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Teach in Thailand: What to prepare before moving



Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 20/05/2024, 18:30

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Becoming a teacher in Thailand is relatively easy, but in order to make the whole process run quickly and smoothly, you need to prepare for it.

Even if you are going to the Land of Smiles in a year, it is worth starting the preparations right now. Below you will find a list of what you should have and do before you go to Thailand.

Moving to the Land of Smile does not have to be stressful. All you have to do is organize yourself well and make all things clear before you go.

Start preparations as early as possible. Make a list of things to do. Divide them into important ones and the ones that can wait a bit. Gradually draw from the list the points that you managed to do. Do not put off anything for later. The sooner you deal with the formalities, the better.


First, check if you have the right qualifications to become a teacher in Thailand. If you have them, prepare the following documents.

  • Higher education diploma – you must be able to provide proof of graduation. If the university has issued you official copies of the diploma, it is good to take them with you. You can also scan it and keep it on the hard disk in electronic form and print it when you are asked to present your diploma. You must also have an original translation made by a sworn translator into English (if you’re not a native speaker).
  • Excerpt from the index – not all schools require it, but it is worth having an excerpt from the index also translated into English by a sworn translator.
  • Certificates – the TEFL course completion certificate should be attached to the documents. It is not required by law, but many schools prefer to employ teachers that finished this course. It is especially useful for those whose English is not the first language, and therefore, for you as well (unless you have a British or American passport). I did my course with SEE TEFL in Chiang Mai and I was very happy with it. I highly recommend it to everyone! If you have additional courses in pedagogy or supplementary studies, add them to your documents as well.
  • Criminal record check – you can get it from your local police station (UK).
  • CV with a photo – it is worth to write a short CV before you leave. Do not worry that you do not have experience working at a school. Maybe you used to give private lessons? If not, enter the employment history in the experience section. Therefore, it is worth doing a TEFL stationary course, because it contains internships in schools which you can put to your CV as an experience. See how your CV should look like.

This 4 Week TEFL Training Course in Chiang Mai will prepare you to teach English as a foreign language. Thanks to SEE TEFL’s job guarantee for graduates as well as classes on Thai language and culture you won’t find a better course to kickstart your new life as an English teacher.


Thailand is considered to be a cheap country. This does not mean, however, that you can come to Thailand without money. There are still cases when future teachers appear with empty pockets and have to ask for a loan to return to the country. I’m sure you do not want to end up like them. Money is important, and if you are moving to a new country, you have to be very well prepared in financial terms. It is worth coming to Thailand with good savings.
See how much it costs to live in Thailand, add 20% to it. You will need this much more for the start. Also, be prepared for the fact that you will not find the job for at least a month, and you will receive the payment only after having worked the right amount of days.


The visa often gives sleepless nights to those that want to become English teachers in Thailand. It is certainly a complicated thing to think about long before you go.

To work in Thailand legally, you must have a non-immigrant visa and a work permit. You cannot get them before you find a job and before you come to Thailand if you go to the Kingdom on your own without any help.

How do you get both documents?
It’s best if you get a tourist visa for 3 or 6 months. After finding a job, your school should help you with the formalities. Most likely, your employer will tell you that you must leave the country and apply for a non-immigrant visa in Laos or Malaysia. This means additional costs for accommodation and transport, as well as time for which nobody will pay you. However, it is possible to exchange a tourist visa for a non-immigrant one in Thailand.


Never go abroad without a proper insurance – this is one of my first advice. You may consider yourself a lucky person or a person who is always healthy and not believe that something can happen to you. Accidents, however, go around people, so it is really worth to be insured.

At the beginning of your stay in Thailand, you can buy travel insurance. It will be enough for you in the first months. Travel insurance to Thailand often protects you if you get an accident, airlines will lose your luggage or if they cancel your flight. This is a very good temporary option.

Remember, however, that in the case of an accident and applying for compensation, the insurance company will require a return ticket to your home country from you. Travel insurance is not designed for those who would like to live somewhere longer.

One of the other options is World Nomads insurance, which does not limit you in this way. You can use them in almost every country and you do not need to present a return ticket. The policy is quite expensive, but if you are looking for a quick solution, this is the perfect option.

Where ever your journey leads: Missed flights, lost phones or sudden illness can easily drain your bank account and ruin your holiday. That’s why I use World Nomads. Get travel insurance

Many expats use medical insurance. Medical insurance covers medical expenses in the case of an accident or illness, regardless of whether it is a chronic illness or not. Many policies also include check-ups, cytology, and even maternity leave. It’s worth taking interest in this insurance if you have diabetes or if you are at a higher risk of getting cancer or other similar illness, or if you are 45 years old or older.

Take care of your health

Thailand is a developing country and is not as clean as in Europe. The food is prepared on the street, often without facilities or refrigerators. It may seem that it is easy to get infected with dangerous diseases here. Fortunately, it is not. If you are well protected before you leave, you will enjoy good health in Thailand.

You should think about vaccinations for Thailand about 6 months before you go. On the tropical medicine website, you will find a whole list of recommended vaccines. You do not have to vaccinate all of them! Some of them are completely unnecessary. For example, you should only get rabies if you intend to work with animals or spend a full day bus ride from the nearest hospital. Otherwise, you can skip this vaccine.

In Thailand, malaria prevails only in some regions and is not a direct threat if you are not in the deep jungle. Therefore, taking anti-malarial drugs is a waste of money and your well-being, as they often cause nausea and stomach pain.

Remember that Thai healthcare is at the top level, but you should always take care of yourself both before and during your stay.


I left the most obvious to the end.
Currently, flights to Thailand are very cheap. You can use search engines like Momondo. If you search well, you may find a flight below $200.

I hope this helps you a little with preparing for your move to become a teacher in Thailand. If you need more information, check out my related posts or the related links in this article.