to nothing.

Accommodation & Visas

Hotels are the most popular accommodation provided to high school students in Thailand, but homestays and guest houses are also frequently available. Homestays are the most common accommodation for students participating in exchange programs, long-term programs, or programs based in rural areas. 

Your program provider or local school should help you with the visa process, to ensure everything is filed correctly. A tourist visa is the most common visa used for high school program participants.  Tourist visas are only necessary if your stay is expected to exceed a thirty day maximum, however. If you will be in Thailand for under the 30 day time limit, then all you will need is a passport that is valid for six months after you expected departure date.

Benefits & Challenges

Early Exposure. By immersing yourself in a new culture at a young age, you have the opportunity to create a more accurate worldview much earlier than most of your peers. Through learning how to travel before many of your friends get the opportunity to go abroad at all, you will begin to understand valuable information about the world and yourself. You are never too young to travel! 

Taste of Thailand. Thailand is an outstanding location for high school programs abroad, especially for first time travelers. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful, but you will learn more about Southeast Asian culture and the developing world while experiencing it firsthand through a mixture of cultural activities and service work.

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A Guide To
High School Programs Abroad in Thailand

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