Are you a teacher who once taught in Thailand but decided to seek out pastures new? Has the grass been greener on the other side? Maybe you swapped Thailand for the financial lure of Japan or Korea? Read about those who have left Thailand, and their reasons for moving...

Submit your own Great Escape


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan several months ago. Taiwan to me is the real China, not that much bigger communist place over the sea that effectively became part of the USSR a few decades ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for three years, working in a shopping mall language school.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I took several holidays to Taiwan during my three years of work in Thailand and I preferred absolutely everything about it. The only reason I stayed in Thailand beyond the first year was a clingy Thai girlfriend who managed to keep me there far longer than I enjoyed it for.

Taiwan feels like a mostly developed island nation whereas Thailand feels like a backward xenophobic corrupt banana republic. Taiwan has high speed trains and an MRT system in its first second and third city (soon to open in its third city Taichung)

It has sea breezes pretty much anywhere in the country, awesome accessible mountains that stretch from north to south and can be easily hiked on well developed and marked out trails from any city in the country with no stupid national park entrance fees, cooler weather than Thailand for two thirds of the year which makes spending all day outdoors a pleasure (the south and west of Taiwan is mostly dry and sunny for most of the year whereas the north and east is mostly cloudy, so you can choose which you prefer and even switch between them within 90 minutes by using the awesome THSR train)

You get 90-day visa exemptions on arrival and my Taiwanese girlfriend can visit my country in Europe without a visa.

Prices are barely any higher than Thailand for almost everything and cheaper for such things such as cans and bottles of beer (65 baht for a can of Guinness anyone?) free ATMs (no stupid 200 baht fees for foreign cards).

Even the 7-elevens and family marts here are far better, with eat-in areas, outdoor eating areas, toilet facilities etc. The roads are far safer and less clogged, the buses are new and clean, the whole place is clean modern and well-built, the people more educated, interesting and worldly, and the food is healthier.

The Thais I know who have visited me here have all said that they wish Thailand could be more like Taiwan, in every way.

About the only thing better in Thailand is ease of prostitution, although I'm only a very short cheap flight away from Angeles if I need that.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Professionalism, and that's very important to me. Thais never seem to grow up, and working with people in their 30s and 40s who behave like infants quickly gets tedious.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Nothing. I've no reason to return there other than obligations (see below).

If I feel like a break from Taiwan I nip to Okinawa, Hong Kong or the Philippines, all of which are an hour or so away.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Definitely Taiwan. I regret ever setting foot in Thailand for anything other than a holiday.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm in Thailand now for a few days to attend a friend's wedding tomorrow. I would never have set foot here again if not for attending it.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Wise up and give Thailand a miss. It's too hot, too dirty and too corrupt. The people are charming, but if you have a brain that's simply not enough.


Jay

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Just outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in October 2019

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Three and a half years in total between Pattaya and Bangkok

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Stagnant wages, increasing living costs, ever worsening visa requirements and generally feeling like I had hit a pinnacle teaching in Thailand and that I needed to move on to further my career - and just an all round feeling that I'd outstayed my welcome.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Wages are a lot better in Vietnam and the cost of living is lower. The people are generally more genuine and less likely to treat you as a walking ATM. I can actually save money here whereas I simply broke even in Thailand. Local food is very cheap here, petrol and motorbikes are cheap too.

No 90-day check ins and its also a lot easier if you want to change jobs. Schools everywhere are crying out for farangs and the ESL industry really is booming here. You can literally walk into 10 ESL centres with your resume and 8 of them will have got back to you by the end of the day.

Farangs here (at least in my city) are a lot friendlier and will approach you while back in Thailand, most kept themselves to themselves. It's easier to befriend the locals here too and less of an "us vs them" mentality. Besides people who wanted free English lessons or girls who wanted a token pet farang to date, I didn't befriend a single Thai whilst I was there and it wasn't for want of trying.

Like Thailand, English ability is also low here but at least shop workers/restaurant servers will try without being rude to you. They're not as ignorant to the world as Thais can be.
While also a tonal language, there's the added benefit that Vietnamese uses the Latin alphabet so there's no need to learn weird characters when trying to read.

