5 things to pack when TEFL teaching in Thailand

So you’ve decided on the legendary Land of Smiles for a bout of English language teaching abroad. Great news! You’re about to delve into a place with more bucket-list-busting experiences on the menu than there are spicy pad Thai noodle dishes (and there is a whole load of them!). You’re about to meet fascinating Karen hill tribes, unravel thousands of years of Buddhist and Siamese history, sample the electric energy of Bangkok and kick-back on the fabled beaches of the Andaman coast. It’s hardly a surprise that TEFL teaching in Thailand is one of the most popular choices for recent myTEFL graduates!

Now for the packing. Aside from the ubiquitous board shorts and bikinis, the mozzie sprays and the sunnies, we’ve put together a little list of five things everyone heading to this corner of Southeast Asia should be sure to add to the backpack.

TEFL teaching in thailand
Bangkok | © Barbara Willi/Flickr

Cover-up clothing/a shawl

A shawl! In the tropics! The suggestion might sound a little silly, but actually the benefits of carrying just a little bit of winter-ready clothing to the Land of Smiles can’t be overstated. First off, cover-up clothing is perfect for keeping out the occasional (and we’re talking very occasional) chilly breeze rolling in from the Indian Ocean during the low season (great if you’re doing your TEFL teaching in Thailand close to the sea). Secondly, a shawl or any other garment that can be used to cover up bare arms and legs will mean you’re never going to be disallowed entry to those enthralling Buddhist shrines. Let’s be honest: no one wants to scale a whole mountain to see the glimmering stupas up top only for their knobbly kneecaps to spoil the show!

TEFL teaching in Thailand
Underwater in Thailand | © Andrea/Flickr

Diving booties

Diving booties are a nifty little addition to any travel pack for any lingo buffs doing their TEFL teaching in Thailand who are eager to spend some days away from the classroom exploring the colourful coral gardens and reefs of the Indian Ocean or gulf. With sturdy rubber and microfiber materials, these water-resistant shoes will make it easier than ever to don the snorkels and get in the water on your weekends off. Remember: Thailand is considered one of the real diving meccas of the world, with spots like Koh Tao and Samui coming up trumps for visibility and marine life!

TEFL teaching in Thailand
Full Moon Party | © Thomas sauzedde/Flickr

Neon paint

There’s really only one use for the shimmering pinks and reflective yellows of that neon paint kit for teachers heading to do their TEFL teaching in Thailand: the (in)famous Full Moon Parties of Koh Phangan. Offering the perfect escape from the classroom and the city, these mega blowouts on the beaches of the Thai Gulf have become nothing short of legendary for travelers in the region. They take place once a month at the turning of the full moon and are only for the most hedonistic of folk. You can expect oodles of bucket cocktails, fire shows, and up to 40,000 other people partying the night away on the sands!

TEFL teaching in Thailand
Thai locals | © Trevor Soh/Flickr

A phrasebook

Get your sa-wat-dees and kop kun maaks in order and the local Thais are sure to love you for it! Yep, just trying your hand at the vernacular always goes down a storm in the Land of Smiles, and is the perfect way to ingratiate yourself to your new hosts, colleagues, students (so long as it doesn’t damage Student Talk Time, of course), and people you meet. Get a good phrasebook and be sure to flick through on the flight over, whenever you’re riding those rumbling Bangkok buses, or just when you have some downtime between lessons.

TEFL teaching in Thailand
Beach on Koh Tao | © Oleg Sidorenko/Flickr

A raincoat

There’s a reason Thailand’s nickname isn’t the ‘Land of Suns’; and it’s surely got something to do with the trio of rainy seasons that strike the eastern, western and northern sections of the country like clockwork throughout the year. Take the sultry reaches of islands like Koh Samui and party-mad Koh Phangan, which are drenched by sporadic storms between September and wintertime. And then there are the tempests of the west coast, which begin around April time in earnest. The downpours won’t be like anything you’d get during the mega rains of India, but they will be hefty compared to weather in the UK and US. The upshot? Take a good set of waterproofs along with you!


Can you think of any other additional items that might help myTEFL graduates heading to do their TEFL teaching in Thailand? We’d love to hear about them in the comments. Or, is it time you got qualified and out to teach in the Land of Smiles? Be sure to check out our placement programs…

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