The What’s Up Guide to the Best Thai Language Schools in Chiang Mai – Top 5

Chiang Mai’s laid back ambience and plethora of attractions has enticed many a foreigner into lingering for weeks. Some come and never leave and there now is a sizable expat community. Learning the Thai language enables foreigners to function better in their new home. There are quite a few language schools to choose from. The AUA and the YMCA have long been the schools of choice for farangs when learning, but there are plenty of others.

No two schools offer exactly the same courses, but in general the emphasis is on a sanuk (fun) learning environment and equipping students with the language needed to hold a basic conversation in Thai and cope with everyday situations. The courses on offer are the standard Thai spoken in Bangkok and not the Chiang Mai Kam Mueang dialect. This is not a problem as almost everyone here understands and speaks the central Thai language. Our choices for the best language schools are shown below.

Last Updated: June 2019

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 Best Chiang Mai Thai Language Schools: 
American University Alumni | Chiang Mai University | Effective Thai | IH Chiang Mai | YMCA Chiang Mai | Thai Education Visa | Further Reading
*Note: Course fees do change, we recommend checking for the latest updates.


The American University Alumni is one of the most popular Thai language schools in Chiang Mai. Better known as the AUA, this school was founded in 1985. Group courses run for six weeks with two hours of study on each weekday. Enrolees have the choice of morning or afternoon sessions. Teachers at the AUA teach from course books and place particular emphasis on the correct tonal pronunciation, practical vocabulary and dialog drills. The AUA also offers one-on-one private classes and can arrange for courses in Kam Mueang. The school is on Ratchadamneon Road and about 100 metres from Thapae Gate.
AUA Chiang Mai: #24, Ratchadamnern Rd., T. Sri Phum, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 | Open: 08:30-16:00 (Monday-Friday), 09:00-16:00 (Saturday), 09:00-15:30 (Sunday) | Thai Course: 340-500 B/Hour | Tel: +66 53 214 120, +66 53 211 377 | Website | Facebook E-mail

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Effective Thai is a Thai Ministry of Education certified school with teachers well versed in the difficulties of learning a foreign language. Effective Thai offers the choice of private lessons or group classes with a maximum of six students. The Thai courses on offer range from introductory to advanced as well as reading and writing. Effective Thai provides the necessary documentation for students enrolling on 100 or 200 lesson courses to apply for long-stay Non-immigrant Education Visas. These visas can be extended for up to three years.
Effective Thai: #208/2, Kaew Nawarat Rd., T. Wat Ket, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50000 | Open: 08:30-19:00 (Monday-Friday), 08:30-17:30 (Saturday-Sunday) | Thai Course: 10 Lessons 2,750 B | Tel: +66 53 242 945 | Website | Facebook E-mail


Another long-established favourite, the YMCA Chiang Mai offers a varied collection of Thai language courses. The curriculum is realistic, fun and designed to prepare those signing up with the capability to enjoy an enhanced quality of life in Thailand. The YMCA’s taster course has topics on asking for help, going shopping, dining, travel and getting directions. The standard YMCA Thai conversation programme has four basic and four advanced levels. Speaking and writing plus reading and writing courses are also available. The YMCA is in the Chang Phuak area of the city and 10 minutes on foot from Kad Suan Kaew Shopping Centre.
YMCA Chiang Mai: #11, Mengrairasmi, Sermsuk Rd., T. Chang Phuak, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50300 | Open: 08:30-17:30 (Daily) | Thai Course: 3,000 B/30 Hours | Tel: +66 53 221 819-20 | Website | Facebook E-mail


CMU’s Centre for Thai Studies is housed in the Language Institute on the main campus. Learners signing up for courses here get all the benefits and amenities of one of Thailand’s preeminent universities. Highly qualified tutors conduct survival Thai courses on which students study three hours a day for 15 days. The Centre also runs one-year, 216-hour Thai combined language and culture courses. Students under 55 years old signing up for this course can apply for Non-immigrant Education Visas.
The Centre for Thai Studies at Chiang Mai University: #239, Huay Kaew Rd., T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 | Open: 08:30-17:30 (Monday-Friday), 09:00-13:00 (Saturday) | Thai Course: 35,000 B (216 Hours) | Tel: +66 53 943 755 Website | Facebook E-mail


International House, or IH, Chiang Mai is a language centre offering Thai courses as well as English programmes for non-native speakers and Cambridge CELTA TEFL courses for English teachers. Prospective students undergo assessments before they are assigned to a particular course. IH offers Non-immigrant Category ED visas guarantee letters for those opting to enrol on long-term study programmes. IH Chiang Mai is located in the Sanphakwan area of Hang Dong and is about 10kms south of the Old City.
IH Chiang Mai: #131, M. 7, T. Sanphakwan, A. Hang Dong, Chaing Mai 50230 | Thai Course: N/A | Tel: +66 53 482 248-9 | Website | Facebook E-mail