Petchburi Province itself includes the popular resorts of Hua Hin and Chaam. It sounds like a great place to be a teacher - but what's the reality?
The Lonely Planet guidebook says......?
Worth a stopover for its many temples (yiiiiikes!)
In general, what are the pickings like for an EFL teacher?
Phetchaburi City in Phetchaburi province is considered as the educational centre of the upper south of Thailand.
There are somewhat like 20 schools in Phetchaburi City. There are three primary English Program schools and two secondary. The whole student population counts about 14,000 students. For tertiary education students can enroll Rajabhat University, Silpakorn University or the International Webster University. In Phetchaburi City are the Labour Office and the Service Area of The Ministry of Education.
For visa matters, teachers have to go to Hua Hin, 60 km south or Samut Sakhon, 80 km north. Currently 90 % of the teachers' community is hired directly by the schools. The working conditions are standard and the wages are around 30,000 THB excluding housing allowance.
Mike Thompson - Many teachers are employed directly by the schools as John said. In the main part of the city, the more well-known schools that employ native-English teachers are Aroonpradit (Prathom and Mattayom), Wat Don Kaitia(Prathom) and Benjamaputit( Mattayom). There is also a Phetchaburi Ratchabaj University that employs more experienced teachers. Part-time work can be found at several private language schools like Kumon, RAC and Oxford Street.
How far from Bangkok or civilization?
Bangkok is about 150 km north of Phetchaburi City. Busses from Phetchaburi city to the Bangkok southern bus station take less than three hours. There are vans available that frequently go to Victory Monument in Bangkok from early mornings to late evenings.
MT - To be honest, the bus ride takes anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the traffic. It is NICE to go to Bangkok for some shopping and entertainment once in awhile. :-)
What's the place like for nightlife, eating out etc?
Phetchaburi city has a lot of entertainment venues such as pubs and karaoke restaurants. The main costumers are Thais though.
If you don't fancy these venues, go a bit south. The beach town Cha Am is 40 km south and has a lot of farang bars and restaurants. Another 25 km south you can find Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.
How much to rent a house or basic apartment?
Furnished rooms are available from 2,000 Baht a month and unfurnished houses (living room, two bathrooms, two bedrooms and a kitchen) in a nice neighbourhood start at 2,500 Baht. Most likely, your employer will provide accommodation but it can be a shared house on the school grounds.
MT - Rooms are between 1500 baht to 3,000 baht for townhouses. However, water and electricity are paid separately. Many school employers provide housing as part of the compensation package for EP teachers.
Shopping malls, department stores?
Phetchaburi city has a department store in the centre and a BigC shopping mall a little bit outside the centre.
MT - There is a Makro on the outskirts of town in addition to Big C. We also have a SahaThai, a smaller shopping store in the center of town.
How is mobile / internet coverage?
Will you be stared at? and what's the likelihood of a good beating?
Our foreign teaching community counts about forty teachers. Many of us are white and Thai residents will still stare at you. But that's not all, they will greet you or start a chat with you. There is crime over here but involves only Thai residents.
MT - There are quite a few expat teachers here and we have tourists come through from Bangkok. We will sometimes get stares, but Phetchaburi is really quite peaceful and pleasant. However, like any place, a positive attitude and smiles will get you a long way.
Taxis, buses....or horse and cart?
Phetchabui city and Cha Am are at the main artery to the south which is called Petchakasem Road. Air-con busses to the south and Bangkok are plenty available. Motorcycle-taxies are the main local transportation.
MT - We have songtaews here as a major mode of transportation. They are quite inexpensive. No horses that I've seen.
Main advantages of living there?
The balance between teaching and relaxing. 15 km to the east is Haad Chao Samran beach for a swim. 40 km south is Cha Am for farang night entertainment. 50 km west is Kaeng Krachan National park for hiking, camping, swimming and relaxing. And ..... of course from time to time to Bangkok for a ..........!
MT - Compared to the big cities, Phetchaburi is quite peaceful and calm. It is nice to get out on a scooter and see all the green fields and trees and some...cows...Plus, the locals are friendly and helpful. However, it is close to Bangkok, the cost of living is lower, and if you like beaches, there are several within scooter/ bus distance.
And what are the downsides?
To enjoy the beautiful things you can do in and around Phetchaburi City, you should have a motorcycle. A second hand one will cost you 25,000 THB.
MT - No real downsides. I do miss the big Siam shopping malls and Pantip and some good Western-style restaurants. But a trip to Bangkok fixes all of that. :-)
Any local attractions?
Thailand's largest National Park Kaeng Krachan is in Phetchaburi province. There are several famous palaces and many temples. The main beaches are Hat Chao Samran beach, Puk Thian Beach and Cha Am beach. Cha Am beach is the holiday place for foreign tourists and the main attraction on the weekends for Thai people from Bangkok.
MT - Phetchaburi has several tourist attractions. Khao Wung being one of the more popular ones. It has a nice (but short) tram up to the mountain.
Also, Khao Luang, Bundai It Temple and Wat Mahatat are worth a visit. If you like feeding monkeys, we have plenty of those at Khao Wung and Budai It Temple. You can even buy some souvenir ones with red flashing eyes...aiee..
If you are into reptiles, I suggest stopping by Rabieng Thong restaurant. They have organized trips to Kaeng Krachan for wildlife-sightseeing (tigers, deer, birds, and such...) There are also some good-sized water monitors in the Phetchaburi River.
Where's the best place to meet other farangs or are they best avoided?
There isn't a particular place. Phetchaburi city is small. Just go somewhere and you will meet farangs. Most probably they are teachers. Have a chat and perhaps a new friendship will arise.