I find local food is better than Thai food as I don't like spicy smelly fishy things and the Vietnamese actually know how to make bread.

Schools here are far more professional and you're more of a teacher rather than a dancing white monkey. A lot of my former friends reluctantly moved on elsewhere for similar reasons.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The schools here that farangs work at tend to be language academies rather than public schools like Thailand so unsociable hours , 6 day weeks and working weekends is the norm.

The infrastructure in Vietnam is noticeably less developed than Thailand (especially Bangkok). Traffic is even more chaotic and the noise is even worse etc,

There are no 7/11s or 24-hour shops in most of the country and shopping malls are nowhere near as good as in Thailand. The only mode of transport in my city is Grab so you pretty much need your own wheels and there's not much in the way of Western food, which is much easier to find in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok and Pattaya. Only Saigon proper has easy access to good Western food. Thailand as a whole is a lot more geared towards foreigners, whether tourists or expats.

Its also much easier and more affordable to find a good quality, modern serviced apartment in Thailand. My apartments in both Bangkok and Pattaya were brand new, had gyms and pool facilities and housekeepers and cost similar to what I pay now on my older, outer city apartment in Vietnam, which has none of those. Accommodation standards here just do not compare with those in Thailand.

Only HCMC proper offers similar levels of Western comforts which are fairly easy to find in most larger Thai cities, so I tend to go there on days off.

Nightlife is also a lot more provincial compared to Pattaya or Bangkok so I have to go into Saigon to find any decent bars pubs and clubs.

The Vietnamese are a lot more conservative than Thais and dating is noticeably harder and takes more effort here too. Coming from Pattaya and Bangkok, its been a big downgrade in the "meeting women" department.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Thailand definitely has its perks. Its such a fun place and I'll always love it. If I could earn more, further my career and stay there easier, I'd move back in a heartbeat.

Its definitely great for first time TEFLers and there are great adventures are to be had. As much as it saddened me to leave and that I miss it, Thailand is really limited in its opportunities for growth for serious teachers. The stale wages and it's treatment towards foreign residents with visas, bureaucracy (now the TM30) seems to get worse by the day.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Definitely. I like visiting as often as possible. With regards to travel infrastructure, quality vacations and nightlife, I don't think anywhere can compare.

If wages went up and visa restrictions were eased, I'd move back tomorrow.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No


Samui Sean

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Saudi Arabia, via a summer in Vietnam. Arrived here late August.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

About 3 and a half years. I spent the last 2 years of my time on Koh Samui. Before that, I was in Chanthaburi and Isaan.

During those years I worked at public schools, international schools, language centers, 5-star hotels and ended my time in Samui by working at a college.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I needed to advance my career, teach at a higher level and earn more money. Most ESL teaching jobs in Thailand are in the 30K to 50K range and that's fine to live comfortably and maybe save a bit for holidays within the country or an annual flight home, but not to save big ticket items like further education, a deposit on a home or retirement.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

The salary, free housing on a teacher's compound, not having to pay utility bills, being able to travel to new destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Indian sub-continent, and being able to save about 2/3 to 3/4 of my paycheck.

Also, I'm fortunate enough to have found a company where everything is well established and organized meaning very little admin outside of teaching and testing days.

It is also nice that there are real opportunities to advance to higher responsibility positions, something that was not an option at a number of the places I taught at in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The food, the people, the weather, the beaches and the ability to just get on a bike and drive anywhere. I miss living in Koh Samui the most because island life suits me. There's nothing like laying in a hammock at a small beach bar, chatting with a friend, watching the sunset and sipping on an ice cold beer.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

For sure! Just do a year or 2 to get a feel for teaching. If you think it is something you'd like to pursue for the medium to longer term, get a CELTA then head out to somewhere like Vietnam, Korea or Japan. Schools in those countries value teachers a lot more than in Thailand and the potential for saving is much higher.

