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This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
While UCEAP endeavors to keep the information updated and accurate, all program information should be considered in conjunction with program-specific operational correspondence which may contain the most up to date information. There may be times where UCEAP will need to change this information and it will often be updated online. Student is responsible for reviewing all information shared through the program guides and by UCEAP staff in California and abroad, and partners abroad. UCEAP reserves the right to make changes to its programs, whenever, in our sole judgment local conditions so warrant, in response to local circumstances that could substantially change some parts of the program, or if we deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of our program participants.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Local UCEAP Support
Campus EAP Office
The Campus EAP Office coordinates recruitment, student selection, orientations, and academic advising; and serves as your primary contact during the application process.
UCEAP Systemwide Office
The UCEAP Systemwide Office establishes and operates programs and coordinates UCEAP administration for all UC campuses from its headquarters in Goleta, California. You will work closely with the following Systemwide Office staff:
Program Advisors provide academic and operational program information to you and your campus as well as administrative support for all aspects of your participation.
Program Specialists manage the logistics of the program. They coordinate document requirements, visa application instructions, health and safety precautions, acceptance and placement by host institutions, arrival and onsite orientation, and housing arrangements.
Academic Staff advise on academic policies, review courses taken abroad for UC credit, and document your registration, grades, petitions and academic records.
Student Finance Accountants assist primarily with UCEAP statements, program fee collection, and financial aid disbursements (in conjunction with your campus Financial Aid Office).
Student Finance Accountant
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583
Bookmark your Participants
program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.
Study Center Abroad
A Thammasat University professor serves as the UCEAP Liaison Officer. Once you are abroad, the UCEAP Liaison Officer will be your first point of contact for all matters. Among other things, he provides support with academic matters, program logistics, and transition into life in Thailand. He is also familiar with the UC system and American culture, having received his PhD from UC Berkeley.
Prof. Thanet Makjamroen, UCEAP Liaison Officer
Faculty of Economics, Room 521
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011-66) 83-894-3335
Phone (calling from Bangkok): 083-894-3335
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code . . . . . . . . . . .011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Thailand country code . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Bangkok city code . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
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Thammasat University offers coursework taught in English in select departments. See the course information section for details.
- Attendance at all orientation sessions
- 25 UC quarter units minimum required (5 courses). 30 UC quarter units (6 courses) maximum. Independent study (internship, research, or service learning) may count as one of your courses.
UC quarter units are based on TU credits. Courses are 3 Thammasat University units. A 3 TU credit course is 5 UC quarter units/3.3 UC semester units.
It is important that you learn and adhere to Thai norms for classroom decorum. This begins with respecting the social hierarchy and traditional modes of social interaction. Following the King, the Royal Family, and Buddhist monks (who are highly revered and always take precedence), university professors are deeply respected and hold prestigious positions in Thai society.
The traditional Thai university classroom culture is changing as many of the instructors are graduates of U.S. and European institutions and welcome active class participation. However, respect the Thai manner of being polite and positive and avoid making negative remarks. In deference to Thai students’ polite reserve, avoid dominating class discussions or being as assertive as you may be at UC. Thai students frequently work in teams or groups. Their spoken English may not be advanced, but their written work is of high quality.
Thai students are serious and competitive, especially in courses in business administration and economics.
Talking on cell phones, chewing gum, eating, and loud behavior of any kind is unacceptable in the classroom. Although Thai students sometimes talk while the instructor is lecturing or may be late to class, as a representative of UC, do not emulate those less desirable behaviors.
Small class size and a mix of students from international backgrounds— typically European, American, Japanese, and Chinese students—characterize the Thai Studies program. Economics and Business Administration programs have a greater number of Thai students who also study English.
The semester is 16 weeks of instruction and one week of exams. Classes meet for three hours once a week or one and a half hours twice a week (except Thai language classes). Instruction may include lecture, discussion, projects, student presentations, guest speakers, and field trips.
Courses are taught in English through Thammasat University’s (TU) International Programs in Economics, Business Administration, Thai Studies, British and American Studies, Social Policy and Development, and Politics and International Relations. You will be placed in one of the programs based on your Thammasat University application. You are expected to take the majority of courses (3 of the 5) in your assigned program.
Thai Studies and British and American Studies courses are taken primarily by international students. Courses in economics, business administration, social policy and development, or politics and international relations will have a mixture of Thai and international students.
Economics courses cover aspects of economic theory and practice, including Thai, Asian, and developing economies; economic theory; econometrics; human resources; international and comparative economics; finance and banking; marketing; and quantitative economics. Courses require a strong math background.
Business Administration offers courses in accounting, finance, management, and marketing. The School of Business (BBA) is accredited by both AACSB and EQUIS. Some courses require a strong math background.
Thai Studies courses are for international students to examine topics in literature, history, society and culture, religion, politics, and economics of Thailand. Emphasis is on current issues, dialogue among students, and field trips to cultural and historical sites when relevant.
Politics and International Relations courses integrate theoretical approaches with case studies and current issues as well as practical skills. Courses examine a diverse range of academic questions essential to the study of politics and international relations. You may take courses taught from a Thai perspective on a variety of topics ranging from Thailand in the international arena to human security to environmental politics.
British and American Studies courses are designed for non-Western students who are not native English speakers. These courses are popular with international students, but most are more basic than what would generally be appropriate for UC students; many are lower division, so choose carefully if you expect a course to be accepted toward major or general education requirements.
Social Policy and Development courses are multidisciplinary and are taught entirely in English. The department offers courses in Social Sciences centered on policy analysis including Law, Political Science, Sociology, Economics, etc.
Courses in journalism (Mass Media Studies) taught in English are open at the Rangsit campus, which is on the outskirts of Bangkok approximately one hour from the Tha Prachan campus that houses the programs noted above. Students will need to plan their schedules very carefully in order to enroll in these courses.
Thai language classes are taught at the beginning and intermediate levels; classes meet for five hours a week in a combination of lectures, tutorials, and preparation in the Resource Center. Teaching methods include formal language instruction, discussions, group projects, and conversation exercises.
The economics department also offers broad foundation courses (mostly lower division) in the humanities and social sciences.
Courses in the Southeast Asian Studies program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts are not open to UCEAP students. The program operates on the traditional Thai academic calendar of June through February and requires advanced Thai language proficiency.
Course Numbers and Division
- 100-level courses are lower division—these are not usually appropriate for UC students and are not recommended except for beginning Thai language courses
- 200-level courses are usually lower division with a few exceptions
- 300- and 400-level courses are upper division (recommended for UC students); class size tends to be smaller
Thammasat University understands that exchange (UCEAP) students may not have the exact prerequisites; however, you may need to prove that you have the requisite knowledge to enroll in certain courses. To do this take your most recent transcript (unofficial is fine) as well as syllabi to show what you have learned in previous courses. Most of the upper-division economics courses have micro and macroeconomics as prerequisites. Politics and international Relations courses often require introduction to politics or international relations. If you have not taken these courses, you will be very limited to your course choices.
You will do a preregistration with your Thammasat University application to determine placement in a faculty. Instructions will be in the Predeparture Checklist. Final registration takes place after arrival.
