Thailand is a beacon for volunteers; whether you’re interested in working at a refugee camp or volunteering with stray dogs, the opportunities for volunteers in Thailand are widely varied.
In many ways, Thailand is the ultimate volunteer abroad experience. It is accessible enough to agree with a first-time traveler but unique enough to keep a seasoned volunteer coming back for years. You might wonder, since Thailand is such a giant in the tourism world, if its hype has surpassed reality or if it could really be as amazing as you’ve heard.
Benefits of volunteering in Thailand
Thailand is one of the most rapidly growing countries in the world, where tourism has extensively flourished in the last few years. According to a record, Thailand witnessed more than 6 million footfall in 2015, making it one of the most visited destinations.
However, if we think logically, then how many out of those 6 million must have travelled to make a difference to the life of those in need in Thailand?
Rather than waiting for someone else to be an inspiration, why don’t you start the noble job by yourself with our help and spread smile among the ones who deserve and volunteer in Thailand.
A volunteer travel opportunity in Thailand is always better than a regular holiday visit.
And here are some essential reasons for the same:
It’s affordable: Your stay, meals, itinerary, excursions, and a lot more are all covered in the nominal fee that you pay to the placement agency.
It’s safe: There are more volunteers whom you work and stay with, giving you the assurance that you’re not alone.
Local support: A dedicated local coordinator is appointed by the placement agency who is available 24*7 for all kinds of support and guidance.
Global networking: International volunteering is a way to meet and interact with people from different parts of the world and all walks of life. You get to meet and connect with like-minded people and learn about their country’s ethos and lifestyle.
Skill enhancement: Working abroad under a volunteer program lets you hone your skills, along with acquiring several new ones. The challenges you face in completing the assigned tasks during your volunteering program will help a lot in enhancing your skill set and know more about yourself.
And then, of course, you’ll get to explore the beautiful beaches of Koh Samui and Pattaya, tap your feet at the pubs in Bangkok, relax and play with the elephants in Chiang Mai, and slurp on some delicious Thai curry and amazing seafood available at the floating markets.
Types of volunteering in Thailand
1. Work at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand
Elephants play a particularly important role in the Thai society and culture, but also in the tourism industry. However, not many people are aware that elephant riding supports violent practices where baby elephants are being taken away from their families and brutally “trained” for people to ride on their backs for entertainment.
It is very important to educate the tourists and locals alike that elephant riding and supporting elephant tourism harms these animals more than most people can imagine. The more people learn about this, the less popular elephant tourism will become. If you want to support elephant conservation in Thailand, check out the elephant sanctuaries in Thailand.
2. Animal and wildlife conservation
While the elephant might be the most popular animal in Thailand, they aren’t the only animals that need the help of volunteers. The Thai wildlife population is known for its diversity, however, it is also threatened for a variety of reasons. Some of the biggest threats to wildlife in Thailand are poaching, the loss of the animal’s natural habitat and illegal attempts to capture them and make them household pets.
Especially smaller animals like monkeys are taken away from their parents as babies illegally, to be sold abroad as pets. Tragically, the mother is often killed in this process. Once the monkeys have grown up, they develop behavioural disorders due to their traumatic experience and wrong keeping and are thus no longer wanted by their owners.
That’s when animal sanctuaries step in to rescue and care for traumatized animals. These are some of the species that can be found in such sanctuaries:
asiatic black bears
gibbons and other monkeys
The main goal of these sanctuaries is to release the animals back into the wild after they have recovered. However, this isn’t possible for the majority of the rescued animals as they wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild after living in human care for a long time. Wildlife conservation projects couldn’t exist without the help of passionate volunteers who are happy to do hands-on work and support them in their day-to-day tasks.
There are also many animal shelters for domesticated animals that need the help of volunteers, especially in the bigger cities like Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Cats and dogs are very rarely neutered by their owners and often abandoned which leads to huge stray populations in some areas. As these animals are used to humans, they will need some extra care and love, which is where you come in when you volunteer in Thailand!
3. Teaching English in Thailand
Volunteer teachers are always warmly welcome in Thailand! Good English skills are extremely helpful for locals to find a job in the booming tourism sector or to get accepted at a university. That’s why your help as an international volunteer who teaches English to children is highly valuable. Depending on your own teaching experience and English skills, you could help children with:
-simple English homework
-practising their conversational skills
-more complex grammatical lessons
Of course, these tasks will also depend on the age of the children you will be teaching and their English level, so don’t shy away just because you are not a native speaker or do not hold a teaching degree! The smaller children are usually introduced to the English language by simple games and by learning easy everyday words and phrases. So even if your English isn’t perfect, you will be a great help for the children’s education as a teaching volunteer.
Volunteers who teach language courses to students are needed in volunteer projects all over the country. This means if you would like to work in the field of teaching you really are free to travel wherever you want. Be it the Bangkok, the booming capital, Chiang Mai with all the tourist hotspots or a quiet island like Koh Samui, English teaching volunteers will find volunteer opportunities all over Thailand.