While the minimum amount of experience needed for most ESL jobs in Saudi seems to be about 2 years, I would say only come here if you are mentally prepared to give up more than the obvious (alcohol and pork). It takes someone with a lot of patience and an open mind to come here and be successful.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Coming back to Thailand in January! Looking forward to it! Other than that, I would only consider coming back to Thailand to work if I was a certified teacher at an international school.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Enjoy Thailand for what it is, a great holiday destination, somewhere to get into teaching ESL and a base to develop personally and think about what you want to get out of your time.


Antony

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to New Zealand in April 2019.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Three years. one year at a parking lot university and two years at a high school in Nakhon Pathom, it was a great experience and I met some cool and weird people. At the high school, EVERYONE in the department was gay or transgender LOL, except for me. So that was entertaining.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Where do I start? In Nakhon Pathom there was pollution, the inability to travel independently, the heat, the smell, garbage, loud sounds/speakers everywhere, congestion, the dogs breeding on the street. You can't do anything outdoors. Honestly, Thailand is VERY overrated. Oh and I needed to start living a healthy life again. Can't do that in Thailand really and I have a family now so we are much happier in New Zealand.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Actually, I prefer teaching in Thailand than in NZ. I'll be going into aircraft engineering shortly so I'm changing careers. At least in Thailand I could just joke with my students in class the whole time and get away with it, because seriously, who actually takes teaching in Thailand seriously (or teaching for that matter). It's a joke but I went along with it successfully.
But in NZ its even more of a joke because the students here pay a shitload of money to study and really it's just a big business scam. They pay to sit in a class and the teacher teaches them English - same s**t, different location. I feel sorry for them to be honest. They don't need any teacher to teach them English. They can learn everything by themselves.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Most of all, the non-PC culture was so refreshing. You can say anything and no one takes your words literally, they know that you are joking and then they laugh. It was great.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Yeah sure, just do it for a couple or a few years. What annoys me about this 'great escape' section is that the Westerners in particular who spent 5, 7, or over 10 years teaching with no purpose finally say 'Man, I wish I had left for China/Vietnam several years ago because I take my career seriously and deserve a better salary.' Really huh? It took you over half a decade to figure out that your 'teaching career' in Thailand is a joke?? Frauds, These people need an IQ test.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, of course. but just for a week as I need to get more of my stuff that I stored there. But seriously, Thailand is so overrated as a holiday destination, There are far better places to go.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Give Thailand a try. You might not like it but just do it for fun and see how it goes. I highly recommend teaching in the rural areas, where it's much more peaceful


Ricky

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Seoul in South Korea in March 2019. A teaching colleague had moved over there a year earlier to teach at a public school and we had kept in touch. He seemed to be enjoying life immensely and I needed to earn a better salary than I was getting in Thailand so I thought why not give it a go?

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Bangkok for almost four years at two different government schools (two years at each)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The significant pay increase was too good to turn down. The school offered me some decent benefits as well.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

I just feel a bit more valued as a teacher and the school has really looked after me since the day I arrived. They organised my work visa in no time at all. They paid for my flight over from Thailand. They organised a very nice studio apartment just a few minutes walk away. I get a decent health insurance package and the option to pay into a pension scheme. I get a decent allowance for sick days and holidays and teachers also get free meals at the school (and they are good quality too!)

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

It can sometimes perhaps be misconstrued as laziness but I miss the laid-back attitude of the Thais and their love of fun. Things are a lot more serious here and to be honest, it took a bit of getting used to after four years in Thailand.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

I think it's a great country to start out as a teacher because there's no real pressure on you. You don't have to be an amazing teacher to progress. As long as you turn up on time and don't rub Thai staff up the wrong way, you'll do fine. Look on it as a TEFL stepping stone. You can gain good classroom experience there and perhaps move on to somewhere else and a better-paying job when you feel more confident. Thailand can be a hard act to follow though.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm not sure at this stage. I'll certainly come back for a holiday some time in 2020. I'd love to do some travelling around the north on a motorcycle. It was always an ambition of mine but I somehow never found the time when I was working there and constantly had a full teaching schedule.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you are willing to put in the effort in Thailand, then you will be rewarded. Go out of your way and be nice to people (and I'm talking mainly about the Thai staff and your Thai colleagues) then they will turn out to be some of the most kind and helpful people on earth.


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