UCEAP students will register for five TU courses. If you choose to do an independent study project, you will still register for five TU courses. Once your independent study project is set up and approved, you may be allowed to drop a TU course.
You will complete your MyEAP Study List and any necessary special study forms after arrival. Specific deadlines will be provided.
Assessment in classes varies with the instructor. While most classes have midterm and final exams, some also require papers, class participation, presentations, group projects, etc. Final exams are often in essay format rather than in short answer or multiple-choice formats, and in the international programs they generally count for 50 to 70 percent of the final grade. Grading is especially rigorous in the economics and business courses.
Class attendance is mandatory, and you may be dropped from the course or prohibited from taking the final exam if your attendance falls below 80 percent.
It is inappropriate to question instructors about test scores or grades. Address any concerns you have about grades to the Liaison Officer, not to the professor of an individual course.
Fall grades are usually available in March.
Spring grades are usually available in September.
Early grades are not possible.
For general information about grades, see the Academic Information chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
You may be able to participate in an internship for academic credit. Predeparture planning is required for those wanting to participate. Internships count as one of your required courses, are 5 UC quarter units, and can be taken for letter grade or pass/no pass.
Internships are under the general direction of the Social Policy and Development department and the UCEAP Liaison Officer.
Prior to Departure
Complete a preliminary proposal. Instructions are in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. A current resume is also required. Students who submit completed proposals by the deadline will be given priority for placement.
On-Site in Thailand
Academic oversight for internships is provided by the Social Policy and Development (SPD) department at Thammasat University. The SPD department will familiarize you with the requirements and expectations associated with undertaking an internship in Thailand. More information will be provided during your UCEAP onsite orientation.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Extending your UCEAP participation is possible. If you are considering an extension, submit a Departmental and College Preliminary Approval to Extend (DPA)
form prior to departure. Once abroad, make an appointment with your Study Center to initiate the extension. The Study Center submits a Request for Final Approval (RFA)
form to the UCEAP Systemwide Office. UCEAP must receive the RFA by the deadline indicated on the form. If you do not submit an approved DPA before departure, then you must submit a Petition to Extend
form, which requires campus and department approval, and can take up to eight weeks to process.
Both UCEAP and the Study Center must approve your extension request. Approval is based on a number of factors including program criteria, academic performance, the support of your UC campus department, and available space.
Once your extension has been approved, UCEAP will notify your UC campus registrar, Financial Aid Office, and Campus UCEAP Office. For information about the steps you need to take with regard to finances, see the Extension of Participation chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Get acquainted with Thailand and its culture before you leave the U.S. Travel guides and travel-related websites such as Lonely Planet are excellent resources.
Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals. You will also need to understand the local culture and history.
Everyday Thai social behavior is less clearly defined than etiquette concerning the monarchy or religion, especially in Bangkok where Western customs are widely accepted. However, what is acceptable in Bangkok may not be the same in the countryside where traditional ways remain strong.
Here are few examples:
"In Thai culture, when in doubt, smile." - UCEAP Student
Respect for the Monarchy
Respect the concept of the monarchy and its representations. Thais hold the king in the highest regard. It is a criminal offense to make negative comments about the king or other members of the Royal Family. This particular crime, called lèse majesté, is punishable by a prison sentence.
The national anthem is broadcast over audio systems, indoors and outdoors, in both the morning and evening. As the broadcast is transmitted, people come to a full halt and pay attention until the broadcast ends. When the national anthem is played and the royal portrait is shown at the beginning of movies, it is expected that everyone will stand. When attending a public event at which a member of the Royal Family is present, watch the crowd and follow their lead.
Thai law has special sections on religious offenses covering not only Buddhism, the religion of most Thais, but also other faiths in the Kingdom. It is unlawful to commit any act toward an object or a place of religious worship in a manner that insults the religion. It is also unlawful to disturb an assembly engaged in religious worship or ceremonies or to dress up like or use the symbols of a monk, novice, holy man, or clergyman.
Buddhist monks are forbidden to touch or be touched by a woman or to accept anything from the hand of a woman. If a woman has to give anything to a monk or novice, she must first hand it to a man who will then present it to the monk. If a woman wants to present something herself, the monk or novice will spread out a piece of saffron robe or a handkerchief for the woman to place the object on before it can be picked up or handled by the monk.
"The head is sacred here and the foot is profane. Don’t point to people or things with your feet (especially at shrines and temples!), and don’t move things around with your feet." - UCEAP Student
A few tips on conduct when visiting religious sites:
- All Buddha images, large or small, ruins or not, are regarded as sacred. Do not climb on them or do anything that would show a lack of respect.
- Do not wear sleeveless tops or shorts to temples. Guides or officials at temples will provide instructions for appropriate dress. Some temples provide sarongs for visitors who are underdressed.
- It is acceptable to wear shoes while walking around the compound of a Buddhist temple, but not inside the chapel where the principal Buddha image is kept.
- In a Muslim mosque, you should be well covered wearing slacks or a long skirt and a long-sleeved blouse. Women may be required to wear a head scarf. Remove shoes before entering the mosque. During a religious gathering, you may not be present unless you are a practicing Muslim.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
Official UCEAP Start Date
Do not plan to travel outside of the U.S. after finals at UC and before the program begins. Each year, the host universities send acceptance letters and visa documents on different dates, sometimes only a short time before the program’s Official Start Date. You need to be in the U.S. to receive the materials.
The dates of the program can change due to unforeseen circumstances. You are responsible for making modifications in your travel itinerary to accommodate such changes. UCEAP is not responsible for any unrecoverable transportation charges incurred for independent travel arrangements.
In order to keep informed of program changes, update MyEAP with any changes to your contact information.
Failure to arrive before the Official Start Date is cause for dismissal from the program. More detailed arrival information and directions to the check-in point are provided in the UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist online.
Fall, spring, and year students will attend three different orientations at Thammasat University. Participation in all orientation sessions is mandatory.
The first general orientation is for all international students and covers such topics as health and safety, living in Thailand, academic culture and expectations, money matters, etc.
The second orientation is specific to the Thammasat academic department to which you are admitted.
The UCEAP Study Center organizes the third orientation that covers UCEAP requirements and regulations, including MyEAP Study List registration. While learning important details, you will also have the opportunity to explore the culture and learn local traditions.
Travel to Your Host Country
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip tickets, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. UCEAP discourages purchasing one way tickets, as your Program Budget is based on a changeable round trip student fare, which is generally less expensive. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid office will reserve or pay for your ticket. If you are on financial aid, you will need to purchase a plane ticket before you receive a financial aid disbursement.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase tickets that allow changes to the return date. If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. Flights to the U.S. fill up fast and economy-fare seats are booked early.
There is no group flight to Thailand. You must make your own travel arrangements to Thailand. You should not purchase flights until you receive your admission offer.
Review the program calendar located on your Participants program page for the Official Start Date.
Additional arrival information is provided in the UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist.
Bangkok International Airport
Bangkok International Airport, Suvarnabhumi
, is located approximately 20 miles east of Bangkok. Travel time to the Thammasat University area can vary greatly depending on the traffic conditions. More information about the airport and transportation services can be found on the airport website
When traveling from the airport, only use the authorized transportation services or the official taxi kiosk. Avoid unauthorized people who offer their services as guides. Many of these unauthorized guides may try to speak with you as you exit the immigration area. Use common sense and observe precautions regarding personal safety and the security of your belongings.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is calculated using your specific UCEAP Program Budget. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student ticket to your host country. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Program Budget, notify your financial aid counselors. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that the additional cost will be funded by financial aid.