4. Support community services
Community development projects are based on the idea that all people have the basic right to a decent standard of living. Volunteering in a Thai community does not only help the local people in an immediate way but also in the long run. On top of that, it’s a fast track to learn about their culture and day-to-day life. Volunteering for a community program is ideal for anyone who enjoys working outside, as your tasks might include:
-assisting in a construction project
-renovating community buildings
-helping to improve the infrastructure
If you do not have enough free time on your hands to volunteer for a teaching or childcare project for a few months, this is the place where you can have a true impact during a short time! It is also an extremely rewarding experience to see the community’s involvement in these projects and to see what you’ve built and achieved at the end of the day. So if you are looking for short-term volunteer work in Thailand, this is the perfect opportunity.
5. Diving and marine conservation
If you love the sea and you want to do more than just chill on the beach on your free days, then you should consider volunteering for a marine conservation project! The sea and its marine wildlife suffer increasingly from different factors like mass tourism, overfishing and water pollution.
This is why it is so important to react to these causes and become active in various conservation efforts. You can find marine conservation volunteer jobs for example in Koh Phangan and the Phang Nga region, far away from the buzzing streets of Bangkok or Chiang Mai. It would be helpful to bring diving experience with you when you want to volunteer for a marine conservation project. If that is not the case, you can often learn how to dive on site as well or gain more experience if you have basic skills. Your daily tasks as a marine conservation volunteer include:
-conducting research on the effects of different factors on the marine life
-working in coral nurseries
-going on research and data collection dives
-maintaining the facilities
-regular beach and reef clean-ups
Educating tourists and locals on the effects of their behaviour on the marine ecosystem and teaching them how to behave more responsibly is also a part of volunteering that is highly important. These efforts lead to very positive results in the long run as raising awareness and teaching the locals is always the first step towards a positive change.
Where to volunteer in Thailand
As the capital of Thailand, Bangkok is the country’s social, political, and economic center. Its strategic location also makes it a hub for trade, commerce, culture, the arts, education, and healthcare in the Indochina area. Because of the city’s booming economy, many people from around Thailand come to Bangkok looking for employment opportunities. However, in recent years, this migration has unfortunately led to a serious overcrowding problem in Bangkok.
Overcrowding has highlighted some of the major problems in Bangkok including insufficient resources, pollution, and poor living conditions. Furthermore, in 2011, Bangkok was severely hit by the Thailand floods. In order to combat these issues, the city of Bangkok has invested in stricter laws, and public transportation. Volunteers in Bangkok can help with many of the issues that the city faces today, helping restore to it the value of its Thai name: Krung Thep – the city of angels.
Most of Thailand’s health risks are confined to rural areas of the country. As a volunteer in Bangkok, you will not be at risk for malaria or Japanese encephalitis. General recommendations for vaccinations are Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. If you plan on working with animals or working outside, you may need to get a vaccination for Rabies. For further information, visit your personal physician or a travel health clinic 4-8 weeks before you leave for Bangkok.
Bangkok is generally considered to be a safe city, but as a larger city, travellers should always be aware of their surroundings. The most common areas for pickpocketing are the weekend market Chatuchak and the main railway station. As a general precaution, make sure you can see when your credit card is being charged, and double check all bills. Bangkok is also known for its gem scams, so it is recommended that you do not purchase gems unless you are familiar with the characteristics of specific gems.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is famous as Thailand’s Northern retreat away from chaotic Bangkok and the hyped beaches of the south. The northern Thailand provincial capital has all the facilities a person on holiday needs, but visitors are only a few kilometres from the remote countryside where village life prevails. Tourists prize a Chiang Mai holiday for its shopping, trekking and cultural diversions and dozens of other places to go, things to see and do in Chiang Mai, but they’re barely scratching the surface of what’s really on tap here.
Our volunteers’ assignments take them deeper into Thailand and Thai culture without forcing them to forego the entertainment and facilities offered by this dynamic city. A short drive is all it takes to transfer to a remote elephant camp or a home for single mothers in the countryside. In just a few minutes, the scenery changes from bazaars, Chinese shop houses and Buddhist temples to rice paddies and ambling mountains.
The main industry in Surin is farming rice and so the average income is around $15 per week. Sometimes both parents do try to go out to work to strengthen the family situation, but somehow it is very difficult if there are children involved. The childcare volunteer program in Thailand, Surin caters to this particular issue. To ease this burden, and to give a family a chance to earn as much income as possible, several childcare locations have been established within rural poor communities as well as the city of Surin itself. Volunteering work for children at these centers is a great learning experience in itself. Our volunteers help at these centers as they can often be full of children; sometimes as many as 60-70 with only a couple of untrained staff. All of our volunteers are accompanied by a member of our team who will help to organize the day and help with translation etc. This means that you as a volunteer can really get involved with the children, all of whom are really great fun and love to be around our volunteers. The projects are designed to help ensure the children are safer, more hygienic and are playing in a better environment.
Volunteering overseas is a wonderful way to get to know a country, culture and people in a much more meaningful way. It also provides close encounters with exotic flora and fauna via a variety of conservation jobs and environmental work. Volunteer in Thailand to expand your horizons and make a difference while gaining valuable voluntary and non-profit work experience.
Check out our volunteer programs in Thailand