"Sawasdee Thailand"

"Spend your summer in Thailand, where you will enjoy the real touch and tan of tropical summer"

Sawasdee Program


Sawasdee Thailand

The French writer Marcel Proust once said that, "the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Travel opens us up to new food, music, art, nature, religions and cultures. These things can bring us excitement and joy, but the most valuable thing which travel can offer is a deeper understanding of not only the world around us, but ourselves too.

A lot of the time when we travel it is difficult to learn more about what we see. Visitors in Thailand may go to our temples, but may not understand the meaning in the different poses of the Buddha images, or why Thai Buddhists make offerings of lotus flowers, incense, candles and sometimes gold leaf. People may watch a Thai boxing match and wonder about the dance-like performances given by fighters to open the bout. Some may buy the handcrafted baskets and silks in the market, but want to know more about the people, communities and ecosystems which produce them.

When we try to understand other cultures we can better understand our own. We can compare the way our own people eat, talk, work and socialize with those of the culture we are learning about and find the best ways for us to experience the rest of our lives.

The Sawasdee Thailand Course aims to help visitors to Thailand not only experience all that we have to offer, but learn about their origins, meaning and their importance to the Thai people. Our visitors will get the chance to travel around Bangkok and rural Thailand, with the sights, sounds, and tastes supported by classes and workshops on Thai culture, art and history lead by Mahidol University's professors.

Why MU ?

Our Vision

Mahidol University is one of the top universities in Thailand. Originally established as Thailand's first medical school in 1888, the university has now grown to include over 30 faculties with around 29,000 students across 6 academic programs. On top of that MU also manages 5 hospitals, serving over 4.5 million patients each year, and the Prince Mahidol Hall, home of the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra. Mahidol is where science meets art.

Our eco-university initiative has made our campus the most environmentally friendly in Thailand. Our students, faculty and staff work together to set an example for how homes, schools and businesses can recycle more, consume less and use more eco-friendly transport. As part of this work we have dedicated more of our campus space to natural habitats for birds, fish, squirrels and lizards, and provided more green space for people to relax and exercise.

Beyond our environmental work we support a culture of social-responsibility in our staff and students by making sure our research benefits our local community and the global society. Our Community Research Cluster supports MU faculty in using their expertise within the community in projects ranging from improving healthcare and dentistry provisions to working with local businesses to help them develop the skills to grow economically.

The philosophy of Mahidol University comes from our namesake, H.R.H. Prince Mahidol of Songkla who said, "True success is not in the learning but in its application to the benefit of mankind." We reach for this goal by ensuring that we not only educate our students, but provide them with opportunities to use their skills in the local and global community.

MU's Ratchasuda College provides higher education opportunities up to PhD level for people with disabilities; the Faculty of Veterinary Science's Dog's Home rescues stray dogs, provides them with treatment and finds them new homes. The university's botanical gardens grow over 600 varieties of plants used in traditional Thai medicine, and provides education to the community to support traditional medicine in local communities. The College of Music's Arboretum grows trees which are used in the production of traditional Asian musical instruments.

For the students, faculty and staff at MU, education is not only about learning to become great doctors, teachers, engineers and designers, but about taking every opportunity to be great people today.

Now more than ever we must learn about the world and the people around us. With this in mind, we are working on a number of projects to help us learn about different cultures and countries, and help people from around the world learn more about the people, places and life of Thailand.

Salaya Campus

MU's main Salaya campus is located just outside Bangkok, in the province of Nakhon Pathom. Being outside the city allows us to have the space (520 acres!) for our students to learn and grow. This isn't just classrooms, but gyms and swimming pools, gardens, restaurants and coffee shops, performance spaces, lakes and even an equestrian center for those who like to ride horses.

Even though we are outside Bangkok, it doesn't take long to get into the city. There are several busses, including university shuttle busses which can take you, or you could get one of Bangkok's many taxis. After 30 minutes travel you can visit as many temples, palaces, museums, galleries, markets and restaurants as you can.

International Community

Globalization is a big part of MU's activities at the moment. In the modern world we must all work towards understanding different cultures and points of view, and figuring out how we can work best together. MU's community of international students and staff help us to learn about how our neighbors work, socialize, relax and interact, and we help them to learn more about Thai people and our history, environment, religions and food. Learning about each other also helps us to learn more about ourselves, by seeing the similarities and differences and comparing how we each try to solve problems.

Our internationalization isn't just our community here, but the links that we build with institutions, businesses and charities around the world. We currently co-operate with around 350 different institutions in 41 countries, and some of these connections have been in place for over 50 years. How we work with others is important to us because it not only provides our students, faculty and researchers with the best resources and support available, but it allows us to lead by example, showing everyone at MU that in order to succeed, we must work together and apply what we know for the benefit of mankind.

The Best of Thailand

Through over 100 years of hard work and visionary leadership, Mahidol University has been ranked as Thailand's best university by the world's most well known university ranking organisations. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings gave us #1 in 2016 and 2017. Mahidol is also #1 in Thailand as judged by US News: Best Global Universities Ranking 2017, QS World University Ranking by Subject for seven subject areas, Webometrics since 2015, and in the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers by HEEACT.

