Thailand has about the same land area as France. With a population of about 60 millions the country is ruled over by the much beloved King Bhumipol Adulyadej. Since 1932 the country has been a democracy with an elected lower house and an appointed upper house. However, from time to time the Army revolts and takes power - 15 coup d’etats or attempts since 1932 - and the country is now under the 11th constitution. All the civilian governments have been coalitions. Things have been quite on the political front for several years now but you are advised not to become involved in Thai politics in any way.
About 95% of Thais are Buddhists. Here temples are as common as churches in other countries but the major difference is that here there is a crematorium at each temple. Important minorities (about 4%) are followers of Islam and live mainly in the southern provinces. The remaining 1% follows many different religions, including Christianity.
Preparations for Living in Thailand
Necessary documents for IAESTE
The IAESTE Committee in your home country should have received the following documents:
- The internship consent form (Form N/5-a)
- The acceptance confirmation (Form N/5-b)
- IAESTE Thailand brochure
The acceptance letter (Form N/5-a) is for your personal information. Please do not fail, however, to send the Confirmation of Acceptance (Form N/5-b) back immediately. Please send Form N/5-b as soon as possible. This information should arrive, if possible, four weeks before your arrival in Thailand.
If you are unable to send the aforementioned IAESTE papers on time, please call your employer and your IAESTE Local Committee or contact them via fax or e-mail. If you have an e-mail address, it will be much easier for the Local Committee to get in contact with you. If you live in a country where it is difficult to establish contact with Thailand by telephone, contact the IAESTE National Committee in your homeland, and ask them to pass on the information to IAESTE Thailand. We will then inform your employer.
Please note that we require your exact time of arrival and flight number in order to arrange your accommodation and clarify other important matters. We will normally meet you at DonMuang Airport but, if possible, please avoid arriving in Thailand on Saturday and Sunday. You should also be aware of the Thai public holidays so you can avoid arriving on these days.
Information for Entry
Necessary documents for your departure from home
Your biggest priority should be the application for a valid passport, which must remain valid for the entire duration of your stay in Thailand. You will need it when you apply for a visa.
As an IAESTE student you will require a non-immigrant visa from the local Thai Consulate or Embassy but you will not need a work permit. Get a visa application form before you apply for a visa, so everything is ready for when you apply.
Your local or national IAESTE committee will advise you of which documents you need to present when you apply for a visa but these are the usual ones.
- A valid passport
- Acceptance letter (Form N/5-a)
- Proof of financial status during your stay here (e.g. salary from the training position)
- Proof of insurance
Please note that the processing of your visa may take some time so do not delay until it is too late!
Your Arrival in Thailand
If you inform the IAESTE Thailand National Office in time, by e-mail, by fax, or by post, their staff will be able to pick you up from the Airport by or the railway station, arrange accommodation for you and assist you with administrative matters. Additianonally, many weekends trips and other free-time activities are arranged. On your internship offer form (Form O), you will find the address of IAESTE Thailand responsible for you. If you are not met upon your arrival in Thailand, please telephone the National Office. Normal working hours are 08.30 to 16.30 from Monday to Friday.
Room#1003, Floor 10, Anekprasong Building
King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB)
Add. 1518 Phibulsongkram Road, Wongsawang, Bangsue, Bangkok 10800 : THAILAND
Tel. +66 2555-2177 (Direct Line)
+66 2555-2000 ext. 1025, 1193, 1194
e-mail : email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Assoc.Prof. Dr.Tongdee Cheevapruk, National Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ms.Supitcha Cheevapruk (email@example.com)
You should notify the Immigration Department in Bangkok, or the
province in which you are living, of your address every 90 days.
Useful Things to Bring to Thailand (Optional)
- Identification (other than passport). You will probably want to try the local nightlife, and since many clubs and bars require you to show ID at the door, you will need some sort of picture identification. It is a bad idea to carry around your passport when going out as you are more likely to lose it.
- Thai phrasebook (see "Language" section for more information)
- If you are female and plan on teaching in Thailand, you may have special dress code requirements:
- Skirts that fall below the knees must be worn.
- Only sandals with a strap across the back of the foot can be worn.
Under the category accommodation on your internship offer form (Form O), you will be able to gather whether this will be arranged by your IAESTE staff or by your employer. Please note that IAESTE always arranges accommodation for you, unless specifically requested otherwise.
In emergency cases, please contact the Thailand IAESTE staff or National Secretary immediately.
Exception: If you have arranged your traineeship placement yourself (Reserved Offer), the IAESTE staff are not obliged to organize accommodation for you. In this case, the matter must be dealt with either personally or by your employer.
Your IAESTE Local Committee endeavors in every way to help you find the accommodation. In order to reserve a room for you. It is likely that the first month's rent will have to be paid in advance, and more so, if you arrive after the 1st of the month. Please send Form N5/b (Confirmation of Acceptance) back. You will be made responsible for all financial loss incurred to the IAESTE staff for any change made to your arrival date or, any alteration to the accommodation arrangements.
It may be that you will need to sign a legally binding tenancy contract. With this, it is legally predetermined when you may give notice for terminating your contract. Please note that after signing your tenancy contract, you cannot simply move out of your accommodation. This also applies when IAESTE has completed a tenancy contract for you! This information is in the contract. As all contracts will be written in Thai you should consult IAESTE staff or employer before signing.
In many cases there is no formal contact: you pay two months rent in advance. One month's rent is kept as a deposit and returned to you when you leave. Telephone and laundry charges are usually paid weekly or monthly.