A visa is an endorsement placed in your passport by the Royal Thai Consulate General, which grants you permission to enter and reside in Thailand for the purpose of study. Do not overstay your visa. If you remain in Thailand once your visa expires, you will be fined for each day that you overstay.
Students must obtain a non-immigrant ED visa from the Royal Thai Consulate General prior to entering Thailand.
Royal Thai Consulate General, Visa Section
611 N. Larchmont Blvd., 2nd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone: (323) 962-9574
Fax: (323) 962-2128
If you plan to temporarily leave Thailand during the program, you may be required to obtain a re-entry permit from the Thai Immigration Bureau in advance. Before traveling outside of Thailand, verify if your visa is for a single or multiple re-entry and if the other countries you travel to require visas.
Special Travel Notifications
If you are not a U.S. citizen, special travel restrictions or entry requirements may affect you. Contact the Thai Consulate-General
in Los Angeles for details.
U.S. Travel Registration
As soon as you know your flight plans prior to departure, register online
with the U.S. Department of State. Registration is free and allows for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to be a source of assistance and information in case of difficulty or an emergency while traveling abroad.
It is easier to replace lost or stolen documents when you have photocopies. Photocopy all important documents in duplicate, including passport photo pages, visa pages, vaccination certificates, travelers checks receipts, airline tickets, student ID, birth certificate, credit cards (front and back), etc., then leave a copy at home with a parent or guardian and pack a set in various pieces of luggage. Spending a few moments copying documents now will save you time if you lose important documents in Thailand.
Undocumented Students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Students
Consult with an immigration attorney free of charge on your campus to determine if study abroad is right for you.
If you are currently enrolled as a student at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, or UC Santa Cruz, contact the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center at https://law.ucdavis.edu/uc-undocumented/
The UCEAP Program Budget does not include funds to purchase clothing abroad.
When traveling always carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money. Never put valuables in your checked luggage.
"I talked to a returnee, and it greatly helped me decide what I should take and what I should leave at home. " - UCEAP Student
Thailand is well developed in terms of the availability of consumer goods. Therefore, limit your baggage to a reasonable amount.
"Definitely pack a generous supply of insect repellant. It’s cheaper in the U.S. and harder to find in Thailand. The same goes for sunscreen!" - UCEAP Student
"For girls who wear tampons, try to bring a supply of them because they are difficult to find, and when they’re found, they’re not the good brands that we all know and love." - UCEAP Student
Climate and Dress
The climate in Thailand can be divided roughly into three seasons: 1) rainy or southwestern monsoon season (mid-May through mid-October), 2) winter or northeastern monsoon season (mid-October through mid-February), and 3) summer or pre-monsoon season (mid-February through mid-May). April is generally the warmest month. To combat dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and get enough sleep.
Despite the heat, most local students dress more conservatively than students at a UC campus. In Thai culture, your appearance is a measure of your respect for other people and personal dignity.
University students traditionally wear uniforms to class. The uniform consists of a short-sleeve white dress shirt for both men and women. Women wear black skirts and men wear black pants. Both wear the Thammasat University pin and belt. Some departments require the uniform to be worn to all classes while other departments require students to wear the uniform only during exams. You will be informed of your department’s expectations at orientation. UCEAP students often report that they do not mind wearing the uniform and that it helps them feel more integrated. All the clothing for the uniform can be purchased or tailored inexpensively in Bangkok. Sometimes fitted uniforms are hard to find in Western sizes.
"I wore the uniform twice a week. I’d rather dirty it than other clothes. The Thai Studies Program is pretty lax about the uniform and only requires it for exams. However, it’s good to wear for presentations too." - UCEAP Student
You cannot leave the academic program before your exams are officially over. You are not permitted to ask for a change in exam dates to accommodate your holiday travel schedule or because of non-refundable plane tickets. See the program calendar on the UCEAP website for departure dates.
Understanding Your Finances
It is important that you carefully read all of the information available in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and discuss it with the person who will assist you with your finances while you are abroad.
Understanding your finances before, during, and after your program is crucial to having a successful time abroad. The following list outlines just a few of the many things you will need to know before departure.
Detailed information on the following topics can be found in the Money Matters
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
- Contact information for finance questions
- How to estimate the cost of your program
- Budget instructions and information
- Who Can and How to make payments to UCEAP
- UCEAP student account information(what fees do I pay to UCEAP and what fees do I pay out of pocket?)
- Banking before and after arrival
- Fees and penalties
- Loan information
- How financial aid works while abroad (how do I get my financial aid from my home campus and how are my fees paid?)
- Various forms (e.g., direct deposit, etc.)
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Your MyEAP Student Account is similar to your UC campus financial account. It will be available as soon as you are selected for your program in MyEAP. You can make payments through this account using e-checks or credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover). The fees that you owe UCEAP will be applied to your account after your program pre-departure withdrawal date, which is listed in MyEAP. For the amount due to UCEAP prior to fees being posted on your account, refer to the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule located on the second page of your UCEAP Program Budget
. Program fees are subject to change.
Your UCEAP Program Budget lists the fees you will pay to UCEAP and an estimate of the personal expenses you will need to plan for. It does not include the cost of recreational travel or personal entertainment. Review your UCEAP Program Budget frequently. The Payment Schedule is on the second page of the UCEAP Program Budget.
- Download and print your UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule.
- Note the deadlines on the Payment Schedule.
- Give the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule to the person responsible for paying your UCEAP bills. Sign this person up for Third Party Authorization on MyEAP so they can make payments online.
Refund of Credit balances and Financial Aid Disbursements:
If you are signed up for Direct Deposit on your UC campus, it is not linked to your MyEAP account. You must sign up for eRefund with UCEAP to receive direct deposits from your MyEAP account. For more information, see the UCEAP eRefund Instructions
The official currency unit in Thailand is the baht (abbreviated B or THB).
Before leaving the U.S., you may want to exchange $100 into Thai currency. Besides providing an opportunity to become familiar with the currency, the funds will be useful upon arrival for snacks, transportation, tips, and unexpected purchases. You can purchase Thai currency through your American bank or at airport international money exchange counters. You may also exchange money at the airport after arrival in Thailand.
You will find banks (with ATMs) and foreign exchange services around Bangkok. Exchange kiosks are also available seven days a week. Fees are assessed per service transaction. Travelers checks in U.S. dollars can be cashed at authorized money exchanges. You will need your passport for the transaction.
If you plan on using your U.S. ATM and/or credit card while abroad, be sure to notify your bank ahead of time. Otherwise, they may freeze your account on suspicion of fraud.
Before departure, find out if your bank is affiliated with a bank in Bangkok and what services they offer. Some large U.S. banks maintain relations with Thai banks, and for a fee you can usually arrange to have money transferred. You may want to open an account at a Thai bank. To do so, inquire at the bank for details. You will need your passport plus a letter of acceptance from Thammasat University. The Thai Military Bank, Thai Farmers Bank, and Siam Commercial Bank are good options for changing money and opening an account. All three have a branch located near the university gate and have ATMs throughout the country.
