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Living Conditions in Thailand



Peace Corps provides each Trainee with a feature phone upon arrival.  The phones are capable of making and receiving calls, sending SMS/text messages, and will have WhatsApp already installed.  Volunteers regularly use text messaging to communicate with each other, their Thai friends, and people in the U.S. If you bring a smartphone from the U.S., make sure it is unlocked from the U.S. network before you come. It’s quite easy to call the U.S. from Thailand. Many trainees and Volunteers in Thailand also use VOIP services such as Skype for international dialing.


Shops that provide Internet and email access exist in cities and rural towns throughout Thailand. Most offices and schools have computers, which are in constant use, and many have Internet connections. Many Volunteers bring laptops from home. There are plenty of computer repair shops in Bangkok and most other large cities in Thailand. If you bring a laptop or other device, it is recommended that you purchase insurance.  

Windows-based computers and Android-based mobile devices dominate the market in Thailand. Apple products and devices running on iOS carry premium prices in Thailand and are more costly for accessories and servicing.  

Housing and site location

Most Volunteer sites are in towns or villages that may be from one to six hours from the nearest city. With very few exceptions, only one Volunteer is placed in each site and the nearest Volunteer could be several hours away. You should come prepared to integrate yourself with your Thai community and center your social life around friends and activities at your site. You will be able to get together with other Volunteers on the weekend and to collaborate with them on certain work projects but this will not be the majority of your time. In villages and small towns, where most Volunteers live, homes have electricity and indoor plumbing, including toilets and cold-water showers. The current electrical current is 220 volts cycling at 50 hertz. Drinking water must be either boiled or purchased, but is readily available. During pre-service training and the first month of service at site, trainees and Volunteers live with a homestay family. Basic amenities (e.g., soap, shampoo, hair conditioner, lotion, sanitary napkins and tampons, towels, film, stationery, stamps, sodas, and instant coffee) should be available in provincial or regional centers, if not in your town. You should also be able to purchase small household electronics, such as an iron, rice cooker, fan, etc.

Living allowance and money management

Trainees receive a daily stipend in Thai Baht, starting on the first or second day in country, meant to cover basic meals and incidental expenses.  Although currency exchange kiosks and ATMs are plentiful in Bangkok, there aren’t any currency exchange kiosks at the training site and few accessible ATMs in the surrounding communities.  If you need “extra” Thai Baht for homestay gifts or anticipated one-time expenses, consider options for obtaining Thai Baht at an international airport or major bank in the U.S., or at one of the numerous exchange kiosks in the baggage claims areas of the airport in Bangkok prior to boarding the bus for the training site.

After training, Volunteers receive a monthly allowance intended to cover food, housing, household supplies, clothing, transportation to and from work, utilities, recreation and entertainment, and incidental expenses. Volunteers are expected to live at a level that is comparable with that of their host country counterparts, and thus Peace Corps discourages supplementing living allowances with funds from home. However, Volunteers often wish to bring additional money for vacation travel. For this, credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash for safety reasons. 

Food and diet

The food in Thailand is extraordinary. The staple food is rice, so you will find a variety of rice (or noodle) dishes for all meals. For example, you might have boiled rice with some type of meat for breakfast, fried rice or noodles with or without meat for lunch, and boiled white or brown rice with curry or stir-fried vegetables for dinner. Breads, rolls, and doughnuts are available in almost all convenience shops. In these mini-marts, Volunteers can occasionally find cereals, spaghetti, and peanut butter. All kinds of vegetables and fruits are available in the markets year-round, and tofu can be found in most locations. Food stalls in district towns offer reasonably priced cooked food and are open from early morning until late at night. Volunteers can cook for themselves, buying meat, rice, vegetables, and fruits from local fresh food markets at their sites. Food is relatively cheap and can be purchased comfortably with the monthly living allowance. Vegetarians can also eat well in Thailand, but some may find it difficult to maintain a strict diet, especially in some social contexts and due to the common use of fish and oyster sauce.


The transportation system in Thailand is good and convenient. One can travel to and from sites to other towns, including Bangkok, via air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses or, on a few regional routes, by trains (with sleepers) or airlines. Transport within towns is typically by a covered pickup with two rows of seats or by bicycle. Car transportation arranged by a school or office is sometimes available to schools that are difficult to reach by bicycle. Driving or riding as a passenger on a motorbike is strictly forbidden. Finding a consistent means of transportation can be challenging, especially in the early months of service. 

