Thailand is emerging as a vibrant EFL environment. Once, this country was not a popular destination for teachers, as it was seen as a developing nation, able to offer little in the way of benefits and decent pay. However, more recently, Thailand’s economy has been growing and TEFL schools which hire native English teachers are growing in number. In the capital city of Bangkok, English schools are common and are geared toward helping younger students prepare for university, and in the tourist centers such as Chiang Mai, English is important for the local economy. For a TEFL teacher, Thailand provides uncountable chances to expand your horizons, have fun, and gain experiences that will stay with your for the rest of your life.
The most recognizable landmark in Bangkok, and one of the most spectacular sights in Thailand, the Grand Palace stood as the center of administrative life in Thailand. While it is no longer used as a palace, it is still an important part of Thai culture. Because structures have been added to the complex over the reign of each King, the architecture itself is a stroll through Thai history.
Heavily affected by the tsunami in late 2004, this must see island has bounced back and grown in popularity in recent years. SO much so, it is almost essential to travel there out of season to avoid high prices and crowds of tourists. The island is best used as a ‘jumping point’ to go out and visit the other smaller islands, such as Mosquito Island and Bamboo Island with their stunning cliffs, beaches and tropical forests.
If you happen to be up in northern Thailand, you cannot miss Chiang Mai. The main industry is tourism, so you can expect some modern features, and the occasional annoying tourist. But don’t despair. Chiang Mai still has plenty to offer eco-tourists, backpackers, and of course, TEFL teachers. Along with the temples and rainforests, Chiang Mai hosts many local festivals including Yi Peng, where locals release paper lanterns down river, and up into the sky.
Phuket is located in the South of Thailand. Another tourist city, like Chiang Mai, it features the same creature comforts western travelers crave, but in a totally different environment. It is a beach-lover’s paradise with every kind of water activity available; swimming, snorkeling, diving, parasailing and so many more. If you are not the adventurous type, there is plenty of lazing in the sun to be done while you sip fruit cocktails.
When in Thailand, it is hard not to visit at least one temple. In fact, after seeing so many, it is easy to get the feeling that “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seem them all”. This is not the case with the temple at the Phanom Rung Historical Park. Built on the rim of an extinct volcano, 400m above sea level, the architecture and layout of this Hindu shrine are like nothing else. It is also a place that most tourists are unaware of, so it is peaceful as well as beautiful.
The floating market at Ratchaburi remains a traditional style floating market. There are lots of small shops set up that sell tourist items, and quaint restaurants run by friendly locals. On of the biggest attractions here is the stage show which highlights traditional dance and martial arts. If you need to relax, there are also ‘Doctor Fish shops’ where tiny fish give your feet a tingling cleaning by eating off the dead skin.
This is one of those secret spots that many tourists miss, but if you want to see something truly amazing Emerald (Morakot) Cave provides that unique experience. Located on the western side of Koh Muk is a cliff range with an opening, and if you swim the 70m through this gap, you come to Morakot cave. This secluded cave opens onto a clear white beach and the stunning green-blue water that give it its name. If you’re not much of a swimmer, you can always go out fishing with the locals.
In the middle of Bangkok, directly across from the Grand Palace is the Rattanakosin district, which houses the Wat Pho temple, and the giant golden Buddha that reclines there. The Buddha is 43m long and 15m high, and the soles of its feet are inlaid with 108 auspicious symbols in mother of pearl. The statue is also surrounded by 108 jars where visitors drop coins for good luck. This is also the traditional home of Thai massage and the small massage shop is always popular with weary tourists.
Also in Bangkok, is Wang Lang Market. The main attraction for most tourists here is the food. There are countless stalls selling authentic street-food. When in Thailand, it’s safe to say that if the locals are flocking there, the food must be pretty good. There are also restaurants which offer fantastic views of the surrounding area and the spires of the Grand Palace. The shops here also sell vintage (and faux-vintage) clothes, shoes and accessories and is a must see for anyone into retro fashion.
Many people want to see animals when they come to Thailand. Thailand is famous for elephants, tigers and monkeys. Unfortunately, many of the places where tourists can see them are run for-profit, and the animals are not always treated to the standards we expect. Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary is different in that it is a wildlife reserve and protected area first and foremost. It is not a place that encourages high volumes of tourists, however, a savvy traveler can visit and experience the true nature of Thailand.