How to find a job in Chiang Mai

Finding work in Chiang Mai
Updated 2022-05-09 14:07

The ethnic diversity, breathtaking scenery, and a multitude of festivals and attractions in Chiang Mai attract more and more foreigners every year. Blessed with pristine mountains, waterfalls and rivers, Chiang Mai is a nature lover's paradise and offers numerous activities — from trekking and rafting to cooking and massage courses.

Chiang Mai offers the best of both worlds. Ancient pagodas and temples can be found next to boutique hotels and cafes, and this dichotomy is best appreciated in the old city, which is still encircled by a moat and most of the original wall that once protected it.

Chiang Mai offers a slower pace of life than Bangkok, while still offering many modern amenities. The cost of living in Chiang Mai is also lower than in Bangkok or other major tourist areas, such as Phuket. Its old-world charm is very alluring, and days can be while away strolling around the city and drinking fresh fruit juices from the many cafes.

Since the city is located in the north of Thailand, the weather is slightly cooler than in the south and it is only a one-hour flight or overnight train from Bangkok, which makes travel in the country very easy.

As an expatriate, there are employment opportunities in Chiang Mai, although you can expect them to pay less than in Bangkok. Good command of English is important, as is a basic understanding of Thai so you can communicate with your employer and Thai citizens.

Types of jobs available in Chiang Mai

Jobs can be found in Chiang Mai if you arrive with the right attitude, smart attire, and a lot of patience. There is even a substantial NGO community in Chiang Mai, so it's possible to get into this sector if you have the knowledge and experience. Thais tend to focus on appearance, so it is important to dress conservatively when you meet prospective employers.


If you have a degree and a teaching qualification, a teaching job is probably the easiest type of job to find in Chiang Mai, as English speakers, especially North Americans are in demand. Chiang Mai boasts 24 private schools, 25 government schools, five universities, six vocational colleges, seven international schools and 24 language schools. Some of the best-known establishments are Dara Academy, Prince Royals, Montfort, Chiang Mai University and Varee.

However, there is a lot of competition, so it's important to have a very good command of English and, preferably, some teaching experience. It is a good idea to allow at least a fortnight for job hunting. If you take a TEFL course in Chiang Mai, some of the better courses actually place people in nearby schools very quickly. Average teaching wages are considerably lower than in Bangkok and salaries tend to range between THB 20,000 and THB 30,000 a month, as full-time contracts are harder to come by. To increase your income, you can juggle a few part-time positions, build up a network of private students, or teach conversational English online as well.

If you are looking for a higher salary, then it is best to apply to an international school, as these schools can offer salaries of around US$2,000-$3,000 per month. However, they will usually require an actual teaching degree. They also tend to recruit qualified teachers through overseas agencies, so if you are looking to go down this route, then it is arguably easier to secure a job in your home country.

Hotel manager

Tourism remains the principal economic activity in Chiang Mai, but some jobs, such as that of a tourist guide, are exclusively reserved for Thai citizens. However, you can still be hired to manage a hotel or restaurant, and the export market is also an excellent way to earn an income. If you possess the necessary experience and background, you could have a spot in renowned and prominent hotel companies.

IT support/web developer/graphic designer

The information technology sector is developing in Chiang Mai, and this often requires foreign expertise. Chiang Mai has numerous software houses that complete projects that are outsourced from international companies, and there are various cyber cafes that cater to start-ups. There are a lot of animators in Chiang Mai who are doing contract work for Japanese and American cartoons and adverts, and there is also an emerging industry that focuses on creating mobile phone apps. You will be considered especially valuable if you have skills that are hard to find locally.

The good thing about this industry is you can work remotely. Aside from being hired in a Thai company, you can also apply to freelance platforms and on-call services.


There are lots of active Non-Government Organisations in Thailand, and most are based out of the buzzing city of Bangkok. These positions are sometimes by a contract of several years. It is a great place to start and get a good shot in your CV.


In recent years, Chiang Mai has also become a paradise for digital nomads, entrepreneurs and bloggers, thanks to its fast WiFi/4G connection, co-working spaces, low-cost living and networking opportunities. Freelance online writing is also a great way to supplement your income if the day job that you find doesn't pay as much as you would like.

Finding a job in Chiang Mai

Many foreigners who have lived in Chiang Mai have found that the best way to find a job is through networking. Although it is possible to find a teaching position before your arrival in Chiang Mai, many believe that building your name and showing your face is the key to landing a good job. Many teaching posts aren't actually advertised anywhere, so it's also worth preparing a strong CV (of relevant experience) and introducing yourself at as many schools in Chiang Mai as possible. In order to secure a work permit, if you manage to gain a permanent position, you will need to show proof of a degree (or equivalent).

