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Nearly 20 million visitors make their way to Thailand's sun-drenched beaches, isolated hill villages, and bustling cities each year. You're sure to receive a warm welcome by the Thais who are renowned for their hospitality. The Land of Smiles has limitless offerings, making it the perfect place to intern for a variety of reasons. Maybe you'll come to enjoy authentic curries and pad thai, gems in the treasure chest of Thai cuisine. Or, are you discontent with magazine pictures of stunning Thai temples? A stroll through Chang Mai will reveal hundreds of wats (temples) containing saffron-robed monks and awe-inspiring Buddhist statues. The lover of culture will be overwhelmed: in architecture, art, music, and dance, Thai culture is unparalleled.
As the only Southeast Asian country to never be colonized, it offers interns amazing cultural and historical richness. More the outdoors type? Nature lovers will be excited by elephants and growing country-wide conservation efforts. Is it people that fire you up? Social activists from around the world can team with Thais to combat injustices and health challenges of a developing country. After a crippling economic crash in 1997, Thailand is continually strengthening its economy and aid programs, but there's still much to be done. When interns are ready to kick back, there's no end to entertainment in Bangkok and Chang Mai.
Few countries can compare with the experiences Thailand offers its guests. Whatever your passion, you're sure to find your perfect internship in Thailand.
There's never been a better time than now to intern in Thailand. This newly industrialized country is modernizing at a breakneck pace. The tourism industry is drawing more visitors every year. This boom has birthed ecotourism and an urgent conservation movement. The healthcare system is a leader on the world stage, drawing medical tourists from around the world. However, despite rapid development, Thailand is very much a developing country. For the past two decades the government has addressed community and medical needs with inspiring innovation. There's no better place for interns who want to make a difference through social justice and public health. The following are the most popular internships in Thailand:
How can you snag one of these incredible internships? Most interns come through placement programs. While they cost more than finding an internship on your own, it's worth it: the program will help with visa and legal paperwork, pick you up at the airport, coordinate cultural excursions, provide accommodations, and host an orientation that usually teaches basic Thai language. You and your caregivers will sleep easy knowing you have a reputable organization on call if ever you need assistance. Shop around to find the perfect fit for you, and then prepare to be amazed as they pave the way for an outstanding internship experience.
Internships are available throughout the year, but climate can be a big factor in deciding when to come. Thailand has three seasons: hot, rainy, and cool (though some say it's "hot, hotter, and hottest"). The hot season, from March-June, has temperatures between 91degF -118degF during the day. Rainy season, from July to November, is cooler but accompanied by torrential downpours and flash flooding most evenings. Cool season, from November-March, is the most popular and most expensive time to come, hosting daytime temperatures less than 89degF with nighttime temperatures reaching down to 60degF. But don't write off hot season yet! It's bearable with air conditioning and plenty of water, and prices are lower. Plus, you'll get to experience the most fun Thai holiday: Songkran. During this Thai New Year celebration April 13-15, cool off in a nation-wide water fight. Or, If you come the beginning of November you can release a lantern during Loy Krathong, Thailand's most beautiful holiday. Whenever you decide to visit, secure your internship at least 2-3 months prior to leaving.
Most internships take place near Bangkok or Chang Mai, Thailand's two largest cities. Bangkok is a throbbing metropolis recently named the World's Best City by Travel & Leisure magazine for the third year in a row. It is also the most important city politically and economically. Chang Mai, though still full of interesting opportunities, is more relaxed than Bangkok. This bastion of culture is less steamy and urban, and its vicinity to hill tribes and surrounding villages makes it a prime location for social services and teaching English. Find hospitality internships on the gorgeous island of Phuket or elsewhere in the country.
Visa requirements differ depending on your internship length and activities, but your program will help navigate the process. Most interns apply for a tourist visa. To do this, you'll need a completed visa application, $40 fee, two photographs, a copy of your itinerary, and a recent bank statement. If you'll be staying for more than 60 days, you may need to apply for an extension at the Thai Immigration Bureau.
Low cost of living in Thailand is a huge draw for travelers. Since housing costs will be included in the program fee, your main expenses will be food and transportation. Enjoy incomparable Thai cuisine for $2-3/meal or a Western meal for $4-7. You won't spend more than $4/day on public transportation, and prices for everything are lower outside the cities. Throw in some outings and expect to spend around $225-$350/month (7,000-10,000 baht).
It's important to honor Thais by adopting cultural norms that might not come naturally. Though the younger generation is relaxing some traditions, every Thai will appreciate your efforts with the following. And have fun with it! Laugh often at yourself as you learn an entirely new way of life.
Thai internships are designed to fully immerse the intern in the learning experience. As such, working on the side is rarely encouraged. The 2008 Alien Working Act places tight restrictions on jobs available to foreigners. If an intern was set on making money in Thailand, they would need an application to the Immigration Department verifying that it is not work a Thai national could do, a Non-immigrant "B" visa, and a work permit issued by the Department of Employment. Contact your internship program to see if making extra money in Thailand might be an option for you.
Embark on the experience of a lifetime with an internship to Thailand. You won't find such a merging of valuable opportunities with unbeatable travel destinations anywhere else in the world, so start your research today. Until then, sa wat dee kha (swasdiikha)!
Emily is a travel and food enthusiast from Alaska. She spent summer 2012 on a missionary internship through Encompass World Partners in Khon Kaen, Thailand. Emily is a junior Biology major at Grove City College who plans on working as a dietitian overseas. Read about her internship in Thailand.
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