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Volunteer in Thailand

Volunteering in Thailand is the best way to enjoy the beautiful beaches and help the community...

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Volunteer Opportunities in Thailand

Looking to volunteer in Thailand? You’ve made a great choice! Thailand, also known as “Asia for beginners”, is a place you’ll feel at ease. It is a country full of beautiful beaches, lots of smiles, and simply a place where you will find it easy to let go of everything. Temples, ancient cities, and tropical rainforest with exotic wildlife are a playground for volunteers who are looking for an adventure abroad. Volunteer in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or one of the islands and help the local communities or the environment of this world-renown tourist hotspot.

Being a volunteer in Thailand will be an excellent experience. We want you to be perfectly prepared for your travels abroad and the work at your volunteer program. That’s why we are here to teach you all about the available volunteer projects in this South-East Asian country. Volunteer opportunities in Thailand are very diverse.

Before you continue reading to find out all about the best volunteer programs in Thailand, let’s take a look at some interesting facts:

  • Did you know that Thailand is the number one exporter of rice in the world?
  • 90% of the Thai population is Buddhist,
  • Thailand has over 1430 islands which is why it’s such a coveted destination for island hopping.
  • Its national symbol is the elephant. There used to be 100,000 elephants a century ago, now, there are only 2000 elephants left in the wild.
  • Thailand’s name in the Thai language means “Land of the Free.” It is the only country in Southeast Asia that was never colonized by a European nation.

🇹🇭️ Why Volunteer in Thailand?

There are so many volunteer opportunities in Thailand that no matter what your interests are, you’ll find the right volunteering program for you.

As a developing country, Thailand has plenty of opportunities for volunteers to contribute. Whether you’re a social butterfly eager to learn more about the culture and connect with the local communities or are more drawn to nature and wildlife, Thailand has a wide range of volunteer projects waiting for you.

English skills are a big pain point for many locals for example. By teaching English, you can give many people better future opportunities.

Volunteers drawn to nature will find volunteer opportunities with wildlife on land and in the sea very inspiring. Learn all about the threats endangered wildlife species are facing and how to protect their habitats.

This is just scratching the surface of available options, continue reading to find out more about where to volunteer in Thailand!

🐘 How to Volunteer with Animals in Thailand

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 diverse but is also threatened for a number of reasons. Some of the biggest threats to wildlife in Thailand are wildlife poaching, loss of 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 and illegally sold abroad as pets. Tragically, the mother is often killed in this process. Once the monkeys have grown up, they develop behavioral disorders due to their traumatic experience and are 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 you will find if you volunteer in Thailand for an animal sanctuary:

  • sun bears
  • asiatic black bears
  • wild cats
  • gibbons and other monkeys.
  • tigers

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 because they wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild after being dependent on humans for so long.

Wildlife conservation projects can’t exist without the help of passionate volunteers doing hands-on work and supporting their day-to-day tasks.

Volunteer in Thailand for a wildlife rescue center and play an important role in protecting endangered wildlife as you support daily tasks like:

  • feeding
  • cleaning enclosures
  • organizing games and other enriching activities
  • spreading awareness among tourists

🐒 How to Volunteer for an Animal Shelter in Thailand

There are many animal shelters in Thailand for domesticated animals that need the help of volunteers. This is especially the case in larger cities like Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Cats and dogs are rarely neutered by their owners and often abandoned which leads to huge stray populations in certain areas. Because these animals are so used to humans, they need extra love and care. This is exactly where you come in when you volunteer for an animal shelter in Thailand!

Become a veterinary volunteer in Thailand and take this opportunity to nurse helpless animals back to health while you gain practical experience.

🐘 How to Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand

Elephants play an important role in 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 taken away from their families and brutally “trained” so people can ride them for entertainment.

As an elephant volunteer in Thailand, it is very important to educate tourists and locals about elephant riding. Help spread the message that supporting elephant tourism harms these animals. The more people become aware of this, the less popular elephant tourism will become. If you want to support elephant conservation in Thailand, volunteer in Thailand at an elephant sanctuary.

