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A Guide to Long Term Travel in Thailand

10th May 2013

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Thailand: famed for its beaches, Khao San Road, full-moon parties, rock-bottom prices and overall backpacker-friendly vibe. For many students, Thailand is their first taste of adventure in an exotic location. Everyone who goes to Thailand (and let’s face it, everyone knows someone) falls in love with the Land of Smiles.

Ask any dedicated traveller - two weeks lounging on the beaches of Krabi or partying on Khao San Road in Bangkok isn’t exactly ‘travelling.’ Living and being a tourist are completely different. If you too have fallen victim to Thailand’s charms then you may be asking yourself how you can truly experience Thailand on a more permanent basis.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is becoming an increasingly popular way for graduates and career-changers alike to up-sticks and move to South-East Asia’s most popular tourist destination.

Due to the boom in Thailand’s tourist industry resulting in the growing number of hotels, hostels, island retreats and adventure activities, the demand for English teachers is at an all-time high to accommodate for the staggering 800,000 UK tourists each year!

What can teaching do for me that a holiday can’t?

If you’re prone to the holiday blues, spending hours on end trawling through airline sites and google-imaging beaches then teaching English abroad is a great alternative for long-term travel. Teaching contracts in Thailand tend to be for around a year which is a long enough time to pick up some of the local language, experience a different culture, make new friends, stock up that CV and, equally as important, travel. Living in South-East Asia certainly has its benefits with the ease of travelling to local hotspots: Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and Malaysia on a weekend and during school holidays!

By the end of your teaching stint many teachers take up TEFL full-time, hopping from one destination to the next. Others use their experience teaching abroad to not only sport an excellent tan but a jam-packed CV too that will impress future employers back home.

The nitty-gritty

‘Don’t bother with a degree, you can buy one in Thailand’ False!!

To teach English in Thailand you will need both a degree AND a TEFL certificate. Just taking a short walk down Khao San Road you will be greeted with offerings of ‘degree qualifications’ and TEFL certificates that can be bought for as little as 600 Baht (£13!) If you’re smart and you understand the principle of ‘you get what you pay for’ then I’m sure you can appreciate that purchasing a degree certificate from a street vendor perhaps isn’t the best idea in the world! Grab yourself an accredited TEFL course, such as those from i-to-i before you arrive!

Purchasing these fake degree certificates is illegal and although it does happen (and teachers do get away with it) it can have dire repercussions if you get caught such as fines, deportation and even jail-time. Eeek!

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