Guide to Chulalongkorn University
Going into your first year of university feels like opening the door to a black room with no lights – it’s hard to see what each corner has waiting for you. At a big university like Chulalongkorn University a.k.a Chula, you could be scurrying for four years before you actually figure out the place.
Here are 11 Chula hacks that can be a guiding lamp, with insight on hidden study spots, tips on how to save money, and the best networking opportunities.
1. Use your CU NEX application for special student discounts
CU NEX is a must-download app for students at Chulalongkorn University. It’s the means for tuition payment, digital student ID card, entering buildings, class schedule, and answers to all FAQs about Chula.
While the app mainly provides important announcements, news, and updates, what you really don’t want to miss out on are the special privileges like student discounts, e-coupons, and promo codes hiding under “CU Rewards” within the app.
Students can receive free online medical consultations from the application, Relifnow, via “CU Rewards” in CU NEX.
Image credit: CU NEX
Brands currently offering promotions to Chula students include Lazada, GrabFood, Starbucks, Pomelo, and SF Cinema, with movie tickets as cheap as ฿100 (~USD3.19) – limited to two seats per month.
Note: Most promotions apply only when paid with a student debit card linked to a Kasikorn bank account, so make sure to register for one via the CU NEX app.
2. Join “houses” to get proper networking experience
Chula has various Freshie ceremonies, whether it’s the CU Freshmen Welcoming Ceremony or CU Freshy Games, where first-years can join at their own discretion.
While they’re a once-in-a-lifetime event with highlights such as games and live performances, the real reason you’d wanna go to these activities is the invaluable networking opportunity, as well as to have something to put on your resume once you graduate.
CU Freshmen Welcoming Ceremony
The CU Freshmen Welcoming Ceremony is a 3-day event that happens right before the semester, where freshies get to participate in activities with seniors and friends from all faculties.
TBH, it’s probably the best time to make friends – particularly with those from the other lines of study. When classes begin and you’re spending most of your time within your faculty, it will be difficult to meet students from other disciplines.
Students participating in icebreaker games
Image credit: Dek-D
During the event, you’ll be placed into a house of your choice – much like a fraternity or sorority minus the fee – where seniors are ready to lead group activities such as icebreaker games and secret gift exchange.
Houses come in many sizes from XL, L, M to S, which is perfect depending on whether you’re a social butterfly or someone who prefers a close-knit vibe.
If you’re lucky, your house may even arrange trips across Thailand, like Baan Nhai’s house trip to Rayong.
Image credit: Dek-D
Popular houses include:
Other activities include concerts by alumni – sometimes featuring famous singers like Stamp Apiwat – and performances by the university’s clubs such as one of the many dance clubs and CU Band.
Famous Thai singer and a Faculty of Architecture alumnus, Stamp Apiwat, giving a live concert in CU Freshmen Welcoming Ceremony.
Image credit: True Plookpanya
At the end of the event, freshies will also get to experience the Baai Sri Ceremony – a Thai traditional welcoming ceremony to receive well wishes from seniors of their houses.
CU Freshy Games
Cheerleading performance competition
Image credit: Dek-D
The events range from basketball, football, volleyball to cheerleading, as well as pageant competitions.
International Programme students also get an extra event – the CU Intergames. It is practically the same thing as the CU Freshy Games, but only reserved for students from the international programmes. It includes a performance event wherein BALAC from the Faculty of Arts won the competition in 2017.
Not only will you gain some friendships, but these activities will be the cherry on top of your resume especially if you have volunteered – or were selected – for a role with many responsibilities, or won one of the competitions.
Note: Registration for CU Freshy Games will be held before the semester starts during orientations. So, make sure to attend.
3. Get cheap textbook copies and notes at your faculty’s printing service
Why spend up to ฿1,500 (~USD48) on school textbooks when you can get relevant copies with binders and plastic covers for less than ฿200 (~USD6.50) at your faculty’s printing service? You’ll get to save money and save the earth by writing notes directly onto your copy of the textbook, instead of having to buy a new notebook for it.
Places in Chulalongkorn University that provide printing services
Image credit: CU NEX
While you’re at it, you might as well snag handy lecture and exam notes written by other students for less than ฿100 (~USD3) at the printing shop. That is if you don’t want to go over complicated reading materials that require hours of studying, of course.
For details of each location, check out CU NEX’s blog.
4. Buy cheaper Chula “Nisit” uniforms at places like MBK Center
While you can purchase your Chula uniforms at places like CU Co-op Store at Sala Phra Kiao building or Nisit – a popular shop near the campus – you can opt for cheaper ones at one of the following locations.
You can find all university garments for less than ฿500 (~USD16) each at MBK Center. Plus, it’s just a few minutes away from the campus.
