5 reasons to love teaching English in Chiang Mai
Posted on 22-11-2018 by Joseph Francis
Ah, Chiang Mai – the lovable Thai city of the north. Surrounded by jungle-covered hills where elephants tramp and gold-glimmering stupas crown the summits, the city is an ancient capital of the Lanna kingdom. That gives it stunning temple architecture and crumbly walls dating back centuries, all worked into an urban fabric with enticing spas and buzzing bazaars. There are loads of reasons why you’re bound to love teaching English in Chiang Mai, whether you’re dusting off our very own Thailand internship or coming with a pre-done 120-hour certificate.
Of all Thailand’s cities, Chiang Mai is perhaps the only one that can give the temple-covered town of Sukhothai a run for its money on the architecture front (sorry, Bangkok). That’s because this gorgeous gateway to the north manages to pack most of its stunning stupas and pagodas into an Old City, which itself was once the epicenter of the ancient Lanna kingdom. Some of the highlights include the venerable Wat Chiang Man, topped with a gold-hued chedi that’s thought to date back to the 1200s. Meanwhile, the soaring Wat Phra That Doi Suthep crowns a mountain nearby, its spinning prayer wheels and monkish chants echoing across the Chiang Mai valley each evening.
Row upon row of whirring gadgets and tripods, multicolored clothes, ‘I love Thailand’ tees, aromatic spices, second-hand books, and all sorts of other trinketry bursts from the sprawling night bazaar of Chiang Mai. It’s one of the most famous places to go shopping and haggling in the whole Land of Smiles. You can find it unfolding through the blocks a couple of streets away from the western gate of the Old City, where it erupts when the sun sets in a cacophony of calling salespeople and hawkers. All around it are clutches of lively bars and eateries, sizzling with pad Thai noodles and sloshing with ice-cold Chang beers.
Chiang Mai is home to one of the most eclectic gastronomic scenes in all of Thailand. Of course, you can bag all the usual street-food treats as you wander the tight-knit lanes of the Old City and the buzzing night bazaar. That means peanut-infused noodles topped with beansprouts and chili and fresh greens, along with papaya salads and spicy Thai soups. But there are also influences from China and Burma and even India to be felt in this corner of the north. Vegan cafés touting lentil dals rub shoulders with Canton cookhouses that burst with mock-meat stir fries. There’s always something for the foodies teaching English in Chiang Mai.
Everyone knows of the famed friendliness of the Thai people. That’s never in question, no matter if you’re teaching English in Chiang Mai or the shimmering islands of the south. However, because this northern city has risen to become one of the top destinations for TEFL teachers and expats and digital nomads in the last few decades, there’s a real diversity of folk living, working and playing within. It’s a place where you can be sharing a meal with a Chiang Mai local one moment, sipping a beer with a traveling German the next, and teaching in the same English school as US citizens, Canadians and Brits throughout the week.
Pai is so darn close
The vibes of the big city getting just a little too much? There’s always an escape on the menu for those teaching English in Chiang Mai. It comes in the form of the much-loved town of Pai, which sits tucked into the jungle-dressed hills that rise to the north. A 2-hour bus wiggles up towards the Burmese border to take you there. Then, it’s all about hopping the bamboo bars, joining weekend yoga classes and enjoying the laid-back vibes that abound between the slow-moving Pai River and the bubbling hot springs.
We love this part of the Land of Smiles so much that we’ve even got our own internship that promises to get you teaching English in Chiang Mai. Places on that are open right throughout the year. Of course, if you can think of any other reasons why this city is one of the best in Thailand, we’d sure love to hear about them in the comments below!