Most Thai banks are open Monday through Friday (except holidays). Main banking facilities often have English-speaking personnel.
UCEAP participants report that a good way to obtain money is through an ATM. ATMs provide a convenient way to get cash, make deposits and transfers, and verify account balances. Check with your home bank to make sure an ATM can be used to access funds abroad. Normally, if the banking symbols on the back of the card match the symbols on the ATM (Cirrus, Plus, etc.), you can use that ATM’s services.
Charles Schwab account holders can withdraw money from international ATMs and be reimbursed for fees incurred. However, there may be a minimum balance requirement.
Money withdrawn from a Thai ATM will be issued in baht. Your account balances are likely to also appear in baht. Each bank has different limitations on the amount of cash accessible per transaction, as well as fees assessed per transaction.
Major credit cards are widely accepted in Thailand. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at most larger stores; however, some stores charge service fees of 3–5 percent to use credit cards. Discounts are occasionally offered for cash payments, but you will always pay full price when you use a credit card. Before departure, ask your credit card company about fees and services that are available abroad.
Computer facilities are available at several different locations on campus. Most computer centers on campus close early, so plan accordingly.
If you have a laptop, consider taking it with you to Thailand. Free WiFi is available campus-wide at the university.
"To print from a computer at an Internet café, they usually charge 5 baht per page. But to print from the Thammasat library, it’s more like 1 or 2 baht per page." - UCEAP Student
Cell phones are readily available in Bangkok. Most students buy one after arrival. The cost for cell phone service in Bangkok is competitive. You can buy a basic phone for about THB 1,000. You can also bring a phone from the U.S. and get it unlocked for around THB 300.
Local calls cost approximately one to three baht per minute. International calls to the U.S. cost about 15 baht per minute. Rates are subject to change.
Public phones are also available throughout Bangkok.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), the technology for transmitting voice conversations via the Internet, is popular with students who take a laptop abroad. Social networking software such as Skype
is commonly used to make free or low-cost calls over the Internet. Some vendors offer 1 baht/minute VoIP international calls, but the quality can be uneven.
Messenging apps (e.g. WhatsApp, Line, WeChat) are also increasing in popularity.
The cost of housing is a fraction of what it costs to rent a room in the U.S. It provides very basic amenities and facilities at a low price and is most likely less comfortable than the dorm rooms offered by American universities.
There are several housing options located in a residential area near the university. You have the option of making your own housing arrangements or staying in housing prearranged through UCEAP.
If you wish to find your own housing, you can stay in a temporary accommodation until you select a long-term housing option. Thammasat University offers a housing tour for semester students during orientation week. At your request, UCEAP can make housing arrangements at an apartment complex on your behalf. Fully furnished, air-conditioned single and double rooms are available.
Additional information will be provided in your UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist.
"It’s best to live close to campus as traffic is inconvenient. You also want to choose a place that’s close to food vendors so you don’t have to go far to find something to eat." - UCEAP Student
"I’d advise students to stay in a place that is safe and clean. There are many cheap apartments, but they’re in bad areas, so get recommendations from the Study Center or International Office." - UCEAP Student
"I found an apartment where I lived with Thai students, but had other foreign students close by. This was the best possible housing outcome and it allowed me to make great friends." - UCEAP Student
"Housing costs are a lot more affordable than in the U.S." - UCEAP Student
Apartments & Private Housing
Amenities, location, and costs vary widely. Therefore, there are a variety of options to consider when selecting an apartment. Many students share an apartment with a roommate, usually another international exchange student. You will meet other students at the orientations and can decide if you want a roommate. Most of your neighbors are likely to be local Thais and other exchange students.
Most apartments do not include a kitchen area but have a private bathroom. The majority of apartments are furnished with beds and a table and chairs. Some newer apartments include amenities such as cable and Internet connections. Most students opt for apartments with air-conditioning and hot water. While the rent for apartments without air-conditioning will be less, Bangkok has a very hot and humid climate. Larger apartment complexes even have such amenities as gyms, laundry rooms, security guards, pools, and computer labs.
As you are scouting out apartments, walk through the neighborhood to get a feel for the area (noise levels, nearby restaurants and shops, and proximity to campus).
You are responsible for paying rent and other associated costs in the local currency. Rent is normally paid on a monthly basis directly to the landlord. Most apartments charge separately for phone, Internet, and utilities.
A housing deposit and the first month’s rent will be due shortly after arrival; be prepared to cover these costs.
Bangkok is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. You can find a variety of international restaurants. Tipping is not usually practiced, although it is becoming more customary. Some established restaurants and hotels add a flat 10 percent service fee automatically to the bill.
You will see many familiar fast food chains in Bangkok. A wide variety of delicious, fresh Thai dishes are also available at restaurants and food stalls. Most Thai meals will be spicier than you anticipate. You can ask for a dish to be made less spicy, and then add more spice to taste. Your tolerance will increase over time.
You can buy inexpensive prepared foods or buy fresh ingredients to make your own food. Fruits and vegetables abound in the markets and you will be surprised, even delighted, at some of the more unusual offerings.
Most locals will eat with a spoon in the right hand and fork in the left hand. One pushes the food onto the spoon with the fork and uses the spoon to eat. If noodles are served, there may be chopsticks; however, chopsticks are not normally used for regular meals.
Campus Dining Options
Most people on campus eat in the student cafeterias. Meals are relatively inexpensive. There are also a variety of local options for food in the immediate neighborhood. There are several nearby markets and a wide range of street stalls and restaurants within walking distance.
"There are a lot of student cafeterias on campus with a wide variety of inexpensive food. You should also find local places to eat; it’s always an adventure." - UCEAP Student
Most vegetarians in Thailand will be happy with the wide variety of food available. Vegetarians can say chan kin jae, which translates to “I am a vegetarian.”
"Strict vegetarians may have a slightly more difficult time finding food they can eat (without fish sauce or seafood), but it can be found." - UCEAP Student
When eating food purchased in street stalls and markets, make sure the hot food is boiling hot and the cold food is well chilled to avoid stomach problems. Avoid raw meat and seafood.
Always drink bottled water. Drinks made with ice that is cylinder-shaped with a hole in the middle are safe. Crushed ice may not be safe to drink. When in doubt, have your drink without ice.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Although motorcycles and tuk-tuks are popular among local students, traffic accidents are common in Thailand, and those involving open vehicles in particular can be deadly. The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok strongly recommends that Americans refrain from using motorcycles, mopeds, and tuk-tuks in Bangkok. There is a helmet law.
Mass Transit Systems
You can travel throughout the city using the BTS “Skytrain” elevated mass transit system or the underground Metro (or MRT) system, which operate daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. Skytrain stations are located in major commercial areas and can be an ideal means of escaping the traffic.
Bangkok also has an extensive bus system with routes serving every part of the city. Although an inexpensive way to travel, buses can be overcrowded and are often driven with little or no regard for passenger safety. Cities elsewhere in Thailand typically have only rudimentary public transportation and usually do not have metered taxis. Do not expect to get anywhere quickly in Bangkok. Lengthy commutes due to incredibly heavy, crawling traffic are common.
