Where should I teach English in Thailand?
Around the world there are several countries that are particularly popular with ESL teachers and Thailand is certainly one of them. First-time teachers and those with previous experience choose Thailand for a number of different reasons, whether it is the warm tropical climate, world-class cuisine, low cost of living, or the lively nightlife. Whatever your reasons for wanting to teach in this corner of Southeast Asia, one decision you will need to make is which part of this beautiful country you want to live and work in. Thailand is a relatively large country with a wide choice of locations where teaching jobs can be found, which is why we have put together this quick guide to the best places to work as an ESL teacher.
Thailand's capital is an obvious choice for this list as teaching jobs can be found in large numbers in schools and language centers all over the city. The hectic life of the big city may not be to everyone's taste, but if you are used to city living you will probably love Bangkok. The nightlife is famous worldwide for its diversity and the fact that it never really stops, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Of course, most teachers would never dream of venturing out on a school night, but when there is so much variety to choose from it can be hard to resist!
Despite its vast size and large population, Bangkok is a very safe city for foreign visitors and those that choose to stay for more than just a few days are usually treated with a considerable amount of respect and friendliness from the local residents. Getting around the city is surprisingly easy thanks to a good public transport network that includes an extensive rail system, countless bus routes, affordable taxis, and a network of boat taxis that cruise up and down the Chao Phraya River. During your stay make sure you spend some time exploring the city's many ornate temples and bustling markets to get a better insight into the local people and their culture.
Check out our in-class TESOL course in Bangkok
If the big city vibe of Bangkok is not for you, why not take a look at Chiang Mai, Thailand's northern capital and cultural center. Although it is still a reasonably sized city, Chiang Mai is a fraction of the size of Bangkok and it still maintains a small town feel. It is also located within a short distance of some of the country’s most stunning natural landscapes, where a range of exhilarating outdoor activities are waiting to be enjoyed. Crucially, teaching jobs are not hard to come by and the cost of living is considerably less than in Bangkok, meaning your hard earned baht will go that much further.
Despite its small town feel, Chiang Mai has seen its fair share of development in recent years, which means you will have access to all the modern amenities you could want for shopping, eating out, and spending a night on the town. However, this modern infrastructure sits comfortably alongside plenty of cultural highlights, including an incredible array of temples dating back hundreds of years. The local climate is also a popular attraction for many as it is still comfortably warm year-round, but with a much lower average temperature than many other parts of the country at around 25 degrees.
Also read our post: How much can I earn teaching English in Thailand?
If beaches and watersports are important to you, then maybe the tropical resort island of Phuket would be more suitable. This bustling island in the Andaman Sea provides all you could want from a world-class beach destination and so much more. The coastline is simply stunning, with some of the very best beaches in the whole of Southeast Asia. Of course, the nightlife is also famously vibrant with bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and countless food stalls all serving up unforgettable memories for locals, tourists, and expats alike. If you are feeling homesick you will find everything you need in Phuket, from cinemas and western brand shops, to fast-food outlets and imported groceries.
Although Phuket can be a little crowded during peak times of the year, you are only ever a short boat ride aways from dozens of other islands of varying sizes and states of development. Famous tourist destinations such as Koh Phi Phi can be reached with ease, while more laidback islands where time seems to stand still are simple to get to. The rest of this fascinating country, and the wider region of Southeast Asia, are also within your grasp as Phuket has an international airport with links to every corner of Thailand and beyond.
Check out our in-class TESOL course in Phuket
Like Phuket, Krabi is a popular tourist destination in the south of Thailand that attracts teachers from all over the world who come to enjoy the opportunity to live and work in a tropical paradise. However, much of the tourism here is on a slightly smaller scale than Phuket and prices for food and rent are noticeably cheaper. You will still have a number of world-class beaches to enjoy during your time off from class and islands such as Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta are also just a stone’s throw away. Teaching jobs are available in public schools and private language centers, and there are even a couple of international schools for teachers with the right qualifications.
Krabi Town itself is relatively small, but there are still plenty of western style bars and restaurants for anyone who is missing home, as well as a bustling scene for those who love authentic Thai cuisine and hunting for bargains at local markets. The slightly more laid back atmosphere and slower pace of life in Krabi Town and its surroundings means it now offers a genuine alternative to Phuket which might be too developed and over touristy for some people's taste.
Also read our post: How do I get a job teaching English in Thailand?
Although Isaan is a region rather than a single destination, it offers plenty of potential for TESOL qualified teachers. This large area covers 20 individual provinces in the mainly rural northeast of Thailand where you will find plenty of job options in cities, towns and villages. What the area lacks in terms of beaches and tourist development it more than makes up for in real-life experiences. If you want your time in Thailand to be an authentic visit that involves getting to know the people and culture, then this might be where you want to head. The pace of life is slower and more relaxed than many other places on this list and you are sure to make friends for life during your stay.
If you really want to see what life in Thailand is all about, living and working in Isaan will provide the perfect window that ordinary tourists simply do not get to enjoy. The area is also home to several stunning national parks, as well as the mighty Mekong river that meanders its way through the region. A long, slow trip down this famous waterway is a must for any visitor. Despite the rural feel, there are several large cities with good amenities and plenty of jobs, and the cost of living is also significantly lower than Bangkok and the southern beach resorts. Food lovers will also be in for a treat as the northeast is home to some of the country’s most iconic dishes such as laab and som tam, which may be reason enough for some people to choose Isaan as their destination of choice.
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