Why Thailand ?

Last year over 21 million people came to Bangkok to see the sights, making it the most visited city in the world. The Thai capital is home to hundreds of beautiful temples, several palaces, and thousands of restaurants and food stalls selling everything from traditional spicy salads to fried scorpions! People come for the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the capital, travel to the white sand beaches, tranquil islands and majestic mountains of Thailand's 77 provinces.

Thailand is rich with treasures, but the most valuable things we have are our people, cultures, history, and languages. Learning and sharing these things helps us not only to understand what we see when we travel, but understand more about ourselves.


Thai food is known for its balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavors (often with a little more spicy!) In Thailand you won't see any blenders being used to chop up herbs and spices. The famous curry pastes are made with a Kroc, a large wooden pestle and mortar, to pound fresh ingredients into a paste, or even mix a salad. For Thais this traditional method makes all the difference as it provides the rich and complex aroma of the food. Don't expect the seeds removed from the chili, that's where all the heat is!

There are actually four separate cuisines in Thailand: Central, Isaan (North-Eastern), Ngua (Northern) and Tai (Southern). These have similarities with the dishes of their neighboring countries. Lao and Cambodian tastes are found in Isaan food, Burmese curries are on the Ngua menu, and Malaysian ingredients come into the Tai cuisine.

Did you know? 4 of CNN Travel's top 50 foods in the world are from Thailand. Can you guess which ones?


The architecture of Thailand, from its temples and palaces, to the homes of rural farmers, tells the story of its people. As with the food, different regions have their own styles which can be seen in the ancient buildings of the former Thai Kingdoms such as Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. The stilted houses help to escape flooding in the monsoon season, but also provide some shade and a breeze for weaving baskets or cloth in the daytime. The modern Tiny House movement in many Western countries mirrors the traditional Thai Kuti, the home of a Buddhist Monk. These buildings were less than 10m2 and designed to aid the Monk's spiritual journey by limiting the amount of possessions which could accumulate.

If you visit any Thai Buddhist Temples, you will notice the sculptures of winged Garudas and serpentine Nagas and paintings of the life of the Buddha, or the Ramayana story. These religious stories and mythological creatures come to Thailand from Hindu and Animist traditions. The Garuda and Naga are normally fighting, but if you see them together they can be a symbol of peace.

Did you know? When building on a plot of land, it is important to have a Spirit House, where the spirits of the land can go to live. Many people will show respect and give offerings to the spirit house at their home, office, or school. If you take care of the spirits, they might help you get a promotion or pass your exams.


The Thai people consider themselves to be one big family, with the King as the father and Queen as the mother; in fact in Thailand fathers' day and mothers' day are on the King and Queen's birthdays. In Thailand an elderly woman should be treated as if they were your own grandmother, and a young child would be your little brother or sister and everyone would be referred to as brother, sister, aunt, granddad, even calling a taxi driver Uncle is normal.

Thais often have very long names; luckily all Thai people use nicknames. These nicknames will normally just be one syllable. Some are Thai words, which might translate as 'small', 'fat' or 'pig', others might be English words like 'ball', 'ice' or 'beer'. Normally you can refer to people your own age by their nickname, but for younger or older people you would use another word to show this before their nickname.

After Sawasdee (hello/goodbye) and Khorp khun (thank you), the thing you will probably here most is Mai pen rai (no problem). This phrase is sometimes used like 'You're welcome', but most often it is used with a smile to make sure someone understands that they don't need to be worried, afraid, or embarrassed. In Thai life we look for Sabai (relaxed) and Sanook (fun). It is better to be having fun than having an argument, especially with all the great things we have to enjoy, so Thai people avoid arguments and just relax.

Did you know? In Thai, the city of Bangkok is called: Krungthep mahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahinthara yutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat ratchathani Burirom Udom ratchaniwet Maha-sathan Amon phiman awatansathit Sakkathattiya witsanukamprasit."It is the longest city name in the world, but most Thai people just call it Krungthep."


Thailand has many national parks to ensure the protection of the various ecosystems and the animals which call them home. In the mountains and forests you can find elephants, black bears, leopards, monkeys, deer and tigers. The oceans, particularly around the islands, have dolphins, whales, rays, turtles and a myriad of tropical fish living on the coral reefs, waiting to impress divers. Look into the skies in parts of the country and you might even see a hornbill. Thailand is famous for its serene beaches in the south with fascinating snorkeling and diving, but the mountains of the north offer breathtaking views, challenging hikes and the chance to cool off with a swim in the pools of waterfalls. The central and north eastern regions have miles of rice paddies, rural villages, and ancient temples and palaces.

Did you know? Thailand is home to many species of snake, including pythons and cobras. Don't worry though; they tend to stay away from humans, so if you want to see one you will have to go looking for it!

Join Us In Thailand!

With Sawasdee Thailand you can learn more about Thailand through our study tours, classes and workshops specially designed to help you get more from your experiences and understand the meaning and importance behind what you see, taste, smell and hear. Don't just see Thailand, get to know Thailand.