From eating some of the best and affordable food in the world to navigating crossing the streets, here is 10 unavoidable truths to studying abroad in Thailand.

1. You will find affordable food

But if it’s so affordable then it must not taste good, right? WRONG! Thai food is absolutely delicious, and if you like spicy food than you’re in luck. You want an ice cream cone? 15-30 baht (less than 1 USD). Chicken/pork/shrimp fried rice? 40 baht (around 1.20 USD). Three spring rolls? 20 baht. Can of soda? 15 baht. A typical meal costs between 2-3 USD, so you will not be going hungry here.

An ice cream cone from a shop on campus, 15 baht
An ice cream cone from a shop on campus, 15 baht (about .46 USD)

2. You will take a Songthaew (red truck) just about everywhere

But at only 20 baht, (around 66 cents) why wouldn’t you? Songthaews will take you anywhere around the city that is 15-20 minutes away. If you need to go a little further, there may be a minor price increase. Nonetheless, this method of transportation beats calling for an Uber back home.

Photo with the Songthaew (red truck)
Learn more about studying abroad in Thailand

3. You will get lost

Either you pronounce your address wrong to the songthaew driver and end up somewhere unfamiliar, or you think you know where you’re walking to and get turned around. Getting lost at some point or another is inevitable. But that’s all part of the adventure, right?

Photo by Samantha Gelon, Syracuse University who took this on the Thailand Spring Break Trip
Photo by Samantha Gelon, Syracuse University who took this on the Thailand Spring Break Trip

4. You will sweat

If you think you’re one of those “I don’t sweat, I sparkle” type, I’m pretty positive Thailand will prove you wrong. We’re currently in Thailand’s winter season, and it has been between 85-90 F everyday. So when the actual hot season rolls around there is no escaping the sweat, especially on the long walk to class.

5. You will need bug spray

You’re going to spending a lot of time outdoors, and in a generally warm and humid climate… so yes, you’re going to need to wear bug spray to avoid the mosquitos. You’ll need to put it on before you go on hikes to help avoid the bites.

Doi Inthanon Excursion
Hiking on the Doi Inthanon Excursion

6. You will do a triple take before crossing the street

Unlike back home in the US, they drive on the left side of the road here which can make it a little confusing the first couple of times you try to cross the street. Not to mention all the motorbikes. Motorbikes are the most popular method of transportation for Thai’s to use. They are everywhere, and they are fast. If you hesitate for a split second there are already a dozen motorbikes coming up 10 feet away. No worries though, you’ll get the hang of it.

7. You will eat A LOT of rice

White rice, fried rice, sticky rice, bamboo rice. You will have plenty of each kind. Just about every meal in Thailand is served over rice or with rice on the side, but it’s so delicious you will not hear anyone complaining.

local markets
Trip to the local market

8. You may be photographed in the streets

You might start to feel like a celebrity when people you don’t even know are taking your photo, especially if you have blonde hair. As our TEAN Thailand Resident Director, Kai likes to explain it, people aren’t trying to make you uncomfortable when they take your photo, they just think you’re beautiful.

9. You will visit a temple (or 10)

Chiang Mai is home to more than 80 temples. Some of the most popular ones include Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, and Wat Umong. The temples here are breathtaking, and if you want to see Monks chant then this is the place to go.

Temples in Chiang Mai
Monks chanting at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, and Wat Chedi Luang

10. You will make a lot of friends

Between the other students in your program, the lovely Thai roommates, and other locals you stumble across along the way, you are bound to make a lot of great friends. If you can learn to communicate with your local friends, you will most definitely share a laugh. They don’t call it the Land of Smiles for nothing.

Lantern during orientation
New friends from the TEAN Thailand Orientation

And #11 – you’ll have the best semester of your life! I Learn more about studying abroad in Thailand. Or feel free to contact us with any questions.