USAC Thailand: Chiang Mai
90% Rating
(7 Reviews)

USAC Thailand: Chiang Mai

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!

  • 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
Asia » Thailand » Chiang Mai
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Food Science and Nutrition
International Business
Sustainable Development
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Program Reviews (7)

Default avatar
24 years old
Cincinnati, Ohio
University of Cincinnati

It Was All A Dream!


Thailand was everything I had hoped it would be, and trust me, I did a lot of research to figure out what I was getting myself into. I loved the group of people I studied abroad with, the locals were friendly and helpful (and English was widely spoken, so it wasn't hard to get past a language barrier), the natural beauty couldn't be beat, the food was to die for, the prices of everyday life was way less than what I would have been spending back in the states, and overall I learned so much about myself.

The field trips USAC organized were second to none, I really enjoyed everything they arranged for us and it made it really simple to get acquainted with local culture. The on-site staff felt like a second family, and they always tried their best to help us do things we wanted around the city. We had friends from other study abroad programs in Chiang Mai that didn't have nearly as much flexibility as we had with our USAC program, and that hindered them in various ways. I really felt like I was taken care of, but not treated like a child that needed constant watching over.

I am so glad I took the leap to go somewhere new and exciting instead of a program in an English speaking country. You mature so quickly in such a short amount of time, make lifelong friends who are also growing and learning, and you make together memories that will last you a lifetime. Was it all a dream? No, but I'm forever daydreaming about Thailand.

How can this program be improved?

At the time I was abroad, dorms were strict and no opposite sex could even enter the building of the other. It was hard for all of the group to hang out, because we had nowhere to lounge around, so we had to go to bars or the like. Since then, I heard the buildings are co-ed and it is more of a college dorm experience. This would have improved our time abroad, but obviously wasn't that big of an issue.

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24 years old
Alliance, Ohio
University of Mount Union

My First Trip Out of the Country - Chiang Mai


I will start this review off with the stereotypical: This trip was the greatest decision of my life and it changed my life. When I went on this trip, it was the summer after my freshman year, I had never done anything as spectacular as studying abroad and I was scared to death to leave the country. I can tell you though, if you agree with any of those things: Thailand is perfect for you.

It took about a week until I was completely comfortable navigating the city and walking around by myself.

"BUT WAIT STRANGER! My professors and parents say use the buddy system all the time" - You right now.

Yes, I agree. Don't walk around the city on your own at night or on your first day in the country, but Chiang Mai is overwhelmingly safe. I never once was afraid of pick pockets or getting mugged. I brought a lot of security items to hide money, I only ever used them when I went to the currency exchange bank when I had a lot of cash on me. Besides that, I would spend days off or time between classes walking around downtown, exploring the old city, or planning weekend get-aways around the country.

There was little to no language barrier while I was in Chiang Mai. Most Thai people apologized to me that their English wasn't better, which made me feel guilty because I barely spoke any Thai. The only time we had trouble with the language was far outside of the city and in the more rural areas we visited. We could communicate through hand motions and other things though.

Food was never an issue. Thai food is VERY spicy and not everyone was a fan of it, however, there were Italian places, burger places, and many more. So no fear for those with weak stomachs.

Some random pieces of advice I would give to someone going to Thailand:

Don't pack too many clothes and DO NOT buy your school uniform in the states. Everything is really cheap in Thailand and we got the chance to go to the university store and buy dress shirts.

Barter the price for everything at places you can barter. If you don't like the price WALK AWAY. Most people will chase you down the street and lower the price to what you want.

TRAVEL! A group of friends and I went to Pai which is about 4 hours north of Chiang Mai. We got to go around rural Thailand and see natural waterfalls, hot springs, and canyons, which were all absolutely incredible. Others went to Phuket in the south which is white beach sands and clear water, which is also beautiful. Spending a day in Bangkok is also worth the trip. The bottom line is don't spend the WHOLE time in Chiang Mai, go out and see the country!

How can this program be improved?

Only two things I would change: Some classes and one of the 'group trips'.

Overall, classes were solid. However, I had an Intro to Thai course that got cancelled more times than not. While it was nice to have time off and having an easy A class, I would have liked to be more fluent in the language.

We went on a group dinner to a 'traditional Thai' place where they had dancing and tea and other things. While I thought it was interesting, something didn't FEEL right. It didn't really feel like it was actually traditional, especially after walking around the city for the last few days. I would have rather used the time to explore the country more. It wasn't BAD by any means, I just would have rather done something else.

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42 years old
Pittsburgh, PA



I am not the typical college student. I am in my mid 30's. There were not many older Students at the school as there are in the states. In fact, I didn't meet one. I chose this program because of it's affordability which I assume is important to most college students. Chiang Mai reminded me of New York or Toronto's Chinatown district, but larger. It was very modern and "Western." I could get any good or service I get at home. Mexican food, electronics, etc. There only thing I had to hunt for was shaving cream, but I found it eventually. I was impressed by the University hospital, despite being very busy, they did a good job. I can't think of any other compliments at this time. I have complaints, but I was there just before Thailand's recent coup and political turmoil, rumors of the impending changes where probably circulating. That being said, I didn't feel very welcome. The Thai's reputation for hospitality and the land of smiles was not lived up to. English wasn't as understood as my research had led me to believe. Nor was there as much demand to learn or improve students english skills as I expected. Finally, as the semester was nearing the halfway point, accounting contacted me from the states to inform me they had not yet received my financial aid. The finances were supposed to have already been taken care of before I even left the US. It all got taken care of rather easily, but it really aggravated me that that happened.

