Whether you want to enhance your skills or just want to learn something new while visiting Chiang Mai, taking a course is an admired activity here and definitely a great add-on to your travel itinerary. Luckily, there are courses that suit most people’s interests – be ready for fun, learning and excitement! Here are the top five courses in Chiang Mai:
- Cooking Courses
What can be better than learning how to cook original Thai food or better, original Lanna cuisine? Courses start in the morning with tours around the market where you discover local herbs, spices, vegetables and fruits before you return back to the restaurants or cooking school to recreate several of Thailand’s signature dishes like Som Tam (spicy papaya salad), spring rolls or Mango Sticky Rice. Bring home recipes of delicious Thai dishes and surprise your family and friends with your newly acquired skills. A great cooking school is the Chiang Mai Thai Farm School, 20-25 minutes outside of the city, nestled within Chiang Mai’s picturesque countryside. The instructors here are not choosing any random veggies but especially healthy organic ingredients for the meals. Chiang Mai Thai Farm School has been even recommended by Lonely Planet, National Geographic and Air Asia Inflight Magazine (among several others).
- TEFL Course
Being TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified allows you to teach English around the world. Chiang Mai is one of the top places to attend a TEFL course and the city offers many opportunities for you, across high schools and universities, to teach English. A teacher’s salary is about 30-35.000 THB, which is more than enough to cover your monthly expenses here. After a year or two you can go off to other places like e.g. South Korea, China or the Middle East to teach English. The training takes about one month and teaches you the necessarily fundamentals of the English language in addition to class room management. Chiang Mai University, one of Thailand’s top universities, offers an accredited TEFL course at 42.000 THB (US$ 1150) along with the necessary visa. Do note that this price is around the same you have to pay elsewhere as well.
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- Thai Language
Are you planning to stay longer in Thailand? Maybe you already decided to become a teacher? Learning Thai is a fantastic way to connect with locals. It makes your life way easier when haggling on markets (you get great discounts), teaching kids at school, asking for directions / places and to order food. Thai has its own characters and is by far not the easiest language to learn but it pays off big time when you can speak it, even if it’s only basic conversational Thai. There are many Thai language schools around town, however, some are just working as “visa farms”, speaking, people apply and pay officially for a course, but won’t see any teachers; they’ll get their visa only to stay longer in Thailand without the necessary runs to neighbouring countries to extend their tourist visa. Here are some recommended courses and schools:
Chiang Mai University: They have beginner courses (3 hours per day for 15 days), including basics of Thai etiquette for 6000 THB and one year Thai Language Program incl. ED Visa for 30.000 THB.
The American University Alumni (AMA) : The AMA teaches as well Thai basics and cultural etiquettes. Group classes start from 4800 THB (2 hours per days, 60 hours in total) or from 380 THB per hour for individual classes
- Massage & Yoga Courses
If there is one thing aside the cuisine which is synonymous to Thailand, it’s the legendary Thai massage. Similar to the language courses, you have to be careful when researching massage courses as some schools are only interested in getting money. Therefore, make sure the school offers certified courses. In the end it’s not only the paper that counts but also what you learn and how to apply these skills. A proper Thai massage (actually any massage) requires a deep understanding of the human anatomy and is nothing you should take lightly. Basic courses are between 7-10 days, whereat you can choose from several ‘extensions’, such as facial massages and reflexology. Here are some recommended schools:
Thai Massage School Shivagakokomarpaj (the Old Medicine Hospital) : The school is located closely to the Old Chiang Mai cultural centre and was founded over 50 years ago.
International Training Massage School : Another well-established school which won numerous government awards.
Meditation plays a key role in Buddhism and is practiced by monks throughout Thailand. You can attend meditation workshops at several temples throughout the city, e.g. at the famous Silver Tempe (Wat Sri Suphan), near Wualai Road, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 19:00-21:00. The prices vary from place to place as some ask for a donation, others charge around 150 THB per person. If you want to bring your meditation techniques to the next level, consider visiting a Vipassana Meditation Center.