Guidebooks often describe it as a stop-off between Hat Yai and Surat Thani - but what are the pickings like for a TEFLer?
The Lonely Planet guidebook says......?
It's a "rewarding" stop between Hat Yai and Surat Thani.
In general, what are the pickings like for an EFL teacher?
Even more schools have opened in the last five years making TEFL work very easy to come by. Hiring season is highest in March and April with another small higher peak in September and October for the second term.
The majority of schools have an English programme with one employing up to 50 farang teachers. There are private, government and language schools as well as some universities close to town. Best bet is to join the local facebook group to see job postings.
The average pay is around 30,000-35,000 baht with the opportunity to get up to 45,000 within a few years. The low pay is offset with a low cost of living.
How far from Bangkok or civilization?
Nakhorn is well served for transport. The airport (15 min from town) should soon become an international airport, but who knows how long that will realistically take after the decision was made in January of 2015.
Only a 1hr flight from Bangkok with 3 airlines now running up to 10 flights a day.
Trains take considerably longer, about 14 hrs
Buses run regularly, 9+ hrs
"Songkla and Hatyai"
3 hours drive away.
Also served by van, bus and train (3-5 hours)
"Suratthani and the islands"
Surat is approx 2 hours by road
Donsak(for the islands) is 1.5-2 hours away + ferry. (1.5 hour ferry to Samui, longer to the other islands either direct or through Samui)
"Krabi and Phuket"
3- 4hrs respectively by bus or minivan, less if you're driving yourself.
minivan: first to hatyai (3hrs) then to penang (5hrs)
What's the place like for nightlife, eating out etc?
There are countless Thai restaurants with new ones opening what seems to be on a daily basis. More and more western style restaurants are opening up and even in the last year many restaurants have added an English menu.
Coffee shops are also popping up all over the place serving real, decent coffee (not just thai instant coffee). Check out Retro Cafe, Pixel Cafe and Tichy Cafe.
On Friday nights you will find Thai and farang at 'Rock99' situated in Bavorn Plaza in the centre of town since they serve decent pizza. Farang owned "Willow Tree" is also a popular bar recently relocated near Mcdonalds, with a rooftop bar and big screen for sporting events and movie nights.
Live music - there are a handful of places where live music is played. Country Home is a good spot along 60 Bar and Morgans. Bliss Bar is a thai owned bar that plays a great selection of western music. If you don't like loud rock music there's always the karaoke joints which are in typical thai style all over town.
There are three cinemas in town but they rarely show a movie in English (last year we petitioned for Jurassic World and Star Wars which they showed in English for a couple of nights)
How much to rent a house or basic apartment?
Normal fan room in one of the guest houses will cost you around 2,500/month.
For those that don't like living in boxes, small town-houses or detached thai style houses (outdoor kitchen) will cost around 5,000 a month.
A nice 3/4 bedroomed houses with garden etc start from around 8,000/month. There are a few nice gated communities that boast pools and parks where a small townhouse (3bed/2bath) with cost around 7,000-10,000.
Shopping malls, department stores?
Tesco Lotus and a Macro on the outskirts of town.
More central, there is 'Ocean Plaza' which was recently renovated with new stores opening weekly and currently it houses a large Robinson's, a TOPS grocery store, coffee shops, fast food, and independent and chain retailers .
Sahathai Plaza is a smaller mall with a large Big C. A Central Plaza is under construction in the south part of town, near Tesco, and set to open 250 shops by the end of the year.
How is mobile / internet coverage?
Will you be stared at? and what's the likelihood of a good beating?
As Nakhon is off the tourist trail, yes, you will get 'looked' at every now and then but it will mostly be with smiles and waves. As there are over 100 farang in town now teaching, the looks and stares are less frequent.
As for getting attacked, Nakhon still has a pretty bad reputation within the country but here, as with most places, the farang is pretty safe.
There have been a couple of farangs who have been murdered almost a decade ago. One was stabbed outside a hotel and had his camera bag etc nicked. The other guy had a business here, obviously seen as competition and was shot. On the whole, no worries. Act wisely and you should have no problems.
Taxis, buses....or horse and cart?
In the last year a blue and yellow taxi company has begun who will pick you up anywhere for a 50 baht fee and they all use the meter.
There are still hundreds of songtaews that run routes on both major roads from north to south. Fares are cheap but they mostly stop running around 8:30 at night. Plenty of buses and mini vans serving the neighbouring towns as well as the major cities.
Most farang rent or buy a motorbike to get around. Costs are around 2000-2500 baht a month or there are always used bikes for sale as teachers come and go for around 10,000-25,000 baht.
Main advantages of living there?
It is still well off the tourist trail and so manages to keep its Thainess, which is good for those that are fed up/don't want to be around too many westerners. The locals, on the whole though, are very nice and helpful.
It's big enough to have most of what you want yet still small enough to be in the countryside within minutes. Another advantage is the low cost of living. The 30,000 baht starting salary will get you very far here compared to the islands!
And what are the downsides?
All farang seem to miss or complain about different things. Many crave western conveniences like Starbucks and Subway while others get frustrated at the lack of English spoken in town. There really aren't too many downsides.
Any local attractions?
By far the most important attraction in Nakhon is (if you're into old temples) Wat Phramahat - the most visited site by Thai tourists and foreigners.
The small town of Kiriwong is worth checking out and there are many waterfalls within an hour drive of the city.
The beach towns of Sichon and Khanom are 45 minutes and one hour away - both with beautiful and deserted beaches.
If you're into swimming and can't be bothered with the trip to the beaches, the 'Twin Lotus Hotel' as a fairly decent outdoor pool on the 3rd floor. Cost is 50baht and they also have a gym if you're that way inclined.
Where's the best place to meet other farangs or are they best avoided?
I'd say the 'best' place is the Rock99 bar on Friday night Pizza nights or Willow Tree for football games.
For the most part the farang are very friendly and helpful to each other in town. Christmas and Thanksgiving potluck dinners are organized for anyone in town and free clothing swaps are frequently planned for the females in town to get together.
There are the usual few old farang men you rarely see about town with their Thai wives, but other than that there is a good mix of young and middle-aged people from all over the English speaking world living happily together.
However this does not seem to be a family town for farang as the one couple with a baby that lives here is heading back to The States this year.