"Get to know the bus system and BTS—they will be extremely helpful during traffic and when you’re trying not to spend too much on cab rides." - UCEAP Student
Regular taxi fares based on meters are reasonable given traffic conditions. Tips are not expected, but adding a few extra baht to round off the fare is appreciated. Metered taxis are available 24 hours a day in Bangkok. Make sure the driver turns on the meter once you get in. The U.S. Department of State reports that travelers should not hesitate to ask to be let out of a taxi immediately if the driver acts suspiciously, drives erratically, or refuses to set the meter.
Water Taxis & Ferries
Water taxis on the river run through Bangkok and serve as an alternative mode of transportation. Most are large speed boats that move quickly and produce a large wake. There is a taut rope strung along the side and the boat bumps up against old rubber tires at the landing. Riders must grab the rope and walk along the gunwale until they can find a seat and climb inside. The passengers inside hold ropes that hold up the canvas on either side to protect them from the spray, and the canvas is lowered just long enough to climb in or out at the landings. A conductor walks along the gunwale to collect fares.
Ferries that shuttle people between two to three destinations are also readily available. Fares are paid at the gate and passengers wait on the dock for the next trip. Before boarding, check the sign to be sure that you are on the correct route.
When the boats reach their destination, the conductor will attach a rope to the float to hold the boat to the landing. Boarding and exiting the boats requires a bit of agility and determination. You must act quickly because the boat will quickly leave again.
Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while on UCEAP is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community.
"I joined the Boxing Club on campus to be part of the campus life and because I wanted to do something I wouldn’t
do back home to learn more about Thai culture." - UCEAP Student
Cultural Activities & Performing Arts
You may immerse yourself into local cultural activities, some of which include Buddhist meditation, Thai classical dancing, muay thai boxing, and traditional Thai massage. Courses in Thai culture and arts, such as cooking, are available throughout the city and are an excellent way to learn about the culture. A large performing arts hall on campus hosts plays, concerts, and lectures.
Thailand celebrates a number of festivals and events throughout the year. Festivals are a wonderful opportunity to experience the local culture. Examples of festivals include Songkran—the celebration of the Thai New Year in April—and Loi Krathong, a flower and lantern festival in November. The Tourism Authority of Thailand
posts upcoming festivals and events on its website.
The Thammasat University Tha Prachan campus is located on the Chao Phraya River, next door to the National Museum, National Theater, and close to Wat Po, Grand Palace, and the Emerald Buddha Temple.
"Soak up as much culture as humanly possible, whether it be by visiting historical landmarks, engaging in conversations with your professors and Thai peers, or doing your own research." - UCEAP Student
"Thailand has an incredible diversity of geographical regions. Beautiful beaches in the south and wonderful lush forests in the north; even if you never leave the country, you could travel happily for a year." - UCEAP Student
Outdoor Activities & Sports
Hiking in the mountains in the northern provinces and snorkeling at one of the beach resorts on the Andaman Sea are very popular among students.
"Make sure to visit all of the beautiful nature that Thailand has to offer such as its waterfalls, national parks, and beaches." - UCEAP Student
You may also use the various facilities at the university sports centers, including basketball and badminton courts, a gymnasium, tennis courts, a football field, a boxing ring, and a swimming pool off campus.
Many students enjoy shopping in the various markets and bargaining with street vendors.
"Practice bargaining for things, especially at the pier by Thammasat University." - UCEAP Student
Students with Disabilities
While in Thailand, students with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation different from what they experience in the US.
Sidewalks and street crossings are not suitable for travelers with mobility issues. Newly constructed buildings, facilities, and transportation equipment should be accessible for persons with mobility issues. However, enforcement of these provisions is not uniform. Facilities for individuals with hearing and vision disabilities are sparse and designed primarily for readers and speakers of Thai.
For more information:
Leaving your host city for more than 24 hours?
You are required to complete the online sign out through your MyEAP account.
Click on Travel Signout and complete all required fields. During an emergency (abroad or in the US), it is important for UCEAP officials to know how to reach you so we can help you.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Due to immigration regulations, students are not permitted to work in Thailand. Working illegally is not endorsed or supported by UCEAP and can result in your arrest and prosecution for breaking the law.
No laws criminalize sexual orientation or consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults.
For more information,
Know Before You Go
As a UCEAP participant, you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy
anywhere in the world. Coverage begins 14 days before the official start date of your UCEAP program term. Coverage ends 31 days after the official end of the UCEAP program term.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance policy is not the same as your campus or private insurance. Inform yourself before seeking care. Your UCEAP Travel Insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations.
Read details in Benefits at a Glance
. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, exclusions, and eligibility criteria. You will be financially responsible for any charges for medical services that are not included benefits in the policy and for any charges over an above the “maximum allowable amount”. Your travel insurance policy number is ADD N04834823. It is underwritten by Chubb Insurance Company.
The travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis. There is no deductible or co-insurance.
You can submit a claim for a refund consideration of covered expenses. For more information about the medical claim process
or about non-medical claims
Generally, hospitals around the world, including the US, do not bill insurance companies (unless there is a special arrangement with a local hospital in your UCEAP country). It is the patient's responsibility to inquire with the hospital, at the time of service, and make arrangements to pay any outstanding bills. Payment for medical services abroad is ultimately your responsibility.
For more information refer to your Pre-Departure Checklist, Insurance tab, or the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Insurance chapter
For Questions about Coverage, Benefits, and Claims Status
Contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Consider having additional protection for your property, as you may experience loss, theft, or accidents that will damage your belongings while traveling. Talk to your parents and analyze their family homeowners’ insurance to determine whether the items brought or bought while abroad are covered by their policy.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance
policy offers limited personal property coverage. Review the policy carefully before departure to determine if it is adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss.
If you decide to purchase supplemental personal property coverage, do so before departure and make sure that the coverage extends while traveling. The host university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations.
You are responsible for your own personal property. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables from damage or theft by locking your room and securing currency, jewelry, passport, and other possessions.
University of California does not make any representation of warranty with respect to the names of medical providers referenced on this Staying Healthy chapter. The names listed are only a point of reference as the University of California does not recommend or endorse any medical provider on this list.
If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the staff at PBIC or the UCEAP Liaison Officer immediately. They can recommend a clinic to visit, advise on the necessary medical insurance claim forms to complete, and make arrangements with your professors if extended absence from class is required.
In Bangkok, excellent facilities are available for routine, long-term, and emergency health care. Many physicians have been trained in the US and other Western countries and speak English. Smaller towns and outlying facilities lack the amenities, expertise, and various medical personnel found in major metropolitan areas.
A list of English-speaking doctors is available at the US Embassy’s website
. You can also contact the UCEAP Study Center or host institution staff for recommendations on physicians or specialists that students have used in the past.
Local doctors expect direct payment. If you are sick or injured, seek care, pay for treatment and submit a claim
through the UCEAP travel insurance. Many doctors do not accept credit card payment. Make sure you budget for this expense. For information about benefits and the claims process email ACI, email@example.com
Know Before You Go
Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Know what to do if you get sick.
Read the Health chapter
of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and your Program Guide for important information to plan for a healthy stay abroad.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health
web page has important information about health risks present in the country where you will be studying.
