1. The students are wonderful
It’s a bit of a culture shock walking into a Thai school. Discipline can be non-existent and it’s tough getting over the fact that student success and learning is not prioritized. Once you get used to the way things work, though, it’s so much fun.
Even working at an all-male high school, my worst nightmare in the US, none of my students are malicious. They worry about me, make a little fun of me, but they never try to hurt my feelings. And we have a great time together, making jokes and playing with words. It’s extremely rewarding and the English level does improve over the year.
2. Living and traveling in Thailand is inexpensive – really inexpensive.
Teacher wages are more than enough to live on comfortably. Apartments and condo rentals are extremely affordable. Food is less expensive than in Western countries, especially if you’re only eating Thai food (we’re talking 1$ meals here).
Travel is also super cheap, especially if you take trains and local transportation. Hotels and bungalows on a backpacker budget are easy to find and once again, food is very cheap throughout Thailand (being only slightly more expensive in major tourist areas).
3. The food is amazing
I assume this is obvious, but to someone who is not well acquainted with Thai food, you’re in for a treat. Thailand is renowned for having one of the best cuisines in the world. The food is very fresh, often bought that morning from a local market. The flavors are out of this world – sweet, sour, salty, spicy, everything you could ever want in a mouthful of deliciousness. The major ingredients used here are cilantro, spicy peppers, onions, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, tomatoes, papaya, and an assortment of spices and other meat and veggies.
4. The people are kind, funny and generous
I don’t like to make cultural generalizations, but in this case, it’s a pretty solid one. Most Thais love to have fun and joke around, and they can be very open and generous to complete strangers (like me). Don’t get me wrong, some people are definitely put off by foreigners since they have a bit of a bad reputation in Thailand (thanks a lot, belligerent tourists). But I have had so many different experiences of people joking with me, being helpful, and generously offering meals and advice, that I have an overwhelming fondness and affection for the people here.
5. Getting a job is pretty easy
Probably the most attractive thing about teaching in Thailand is how easy it is to get a job. See my post here about how to go about it. The requirements are very minimal and teaching experience is not required. If you want to see if teaching is for you or you want a fun and rewarding job to support travels and pay off students loans, teaching is a great way to do it.
THAT BEING SAID, please don’t abuse it. Don’t be one of those teachers that just uses teaching as a means to an end and can’t be bothered to put effort in at work. Seriously, it’s not fair to the students. Be responsible or don’t bother.
6. Thailand is well-connected to many other countries
Thailand is right smack in the middle of some pretty amazing places to visit. Angkor Wat, one of my all-time favorite sites, is less than a day’s journey from Bangkok. Southern Thailand, Malaysia, and the Laos border are all accessible by train (beware, the train to Malaysia takes 24 hours!) Also, Bangkok has a lot of great budget airlines passing through to popular destinations like Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, Indonesia, Borneo, the Philippines, etc.
7. Awesome festivals nearly every month
One of my favorite parts about living in Thailand is that there seems to be some cause for celebration nearly every month. Songkran itself often goes on for over a week! New Years is a multi-day affair. Loy Krathong in the North goes on for days as well. At my school, we seem to have at least a day or two off a month for some holiday or another, usually accompanied with fun activities and delicious food.
What do you think is the best reason to teach in Thailand? What’s your favorite Thai festival? Did I miss anything important? Let me know! Comment below or email me here.