Image credit: Moomthong
Recommended shops are such as:
- Moom Thong on the second floor (Zone A, Unit 2A20), which is known for its sturdy fabric that doesn’t lose shape easily. Skirts cost around ฿230 to ฿450 (~USD7 to ~USD14) compared to Nisit’s ones that cost around ฿800 (~USD25).
- Roong on the third floor (Soi 5). Known for its short skirts costing around ฿450 (~USD14) with customisation services available.
- Parisian on the third floor (Unit 3C32) is where you can get a cheaper version of Peppermint’s shoes, which are required for first-year female students at ฿990 (~USD31) compared to the original shoes at ฿1,050 (~USD33).
Peppermint shoes by Parisian usually worn with white sheer socks
Image credit: Shopee
There are many corners in Siam Square that sell uniforms under ฿500 (~USD16) for all Thai universities.
Image credit: Young Star
The first spot to visit is A La Art, which is a mini shopping mall opposite MBK Center that can be accessed via a direct link between MBK and Siam Square. All the shops within the mall, such as Young Star, offer an array of options from tight-to-loose fitting shirts to skirts that have a front-slit or a back-slit.
Image credit: On see
Other places in the Siam area include Siam Square One and smaller vendors hidden in the sois or alleys surrounding Lido Complex. Examples of shops include On-See on soi 2 and Moom Bundit currently located in Siam Square One.
Image credit: Moombundit
This is one of the cheapest shopping districts in Thailand that is home to all kinds of uniform shops: from cop uniforms to school and university uniforms. Beauty More is among the recommended university uniform shops with well-fitting skirts costing around ฿680 (~USD21).
Image credit: B Uniform
Browse around and you’ll even find stores with everything costing less than ฿200 (~USD6).
5. Head to Samyan Market for the cheapest food near campus
Restaurants around Chula, particularly the ones in the Siam area, can be pricey, and the faculty canteens on campus can be pretty crowded during lunch.
Hence, we recommend taking a short ride of less than five minutes to Samyan Market, which has a cafeteria on its second floor with various options, including steak and cooked-to-order dishes for less than ฿100 (~USD3).
Steak combo set at Auan Pom Steak Samyan
However, if you’re short time and need to stay on campus, here are some hacks to avoid the crowds:
- Stop by your faculty’s canteen to order food while taking your last toilet break.
- Buy lunch boxes during class breaks.
- Last option: visit the canteens at any time that isn’t between 12PM-1PM.
Fried chicken and sticky rice at Arts Canteen
Image credit: Starving Time
The most popular canteens include:
- Arts Canteen at the Faculty of Arts: must-try dishes include Kao Niew Kai Tod – Thai fried chicken and sticky rice – at ฿30 (~USD0.95) and Khao Soi Gai – chicken curry noodles – at ฿28 (~USD0.89).
- iCANTEEN at the Faculty of Engineering: the most famous shop there is Parabola, which sells froyos from ฿20 (~USD0.60).
- EDU Canteen at the Faculty of Education: stop by B Bee Tarm Sang food stall for creamy omelette dishes starting at ฿30 to ฿40 (~USD0.95 to ~USD1.25).
Froyo with fruit toppings
Image credit: Wongnai
6. Save time and money by using the uni’s free transportation services
The university campus is huge. So, getting around the buildings and in between the university’s wings – divided by a road – by foot in Thailand’s hot weather can feel like a walk in the desert.
Luckily, Chula offers free transportation services so students can save on Taxi and motorcycle fees.
CU Shuttle Bus
Line 1 takes you to the Siam area whereas Line 5 takes you to Samyan Market
Image credit: Chula
CU Shuttle Bus, also known as CU Pop Bus, can bring you everywhere from the campus’s west wing to the east wing along with other nearby areas like Siam. It has a total of five lines with an app that tells you routes and schedules. Operating hours are from Monday to Saturday, 7AM-7PM.
Note: Only lines 1 and 2 are available on Saturdays.
Image credit: Chula
CU Bike is the university’s free bicycle service. To use, students must register via this application link before presenting their ID and student card on the first floor at Mahitalatibetre Building to retrieve a CU Bike card.
Each card contains 100 credits with a limit of one hour per use. If you exceed the time limit, five credits will be deducted from your card every hour. Once your card credit is below 50, you’ll have to wait over a week to be able to access the bikes again.
For more information, visit CU Bike’s website.
7. Take the bus at Chalerm Phao Junction instead of Lido to avoid peak hour crowds
CU Pop Bus map
To get to the university from Siam via CU Pop Bus, you’ll have to get on at either Lido or Chalerm Phao Junction stations. Honestly, you won’t be able to avoid the long lines in the morning at both stations, but head to the latter stop for a higher chance of snagging a spot, since the buses come directly from the university and pass Chalerm Phao Junction station first.