🤿 How to Volunteer for Marine Conservation in Thailand

If you love the sea and want to do more than just chill on the beach, consider volunteering for a marine conservation project! The sea and its marine wildlife suffer tremendously from mass tourism, overfishing, and water pollution.

This is why it is so important to react and become active in conservation efforts. You can find marine conservation volunteer jobs in Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and the Phang Nga region, far away from the buzzing streets of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It’s helpful to have diving experience when you volunteer for a marine conservation project. If that is not the case, many marine conservation programs teach you how to dive on-site. Your daily tasks as a marine conservation volunteer include:

  • conducting research on the effects of different factors on 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 behavior on the marine ecosystem and teaching them how to be more mindful is an important part of the program. These efforts lead to very positive results in the long run because raising awareness among locals is always the first step towards positive change.

👩🏽‍🏫 How to Volunteer to Teach English in Thailand

Volunteer teachers are always welcome in Thailand! Good English skills are extremely helpful for locals to find a job in the tourism sector or to get accepted at a university. That’s why your help as an international volunteer who teaches English to children is incredibly valuable. Depending on your own teaching experience and English skills, you can help children with:

  • simple English homework
  • practicing their conversational skills
  • more complex grammatical lessons

These tasks will depend on the age of the children you will be teaching and their English level. Don’t shy away just because you are not a native speaker or don’t have a teaching degree! Small children are introduced to English through simple games and easy everyday words and phrases. Even if your English isn’t perfect, you can definitely volunteer to teach English in Thailand.

Explore this beautiful country while you experience the laid back approach of the Thai. Thai people are relatively shy about speaking English. They’re afraid to make mistakes and often prefer not to say anything. When teaching English in Thailand, don’t take it too seriously. Approach it in a fun and relaxed way and they will start talking to you in no time.

Volunteering to teach English in Thailand is all about exposing Thai people to the English language. English volunteer projects are always happy to welcome volunteers that are eager to speak to and connect with the students. Take this opportunity to get to know Thai culture and bond with the locals.

🧒🏽 How to Volunteer for Child Care in Thailand

Volunteers who love children can become a child care volunteer in Thailand. Connect with small children by giving them the attention they deserve. Engage them in stimulating activities that will benefit their development. Tasks at a child care center may include:

  • Feeding and caring for the children
  • Teaching children in an informal setting
  • Attending to and interacting with the children
  • Creating activities and entertaining children with games

👩🏾‍🤝‍👩🏼 How to Volunteer for Community Service in Thailand

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 helps locals in the present moment but will also have an empowering impact 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. Tasks may include:

  • assisting in a construction project
  • renovating community buildings
  • improving and expanding the current infrastructure

If you don’t have enough free time on your hands to volunteer for a few months, a community service volunteer program is great for short term volunteering in Thailand! There are several NGOs that have set up meaningful projects to support the local community.

It is a rewarding experience to witness the community's involvement in these projects and to see what you've achieved at the end of the day. If you are looking for short-term volunteer work in Thailand, this is the perfect opportunity.

🩺 How to Volunteer for a Medical Mission in Thailand

Save lives and become a medical volunteer in Thailand! If you have professional experience in healthcare or are studying medicine, this is your chance to gain international work experience. Volunteer at a hospital or clinic in Thailand and support the local medical staff. These are some of the tasks you’ll be involved in as a volunteer on a medical mission:

  • suturing wounds
  • giving vaccinations
  • shadowing doctors on critical surgeries and operations

What you can expect to learn during your time as a medical volunteer:

  • learn about a typical medical system and resources in a small Thai township
  • get significant hands-on work experience during your work in local medical setups
  • work in different departments that includes Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Nursing - Pediatrics, Dental, Rehabilitation, Surgery, Physical Therapy amongst several others

🌏 Where to Volunteer in Thailand

Volunteers who teach English to students are needed in volunteer projects all over the country. This means if you would like to work abroad as a volunteer teacher in Thailand, there are many places to choose from.

English teaching volunteers in Thailand will find volunteer programs throughout the country. You can choose to do volunteer work in Bangkok and discover the busy metropolis. Those who prefer a more laid back vibe can volunteer in northern Thailand. Volunteer work in Chiang Mai is varied. It offers work with animals for those who want to spend time in nature as well as more social projects where you can really connect with locals.

