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Teaching in Chiang Mai

A bit of info on Thailand's Rose of the North

Teaching in Chiang Mai

Many visitors to Chiang Mai fall so much in love with the place that they want to extend their stay as long as possible. One popular way of doing so for those wanting to delve too deeply into their savings is to take up a position teaching English.

While rates are not as good as those in Bangkok, an English teacher (whether full time or part-time) can easily earn enough to cover the costs of living in Chiang Mai with plenty to spare for splurging on the odd night out or shopping spree. Full time positions usually receive between 17,500 - 30,000 baht or more per month, while part-timers can expect to earn between 180 - 400 baht per hour.

Thais are no different from other employers and place very high emphasis on the appearance and attitude of the prospective employee. Therefore those with the proper qualifications (Bachelor Degree, TEFL / TESL certificate) who look for a position will have little problem finding English teaching work in Chiang Mai if they are well-dressed, friendly and professional. No matter what qualifications you have, they won't help you if you turn up at a school with sandals, jeans and casual top.

Thai Visas for teaching English

Obtaining a work permit is a little difficult in Chiang Mai as there are not many schools willing to go through the administrative nightmare of preparing the necessary documentation and going through the procedures to get you one. Also, Thai schools are reluctant to give you time off to travel outside the country to obtain your Non-Immigrant B visas, and are even less likely to pay for either the trip or the Thai visas and work permit costs. More on Thai visas

While the private international schools in Chiang Mai do most of their recruiting for English teachers abroad, many schools (primary and high schools), universities, colleges and language schools tend to rely on door-knockers to fill vacant English teaching positions. Demand is higher than supply, however, so competition for the best paying Chiang Mai English teaching jobs is fierce. More on Chiang Mai English teaching

Hints for landing an English teaching job in Chiang Mai

Look and act professional, arrive with all your documents ready, and be dressed for a possible immediate interview.
Thais are sticky about appearance, dress conservatively, wearing a tie or conservative skirt.
If you don't have a TEFL certificate, then show some proof of previous teaching experience.
Bring a CV (of relevant experience only), copy of your degree/tertiary diploma (this is considered a pre-requisite for permanent positions).
Be genuine with your intentions to stay in Chiang Mai for a reasonable time.
Be flexible, often openings are for part-time weekend staff.
Chiang Mai living costs
Chiang Mai directory

English language schools in Chiang Mai

While Chiang Mai has far fewer English language schools than Bangkok, there is still plenty of work available, particularly for part-timers. There is a wide variety of schools in the city, ranging from international schools to universities and colleges to language centres. Similarly, the professionalism exhibited and expected can vary widely. While there are some fulltime positions, most are part-time and newcomers on the scene can expect to spend some time juggling part-time jobs while waiting for a fulltime one to become available.

Qualifications dictate both the quality of work and remuneration. Professional EFL/ESL certified teachers can expect to earn considerably more than less qualified ones, and generally these teachers are the only ones considered for positions at the British Council, the AUA Language Centre, English First (EF) and the Australia Centre, whose wages range from 300 to 400 baht an hour.

Those with a Bachelor Degree can apply at any Thai government educational institution. Chiang Mai University is the pick of these, with a sizable staff of native speakers earning 300 baht an hour part-time or 20,000 baht full time. Read about Chiang Mai

Other language centres around Chiang Mai include ECC, CEC, NIS, Teya, and London House. Most of these offer wages of 180 - 250 baht per hour, with the teachers left pretty much to themselves to decide curriculum and texts, and tend to be located on the western side of the city (Nimmanhemin Road; Huay Kaew Road) near Chiang Mai University. The motto of many of these schools is profit before education, hence the high turnover in English teaching staff as dedicated teachers become frustrated with the system. However, they are great places to get a foot in the door while looking around for someplace better suited to teaching English in Chiang Mai, and are the places most people start off in.

There are other smaller independent English language schools in Chiang Mai, especially for young kids, but openings are few and conditions aren't great.