8. Get straight to the center of Siam Square via a secret route
If you’re one of those who prefer walking over waiting in line for buses, we’ve also got your back.
While you can stroll your way to Siam through the sidewalks lining the sides of the campus’s west wing sitting adjacent to Siam, the paths can be a bit longer, bumpier and highly subject to direct hits of sunlight.
Instead, take the route that cuts from the Faculty of Arts through Patumwan Demonstration School through the Faculty of Dentistry and right to the middle of Siam Square shopping area.
Follow the purple lines for shortcuts to Siam area
Screenshot: Google Maps
Those from the east wing can cut through from Triam Udom Suksa School before joining the route that starts at the Faculty of Arts.
9. Mug in peace at lesser-known study spots like Chamchuri 10
Chula Central Library and Chamchuri 9 Building are among the most popular study spots on campus. Hence, the best seats are often taken, particularly during exam periods even if you go in early.
Rather than trying to compete for seats, check out these lesser-known libraries, which are filled with perks that you might not want to miss.
Hidden on the second floor of Chaloem Rajakumari 60 Building a.k.a. Chamchuri 10, UltimateX Library is the place for peaceful studying with a major plus: a guaranteed available seat.
It’s also the first unmanned library in Thailand students can easily access via their CU NEX app, and the public can present their ID cards at the machine to receive a QR code to enter.
Image credit: Siamrath
Those looking for sources to add to their papers, you’ll def find the wide collection of Chula alumni dissertations useful.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9AM-7PM | Sat-Sun 9AM-6PM
The Engineering Library is the most functional out of the entire list: the facility has up to eight zones catered to different types of library users – from solo to group studying.
“The Box” zone
Image credit: ENGLibrary
Taking up two floors, the library has both private rooms and stylish open study spaces. One of the most interesting zones is The Box, which is a multimedia study room where students can take a quick nap in. For a spot in The Box, students have to make a reservation via the circulation desk located on the floor and respect the 2-hour limit per use.
For details of other rooms, visit their website.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8AM-7PM | Sat 9AM-5PM (Closed on Sundays and public holidays)
Note: One month prior to exams, the opening hours are extended to 8AM-9PM from Mon-Fri and 9AM-5PM on Saturdays.
The Architecture Library holds the best library design in Chula, with various mixed-use spaces – including an exhibition and a movie-screening area. While studying in the library’s co-working space or quiet zone, students can also enjoy looking at creative workpieces made by students of the faculty all around the building.
The quiet area is designed like a labyrinth to block away as many sounds as possible.
Image credit: Archdaily
For those who work on electronic devices, the library has plugs for you. And if you get sleepy, you can nap away at the “mezzanine” mattress area.
Won New York Interior Design Magazine’s “Best of Year Awards” in the library category
Image credit: Archdaily
With the different layouts of each zone, you’ll never get bored of studying here.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8.30AM-6PM | Saturday 10AM-4PM (Closed on Sundays and public holidays)
Note: Students from the faculty can access every working day, but students from other faculties can only have access on Wednesdays and alumni on Saturdays.
10. Have free medical consultations at CU Health Service Center
Image credit: Chula-Chulalongkorn University
CU Health Service Center, which is located on the second floor in Chamchuri 9 Building, provides medical consultation and treatment for CU faculty members, students and employees for free. So, if you happen to get sick, head straight over to the clinic.
For more information, visit their website.
Chulalongkorn Health Center
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8.30AM-3.30PM (No lunch break)
11. Save money with free gym access at CU Sports Complex
Public gym memberships like Virgin Active and Fitness First are hefty, so grab hold of your money and step into CU Sports Complex instead, which comes with more than a fully-equipped gym – all without a cost.
Image credit: CU Sports Center
The complex has several sports areas such as basketball, volleyball, badminton, boxing, judo, karate, yoga, as well as a swimming pool. Simply show your student card and you can access any of these grounds.
Students can use the dance studio located in the gym for personal use such as dance practices.
Image credit: CU Sports Center
Students can also use the university’s stadium, tennis courts, and a bunch of other areas for free. However, outsiders who are interested in their services will have to pay a membership fee.
For more information, visit the CU Sports Complex’s website.
CU Sports Complex
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7AM-9PM | Sat-Sun 9AM-6PM
Telephone: +66-2-218 2874 – 7 | +66-2-2182840 | +66-2-2182848
Nearest Train Station: BTS Siam or National Stadium
Chula hacks to level up your uni life
The first year of university may seem like a tough nut to crack, but thankfully we have our seniors and friends to help us through the way. For those still looking for uni life hacks from the alumni’s Chamber of Secrets, we hope these tips will save you plenty of money and time, and power up your college life.
If you’re one of the freshies who have been “studying from home”, we hope that you’ll get a try at these tips and tricks soon.
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- Thailand’s “Rab Nong” hazing culture