Volunteer in Koh Tao and Koh Samui to experience island life. These are excellent locations for volunteers who enjoy diving and also want to help out with marine conservation efforts.

Khao Lak is a lovely place for those who want to volunteer in southern Thailand and want to put their teaching skills to the test.

Volunteers in Thailand will find very diverse environments ranging from idyllic beaches to lush mountainous jungles. City lovers will be delighted by the scale of Bangkok and the entertaining activities it has to offer.

🤑 How Much Does it Cost to Volunteer in Thailand?

The suggested daily budget for living as a volunteer in Thailand is between US$ 13 and US$ 22. This is an estimate made considering the average price of some of the goods and services you may need. It gives you a general overview of how much things cost in Thailand so you can prepare and save the money you will need for you to travel and volunteer abroad.

Additional costs you should consider will be:

An overview of living costs in Thailand (in US$, for one person) is:

💲 Can I Volunteer in Thailand for Free?

Volunteer organizations in Thailand rely on the financial contribution of volunteers to cover accommodation and support their cause. Thailand has many volunteer opportunities that are very budget-friendly. You can always use the budget search filter to limit your search to volunteer programs that fall within your budget.

Those looking for a free volunteer program in Thailand will find this. There is a volunteer opportunity in Bangkok where you can teach and volunteer for free! BE sure to check the program page to check out what is and what isn’t included.

💡 Good to know Before Volunteering in Thailand

When you travel to a different country for volunteer work, it is important to have a basic understanding of the culture. This will help you settle in quickly and avoid misunderstandings. Here are some tips you may find helpful when preparing for your volunteer work in Thailand:

Culture & Religion

Buddhism is strongly represented in Thai culture with over 90% of the population being Buddhist. This is why many traditions and beliefs come directly from Buddhist principles. Here are some important rules to abide by:

  • You should never touch a Thai person’s head. Thai people consider the head the most sacred part of the body and ‘keeping face’ is very important to them.
  • A smile always helps. Thai tend to smile a lot, which is why the country is often referred to as the “land of smiles”.
  • When visiting temples, you always have to take off your shoes. This can also apply to homes. You also need to make sure your shoulders and legs are covered when visiting sacred places.

🦺 Is it Safe to Volunteer in Thailand?

As a tourist hotspot, Thailand is considered a relatively safe country to travel. Even for those traveling solo. However, there are some things you might want to keep in mind to avoid getting into trouble while volunteering abroad:

  • You always need to carry a photo ID with you. But it's wise to carry photocopies instead of the original documents.
  • Drug laws: Never (!) purchase, use, or transport drugs. In Thailand, this is punishable by death and there are no exceptions made for tourists!
  • Drinking laws: The legal drinking age is 20. It's illegal to drink in temples or places of worship, public offices, education institutions, public parks, petrol stations and pharmacies.
  • Use your negotiating skills: Be cautious with your money: Set a price before getting in a tuk-tuk and make sure that the taxis you're using are being metered.
  • Common sense: Don't trust strangers who want to sell information about tourist attractions on the street. It's better to check with your hotel or hostel.

Health Advice for Volunteers in Thailand

You can’t always avoid falling ill while traveling but there are definitely things you can do to stay healthy during your volunteer work in Thailand:

  • There are no required vaccinations to travel to Thailand. However, it is recommended to have valid vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, and typhoid fever.
  • If you are going to volunteer with animals, the US based health protection agency CDC recommends that you should consider an anti-rabies vaccination as well.
  • The Thai street food is cheap and delicious, but you should still be careful when eating out.
  • Remember to wash your hands before and after eating.
  • Important: Don't drink tap water.
  • Mosquitos are everywhere in Thailand. Use a spray-on insect repellent during the day and at night. You can also use a permethrin spray on your clothes. Leave them outside and wait until they're dry before wearing them.

