Everything you need to know about teaching English in Thailand


Thailand has built up a solid name for itself in the world of TEFL as being one of the heavyweight places to teach English abroad, and we can’t see that reputation waning anytime soon. This article looks at what to expect if choosing to teach English in the Land of Smiles.

Flag of Thailand

Where is Thailand?

Located in Southeast Asia, Thailand shares a border with Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar. The country is incredibly diverse in regard to its landscapes, traditions, cuisines and even in the types of weather systems which descend in monsoonal formations during the year. Quite simply put, Thailand has everything; from lush mountainous rainforests to exotic tropical beaches. The scenery is breathtaking, the tropical weather harsh yet reassuring and those famous smiles are definitely genuine.

To legally teach in Thailand, you must have taken an international TEFL certification course from a reputable course provider. A college degree (in any subject) is also required for the work visa if you choose to teach legally in Thailand. 

We do receive reports of some people heading out to Thailand to teach under the table (illegally) and while it is possible to do this by leaving the country every month to renew your 30-day Tourist Visa, it isn’t really recommended as one time you might be returning from a visa run and be denied entry if the immigration officer notices too many entry and exit stamps in a row in your passport. 

If you don’t have a degree and do want to teach in the region, we definitely recommend taking a look at our Cambodia article

Teaching in Bangkok

As the capital, Bangkok is the major teaching English hub in Thailand. Salaries here are higher than any other part of the country, and teachers starting out can expect to be earning between 30,000 – 40,000 Baht per month. Expect this figure to increase to between 50,000 – 60,000 Baht per month once you get established. Bangkok is more expensive compared with say Chiang Mai, but for a capital city it represents amazing value for money. Our tip: take a weekend trip to Hua Hin, a 4.5-hour bus ride south of Bangkok.

Bangkok busy street view

The types of teaching English jobs in Thailand are as varied as there are ways of preparing Pad Thai, but teachers tend to start out teaching either at language schools or at state schools. Language schools definitely pay better, but at state schools you often receive additional perks such as paid holidays and free accommodation. 

We think that there isn’t really that much difference financially between the two options and that your choice of where to teach should ultimately be dependent upon the choice of where and who you want to be teaching. 

We do tend to mention this a lot, but it cannot be expressed enough that you should not expect to be teaching English on a beach. Yes, there are options to teach English in towns and cities close to the coastline, but the way some TEFL schools imply through their homepage photos that you will be full-time living it up on the beach is very misleading. Some of our graduates have found work along the coast, but this is the exception rather than the rule and most job offers are advertised for positions in the major cities, which are usually at least an hour from the sound of waves lapping the shoreline. 

There is also the option of teaching English at universities and private language teaching, and both these options usually become available once you are in the country and once you have built up a decent amount of contacts.

Elephant in Chiang Mai

Teaching in Chiang Mai

Ah, Chiang Mai! Whenever you speak with a local Thai about Chiang Mai, you often see them looking off far into the distance with a mystical longing for another trip to the city that seems to sit center in the heart of all Thais. Chiang Mai is an extremely popular expat hangout and while there are many options to teach English – expect to earn around 30,000 Baht per month – there are also so many teachers saturating the market. It is a city with a 60’s vibe and we definitely recommend taking a trip up to Pai when you are here.

While it’s true that it was much easier to set up shop here as an English teacher in the past, it is still a relatively easy place to get established and with the Thais being outrageously friendly, you won’t find it difficult to find a lot of support and advice when getting started. 

Please remember that at tefl online pro we assist our graduates with ongoing job support, help and advice, so if you are wanting Thailand teaching English advice then feel free to reach out and contact us

You can look for work before arrival to Thailand, but we don’t think there is any need to do this and you will easily find yourself being able to hook a much better teaching position once on the ground. Thailand is an affordable destination, assuming you avoid the main tourist hubs, and this will provide you with a lot of breathing space to settle in and find your perfect teaching English job. 