Living in Chiang Mai

Magnificently situated in a valley surrounded by mountain covered in jungles, and blessed with a mild climate for most of the year, it is little wonder that foreigners have called Chiang Mai home for over 150 years. With recent advancements in infrastructure, such as a convenient international airport and network of highways and bypasses, living in Chiang Mai has never been more comfortable to live in, a fact confirmed by the thousands of foreigners that live in the city for part or all of the year.

Voted one of the Asia's top ten cities for lifestyle, Chiang Mai is famed for its relaxed, traditional ambiance. The local Thai people are friendly, tolerant and eager to impart their culture on willing ‘farang'. The incredible multi-cultural diversity of the ex-pats is also inviting, with friends easily made due to the common desire to enjoy a lifestyle removed from the hectic, dog-eat-dog pace of large developed cities.

The Chiang Mai night life

Yes, there is a bar life here too and while Chiang Mai may not boast the beaches of the popular resort islands of Phuket and Samui, it does not suffer the regular inundation of hoards of culturally insensitive package tourists that pre-empt any laid-back, quiet lifestyle that many ex-pats are seeking. In addition, Chiang Mai is relatively free of touts, beggars and the like, and the environment is generally better cared for. There is still plenty of action here however, with some great night life centred round a tasteful selection of pubs, bars, restaurants with live music, and the odd disco or two. Chiang Mai night cubs and bars scene .

Living in Chiang Mai is helped by a well established network of services aimed specifically at foreigners, and the burgeoning ex-pat community here creates a comfortable 'safety cushion' to help newcomers to Asia adjust to life as an occidental in the Orient. Many choose Chiang Mai because it is far more liveable than Bangkok, and the cost of living is much lower. It's a great place to go shopping too. Many tourist reserver their shopping for Chiang Mai and for good reason, if you live here you'll find your money goes a long way.

Chiang Mai city

Founded in 1296 by King Mengrai as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai was soon to grow into one of the largest and most influential cities in the region. Named ‘Nophaburi Sri Nakorn Ping Chiang Mai', the city occupied an area of 1.8 km by 2 km, and was surrounded by fortifications and a moat, remnants of which are still visible today.

Chiang Mai grew wealthy on trade due to its strategic geographical position, with the population flourishing and temples constructed everywhere. Proud of its achievements and power, the Lanna Kingdom also developed its own unique cultural heritage, distinctly different from that of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya to the south. More on Chiang Mai

It was not long, however, before Chiang Mai's prosperity was noticed by envious eyes, and the city was sacked the Burmese and lay deserted in ruins before being rebuilt. Chiang Mai's Lanna culture was preserved and is reflected today in the wealth and variety of beautiful handicrafts, sumptuous cuisine and exciting festivals that make up life in this centre of northern Thailand. Indeed, Chiang Mai is a shopping paradise for not only foreigners but for Thais as well and cheap shopping is a real attraction in Chiang Mai - in fact it's easy to blow all your monthly wage in a weekend here, because you get so many goodies for so little. More on Chiang Mai shopping .

Sight seeing in Chiang Mai

The city of Chiang Mai is set out in a grid, making navigation extremely simple. Walls and the moat form the north, south, east and west borders of the city, with landmark gates positioned in the centre of each. Main roads run north-south and east-west, with smaller lanes running off these. Many of the old temples and chedis are still standing and make great places to visit, while the iconic moat is an ever-present reminder of the city's glory days. More on sight seeing in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has emerged as one of the top tourist sight seeing destinations in Asia, and is equally popular with foreigners as a home away from home. There is so much to do and see not only in the city itself but in the surrounding northern Thai region. After experiencing the ecotourism delights of trekking, rafting, mountain biking, elephant safari and jungle hiking in the mountains and river valleys neighbouring Chiang Mai, shop, eat, drink and dance the night away in the city!



I would like to teach English to young learners in northern Thailand. My problem is I am over 60. I have my BA is Art History and Humanities from US University and TEFL certification but am not getting any call backs.

Does anyone know of language schools hiring and getting B visa to teach over age 60. Please advise

By Roslyn, US (9th April 2018)

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