The UC assistance providers, United Healthcare Global, advise that you should be healthy for travel due to the lack of quality medical care outside of Bangkok and be aware of other local health risks for example, TB, Gastrointestinal infections, some malaria risk (rural areas), and rabies risk (animal bite).
Before you get acclimated to the heat, humidity, and traffic congestion, your first few days in Thailand may be some of the hardest. You are encouraged to slow down, take everything in stride, and realize that it will take time and patience to adjust to your new surroundings.
"Bangkok has heavy smog levels. Take special precautions if you have a chronic condition." - UCEAP Student
With the change in diet, climate, and sanitary standards, you may experience an upset stomach and diarrhea. Take food and water precautions. Cook all your food thoroughly and wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating. Do not drink tap water, or other beverages with ice made from tap water as this could expose you to contamination. Drink only bottled water.
BEFORE DEPARTURE - PLAN AHEAD
Research and Resources:
Schedule an appointment with your doctor as least 3-6 months before departure to discuss your medication/treatment regimen:
- Ask if you can get a prescription to last the entire duration of your program. Consider that you may need to fill your prescription abroad.
- Obtain a letter from the prescribing physician on letterhead indicating your diagnosis, treatment, medication regimen, and generic name(s) of medication(s) as brand names vary around the world. This will be for passing through Customs and for refilling abroad.
- To switch prescriptions, your doctor may need to make changes to your medication at least 3-6 months before departure to monitor side effects and dosage.
- Discuss how to adjust dosage/regimen to account for different time zones.
TRAVELING WITH PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS
- Keep medication in its original packaging clearly labelled with your name, doctor's name, generic/brand name, and exact dosage.
- Carry copies of original US prescriptions and carry the letter you obtained from your doctor (see above).
- Travel with medications in your carry-on luggage, provided it is in pill form. Consult the US Transportation Security Administration if your medication is liquid.
- If you need to refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor as US prescriptions are not valid in other countries. Take with you the letter you obtained from your doctor (see above). Note: If the visit to the local doctor is considered preventative care, it will not be covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance. However, your campus or private insurance plan may cover it.
- To purchase medication using the UCEAP Travel Insurance coverage, you must pay up front and submit a claim for medication when coverage is effective (14 days before the official start date of your program).
- Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, and the Insurance tab on your pre-depature checklist for more insurance information.
- For information about coverage for appointments/prescriptions through UCEAP Travel Insurance, contact ACI: firstname.lastname@example.org.
REGULATED AND CONTROLLED MEDICATIONS
- Two classes of medicines - narcotics and psychotropics - are under the control of international law. This covers any medicine that has an effect on the central nervous system, and the potential for drug abuse. The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine). Psychotropic medications are used to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions. These medications are often highly regulated.
- If you have a prescription containing controlled substances, check the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The INCB is responsible for international drug control. If traveling with controlled substances, you must have a letter from your doctor. Generally, amphetamines (e.g. Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal or unlicensed in other countries. Talk with your doctor to switch you to another medication.
Adderall (dextroamphetamine) is illegal in Thailand. It is considered a narcotic. You can be arrested for possession of adderall. Ask your doctor to consider switching your prescription. A patient under treatment is allowed to bring Methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin) into Thailand for personal use in a quantity NOT EXCEEDING 30 DAYS OF PRESCRIBED USAGE when accompanied by a valid prescription and/or medical document from the prescribing physician. A local physician has to be consulted for a substitution.
Along with your medication, retain a copy of the prescription and a letter from your doctor detailing your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen (include the generic name, dosage, and purpose). Always pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage.
Consider your host country. Many countries do not have adequate resources. How will you manage your mental health while studying abroad, whether or not you have a pre-existing condition?
If you are currently in treatment in the US, discuss all program details with your doctor so you can work on a plan in case you need to reach out for care. Carry a letter from your doctor (on letterhead) indicating condition, treatment history, and medication regimen so a local physician can assess your needs.
If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician before departure about getting the supply you need for the length of your stay. Traveling through customs with medications for personal use can be problematic in countries where those medications are prohibited. Examples include stimulants frequently used for attention deficit disorders, such as amphetamine, methylphenidate, and narcotics. Prohibited substances vary depending on the country. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.
Cultural adjustment and homesickness are normal. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. Most students who experience culture adjustment function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life.
- Do not try to manage alone. Reach out to local staff.
- The UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor. Budget for this expense as you must pay up front and submit a claim to the insurance company for a refund consideration. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit a completed claim form and paid receipts to the UCEAP insurance company. For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at email@example.com.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers’ Health
web page provides valuable information on measures necessary to prevent illness and injury during international travel.
Meet with a travel health specialist before departure to get any vaccines and advice you may need. Go at least 4–6 weeks before you travel so that there is time for the vaccines to take effect, as well as to allow for time to get vaccines that require more than one dose. Your campus health insurance plan may cover them if you have campus insurance. Talk to your campus insurance office at Student Health. The UCEAP travel insurance does not cover travel vaccines or preventive care.
Mosquitoes transmit diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, zika, and malaria. Transmission of malaria occurs throughout the year and is highest from May through October. Rural areas bordering Cambodia, Laos, and Burma are considered high-risk zones for malaria. Refer to the CDC's page on Malaria in Thailand
for an overview of areas reporting Malaria.
- Wear long sleeves, long pants, hats, and shoes that cover your feet.
- Apply insect repellents containing 25–50% DEET (N,N-diethyl-3methylbenzamide) or 20% picaridin (Bayrepel).
- For additional protection, apply permethrin-containing compounds to clothing, shoes, and bed nets.
- Do not sleep with the window open unless there is a screen. Use a bed net saturated with insect repellent. Tuck in the edges under the mattress. The mesh size should be less than 1.5 mm.
- Use a mosquito coil to fill the room with insecticide throughout the night.
For rural and forested areas, tuck in pants into boots to prevent tick bites. Perform a thorough tick check at the end of each day with the assistance of a friend or a full-length mirror. Remove ticks with tweezers, grasping the tick by the head. Prompt tick removal prevents many tick-borne illnesses.
More than one in 100 adults out of 65 million people in Thailand have HIV. AIDS has become a leading cause of death. The majority of cases are from unsafe sex, shared needles, and substandard blood transfusions. If you decide to engage in sexual activity, always practice safe sex.
"Always practice safe sex. HIV/AIDS is more widespread in Thailand than in the US." - UCEAP Student
Rabies is a viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. Avoid all contact with stray animals. If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
Other Infectious Diseases
Protect yourself from water-borne, food-borne, parasitic, and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, cholera, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and typhoid).
- Do not swim or wade in fresh water to avoid infection with schistosomiasis. Only swim in well-chlorinated swimming pools.
- Drink only treated water, such as bottled or boiled water. Do not drink tap water, or drinks with ice cubes.
- Avoid uncooked or undercooked food.
- Avoid unpasteurized dairy products.
For further information, refer to the CDC's Travelers' Health page on Thailand.
Students with severe food allergies should plan ahead:
- Talk with your doctor before departure to discuss how to manage your allergy while abroad.
- Research the local cuisine.
- Carry medication to treat surprise reactions.
- Tell others about your food allergy.
