Thailand: Chiang Mai - Culture, Politics, Business

COVID-19 Program Updates
Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, USAC has decided to pause some of their upcoming programs temporarily. Learn more about COVID-19 updates and sign up for email notifications to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

Art in Paradise
Chiang Mai Grand Canyon
Tiger Kingdom
View outside mall in Chiang Mai.
View of rural Pai.
Outside of a buddhist temple in Chiang Mai.
Hiking in Pai
food carts on the way to school (Suthep road)

About

USAC has teamed up with Chiang Mai University to offer students the chance to study abroad in Thailand! Students interested in Asian-Pacific Rim Economics, Politics, and Culture Studies will have the chance to pursue studies in those topics along with much more, including Thai language courses.

Studying in Chiang Mai places students right in the center of Thai trade and tourism. The opportunity to explore the "Land of Smiles" is right around the corner as well, with multiple planned excursions throughout the trip. Sign up today with USAC to start planning for an unforgettable experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand!

Highlights
  • Experience the charm of exotic and ancient culture while you live and study in a center of Thai trade, tourism, and academic activity
  • Enjoy a wide range of field trips, including a field study with the Karen Hill Tribe people, as well as elephant riding and bamboo rafting
  • Explore the "land of smiles" and real Buddhism in a country that is 95% Buddhist
  • Visit lovely mountain regions featuring rivers, rain forests, national parks, nature preserves, and tea and coffee plantations

USAC and COVID-19 Updates

For updates related to COVID-19 and USAC programs, please visit our website.

Scholarships

USAC Scholarships
USAC Scholarships and Financial Aid

USAC awards over $2 million in scholarships and discounts each year to assist students with their study abroad expenses.

Value
$500 - $1,000

Questions & Answers

Uh oh, we couldn't find the exact answer either! We did find some general housing information that can be found here: https://usac.edu/study-abroad-programs/thailand/chiang-mai/…

Reviews

93%
based on 17 reviews
  • Academics 7.4
  • Support 8.6
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.7
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 8 of 17
Default avatar
Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Learning about life and myself!

Studying in Chiang Mai for the first summer session was my first study abroad eperience ever. I absolutely adored the scenery and the community near the dorms we stayed. My favotire part of our little neighborhood was Mommy Thailand's smoothie shop. Her smoothies were the size of my head, and only cost 60 baht(less than a dollar)!! She also gave me a really good haircut and helped me practice my Thai speaking. At school, it was amazing to just be stdents and go aorund campus in our uniforms just like the thai students. I do wish we had more interaction with the local students though, because we lived and did activites mostly with the American students. All of the field trips were exciting and eye opening. I took the maximum amount of credits I could, with Buddhism, Thai Language, Thai Cooking, and the hill Tribe Field Study course. In the field study one, we got to lvie in villages with the local tribes and get immersed into their culture. I absolutley lovd being out in nature and hiking as wekk, even though I did not go on the hiking excursion "class". I got super lucky with my roommate, and she and I are best friends now. All the people I studied with were exceptionally nice and we all were open to new things and it was great to be thrown into new circumstances with them all. I learned so much about myself as an independant person, and about how I want to be globally involved. In my school at home, we focus on global community, but it was a whole different world when I got to interact with a culture so different form mine. For anyone worried about going somewhere so different from western society, I would sayembrace it! It's not very often you get a chance to completely change your perspective and become more aware. Plus, thai people still like the same things we do and there is lenty of modern culture that everyone can relate to. The main difference is that standards for sanitationt here are not as high as in the US, but i never got sick or had any issues because of that! I definitely have started saving up money to go back to Thailand as soon as possible. I hope you have fun there too!!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I probably would change how open I was at the beginning. I started off very scared, and that is why I only signed up for one summer session. I totally wish I could have been there longer, but that is why I know I will be back someday!
Default avatar
Casey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A life changing experience

Every day of my trip I was excited to wake up early and try something new! Whether it was a new food, a new temple, or a new experience in the classroom. Everyone in the program was incredibly welcoming and helped me transition and acclimate to my new surroundings. The field trips and field studies I participated in also taught me more about Thai culture that I had never considered before arriving in Thailand. These topics ranged from Hmong villages, to politics, to even the treatment of elephants. Many of these ideas were incredibly interesting and it was important for me to learn about them so that I could more thoroughly understand the culture and society I lived in during my study abroad. The most memorable parts of the trips for me was eating delicious and new foods with my friends. I would highly recommend trying mango sticky rice while abroad as it was my favorite snack/meal!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would have stayed longer! I loved living frugally and pushing myself outside of my comfortable boundaries everyday.
Default avatar
Rabia
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An enriching experience

I loved my time abroad in Chiang Mai and feel that it has shaped who I am and what I want to do in life. Chiang Mai is a beautiful city with a rich culture and this program really gave me the opportunity to explore and appreciate it for what it is. There are plenty of opportunities to mingle with locals and students, speak and learn the language, and travel to other parts of Thailand and Southeast Asia! Some of the classes were really informational and fun, and there are definitely plenty of learning opportunities outside of the classroom setting as well. My love for Thailand lies in Chiang Mai and Southeast Asia and the experiences I had during my time studying there last year, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is considering studying abroad!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
There are a lot of fun foods to try in Thailand, but some of the most unfamiliar foods I tried were fried insects and chicken blood soup.
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Madeline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Most Life-Changing Experience: Studying, Interning, and Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand

USAC has a way of making students feel welcomed, safe, and excited all simultaneously. I was so anxious to find my way from the Chiang Mai airport to my dorm building at the University. 1. Because I did not know the language. 2. Because it was a new country and I was what Thai's call a "farang," a foreigner, who could be easily manipulated by "taxi! tuk-tuk! where you going mam?" Luckily, USAC arranged transportation for students who wish to take it in situations like this and I am so happy that we have this option!