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24 years old
Bellingham, Washington
Western Washington University

If I could legally marry a country, Thailand would be my husband.


I was deciding between USAC's India program, Costa Rica (Puntarenas) program, and Thailand, and every single day in Chiang Mai I was psyched that I chose Thailand. This place is chaotic and bright, tranquil and deeply moving, perfect because of its imperfections. My group had this weird instant-love thing going on, where the second we all met everyone just had big fat friend-crushes on each other. That persisted the entirety of the trip, and continues via facebook/phone today. The housing was nicer than I expected, with roommates having their own small bedrooms within the apartment. It's also close to the university, and just a quick songthaew ride from the heart of the city. BEST OF ALL it's right at the base of a fairly significant mountain, Dio Suthep, so you can literally start a hike from your apartment. Just walk out the door, up the road a bit, and there are some pretty fly trails going all over that mountain (my friend's and I stumbled upon the most beautiful Wat (temple) I have ever seen, with waterfalls lacing through it and monks studying beneath the trees). So many hidden gems!

This wasn't the best education I have ever received. The class topics were certainly interesting... I took Buddhist Philosophy, Hill Tribe Peoples and Culture Studies (with the most glorious homestay field trips ever), Thai Language, Global Health, and Sustainable Development. The classes are broken up into three hour increments, twice a week. Which is a lot to take in.... particularly when the professors aren't always the most engaging. However, I still learned so much and I really did like my professors as people. There isn't too much homework either, which is appreciated, because they want you to have time for experiential learning (a.k.a. traveling and hanging out in Thailand). Also there are a ton of field trips, which is incredible.

The people are so unbelievably nice. I am a bit of a worrier, and it took me awhile to get used to the fact that people don't have ulterior motives when they say they will walk me home/ show me how to get to this restaurant/ help me find my friend. They are literally just being friendly, because that's how people are supposed to be. I walked several hours home from the bars with friends at 3 a.m. and not once did I EVER feel unsafe.

I thought that upon returning home, I would miss everything/everyone so much but would appreciate some of the "American comforts" here (regular toilets, being able to cook my own food, temperatures not in the hundreds, etc.) but honestly... I miss my rock hard Thai bed (my back has hurt since I came back to my squishy mattress), the constant sweating, and never being able to find toilet paper. That's the life, no doubt about it. See you again soon Thailand, I couldn't stay away even if I tried.

How can this program be improved?

As mentioned before, education aspect could be fine tuned. That actually may be my only complaint...

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24 years old
Reno, Nevada
University of Nevada Reno

Charming Chaing Mai


Thailand is a beautiful country and Chiang Mai is filled with warm and helpful people, great food, and everything is very affordable. Being able to see so many temples and spirit houses as well as seeing monks doing their alms round early in the morning make Chiang Mai seem magical and full of a deep spiritual dimension.

How can this program be improved?

The group flight leaves the day after finals, it would be nice for students on the group flight to have a day or two after to relax before heading home.

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24 years old
United States
University of Maryland

Chiang Mai 2013


This was an amazing study abroad experience balancing scholarly education with a cultural education of Thailand exploring the food, arts, Hill tribe cultures, and history of this rich landscape. Chiang Mai was the perfect setting for an exploration of Thai culture providing a safe atmosphere to venture into an unknown culture.

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24 years old
Chico, California
California State University- Chico

My THAIme in Thailand


Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I've yet to make. If you are thinking about studying abroad, you must do it! I wanted to experience a completely new culture and living and studying in Chiang Mai, Thailand through USAC made that possible. I was originally signed up to study abroad for the fall semester and after a few short weeks I realized I wouldn't be ready to leave the beautiful country of Thailand so soon, and I extended my stay for the academic year! I was able to experience and become familiar with a new language, new cultural customs, new foods and so much more.

The people of Thailand were some of the friendliest people I have ever met; they were always smiling and truly appreciative when I "attempted" to speak to them in Thai. I would sit in a song taew (red truck taxi) and make friends by the end of my ride. I had countless laughs and amazing conversations with all sorts of people, from a friend I made on campus to the many market vendors I would talk to. Strolling through the markets and eating delicious street food became one of my favorite things to do.

The classroom experience was awesome because I was able to take advantage of the small class sizes and really develop relationships with my professors. Since I have returned home I have continued to keep in contact with some my professors! The connections I made even bettered my experience. The professors planned a lot of field trips where I was able to get out of the classroom and have more hands on experiences. I went on a Hill Tribe Tour and Field Study trip where I was surrounded by the beauty of nature as I trekked breathtaking mountains and visited remote Hill Tribe villages. I rode an elephant around a village, assisted in making a raft out of bamboo to float down the river, and even bathed an elephant in the river!

Studying abroad was truly life changing for me. The opportunity made me grow as a person as I stepped out of my comfort zone and left the place I called home to meet new people and explore something completely new. I am thankful for the adventures I’ve had, the people I’ve met, the cultures I was exposed to, and the lifelong memories I’ve made. My study abroad experience will forever hold a special place in my heart. I went to South East Asia with an open mind and left with a full heart and so much more.

About The Provider


USAC is a non-profit consortium of U.S. universities that collaborates to offer affordable, academic and authentic study abroad programs. There are abundant opportunities to immerse in the culture, history, and academics of other countries providing an unforgettable experience. Each program is designed to help you