In the field of IT, BarCamp Chiang Mai and TEDx are considered to be useful forums for networking with the local IT industry. It's also worth popping into the various co-working spaces around the city to meet like-minded people that may have some advice.

Besides, consider looking on job websites and through the job sections in local newspapers. Identify a few companies for which you would like to work, then send out your CV with a motivation letter.

If you are a high-level professional with lots of experience in your niche, you may also want to consider going through a head-hunting agency like Michael Page.

Working hours and holidays in Thailand

The official maximum number of working hours in Thailand is 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week.

Plus, all employees are entitled to a mid-day break of at least one hour.

According to Thai labor law, employers are not allowed to force employees into working overtime without their agreement. However, in case of an emergency, your employer may still ask you to stay at work after hours. In fact, working overtime is a rather accepted practice in Thailand. And, in a lot of cases, it will not come with extra pay.

There are 19 national holidays in Thailand, some of which are celebrated for more than one day. What's more, if a holiday falls close to the weekend, the days will usually be added up so that employees can get more time off. Here's a list of ten of Thailand's major holidays:

  • New Year's Day (Jan 1)
  • Makha Bucha Day (dates vary)
  • Chakri Day (April 6)
  • Songkran Festival (April 13-15)
  • Labor Day (May 1)
  • H.M. King's Coronation (May 4)
  • Visakha Bucha (dates vary)
  • H.M. Queen's Birthday (June 3-5)
  • Asahna Bucha (dates vary)
  • King Vajiralongkorn's Birthday (July 28-29)
  • The Queen Mother's Birthday (August 12-14)
  • Chulalongkorn Day (October 23-24)
  • King Bhumibol's Birthday (December 3-5)
  • Constitution Day (December 10-12)

When it comes to the leave policy, the conditions for annual leave, sick leave, and more may vary depending on the company you work for. However, in most cases, you will be entitled to up to 6 paid annual leave days per year. When it comes to sick days, you should be allowed to take as many sick leave days as you need (as long as the total number of days is under 30 days per year).

Maternity leave allows for up to 98 days of off-time. 45 days of these will be paid leave.

Visa options for working in Thailand

If you plan to work in Thailand, you will need to figure out how to arrange your work and stay. There are several visa options for working in Thailand, depending on the type of work you do and how long you plan to stay.

In most cases, if you plan to work full time for a company in Thailand, you will need to first apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa Category B and then obtain a work permit. To do so, you will need to have a job offer from a company in Thailand. Typically, your employer will guide you through the process of applying for a work permit and obtaining the necessary documents. Note that your work permit will be tied to the company you used when applying. This means that if you decide to change employers, you will need to apply for a new work permit.

If you plan to live in Thailand while working remotely, you have a wide range of visa options for your stay:

Tourist visa. These visas let you stay in the country for 60 days and can be further extended for 30 more days. You can then leave Thailand, renew your visa, and re-enter the country again.

Education visa. You can also apply for an education visa by enrolling in a language course, cooking course, Thai massage course, etc. Keep in mind, however, that you will need to attend a minimum number of classes for your visa to stay valid.

Thailand Special Tourist Visa or STV. This type of visa was introduced by the Thai government during the COVID-19 pandemic and was designed for those wishing to date in the country for a longer period of time. With the STV visa, you will be able to stay in Thailand for up to 9 months.

Note that the above visa options are only available to those who plan to work in Thailand remotely.


Working in Thailand without a work permit is illegal and punishable by deportation.

Good to know:

And some more good news for digital nomads: Phuket officials are considering a visa scheme for digital professionals who plan to live and work remotely from Thailand. Under the proposed legislation, eligible expats will be able to apply for a work permit and stay on the island of Phuket for six months to a year.

Finally, if you have some money to spend, you can consider applying for the Elite Visa Program. The Elite Visa lets you live and work in Thailand for five to twenty years. The downside? You will need at least $15,000 to apply for the five-year Elite Visa.

So, here are the key take-aways:

  • Chiang Mai offers a variety of opportunities to those interested in working here.
  • The easiest way to get your foot in Chiang Mai's job market is to get a language teaching job.
  • Networking is one of the best ways to job hunt in Chiang Mai.
  • To work in Thailand legally, you will need to apply for a work permit.
  • You will have more visa options if you plan to work remotely.

Useful links:


Jobs DB

Career Jet

Job Thai

Learn 4 Good

Teaching Thailand

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.