How we recommend finding a job in Thailand is to contact a bunch of schools beforehand, travel out to Thailand, receive your (free) 30-day Tourist Visa upon arrival and visit the schools and see which one you would feel most comfortable teaching in. Once you have gone through the interview process and secured the position you will need to leave the country and apply for your Non-Immigrant Visa Type B, which can be applied for and picked up at any Thai embassy abroad (in Malaysia for example.) 

Thailand has its fair share of discount airlines and AirAsia are just one of them, which we have flown and can recommend. If you have a larger budget, then either Thai or Bangkok Airways would be our recommendation. 

Once you are issued with your visa, you can then return to Thailand to arrange for your work visa to be processed, which only takes around seven days to complete. 

Teaching in Krabi

Located on southern Thailand’s west coast, Krabi Town is a busting market town set straddled close to the semi-attractive beach at Ao Nang, the picture-postcard Railay Beach and a short hop on one of the many dodgy ferries which run to some of the most beautiful islands you can find in Thailand. There isn’t a whole lot of work around in this relatively small town, but it should be noted that Krabi Town is becoming somewhat of a magnet for people teaching English online and has an excellent support base for teachers. 

Thai wooden boats on the beach in Krabi

A major advantage of making Thailand your home is the balance between “old” Thailand and “new” Thailand. 

Examples of the old are the Buddhist traditions, the rickety government busses, the wooden stool street food stalls and the crazy annual festivals which include the whole of the country taking part in the world’s largest water fight (Songkran) on the Thai New Year’s national holiday. Examples of the new exert themselves in the form of luxurious shopping malls, a clean and punctual Bangkok metro system and Sky Train and high-speed internet in built-up public places. 

Tourists tend to visit Thailand having never really come into contact with the authentic Thai way of life, but as an English teacher, you will experience Thai life on a daily basis. Many people (incorrectly) assume that Thailand is a very liberal country, but it is in fact quite a conservative one and particular rules apply for different scenarios. As an example, you should never show the soles of your feet to anyone – especially not in the direction of a Buddha statue or Buddhist temple – and it is unaccepted to touch a Thai on the head. Thais don’t generally shake hands and instead clasp their hands together at their heart’s center. There are Lèse-majesté rules, so make sure never to insult the royal family if you want to avoid a long stint in a Thai prison. 

Saying this though, Thai’s are extremely tolerant of non-Thais and they do understand that their laws are not always understood by foreigners. This is an amazing destination to look through the glass onion and experience a lifestyle completely different to the one you left back home. 

Lush paddy field vista in Isaan, Thailand

Teaching in Isaan

Isaan is located in the northeastern region of Thailand and has the rather dubious reputation of being the kingdom’s poorest region. It’s a little like what Moldova is to the rest of Europe in terms of the trend for its local population looking outwards to seek employment in other parts of the country. This is definitely a less-trodden region of Thailand and the rewards are definitely there for anyone seeking employment. Its larger towns provide solid employment options, with local wages reflecting local costs.

As with the majority of Asian countries, you will be expected to dress smartly for classes. 

When first arriving in Bangkok, we definitely recommend having a tailored suit/skirt/shirt/blouse made up by a reputable tailors, and for a fraction of the price back home you will have bespoke clothes which fit you like a glove and which will last you for a very long time. 

This is a particularly good tip for anyone conscious of airline baggage weight charges: you can purchase your clothes and footwear when you arrive to Bangkok without issue.

Teaching in Trat

Trat: the small city known for being a stopping-off point for reaching the Cambodian border or ferrying it over to Koh Chang island. Trat: the large town which is so very often ignored. It’s a shame really because this artsy town is one of the best kept secrets in Thailand. There isn’t that much work available but what is, is paid at around the same rates as you would expect in Chiang Mai and it’s super-cheap with excellent seafood and an awesome location: not only being close to Koh Chang but also to its lesser-known beaches.

Taking a selfie on the beach on Koh Chang

Read more Teaching English Abroad Country Specifics articles on the tefl online pro Blog

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