One of the many questions Thais may ask a foreigner visiting Thailand is "Have you been to Chiang Mai yet?", underscoring the feeling that Chiang Mai is a keystone of any journey to Thailand. Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand after Bangkok and has in excess of 300 temples including the breath taking Doi Suthep Wat which is second only to Bangkok’s Grand Palace.
Chiang Mai is also the home to interesting and colourful ethnic minorities, known as the hill tribes. Because of its size and character as the central city of the north, Chiang Mai also hosts many immigrants from Burma, many of whom are Shan and Karen. They have their own language and their own culture, and many are hoping to eventually return to Burma.
Located just twenty five minutes from the city centre near the town of Doi Saket it is easy for our volunteers to explore Chiang Mai and the surrounding area.
Doi Saket Schools
Our volunteers have the opportunity to teach English at one of several Primary schools that we work with on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city near to the town of Doi Saket.
Situated a short bicycle ride from the volunteer house in all of the schools the children are aged from six to fifteen years old and are local kids from poor backgrounds. Like many of the schools within Thailand they do not have a curriculum and their knowledge of the English language is very poor and basic.
View our Doisaket teaching photo gallery
Wat Pa Pao
Wat Pa Pao is a Buddhist temple situated in the center of Chiang Mai, just outside the old city wall and moat. It was founded over 400 years ago by a Shan, and today serves as the main community center for Shans in Chiang Mai.
The school teaches a basic Thai curriculum and is intended to provide Shan youth in Chiang Mai with literacy skills that will enable them to improve their job opportunities and future in Thailand. While the classes are in Thai, the various extra-curricular activities are all aimed at promoting the Shan culture. The school has thus proved extremely popular among the Shan youth in Chiang Mai, who have flocked to the classes both to improve their education and to join in community activities aimed at preserving their own culture.
Wat Papao is in the center of Chiang Mai and if you want to teach there you must commute about 30 miutes in each direction at your own expence.
Thai close for school holidays in the middle of February and do not resume until Mid May. They are also closed for holiday in October. During this time your placement will be at various English camps in and around Chiang Mai.
Every semester we try and improve the structure and quality of these camps. A typical day teaching at a camp involves two/three hours of English lessons followed by an afternoon of games and activities. The aim of these camps is to allow students to practice their English skills in a fun and interesting way.
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Our application process typically takes two or three weeks, but can
be speeded up if there is a need for that. When we receive the initial application from you, we will send you our
full application form.
(1) Complete the Initial Application Form:
The first stage of the application process is to fill out the brief initial application form. Upon receiving this we will send you the full application form.
(2) Complete the Full Application Form:
Fill out the application form. After receiving this we will assess your suitability and place you on one of our programs.
(3) Placement info:
We will return detailed placement information and an invoice. If you accept the placement you should clikc the link to say so. The fee can be paid with credit card through PayPal or by bank transfer.
Once you have made your traveling arrangements you should mail your time of arrival and the means of transportation and we will confirm pickup.
You can join us for any amount of time, from a week to six months. We do recommend a trip of three to six months since it offers the best value. Regardless of the length of your stay, you will be able to learn some Thai and you will have time to get to know a new culture, come to know its people, and form relationships that will outlast the duration of your stay.
Dates of arrival: All teaching will start on the Monday after the introduction.
March: Sat 28
April: Sat 11, Sat 25
May: Sat 9, Sat 23
June: Sat 6, Sat 20
July: Sat 4, Sat 18
August: Sat 1, Sat 15, Sat 29
September: Sat 12, Sat 26
October: Sat 10, Sat 24
November: Sat 7, Sat 21
December: Sat 5, Sat 19
|January: Sat 2, Sat 16, Sat 30
February: Sat 13, Sat 27
March: Sat 12, Sat 26
April: Sat 9, Sat 23
|May: Sat 7, Sat 21
June: Sat 4, Sat 18
July: Sat 2, Sat 16, Sat 30
August: Sat 13, Sat 27
|September: Sat 10, Sat 24
October: Sat 8, Sat 22
November: Sat 5, Sat 19
December: Sat 3, Sat 17, Sat 31
The dorm is located just outside Chiang Mai and is a big modern Western style house. There is a communal room with TV, DVD a computer and WIFI. There are 5 bedrooms that can accommodate up to 3 volunteers each. The kitchen area is equipped with an electric hob, toaster, fridge, water kettle and the necessary cooking ware. There are 2 bathrooms with a western style toilet and hot water showers.
The dorm is located in a quiet neighborhood outside of the city. It's a twenty minute bus ride from the center of the city and a ten minute bicycle ride from the town of Doi Saket.
Being a major city, Chiang Mai has a wide variety of things to do and see during the volunteers free time and at weekends.
For the animal lovers, Chiang Mai offers some of the best Elephant trekking and even has a near-by tiger zoo where volunteers have the opportunity to pet baby tigers!
For the adventure lovers, Chiang Mai has some fantastic national parks and wild life sanctuaries which are great for trekking and white water rafting. For those who are interested in photography, Chiang Mai has some beautiful and scenic places which make great stills. The city is surrounded by a series of scenic waterfalls and mountains.