USAC also arranged a ton of activities to immerse ourselves in the culture! Some of the activities included:
- Cultural Art Crafts: Students were able to create ceramic cups, paper crafts, and tie-dye fabric
- Trekking Tours: We were guided through the forest by a local family who owned a tour company. We saw beautiful sights, learned about the nature around us, and stayed at a local home stay.

In addition as someone who is pursuing a career as a humanitarian, I was very interested in volunteering/interning. I worked at a Blind School teaching English and it was one of the most remarkable experiences to date. If you have the opportunity to volunteer or intern at a local organization, do it! They are always looking for help and you won't regret it!

I am so happy I chose USAC as my program of choice. I had a great time and would not choose to have it any other way!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be open to the culture and all the lessons that come with it! You are jumping into a beautiful location with the friendliest people. In order to allow yourself to grow there, you must be willing to open up a little.
Default avatar
Nathan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

Participating in the USAC Chiang Mai program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Despite departing from Thailand four months ago I still think about my semester on a daily basis.

Thailand is known as the land of the smiles, and for good reason. Every person I met abroad, both Thai and 'farang', came equipped with an infectious smile and a welcoming heart. I always felt welcome as a foreigner, and I have never grown to love a location more than Chiang Mai.

The city has an ancient feel with old stone walls and magnificent temples on every corner. Scooters and motorbikes zip through the roads in orchestrated chaos. Delicious aromas from hundreds of food stalls waft through alleyways and fill the streets. Monks in orange robes inhabit local temples in search of enlightenment. Wild dogs saunter around picking up food scraps and lounging in the sun. CMU students walk leisurely to class in black skirts and pink ties. Happiness is thick in the air and permeates the heart and soul of all within Chiang Mai.

As far as the USAC program goes, I could not have asked for a more helpful staff and well put together program. On site staff members are available almost around the clock to answer any questions you may have, give useful advice, and welcome you to their country. They will pick you up at the airport, show you around the city, inform you of local customs, even remind you of important deadlines regarding your visa and academic paperwork. USAC also plans multiple excursions to amazing locations throughout the semester and promotes camaraderie between Thai & US students. One of my favorite aspects of the program was making friends with local Thai students. Without the support and direction of the USAC program, these friendships would have been difficult to create.

If you even the slightest bit interested in going to Thailand as part of this USAC program. DO IT. I promise you it will change your life and you will thank yourself for the leap of faith down the road.

Default avatar
Conor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thailand

Living in Thailand can be hard on those who struggle to get out of their comfort zone, push themselves to new heights, or can't handle spicy food. However, for those who are able to challenge their beliefs of the west and put themselves out there to experience new cultures and grow as an individual Thailand is an amazing place full of beautiful landscapes, amazing people, and lovely food. Chiang Mai is located in the North of Thailand, it is beautiful and surrounded by mountains in the valley. You can go into the jungle or go to the night markets which are teaming with food and people. The city itself feels alive with how much is going on and how much can be done. I would recommend getting a scooter or some sort of transport because it really allows you to experience the city and immerse yourself. Do things with Thai students, get to know Thai people, eat Thai food, embrace the local culture, and Thailand will only show you beauty.

What would you improve about this program?
The dorms could be handled in a better way. Being a college student who has lived in dorms and lived in a house; I would say the dorms in Chiang Mai were somewhat constricting. They were very nice and clean but the security policies which did not allow other people to come in at all even if they were a student somewhat hinders the ability to hang out with people and you are forced to go out.
Kadondra
Kasondra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

We were meant to wander in wonder.

Chiang Mai Thailand holds the perfect combination of the lively bustle of a small city plus the serenity of nature right in your backyard. This second largest city in Thailand is nestled up to a mountain that holds an ancient temple on its peak. Chiang Mai University makes up a large part of the city so it has the feel of a university town with students from all over the world making it their temporary home. It’s inexpensive to live there and it’s easy to get a cheap flight down to Bangkok to travel to the islands or anywhere else in Southeast Asia. Weekend trips up to Pai, Chiang Rai, Doi Inthanon National Park, and Mae Hong Son are a quick bus ride away.
Chiang Mai is a hidden jewel of a city and quickly became home to me. I was able to arrange my classes on M-Wed, and have the rest of the week to explore this beautiful country and surrounding areas. I'm so thankful I chose to study abroad here during my senior year. This was truly a unique time in my life, before I had to face the responsibilities of starting a career and taking on adult life. I found tranquility and peace in this beautiful place and I crave this feeling once again. If lively street markets, hipster coffee shops, vintage clothing stores, used bookstores, ancient temples, fantastically cheap food, hiking, muay thai, and scooter adventuring is an interest of yours, Chiang Mai is the place for you.

Read my full story
Sara
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Missin' U Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a super special place. Its a rather large city, but the support system USAC provides allows you to find your way around in a safe, and convenient way. It was a surreal experience wearing school uniforms at Chiang Mai University. We lived in dorms, which was different for me, but it was a challenge I really appreciated. The university was not too far away from the dorms, downtown was a red truck ride away.

The field trips were my favorite, we went on a Buddhism retreat, which was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, but one of the most rewarding ones. You can get the best kind of lost in Chiang Mai, to find an abundance of cafe's, tourists/locals, temples (right in the downtown area), and soooo much more.

If you are open to a biggish city, dorm-life, crazy adventures, perseverance, then Chiang Mai is the place for you.