When studying abroad in Chiang Mai most students will take a few weekend trips during the semester. TEAN Thailand alumni list Pai in northern Thailand, Siem Reap/Angkor in Cambodia, a beach trip to southern Thailand and spending time with Thai friends in their hometown/village as their most recommended weekend get aways.

Travel with Thai Students

Travelling with Thai friends
Brynne Shannon, College of Charleston with her roommate’s family in Sukhothai

TEAN Thailand alumni will tell you that one of best features on the program is the pairing of U.S. students with Thai roommates. The Thai students do a wonderful job of helping the U.S. students to acclimate to Thai culture and to navigating Chiang Mai. Over the course of the semester, it’s common for students to develop great friendships, and be invited to their roommate’s hometown for a weekend trip. Accepting this kind of invite is one TEAN alumni highly recommend: “If your Thai roommate or a Thai friend invites you to their home, wherever it may be, I really would encourage you to go. It’s a great way to get to know your friend better and see the culture from another angle. I spent a week in Bangkok with my Thai friends family and there I collected some of the most memorable moments from my entire trip.” Sydney Holinka, University of Pittsburgh

On other weekends, TEAN students like to take the occasional trip within Thailand and sometimes other countries in the region. Traveling throughout the region can be done a number of ways, so the Thai students are a great resource for transportation and travel tips. Include the roommates on those fun weekend trips too, past students frequently say that traveling with Thai friends is a uniquely wonderful experience. “The biggest piece of advice I’d give is to really go to the Thai students as a travel resource. They love helping out, and even more so they sometimes love to join in on trips but can get shy about including themselves, so I’d definitely recommend people inviting their Thai roommates/friends on trips because it really brings you closer to them.” Cara Taylor, University of Redlands

Recommended Weekend Destinations

Extended weekends during the semester can be the perfect time for fitting in those easy-to-reach, and must-see places.

Pai, Northern Thailand

Pai-goers boast it as being a free-spirited backpacker paradise. There’s plenty to do in this beautiful mountain town, such as: hiking to the white buddha, swimming at one of the local waterfalls, or getting handcrafted items at the night market. This haven is only a three hour bus ride away. “For Pai the easiest way to get a bus is to go to the train station website and look for buses going to Pai, they’re pretty easy to find because one leaves every few hours until like 5 or 6 pm, and you just buy your ticket once you get to the station.” Cara Taylor, University of Redlands

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Thom, Siem Reap
Angkor Thom, Siem Reap | Photo by Katy Baker, College of Charleston

Siem Reap takes a bit more planning than Pai, but is well worth the trip and can fit into a long weekend. The massive and beautiful Angkor is a must-see site in Southeast Asia, and at night the city of Siem Reap becomes a fun place to meet fellow travellers. There are buses that go from Thailand to Cambodia, but flights to Siem Reap can be reasonably priced if you book enough in advance. “I took a long weekend trip to Cambodia, mostly to see Angkor Wat. The long weekend was the perfect amount of time as there was not much else to do in Siem Reap.” Sydney Holinka University of Pittsburgh

Thailand’s Southern Beaches / Islands

For a beach weekend it’s best to do some research and choose an easily accessible island, like Koh Samet. “Going to the islands on a long weekend is a great idea if you want more time on the beach.” University of Pittsburgh

Getting Around

Getting to these places is easy and cheap, it is just a matter of choosing which way you travel best. Buses are the cheapest way to travel, and most students find them very comfortable. Booking can require some assistance from a native Thai speaker, but there are plenty of resources provided by TEAN. “For bus tickets, sometimes the websites are really hard to understand and state different information, at the end of the day I asked P’Kai (TEAN Resident Director) to call and confirm the bus times and ticketing info. He is so helpful and great! “ Brittany Watson, College of Charleston

Flying is a bit easier because students can book everything online by themselves, but this option can be pricier, so be diligent about looking for cheap flights. Past students recommend Air Asia and Nok Air for great deals. “I suggest signing up for AirAsia emails, that always ended up being the cheapest airline for us.” Sophie Fish, Emmanuel College

Final Tip

Planning short trips can really broaden your experience abroad, so be sure to plan a few, but don’t feel as if you have to leave Chiang Mai every chance you get. Plan out your weekends with the goal of also getting to know Chiang Mai. “I think balance is key when you are abroad.  You don’t want to go on a traveling binge (which can be addicting) but you also don’t want to just stay in Chiang Mai every weekend (depending on how your financials are).” Dan Raza, Quinnipiac University

Learn more about studying abroad or interning in Thailand.