Thailand has long been an extremely popular travel destination for a while now attracting millions of tourists every year to check out it’s various popular attractions like beautiful waterfalls in Chiang Mai, buzzing night markets in Bangkok and bumping party Islands in the south. Thailand has also recently become a very popular expat destination, the majority of expats being young college graduates teaching English in Thailand. It’s quite an easy position to acquire, the Thais have recently realized the importance of a population fluent in English to advance on a global scale and as a result, have opened their doors and hearts to young English teachers eager for adventure and to make a difference in the world. While there are many countries one can teach English in, here are some of the best things about teaching English in Thailand.
Seeing as most TEFL teachers hail from western countries full of rain and snow and bitter winters, it’s no surprise that the beautiful beaches of Thailand hold an irresistible draw to most of them. Picture pure white sand dotted with leafy green palm trees and littered with exotic shells. A little further up from the water, a few restaurants and bars with simple open air designs offer up mouthwatering local cuisine and strong cocktails for very reasonable prices.
The more adventurous can participate in diving or snorkelling the numerous coral reefs off the coast of most Thai beaches, while the more relaxed can stretch out in a hammock or on the sand for some sun and seabreeze. Whatever your preference for beach activities, it’s really hard to beat the beaches of the tropics and teaching English in Thailand is one way to get there.
While you’re expected to be on your best behaviour as a teacher during the school week, it doesn’t mean you can’t get away for a wild night out every once in a while. With both the amount of tourists on vacation looking to let loose and the local’s love of dancing, karaoke and Hong Thong (Thai whiskey), it’s no surprise that Thailand offers some of the most unique and exciting nightlife in the world. Thailand is a huge country that varies wildly depending on what part you’re in and as a result, there’s something for everyone. Bangkok has scores of fully modern dance clubs playing a mixture of both top 40’s hits and popular Thai music, as well as tons of western styled options like rock and Irish bars with usually very talented live musicians. Chiang Mai up in the north has stricter liquor laws than the rest of Thailand and when the main bars close at midnight, the partiers who want to carry on funnel through quiet little side streets to hidden doors to underground “speakeasies” reminiscent of the secret operations during 1920’s prohibition. If you’re really looking to let loose however, the south is the place to be. There are numerous party islands off either coast which boast everything from little reggae bars equipped with hammocks and hookahs for the truly chilled out to raging dance parties along the entire beach that go till dawn, including the infamous Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan that draws crowds of up to 30,000 people each month. While it’s probably best not to mention it on your resume, teaching English in Thailand is a good way to escape the monotony of going to the same tired bar with your friends every weekend.
While every culture has great cuisine, Thai food is absolutely legendary around the world. Think fresh ingredients, bold flavours and dirt cheap prices. Thai culture is very much a “food culture,” a fact that is apparent to anyone who steps foot in the country pretty much right off the bat. Thai families don’t cook at home very much instead opting to eat out almost every night. Most of the eating out is done in night markets, normally quiet streets or courtyards during the day that come alive with lights, music and food stalls during the early evening. You can get pretty much anything from the night markets, from knock off Nike’s to custom tailored suits but the main attraction is always the food court right in the middle. The food court is full of vendors cooking fresh cuisine right in front of you to be had for unbeatable prices. You can get anything from gigantic seafood platters to be shared by an entire family, savoury grilled meat skewers ranging from chicken to alligator, or local dishes like papaya salad, Tom Yum soup and Khao Soi. Some of the night markets in bigger cities will even have western food like burgers and pizza, perfect for those teaching English in Thailand with squeamish appetites (although we really recommend fully embracing the delicious local food).
Thailand is known as “the land of smiles” for a reason. Thai people are some of the kindest, most helpful and happiest people in the world. One of the things that shocks first time visitors to Thailand the most is how honest the locals are. Unlike many other countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand has a super low crime rate and very rarely are tourists ever robbed or cheated and violent crimes are almost non existent. When teaching English in Thailand, you will very quickly learn to love the local Thais from your landlord who might bring you medicine when you’re feeling sick, your favourite pad thai lady who throws in a bit extra every time with a wink and a smile, your co teachers who help you control your class and the smiling young men who will load you and your moped onto the back of their truck and drive you to the nearest repair shop when you inevitably get a flat tire on the side of the road. And then there’s gonna be the locals that will undoubtedly become your absolute favourites, your students! While you will undoubtedly feel like strangling them sometimes, you will probably form very close bonds with a lot of them. Thai children are even smilier than their adult counterparts and generally eager to learn about you and your culture. They will be very interested in everything about you, you might be the only foreigner they have seen in their entire lives! Teachers are afforded a very high degree of respect in Thai culture and it’s not uncommon for students and their families to give gifts to teachers. On the last day of the semester, your desk will probably be completely covered in handmade cards, sweets and stuffed animals given to you by the students. It can make one very sad to leave.
So while there are many countries one might consider teaching English in, teaching English in Thailand is undoubtedly one of the best options out there for any aspiring young teacher.
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