You didn’t sign up for a TEFL internship in Thailand to *JUST* go to work and go home every day, did you? While connecting with students and doing a good job at your actual job are all important goals, we also think there’s plenty of room for other—ahem—adventure-related goals.
And where better to check off your bucket list than gorgeous Thailand?!
Thailand is an intrepid traveler’s dream destination. It would be a shame for you to miss out on exploring its gorgeous jungles, endless coastline, hectic cities, and… coconut sorbet. (You’ve gotta explore with your eyes AND tummy, no?!). Read on to learn the nine must-see places while teaching in Thailand.
Quick tips for budget travel in Thailand
- Use night buses. This is a brilliant way to stretch your accommodation and transportation budget even further—do both at once! This is only recommended if you can sleep well in awkward places and don’t mind arriving early to destinations.
- Get your bus tickets a day or two ahead of time. Most blogs will tell you to walk up day-of and book your ticket, but we think that can leave a lot of chance for disappointment. Make an adventure of heading out to the bus stop a few days early to secure your tickets—aka your guaranteed seat on the bus—in advance.
- Pack your own toilet paper. You never know what kind of latrine you’re going to find yourself paying a visit to. Avoid air drying with the help of your pre-packed toilet paper supply!
- Don’t get back too late on Sunday evenings. You’ll need time to rest up before going back to work, including some time to devote to preparing lessons or reviewing materials. Remember, you’re here to play—but you’re here to work, too!
9 must-see locations for TEFL teachers in Thailand
1. Koh Phi Phi
Island hopping is a must-do for an TEFL teacher in Thailand, and we recommend getting started with your new island love affair by stopping at Koh Phi Phi. Made famous from the movie “The Beach,” this little island is the perfect getaway for marine recreation lovers. Snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving are all on offer here. Unfortunately, you can’t stay the night (unless you take a gypsy boat a little further to Maya Bay with a guided tour to sleep in a tent), but there’s plenty of sunshine and adventure—and gorgeous blue waters—to keep you busy from sun up til sun down.
2. Khao San Road in Bangkok
Khao San road, or more accurately the “Khao San streets,” is an area in downtown Bangkok where backpackers, tourists, and TEFL interns are immediately drawn to from when they first touch down in the airport. Like any grubby backpacker hub, you’ll find an endless supply of new friends to meet and greet, cheap food and souvenirs, fish spas, Thai massage, delicious street food, and more. The energy is eclectic, and we recommend sticking to this area in the day time to stay the safest, but an experience in this center is one of a kind!
3. The Grand Palace
You ain’t never seen a “castle” like this before! The Grand Palace, situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River on an island in the middle of Bangkok (fore real), has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam / Thailand since 1782. Rather than being a single structure, the Grand Palace is made up of numerous buildings, halls, pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. Bonus points if you stick around to see the Temple of the Emerald Buddha—and the lying Buddha!
4. The Inside of a Thai Massage Parlor
This is an absolute must-see that is generally topped off with an out-of-this-world relaxing, deep tissue massage. With the help of your masseuse, bend, stretch, and breathe all of the aches and pains of standing on your feet teaching all day can bring! Sorry in advance if you become addicted and thus feel utter sadness at the cost of a similar wellness experience when you return home.
5. Visit a Floating Market
The Damnoen Saduak is the most famous—and for good reason. It’s the hustle and bustle of a traditional market paired with the energy and gruffness of an exotic seaport. Stock up on your week’s supply of fresh fruits and veggies (you have to try mangosteen, rambutan, and—for the brave—maybe durian?!) and snap photos of the maze-like canals and homes on stilts. Return trips encouraged!
6. Muse Wat Rong Khun—the White Temple
High tail it to the province of Chiang Rai to visit a temple unlike anywhere else in the world. It looks like it came down from heaven itself, and was built and designed by a lone Thai artist named Chalermchai Kositpipat. Though visitors can’t visit the inside (it’s actually not physically safe due to weaknesses in the temple structures themselves), even visiting the outside of the temple grounds proves an interesting and thought-provoking experience for TEFL interns in Thailand.
7. A Holiday Celebration
If you’re lucky enough to be teaching in Thailand during a national holiday celebration, do everything in your power to get out and participate! Here’s a quick summary of the Thai holiday calendar to inspire your internship planning:
- Western New Year –December 31st – January 1st
- Makha Bucha (Magha Puja)—Full moon of third lunar month
- Chakri Day—April 6th
- Songkran Festival (Thai New Year)—April 13th-15th
- Labor Day—May 1st
- Coronation Day—May 5th
- Visakha Puja—June 4th
- Asalha Puja Day—early August
- The Queen’s Birthday/Mother’s Day—mid August
- Chulalongkorn Day—October 23rd
- The King’s Birthday/Father’s Day—December 5th
- Constitution Day—December 10th
8. Explore a National Park
There are 127 national parks in Thailand (22 of which are marine national parks). Get your butt out of the city and into the fresh air at some point during your TEFL internship in Thailand!
Here’s a snapshot of the most beloved national parks by TEFL interns: Khao Sok National Park (easily accessible from Phuket, Krabi, & Ko Samui), Khao Yai National Park (great for hiking and wildlife), Kui Buri National Park (where you can see elephants!), Doi Inthanon National Park (home to Thailand’s highest mountain), Kaeng Krachan National Park (the biggest!), Erawan National Park (where you should shirk TLC’s advice and def chase waterfalls), Tarutao National Marine Park (51 islands over three archipelagos), Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (great if you dig caves), and more.
9. The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Things can get pretty bizarre at the night bazaar—and that’s why Chiang Mai’s is an absolute must do! Stock up on adorable souvenirs for friends and family (… and yourself), pick between (usually fake) designer products, barter your little heart out, and eat all the street foods. From fried noodles to Som Tam (papaya salad) to grilled meats to sweet egg pancakes, you’ll be slobbering yourself silly over the delicious treats. Pro tip: wear stretchy pants.
Have a blast while TEFL teaching in Thailand!
There’s nothing more exciting than the feeling of having a calendar full of adventure ahead of you. Make the most of every minute in Thailand by checking off these nine must-see places. Your amazing photos, memories, and experiences will have others oozing envy and leave you feeling fulfilled in a way that only exploring can do. Live your best Thai life now!