Trainees will be issued mountain bikes and helmets – a non-negotiable requirement for riding in Thailand – for use starting at training and throughout the duration of service. In most cases, bikes are the most consistent, or the only, mode of transportation possible.  Thus, Trainees and Volunteers are expected to be comfortable riding for five to ten miles per day in hot and humid conditions often exceeding 95 degrees. Bicycles will be your only mode of transportation during training for daily travel between homestay accommodations, language, and technical training sites. Because pre-service training is usually in large towns and in villages, you may be riding along four-lane roads, as well as on rough asphalt roads in the villages. In addition to bikes and helmets, Peace Corps provides accessories including: water bottle, tire patch kit, lights, tools, locks, and fenders.  Although gel seat covers are available for purchase in Bangkok, some Trainees bring their own from the U.S.  Bike safety and basic maintenance training will be provided during the first week in Thailand. Nonetheless, self-study and practice improve both competence and confidence.  Prior to arrival in country, consider reviewing online resources for repairing flat tires, and attending maintenance workshops offered by community bicycling organizations near you.

Social activities

Thailand is known for its cultural diversity, and each of the four main regions—Northern, Northeastern, Central, and Southern—has its own unique traditions. One of the most important influences on culture in Thailand is Buddhism. Many of the traditions and beliefs of the people in Thailand stem directly from Buddhist principles.

Since Thai people are living among the diversity of ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds, there are many traditional Thai events and festivals, both local and national. The biggest and most renowned festivals in Thailand are Loi Krathong, and Songkran, which is Thailand’s New Year’s Day.

Thai events and festivals present the true spirit of Thai people who view themselves as fun, humble, respectful, liking to help others and grateful to their elders. These themes are an integral part of Thai culture.

Peace Corps Trainees learn about monk ordination, Thai weddings, and funerals in addition to festivals listed in the section. They also learn temple etiquette as most of these events happen in the Thai temple.

Professionalism, dress, and behavior

Professionalism in the Peace Corps requires an awareness of the host community workplace culture, community values, and your self-presentation.  To maintain a positive, culturally appropriate professional standing within a host community or workplace, Volunteers may need to adjust their style of dress, hair style, facial hair, make-up, piercings, manner of greeting others, etc. to demonstrate respect for local culture and customs.  How you present yourself, in both informal and professional settings, will be looked upon as a reflection of you as an individual and of you as a representative of Peace Corps and the United States. In the U.S., dress (and other elements of personal appearance) may be seen as an expression of personal freedom and identity. In many host countries where Peace Corps Volunteers serve, the way you dress and present yourself may be interpreted as an expression of regard – or disregard – for those host community members around you.

Volunteers are encouraged to spend time in their communities, to develop their language skills, and to get to know the individual members of their community to better understand their traditions, culture, and local norms. As mutual trust is established over time, there may be opportunities for Volunteers to adjust their personal appearance and dress outside of the more rigid local standards. Volunteers are encouraged to discuss these potential adjustments with staff and other cultural mentors.

In Thailand individuals are judged by the way they dress. Taking pride in your appearance is seen as a gesture of respect to your co-workers. Appearance is often the first impression that co-workers and the community have. Volunteers should expect to model their professional appearance on peers in their local community.

  • Hair and facial hair should be neat and groomed. Please note that Thai men generally do not wear beards or moustaches.
  • Tattoos may not be accepted in the community and it is recommended that to the extent possible, they be covered when first integrating into the community or going to a new school or work site.
  • The following are usually not considered culturally appropriate, particularly in the workplace: facial piercings, men wearing earrings, short shorts or short skirts, tank tops, and exposed midriffs.
  • Clothes for office work are generally shirts and slacks or skirts that are neat, clean and in good repair. Jeans are not usually appropriate at work.
  • Shorts are only appropriate in informal social settings or at sporting events, and even then, they should be long, not shorter than just above the knees.
  • In general, public displays of emotion are viewed in a very negative light. No matter how frustrated or upset a person might feel, they will always strive to maintain a positive and friendly attitude, a sense of humor, and a smile. Expressions of anger will create barriers for future integration.

Volunteers will participate in training on culturally appropriate behavior and cultural competency prior to service, as well as have the opportunity during Pre-Service Training to practice these new skills and ask questions of staff who will provide feedback when appropriate.