For more information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health chapter
The three major sources of air pollution are vehicular emissions in cities, biomass burning and transboundary haze in rural and border areas, and industrial discharges in concentrated industrialized zones.
Even if you are healthy, you may experience temporary symptoms, such as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; phlegm; chest tightness; and shortness of breath.
If you have lung disease, you may not be able to breathe as deeply or as vigorously as normal, and you may experience coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing, shortness of breath, and unusual fatigue. If you have any of these symptoms, reduce your exposure to particles and follow your doctor's advice.
While traveling, you are subject to the local laws even if you are a US citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own and it is very important to know what is legal and what is not. If you break local laws while abroad, your US passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution, and the US Embassy cannot get you out of jail.
Safety is our concern but it is your responsibility. Be proactive in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being. Have an action plan.
With the right information - and by thinking ahead - everyone can play a part in minimizing or preventing personal risks. Observe and assess the risks, plan ahead to reduce them, and think about how you can lessen the consequences if things go wrong. Start by outlining activities you plan to engage in through your program and/or during independent travel. Label the risk and rate it based on the likelihood of harm and the severity of the consequences. Consider measures you can take to reduce the severity and chance. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel.
Be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate and unpredictable terrorist attacks. Remain vigilant in all public areas in your UCEAP city and country and wherever you travel. Many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for political causes within their own country or region, are not looking for student or higher education targets.
Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent and appear to be on the rise. If you are in a crowded public place, know how you can exit quickly, identify barriers, identify safe places where you can shelter-in-place, and watch out for any vehicles that appear to be going at high speed.
Report anything suspicious to local authorities. Read all security-related correspondence and advice from local staff. Schedule direct flights, if possible. Avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Minimize time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Have a plan for what you will do in the case of an emergency. If you are ever in a situation where somebody starts shooting, follow the active shooter guidelines: drop to the floor, get down as low as possible, and hide if possible. Cover yourself behind a solid object. Silence your phone. Do not move until the danger has passed.
Steps to manage or minimize risk and enhance your personal safety
- Familiarize yourself with all UCEAP resources and emergency support services while on UCEAP.
- Research potential risks you can encounter before you travel.
- Observe and assess your surroundings. Learn to recognize danger.
- Trust your feelings. If you feel threatened, act if safe to do so and leave the area immediately. Find somewhere more secure.
- When entering larger venues, always decide on a meeting place with those you are with in case you get separated. Always identify possible exits.
- Drink responsibly. Know your limits. In many countries, beer, wine and liquor contain a higher alcohol content than similar products in the US. Know what you are drinking and how much alcohol it contains.
- Practice the buddy system. Choose your buddy wisely. If you are having a problem, your buddy can help to alert others and get you to safety.
- Have a communication plan. Who will you call locally if you are in an emergency? Do your friends and relatives know how to reach you when you are traveling?
Registration with the local US Embassy or Consulate
Register online with the US embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service for US citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
Registration with the UCEAP Security Provider
You will be automatically registered with WorldAware, the University of California security provider. You will receive important security and informational messages about local conditions for your program country.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and has contracted with emergency assistance and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety. Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, for more information. Access the US Department of State Students Abroad website for updated travel information.
Notify Professor Thanet Makjamroen, UCEAP's official representative in Thailand, of any problems you encounter.
Studying and living abroad requires changes in your lifestyle, preferences, and habits to respect Thai cultural expectations and to minimize your personal security risks.
Bangkok has a low crime rate. Most criminal activity is limited to “non-confrontational” street crimes such as pick-pocketing, theft, and other assorted tourism frauds. However, UCEAP students report a general feeling of safety with the exception of a few bad areas of the city.
In case of an emergency situation in Bangkok (personal, medical emergency, political unrest, etc.) communicate immediately with the Liaison Officer. Update your local contact information through MyEAP and provide your contact information to the Liaison Officer.
Most criminal activity is limited to crimes of opportunity such as pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, and burglary. Thieves may cut into purses or bags with a razor. Exercise caution in crowded locations, bus/train stations, and where tourists congregate. Many US citizens have reported having passports, wallets, and other valuables stolen in Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market. Areas such as Khao San Road and Patpong tend to have higher rates of drug usage, prostitution, and theft, including pick-pocketing.
Bangkok is notorious for scams. The most common scam centers on selling tourists overpriced gems and jewelry. This scam typically starts with a tuk-tuk driver telling you that the attraction you want to go to is closed and bringing you to a gem or silk shopping center instead.
Never lose sight of your credit cards during transactions. Use them only in reputable establishments and safeguard them when not in use. Demand receipts for all purchases and transactions.
Foreigners (even those with some Thai background) will be perceived to have more money and thus may be charged more for services, food, etc." - UCEAP Student
Drugs and Alcohol
Do not become involved with drugs or alcohol. Alcohol and drugs can make you less in control and less aware of your environment resulting in accidents, injuries, robbery, assaults and lost travel documents. If you drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than in the US.
There have been occasional reports of prostitutes or bar workers drugging people with the powerful sedative scopolamine in order to rob them. Tourists have also been victimized by drugged food and drink, usually offered by a friendly stranger who is sometimes posing as a fellow traveler on an overnight bus or train. Never leave drinks unattended, and never go alone to unfamiliar venues.
Thailand strictly enforces drug laws and penalties for the possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs. Thailand’s enforcement efforts include the death penalty for drug smuggling. Convicted offenders can expect long prison sentences under harsh conditions, and heavy fines. Several Americans currently in Thai prisons were arrested for trafficking illicit drugs.
Thai police occasionally raid discos, bars, or nightclubs looking for underage patrons and drug users. During the raids, they check the IDs of all customers in the establishment and then make each person provide a urine sample to be checked for narcotics.
There are many nightclubs in Bangkok that are sources of entertainment, cultural exchange, and social interaction with locals. Unfortunately, owners do not always abide by safety regulations. Popular destinations often exceed their maximum capacity. Emergency exits are not always easily accessible. Pay attention to your surroundings and note the emergency exits.
Although most bars and entertainment venues operate honestly, some may try to charge exorbitant prices for drinks or unadvertised cover charges and then threaten violence if the charges are not paid. If you are victimized in this fashion, pay the price demanded and then seek out a nearby Tourist Police officer for help in getting restitution.
It is a requirement under Thai law to carry photo identification at all times. Tourists have been arrested because they were unable to produce their passport upon request.
It is a criminal offence to make critical or defamatory comments about the King or other members of the Royal family in Thailand. This is known as lèse majesté and is punishable by a prison sentence of three to fifteen years, or longer. Foreign nationals have been convicted of lèse majesté. Thai authorities actively search for and investigate Internet postings, including blog entries and links to other sites, for lèse majesté content. They have arrested and charged US citizens and others with lèse majesté offenses for actions that occurred outside of Thailand.
Under martial law, the military imposed a nationwide ban on political gatherings, and restrictions on the media. Martial law gives security forces additional powers, including the right to restrict the media, set up checkpoints, control movement, and search for weapons. US citizens may encounter a heightened military presence throughout Thailand.
Individuals, including foreigners, may be detained for publicly criticizing Thailand’s current political environment, the National Council for Peace and Order, or the monarchy. Security operations against possible demonstrations have led to disruptions to traffic as well as to some public transport services, and restricted access to some areas around major shopping and hotel districts in central Bangkok.
