Thailand is one of the world’s most popular TEFL destinations. It’s not hard to see why, with a year-round tropical climate, a low cost of living, a rich culture, and a springboard to other South-east Asian destinations, it’s the perfect choice for seasoned or first-time teachers.
But where in Thailand should you stay? While finding a job is probably your number one priority, it’s still important to consider the different regions to find one that suits your lifestyle. To help you find the perfect spot, here are some of the top Thailand TEFL destinations and what it’s like to live there.
Why no Pattaya? We talk about it here: The Ultimate Guide to Living in Pattaya as an ESL Teacher
1. Chiang Mai
If you love being in walking distance from gorgeous mountain views and a slower pace of life, this expat hotspot is for you. Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is home to hundreds of Buddhist temples and a rich history that dates back to 1296.
With an average temperature of 25 degrees, the city is perfect for teachers looking to escape some of the hotter parts of the country. A steady stream of travellers means you will not struggle to find English speakers, and your social life will be anything but dull.
As one of Thailand’s largest cities, it’s full of bustle. From live music in Old Town to going on a pub crawl or hanging out at the local cat cafe, there will always be something going on during your downtime.
2. Koh Samui
Looking for that picturesque beach lifestyle in Thailand? Koh Samui is the place to be with its palm lined beaches, blue ocean and affordable cost of living.
It’s perfect for teachers who want a laid back lifestyle away from the hustle of the big city. However, if you do feel like abandoning your hammock, there’s plenty to get up to after school such as surf lessons, zip-lining or hitting up one of the island’s many beaches.
Bangkok is not for everyone. It’s a busy city which can make it feel overwhelming if you are not a seasoned city slicker. However, for those who don’t mind a higher cost of living, Thailand’s cosmopolitan capital is teeming with things to do at any price point.
For less than a dollar, you can taste some of the best street food in the country, or splurge and indulge in a five-star meal at one of the city’s classiest restaurants. For night owls, there is the infamous Khao San Road, live music, a plethora of karaoke bars, and pub crawls.
The also city boasts a well-connected public transport system in English, making it easy to get around on your own especially if you choose to live in one of Bangkok’s many suburbs just outside the city centre.
Want to know more about living in Thailand? How to Live in Thailand and Love It
Dubbed the “Pearl of the Andaman”, Thailand’s largest island is a haven for many teachers and expats. It offers a relaxed lifestyle, a thriving nightlife and is just a boat ferry away from smaller islands like Koh Phi Phi.
The quality of life is what draws most teachers to Phuket. It has all the modern conveniences, along with grocery stores stocked with imported foods to help keep homesickness at bay.
For those with itchy feet, Phuket’s International Airport is the second busiest in the country, making it easy to catch a domestic flight or travel to the range of other South-east Asian countries.
(If you are worried about tsunamis, the area has established an early warning system to increase safety and prevent another 2004 tragedy from happening again.)
5. Ubon Ratchathani
Ubon is another one of Thailand’s big cities in the North-Eastern part of the country. However, it provides teachers with an entirely different experience due to the low number of tourists that travel to the area.
If you are looking for an authentic experience in a Thai town, with a low cost of living and nightlife catered to the locals instead of the expats, Ubon is the place for you. It’s a simple town with big shopping centres, luxury cinemas and a good mix of Thai and international restaurants.
Regarding meeting up with other English speakers, the city has a small number of foreign teachers and expats that all seem to know each other, making it easy to expand your social circle outside of your school.
While Ubon is not near any of the major Thailand attractions, it’s only a one-hour flight from Bangkok or a train ride to popular destinations like Khao Yai National Park.
Of course, there are many other regions to teach from in Thailand. From smaller cities to little towns in the middle of nowhere, choosing your teaching placement requires much thought and consideration. Not only do you need to find a reputable school, but you also need to make sure that your new home for the next year will not make you feel isolated and will cater to a lifestyle you can enjoy.