Chiang Mai has a huge variety of both Thai and international food. There is traditional Thai food close to the dorm and a massive selection of international restaurants throughout the town. The city is also famous for its Thai cooking schools with classes ranging from a few hours to 2 to 3 weeks.
The kitchen at the dorm is well equipped with a fridge, toaster, water kettle and gas cookers so you can cook your own food. In the past, volunteers have bought fresh fruit and vegetables from the market and practiced their Thai cooking skills with the support of the coordinator Jim.
From November to February during the cool season, Chiang Mai province experiences pleasantly mild sunny weather with temperatures in the city area on average ranging between 15 Celsius at night and around 28 Celsius in daytime.
At higher elevations, temperatures can sometimes dip down to freezing point at night. It doesn't snow, but sleet does occur at times.
During the hot season, lasting from March to May, temperatures especially in the city are high, rising into the high 30s.
The rainy season in the north is from June to October.Chiang Mai Weather Chart
The fastest and most convenient way to get to Chiang Mai is with one of the low-cost carriers from Bangkok Don Muang International Airport. There are a number of budget airlines flying thus route and flights cost approximately 1,500-2,000 Baht. You can book a flight online at Nokair, Airasia, or Thai Airways
International flights arrive in to Suvarnabhumi International Airport and most Thai Domestic Flights depart from Don Mueang Airport. If you are flying with Air Asia you will be able to fly straight from Suvarnabhumi, but for Nokair and Thai Air you will have to get to Don Mueang. To get there you can take an airport taxi for approximately 500 Baht or you can take a local bus for 35 Baht (approx 45 mins depending on traffic), buses leave from the ground floor of the Suvarnabhumi terminal building. There are information kiosks should you get confused or lost.
There are several trains of various qualities and speeds leaving from Hualamphong train station in Bangkok throughout the day.
We recommend the non air-con 2nd class sleeper which arrives in Chiang Mai in the early morning.
(There is an airport bus direct to the train station from the ground floor of the Suvarnabhumi terminal building)
Government buses leave the Northern and Northeastern busterminal in Bangkok several times a day. You have the choice between 1st and VIP class and tickets range from 300 to 400 Baht.
There are daily private night buses leaving from the Khao San area for as little as 100 Baht. If you go for these, make sure the agencies are delivering the services you were promised and watch your belongings carefully on all buses.
You will be picked up from the airport, bus or train station in Chang Mai by one of the coordinators with a placard that says Travel to Teach. Should you not see anyone just phone one of the contact persons on the placement information you have.
Jim graduated from Khon Kaen University's tourism program in 2007 and initially completed a 3 month internship with Travel to Teach before joining us permanently. After working with us in Chiang Mai for 2 years Jim now helps manage our programs in Nongkhai. She is responsible for contact with schools and organising English camps and looks after our volunteers giving Thai language lessons and cooking classes.Contact Jim: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nana is 30 years old and was born in Mae Sot, Thailand. She is ethnically Karen and has an exam as public health instructor.
There are many options for your visa depending on the length of your stay.
One month tourist visa (free)
This is valid for 30 days and is granted free on arrival in Thailand by air. If you arrive at a land border you will currently only be given a 15 day visa. Please note you can only have three free one month visa stamps in any six month period.
Two/Three month single entry tourist visa (1,200 Baht - approx. 24€)
This is valid for two/three months after your arrival in Thailand. If you leave the country during this time your visa will become invalid. This can be arranged in advance at any Thai Consulate/Embassy. For a list of Thai Embassy's around the world see www.thaiembassy.org.
If you are staying in Thailand for more than a month and do not have time to arrange a 2 month visa, you can simply get your free stamp on arrival and then cross over into Laos after 30 days and apply for it there.
It's quite a simple process:
To revalidate your visa you will have to come to Nongkhai. Simply catch a tuk-tuk to the friendship bridge where you will be able to get a bus across to Laos. On the far side of the friendship bridge you will get your Laos visa (approx $35).
Once in Laos you have two options, you can either return directly to Thailand receiving a 15 day visa extension or if you want a two month visa you will need to visit the Thai Embassy in Vientiane and spend one night in the city. Please note that for your Laos visa and for a two month Thai visa you will need passport photos and a photocopy of your passport. Vietiane is a 30 minute bus or taxi ride from the border.
You can also use your time in Laos to explore the country further and there are regular buses running from Vientiane to most of Laos including Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang.
If you are planning to work in Cambodia then you will need to obtain a police records background check before starting your placement. For details on the application procedure in your home country please take a look at: www.travel-to-teach.org/CRB-information.php
At all other locations you will be required to abide by the Travel to Teach Child Protection Policy.
You should tell your doctor that you are likely to go on a jungle trip in Northern Thailand and that you will live in village outside Chiang Mai. Keep in mind, Chiang Mai is an urban area and one need not worry about malaria pills for staying exclusively in there.
Also visit the WHO's (World Health Organisation) Travelers health information
One of the conditions of entry onto our programs is that volunteers have travel insurance. Most importantly the insurance needs to include medical treatment and repatriation in case of unforeseen accidents or illnesses. Volunteers should purchase insurance independently and bring a copy of their insurance certificate with them for their local co-ordinator to check before starting their program. Read our terms and conditions.