Sawatdee! The Land of Smiles will keep you grinning for years and Thai hospitality will make you want to stay forever. From the Chatuchak Market to Khao San Road, and the Chiang Mai night bazaar to Doi Suthep, the Kingdom of Thailand offers a range of cultural experiences for students who decide to study abroad in Thailand. Thanks to the Thai way of combining traditional and modern, study abroad in Thailand is all the more educational and enriching in and outside the classroom, no matter what course or location students select.
Choose to study abroad in Bangkok and you can expect a bustling metropolis laced with river canals and tightly packed, chaotic highways. The nation’s capital city provides study abroad students with access to a large number of social opportunities, culinary delights, and affordable shopping, on top of access to some of Thailand’s top rated universities! A number of study abroad agencies in Thailand offer programs at Mahidol University and Siam University.
Studying in Chiang Mai provides more of a blend between history and nature, and students should prepare for a more laid back feel than Bangkok. If you’re looking for an even more quiet, rural experience, study abroad in Mae Hong Song near the Karen Hill tribes, one of the most unique opportunities to study abroad in Thailand.
No matter where you study in Thailand, you should have no trouble with travel to other locations throughout the country. Taxis, tuk tuks, buses, and rail lines are available to take you to the south’s pristine beaches year round, and you’ll only be a hop, skip, or jump from neighboring Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, and even Vietnam! Excursions to historic sites or nearby countries are even built in to some study abroad programs in Thailand, and there are also some short-term programs based on southern islands, like Koh Samui, for those who want to mix time at the beach with academic study in Thailand.
Subjects & Courses
The most popular subjects or majors for study abroad in Thailand are Business, International Relations, and Marketing, but that doesn’t mean that programs catering to Communications, Environmental Studies, Photography, or Creative Writing aren’t available courses to study in Thailand too.
Language. While Thai is the most commonly spoken language amongst natives, extensive knowledge of the language is certainly not a requirement for getting by. Thailand’s main source of revenue is from the tourism industry, and most Thai people speak English. Classes are offered in English for international students, but locals will encourage you to give Thai a try too!
When To Go. The best time to study in Thailand falls largely on what kind of climate you prefer. The dry season (November to February) is ideal because you will miss the tropical monsoon rain and the heat that comes with Spring and Summer. But if you don’t mind getting a little wet, or sweaty, then you can select from study abroad programs offered anytime of the year!
In Thailand, the academic year is made up of two semesters, June to October and November to March, and a summer session from April to May. However, some Thai universities have adopted different start and end dates for their semesters to correlate with the U.S. school system, and thus those who wish to study abroad in Thailand.
Scholarships & Costs
Thailand is the destination for you if you’re looking for affordability and a low cost of living while studying abroad. Prices can vary throughout the country, but overall the nation is significantly affordable for those on a tight budget. A filling meal of delicious local cuisine costs between one and two dollars, a tuk-tuk ride can range from one to 10 dollars, and a trip to the grocery store can easily cost less than 10 dollars.
Be aware of farang (foreigner) traps thought, especially in larger cities or tourist areas. If you don’t know the local cost in Baht of an item or ride, or don’t seem confident, you will be asked to pay a much higher price than the actual worth of the item or service. It is also common for tuk-tuk drivers to take detours on the way to your destination to try to sell you products from stores they partner with to rip off foreigners, so if a driver won’t take you directly to your destination, just get off immediately. If your program doesn’t include transport, food, or extracurricular activities, expect to budget about $300–$600 a month.
After choosing to study abroad in Thailand, students should check out GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory to see what type of financial aid awards they may be eligible for.
Accommodations & Visas
Study abroad programs in Thailand offer a variety of housing options for international students.
U.S. citizens do not need a tourist visa if they enter the country by air and are participating in a short-term study abroad programs in Thailand. These students will be allowed up to 30 days to complete their visit. However, those going on programs that last over 30 days will need to apply for a tourist visa. Tourist visas allow students to stay for 60 days in Thailand and are valid for 90 days from the date of issue. For any duration longer than 60 days, international students will have to apply for a visa extension (Contact or visit a consulate or embassy in your home country before traveling to Thailand to make sure you have all the information you need to know about visas).
When applying for a visa, make sure you have a current passport (valid for at least six months), two additional passport photos, your travel itinerary, and a bank statement. If you’re under 20 you will be required to send a few additional documents too. All applicants should expect to pay about $90 for a visa.
Benefits & Challenges
- Thai Traditions: You can experience the best Pad Thai to ever touch your lips, explore the exquisite historic city of Ayutthaya, watch a Muay Thai (boxing) event, meditate with the monks at a Buddhist monastery, or relax after class with a Thai deep-tissue massage
- Easy Communication: The high literacy rate of Thais enables for ease of communication, and because in general Thai people are extremely helpful and friendly, most students will find getting lost is never an issue.
- Buddhism Abounds: As the official religion of Thailand, students can explore in depth the traditions, history, and practices associated with Buddhism.
- The King: Most Thais love and respect their king so keep this in mind when near his image or in discussions.
- Transportation: Traffic in big cities like Bangkok, or more touristy locations and major cities can be extremely chaotic and sometimes pricey. On the other hand, transportation across the country is very affordable and provides quite the cultural experience as well.