You will be required to respond to welfare check-ins through SMS. Professor Thanet Makjamroen, UCEAP's official representative in Thailand, will be sending you regular updates in case of any local emergency.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Do not operate motorized vehicles of any kind. Accidents involving motorcycles can be particularly deadly.
Motorcycle-related deaths in Bangkok are a daily occurrence. Do not rent, hire, or ride motorcycles, mopeds, or tuk-tuks. Do not use motorcycle taxis. If you choose to ride one, use a helmet. Thailand requires that all vehicles be covered by third-party liability insurance for death or injury.
Traffic moves on the left in Thailand. Motorcycles and motorized carts often drive illegally against the traffic flow, and seldom yield. Bangkok has heavy traffic composed of motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses, and three-wheeled tuk-tuks. The most common serious medical complications result from motor vehicle accidents.
The condition and maintenance of rural roads is good. Rural road network is extensive. Some roads are unpaved. Streets are congested. Road markings, shoulders, and protective barriers may be absent. Truck traffic is heavy, even in rural areas. Be alert for animal-drawn vehicles and freely roaming animals.
The safety of public transportation is fair. Buses and taxis are abundant and generally safe. Only use registered taxis. Do not use any form of public transportation in rural areas. Buses are frequently involved in road crashes.
The subway system (MRT) and the elevated Skytrain (BTS) are clean, reliable, and efficient ways to travel securely in Bangkok. Do not openly display signs of wealth. Keep all possessions nearby and secured. Be aware of your surroundings in terminals.
Ferries and speedboats that transport tourists and locals to and from the many islands off the Thai mainland are often overcrowded and carry insufficient safety equipment. Avoid travel on overcrowded boats and ensure that proper safety equipment (including life jackets) is available before boarding any boat or ferry.
Do not use public transportation, cycle, or otherwise travel (especially alone) at night. US Embassy strongly cautions against night travel. Bus crashes are high.
Pedestrians share the road with a multitude of vehicles.
- Be visible. Make eye contact with drivers or cyclists. Wear bright clothing during the day and a reflective vest or reflective clothing at night. Walk with a flashlight at night.
- Your phone can distract you to dangers while crossing a street. If you must make or receive a call, find a safe place to stop off the roadway.
- Use overhead walkways or pedestrian bridges whenever possible. Do not jaywalk.
- Look carefully in both directions before crossing streets.
Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment
University of California Policy
Every member of the UCEAP community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual violence and sexual harassment, retaliation, and other prohibited behavior (“Prohibited Conduct”) that violates law and/or University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of Prohibited Conduct and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates this Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Report to the local partners and/or UCEAP staff if you suspect one of these behaviors has occurred.
Comply with the UCEAP Student Travel Policy
while traveling during a program break. Observe this and any other warning generated by UCEAP, the Study Center, or the US Department of State. UCEAP strongly discourages you from traveling to the following areas in Thailand.
There are occasional clashes between the Thai security forces, armed criminal groups and drug traffickers along the Thai/Burma border.
The line of the international border near the Preah Vihear temple was disputed by Cambodia and Thailand. The exact border is still being delineated.
Be extra careful in border areas and follow the instructions of the local authorities. Due to the ongoing risk of unexploded landmines in the border region, stay on marked paths if you visit this area, especially around Ta Krabey where there have been reports of unmarked mines.
Remain alert to the local situation when travelling anywhere near to the border with Cambodia, and at land crossings between the two countries.
Not all land border crossings into Laos are open to foreigners and you may need to get a Laos visa before you arrive to cross the border.
Far South: Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla
Violence in these provinces has resulted in more than 6,500 deaths since 2004. Martial law is in force in this region. US Department of State prohibits their personnel from traveling to this region without prior approval. Defer non-emergency travel there. If you must travel to these areas, exercise special caution and remain alert.
Militants typically use cell phones or other electronic devices to detonate pre-planted improvised explosive devices. These blasts can be powerful and create significant casualties. Common targets include security posts and personnel, military vehicles, local government buildings, and rail infrastructure. Bombings, however, have also occurred in crowded public areas, including markets, hotels, and transportation hubs such as Hat Yai Airport in Songkhla. Militants sometimes use motorcycles to transport explosives, but car bombings are much less common.
Heavy rains and floods are frequent during the May-October rainy season. Be alert for floods and landslides near waterways, in low-lying areas, and along hills. Power outages are also common. Monitor local media to keep up to date with the latest information about weather and road conditions in your area. The Thai Meteorological Department
posts weather forecasts and warnings online. If you are traveling by ferry, air, bus, or rail during periods of heavy rain, you should check with the transportation company you plan to use in order to ensure that its service is still operating.
Follow UCEAP’s advice at all times.
Several fault lines run through the country, subjecting Thailand to tremors of varying magnitude. Know what to do before, during, and after an earthquake. Check the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre
for seismic activity and tsunami information.
Fire Emergency - Dial 199. The fire station nearest to the area where you will be living in Bangkok is +662-223-3620.
Fire safety standards, sprinkler systems, and building codes in hotels and other buildings may not match those for similar structures in the United States.
On March 8, 2012, a fire in a Bangkok hotel belonging to an international chain killed two foreign tourists and injured several others. There was no sprinkler system in part of the hotel. On August 17, 2012, a fire at a Phuket disco killed two Thais and two foreign tourists, and injured several other persons.
Read all Fire Safety information provided below and be prepared before your departure.
Educate yourself about fire safety standards in your UCEAP country, as they differ drastically around the world.
Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Fire Safety section for life-saving information.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If a local situation requires increased caution or a program suspension and evacuation of participants, UCEAP will activate contingency plans. For security reasons, contingency plans are not public and cannot be shared with anyone except UCEAP officials.
Program Suspension Policy
If the US Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Advisory after the start date of the program term, UCEAP may suspend the program. If time and local security conditions permit, UCEAP will consult with the UC Study Center Director, UC security providers, US Embassy, US Department of State regional and security analysts, other organizations that offer programs in the same country, and area experts to determine the appropriate timeframe for suspending the program and/or for the evacuation of the students from the host country.
The UCEAP required security evacuation will override any host institution, or local US Embassy evacuation on US government-arranged flights, that require US citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP and its experienced security providers, is covered by UCEAP insurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
What Is an Emergency?
An emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The following are considered emergencies:
- Any life/death situation
- A traumatic event requiring immediate assistance
- An arrest
- Civil unrest or natural disaster in the host country
In an Emergency
Contact local emergency services first and then contact the following:
If you are in the US
- During office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Pacific Time): Contact your Program Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office at (805) 893-4762.
- After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone numbers at (805) 893-4762 or (805) 882-2086.
If you are abroad
Carry the local emergency contact information at all times:
Ambulance, Police: 191
Tourist Police: 1155
U.S. Embassy in Bangkok
American Citizen Services (ACS)
95 Wireless Road
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Phone: (02) 205-4000
Regular Hours: Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m.– 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.– 4 p.m.
Calling from inside Thailand: (02) 205-4000; (02) 205-4049
Calling from U.S.: (011-66-2) 205-4000; (011-66-2) 205-4049
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condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
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