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Study Abroad in Thailand

Spend a year exploring a country whose ancient traditions, friendly attitude, and tropical landscapes are world-famous. While attending high school in Thailand, you’ll be able to make yourself at home by living with a Thai host family and getting involved in your community. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in cultural activities like touring Buddhist temples, visiting lively night markets, and tasting spicy gaeng (Thai curry). If you’re a person who values the quiet and calm but also seeks to find sanuk (fun) in all things, then Thailand is the place for you.

Things to Know About Thailand

Thai people greet each other with a wai (pressing their palms together as they bow or curtsy) in order to show respect. You raise your hands higher and bow lower when you encounter someone of high stature, like a Buddhist monk. In Thailand the king and royal family are highly respected and it’s actually against the law to insult them! Thais try to live with a jai yen (a cool heart), so you won’t usually see them expressing extreme emotions. They also value the Buddhist principles of acceptance and detachment, which means they tend to be non-confrontational and easy-going.  Because of the country’s Buddhist history, many Thai people understand and accept dietary restrictions like vegetarianism.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare


Graduates Eligible? No, participants cannot have graduated high school prior to program start
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range 15yrs, 0 months to
17yrs, 11 months at start of program
Language Skills No language requirement
COVID-19 Vaccine Required

Based on differences in culture, strict government regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that not all of our international AFS partners are able to support students with certain diagnoses, including but not limited to, severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early so that we can determine the right experience for you.

Your Journey to Thailand

Visa Information

AFS will provide visa guidance and support documents (if applicable). Visa processes can be lengthy and complex; you may be required to travel long distances to apply for the visa if there is not an embassy, consulate, etc. close to your home. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond a return date from your host country. We urge you to apply for or renew your passport as soon as possible if applying to an AFS program. We recommend not taking any trips (domestically or internationally) within 2 months prior to your AFS program as it may interfere with the visa application process and result in a late program start date.

Travel & Orientation

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience.

Also during this time, AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you.You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in Thailand will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff and volunteers…as well as your fellow AFSers from around the world! Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on Thai culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.

Accommodations Thailand

Your Accommodations

AFSers have lived all throughout Thailand, from the northern teak forests to the southern tropical beaches. You might end up in a regional capital or a small town, and your host family could live in a traditional rural home or a small city apartment.

Host Family Thailand

Meeting Your Thai Host Family

Like anywhere in the world, all families in Thailand are different. But most are close and caring, with several generations often living in the same house. Young adults usually stay at home until they marry, so you could have host siblings in their twenties or thirties.  Your host family is likely to have namjai, which means they endeavor to show generosity without expecting anything in return – though it never hurts to reciprocate.


Your High School in Thailand

The Thai school year starts in May and ends in March, with a mid-year break in October. You’ll probably be enrolled in a public secondary school, but you could also attend a same-sex or co-ed private school. You might even be enrolled in a specialized program like a technical, vocational, or art school. Your typical day will begin around 7:30 am and finish around 3:30 pm. In addition to subjects like math and science, most AFS students take cultural classes including language, history, religion and meditation. Other activities such as dancing, sword fighting, boxing, music, cooking, and arts & crafts might also be offered. As authority figures are highly respected in Thailand, you can expect to greet your teachers with a traditional wai. And on Wai Kru Day (Praise Teachers Day), it’s customary for students to honor teachers by offering them flowers and gifts.


Daily Life

Teenage Life in Thailand

Your Thai friends might invite you to sing karaoke or go shopping at night or weekend markets. Many people enjoy dancing, and American-style breakdancing is getting more and more popular among teenagers. A lot of students participate in sports like soccer, table tennis, badminton, volleyball, and basketball. They also might like playing Mahruk (a game similar to chess) or watching Muy Thai (Thai boxing) on TV. Other common activities include Tai Chi and aerobics, with people gathering in parks at dusk and dawn to practice in groups.Teenagers in Thailand also like to hang out in Internet cafés to meet people and play games. There are tons of different activities available, but as a student you’ll spend most of your time—and make most of your friends—at school.


Foods You’ll Encounter in Thailand

Thai food is often a combination of sweet and spicy flavors, with kao (rice) served at every meal. Families eat in the communal style; each person has their own bowl of rice while other dishes are placed in the center of the table and shared by everyone. Some popular foods are pad Thai (pan-fried noodles), satay (pork or chicken on a stick with peanut sauce), yam (spiced salad), and tom yum kung (lemon-flavored soup with shrimp). For dessert you can try khao niew mamuang (coconut sticky rice with mango) or bua loy (rice balls in sweet coconut milk). You’ll also find that fresh, tropical fruit is available year round.

What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Free Language Proficiency Testing: after your immersive study abroad experience, take an AAPPL (ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages) language proficiency test to be able to add your language skills to your resume or possibly your high school transcript!
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

Learn More

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for Thailand ? YES. Visa
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In-person
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Average
Estimated Visa/Residence Permit Expenses
($ – $$$)
Frequently Asked Visa Questions Visit our general visa FAQ page for more information.

Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one. When you return home from your study abroad in Thailand, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.

That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning. It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in Thailand.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.