It is important that you carefully consider how much money you will bring with you to Thailand. The minimum you should bring is enough for one month's expenses while you wait for your first paycheck. The maximum can be quite a lot more depending on what sort of lifestyle you expect to lead while abroad.
You will, of course, hear that Thailand is an incredibly cheap place to live. This is quite true under certain circumstances. If you eat the local Thai food and mostly stay home during nights and weekends, the salary you receive should be more than adequate. However, if you hope to go out on the town a few nights each week and then take trips around the country, be prepared to cover these costs with money brought from home.
Thailand has much to offer and you will, no doubt, feel pressure to participate in the activities going on around you.
All IAESTE trainees must be insured for the entire period of their training in Thailand. The name of the insurance company as well as your insurance number must be submitted on form N/5-b (confirmation of the internship acceptance). You must be covered for illness, accident and personal liability. Your employer may ask to see your insurance certificate.
Methods of travel
Thailand’s main port of entry is Don Muang Airport on the outskirts of Bangkok. If you enter Thailand from Malaysia, in the south, you can come by road or by rail. Customs formalities will be completed at the border.Travel within Thailand is easy and cheap. Domestic flights are offered to the North, South and Northeast. Most flights take just over an hour. The State Railways of Thailand provids services to most parts of the country but are not terribly quick. Air-conditioned buses are just as fast and a little cheaper. Advance booking is necessary around national holidays.It is possible to hire self-drive cars using a credit card, however, you cannot hire one at one place and leave it at a different place. Driving is on the LEFT side of the road. Be warned that many vehicles are not insured and you will have considerable problems if you cannot speak at least basic Thai. It is much less risky to use public transport.
Living in Thailand
The first recommendation that IAESTE-Thailand can make to incoming interns is to buy one of the many popular Thailand guidebooks available. Guidebooks such as "Lonely Planet" and "Rough Guide" are immensely useful to someone visiting Thailand for the first time. Generic question about Thailand can usually be answered quickly and easily by consulting one of these books. If you want information more specific to your life as an IAESTE student in Thailand, then the information on this web page should prove to be helpful.
Mobile phones experience great popularity throughout Thailand. It is highly recommended that you use a mobile phone during your stay.
If living in Bangkok, you will likely experience unpredictable roadway traffics that will continually keep you from arriving to appointments on time. It is nice to be able to make changes in your day's plans when away from home or office.
If bringing a phone from home, ensure that the phone is compatible with 900 MHz or GSM networks; only these networks exist in Thailand. To begin using mobile phone service you will need to purchase a SIM card these will usually cost 49-200B. Calls are charged by the minute, typically 3B per minute.
Launderettes are few and far between. If you don't want to wash and iron your clothes yourself (who does?) you can usually find a laundry service nearby. Your apartment block normally has one available. If you are living in Bangkok, you may be able to find coin-operated washing machines at a local apartment complex that you can use. Dry cleaning is not readily available except in major hotels and in the central area of Bangkok.
Banks are generally open on working days from 08.30 to 15.30 but in Bangkok from 09.00 to 16.00. The exchanges in airports and tourist centre are open evenings and weekends. It is not worth opening an bank account if you are only here for a short time. You will be paid in cash and most places do not accept cheques
Travel within Thailand is easy and cheap. Domestic flights are offered to the North, South and Northeast. Most flights take just over an hour. The State Railways of Thailand provide services to most parts of the country but are not terribly quick. Air-conditioned buses are just as fast and a little cheaper. Advance booking is necessary around national holidays.
Intercity buses can be crowded and unpredictable but will likely end up being your main method of transport because of their low cost. If living in Bangkok, a good bus map is highly recommended.
Driving in Thailand
To be permitted to drive in Thailand, you must have an International Driving License. You must get this before you leave home. You cannot get one in Thailand. There are several international hire companies operating in Thailand, but all will require you to pay by credit card. You will also have to return the car to the place you hire it from. You cannot hire it here and leave it there.
You should also be aware that not everyone is insured. Make sure you have full comprehensive (Class A) insurance. If you have an accidents do not move the car until the police and insurance company representative have seen it. It is better not to drive in Thailand unless you can speak Thai. However, many tourist areas have Tourist Police who can help you in English.
You should ask your national automobile association for any information on particular aspects of driving in Thailand. For example, driver and front seat passengers must wear safety belts if the car is fitted with them. Many drivers must also accustom themselves to driving on the left (Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam drive on the right).
Some holidays are on fixed dates and if they occur on Saturday or Sunday, a substitution day is sometimes given. Other holidays are linked to the lunar calendar.
Thailand is one of the countries with a low cost of living, due to the low pay scales. Living in Bangkok is not significantly more costly than living anywhere else in Thailand - provided you eat Thai food! Imported food is very expensive. Cheese, for instance, has a 43% import duty to protect the local producers of junk food while the tax on local spirits is low and on local beer is high. The cheapest place to buy wines spirits and beer is the local big supermarket. Fresh food is sold in supermarkets but it is cheaper, and possibly less hygienic, in the local market. Each town has it's own fresh food market and bigger cities have one in each area.
Big supermarkets, large stores and many retailers do accept credit cards but food at the market is still paid for in cash. If you would like to pay by credit card, you should enquire whether this is possible first. Bargaining at roadside stalls and the flea markets is quite usual. In supermarkets and most shops the prices are fixed. If you are buying tailor - made clothes though, (good value here) be sure to bargain the price down!
Shop Opening Hours
Most smaller shops selling food, drink etc. open daily from 08.00 to 20.30. The majority of shops in large cities close earlier. Supermarkets and department stores generally open about 10.30 and close about 20.30 or even later. The profile 7-Eleven stores are open 24 hours and most filling stations have forecourt shops.