Thailand Packing Essentials

Depending on which places in Thailand you will travel to and what kind of volunteer work you will be doing, there are some essentials you should bring with you to make life a bit easier and more comfortable:

  • You should definitely bring swimwear as well as a raincoat and an umbrella.
  • Don't forget sunscreen and insect repellent, the latter will help you to prevent insect bites and to reduce the risk of illnesses like malaria or zika.
  • Bring the right clothes: You should choose light, but long clothes. Don't wear sleeveless tops or short shorts in public areas.
  • Bring copies of your passport, travel insurance and blood type card and keep the originals in your hotel safe or another safe place.
  • Some projects ask you to bring specific gear and equipment, so be sure to ask your project manager about this.

🕵🏽‍♀️ Who Can Volunteer in Thailand?

Each volunteer project requires different skills from their volunteers You can find the specific requirements for each volunteer project on their program page. Here are some general requirements that apply to most volunteer opportunities in Thailand:

  • The language requirements to volunteer in Thailand vary between the programs, but all volunteering projects require basic English. English teaching projects may require more advanced English skills.
  • You need to be at least 18 years old for most of the volunteer opportunities in Thailand. When in doubt, we advise you to get in contact with the local project coordinator, as in some projects you can also volunteer abroad when you're 16 years old.
  • Some projects are suitable for families with children! Check the program page for this information.
  • Especially when volunteering for a wildlife project, make sure you get all the required vaccinations in time! Please check back on this topic with your project coordinator.
  • Depending on the project you're interested in, you might need to provide a criminal background check and a health declaration before volunteering.

❓ How to Volunteer in Thailand?

So you’re ready to volunteer in Thailand but you’re not quite sure how to get started? Take a look at the following 3 steps that will prepare you for your volunteer work in Thailand and an unforgettable adventure abroad:

  • Check whether there’s a match between you and the projects by checking their requirements on their program page.
  • Take a look at the location of the project and decide if it’s somewhere you want to travel to.
  • Get in touch with the organization and see whether your expectations and schedules match up.

Insurance (Health & Travel)

We recommend all volunteers to get both health and travel insurance. In fact, this is even a requirement for most volunteer projects abroad. Get in touch with your program contact person to find out if an insurance plan is already in place for volunteers.

🛂 Do I need a Visa to Volunteer in Thailand?

Please take into account that the following information is based on a best practice approach made in cooperation with several volunteer organizations. That’s why you should discuss your visa requirements with your project coordinator at Volunteer World. When in doubt, we also recommend getting in touch with the Thai embassy or consulate in your country.

General Immigration Information

There are general requirements volunteers should comply with upon arrival in Thailand:

  • Please check the validity of your passport. The passport should be valid for at least 6 months after your expected return date.
  • Make sure your passport has at least two blank visa pages. Thailand requires you to have adequate unused pages in your passport for stamps.
  • Please check if a transit visa is required for any connections.
  • Make sure to have a valid return ticket for your travel home.

Best Practice for Short-Term Volunteers

The following information refers primarily to citizens of Australia, Switzerland, the USA, and the majority of the EU member states. Other countries can check the Thai visa requirements for their country.

  • If you want to travel to Thailand for less than 30 days, you can volunteer in Thailand on a tourist visa. You can get a free visa upon arrival at the airport.
  • In case you are planning to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days, you’ll need a Single Entry Tourist Visa. You can easily apply for it before entering Thailand at your closest Thai Consulate or Embassy. They will provide you with all the necessary information concerning documents that need to be submitted to finalize your application process.

Best Practice for Long-Term Volunteers

If you are planning to volunteer in Thailand for up to 90 days, you have to apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa “O”. Make sure to apply for this visa before entering Thailand at your closest Thai Embassy or Consulate.

To start your application process, you have to get supporting documents from the organization you are volunteering with. The Thai Embassy or Consulate will additionally provide you with a checklist of documents that need to be submitted to complete your application.

If you already have the Non-Immigrant Visa “O” and want to stay more than 90 days, you will need a work permit (before visa expiry and in cooperation with your volunteer organization) and an extension of your visa (on visa expiry). Please note that you can only get an extension on this visa if you already have a work permit. Just keep in mind that even with the work permit, this visa extension requires a lot of paperwork.

And that’s it! You’re ready to volunteer in Thailand and meet other like-minded individuals. We are happy to help you search for the right volunteer opportunity in Thailand for you. Our live chat team is always here to answer your questions and navigate our world of volunteer opportunities!