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Thailand, “the land of smiles,” and the gateway to Southeast Asia, draws more visitors than any other country in the region thanks to its natural beauty, ornate temples, robust cuisine, and ruins of ancient kingdoms. You’ll experience the engaging warmth of the Thai people who place a high value on hospitality and kindness.

One of the most important influences on Thai culture has been Buddhism. Many of the traditions and beliefs of the people in Thailand stem directly from Buddhist principles. As an AFSer in Thailand, you’ll live with a host family and attend a local school. You will have plenty of time to learn about this unique culture, from cooking to meditation to traditional Thai boxing.

You’ll most likely have an opportunity to see different parts of the country as extended Thai families enjoy visiting each other. While you’ll learn Thai, English is also a required subject in schools, so there will be plenty of people who speak your language.

Eligibility Requirements

You must be 16, 17 or 18
Enrolled in a NZ school
Getting ‘achieved’ or more in your school work

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Assistance with Application Process
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support
  • Worldwide Presence
  • 70 Years Experience

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • School Uniform
Carlotta Martini Thailand 2015-16 2

Culture and accommodation

You may be placed in a regional capital or small town in any region of Thailand, from the northern teak forests, to the central farming plains, or the southern tropical beaches. Many families include several generations living together, and visiting relatives in different parts of the country is common. Families also enjoy spending weekends together at home, where you will experience how Thai families are bound by tradition with a long history. You should always ask permission from your host parents before going out.Thai people greet each other with a wai (pressing their palms together as they bow or curtsy) to show respect. Thais try to live with a jai yen (a cool heart), so you won’t usually see them expressing extreme emotions.

Thai cuisine consists of rice, curries, fish and vegetables, mixed with spicy pepper and peanut sauces. Typical meats include pork and chicken and a wide variety of fruit is available year-round. Most Thai families share the evening meal together. Families eat in the communal style: Each person has a bowl of rice while other dishes are placed in the center of the table and shared by everyone. Popular dishes include pad Thai (pan-fried noodles), yam (spiced salad), and tom yum kung (lemon-flavored soup with shrimp).

Canva – Phrathat Hariphunchai Pagoda, Lamphun Province, Thailand_edited

Language and school

Thai is the official language of Thailand and the language that will be spoken in your host community and school. All instruction, with the exception of foreign languages, is done in Thai. You don’t have to speak Thai before the program, and your host school, or local volunteers will help you learn the language once the program begins.

Thailand has many different types of schools, which are usually the center of the community and you will most likely be placed in a public school. The school you attend and the courses you take will depend on your age and interests as well as on the area you live in. School year starts in May and ends in February (7.30 am to 3.30 pm), with a mid-year break in October. Students wear uniforms. Thai schools offer culture-related subjects such as Thai language, dancing, sword fighting, music, cooking, arts, history, Buddhism and meditation. There are academic, sports and recreational clubs that meet both after school and for one period a week during school sessions.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Kick-start your future with AFS and discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

This programme begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations, other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations which will help you maximize your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community as well as gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad, and as you return to your home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family the whole way through.

Find out more