Volunteer in Thailand
Thailand is a traveller's paradise, this amazing country combines the frenetic pace of city life with some of the most stunning beaches on the planet. However, few get to experience the country in a way that volunteers do. Take a step off the tourist trail and experience real Thailand by working with local people, helping rewarding projects and making lifelong friends and memories along the way. This will be the most incredible experience of your life.
Volunteer Programs in Thailand
Find rewarding free, low cost and structured programs where you can work to make a difference in this amazing country helping communities, the environment and wildlife.
Guide to Volunteering in Thailand
If you would like to volunteer abroad and make a difference, then you really should consider putting Thailand top of your list of destinations. Not many countries in the world compare to the land of smiles, we guarantee you will love the experience of visiting and working here. Food, culture, history, friendly locals and incredible experiences are on offer, not to mention the incredible ways you can give back and make a difference.
By applying you will get to spend time doing something constructive for you, others and also give your experience a boost at the same time. You could help animals, communities and the environment. Popular programs include helping elephants which are highly recommended.
Top Reasons to Volunteer in Thailand
- This is one of our most popular destinations with thousands of people participating in programs every year
- Experience an ancient culture, friendly people and some of the best food in the world
- Choose from hundreds of projects
- Perfect way to add something productive to a gap year in Thailand
- Meet new people from all over the world
- Make a difference and be more than your average tourist
- Do something more beneficial than sunbathing
- Combine experiences for examples some organisations also offer the change to teach in Thailand and earn a TEFL qualification
Location of Projects
Placements can be found in most areas of the country but popular destinations to participate include:
If you would like to work with elephants you will find most placements in Surin located in Eastern Thailand. These elephant programs are located in the lush countryside of Thailand, around a few gours away from Bangkok. You will need to be adaptable to working in an outdoors situations and be prepared for early starts, elephants are usually washed at 7am. The day is quite relaxed though and there will be lots of breaks, the time you will finish will usually around 5pm and you will have evenings free. In your free time you might want to visit a local village, chat to staff or even teach English to locals.
In the Southern islands, you could help marine biology programs and help with eco conservation in spectacular locations living on beaches with crystal clear waters like Koh Samui. There are also placements available in remote locations like Saraburi province which is a spectacular area with waterfalls and National Parks, here you can teach English in Muak Lek which is a traditional village about 100km from Bangkok. You might also like to participate in places like Phuket.
Types of Programs
There are so many programs available that are dependent on factors such as weather, numbers of volunteers, time of year but you will need to be flexible and just be ready to get your hands dirty!
Conservation & Environmental Projects
Working on conservation projects in remote regions may at first be a culture shock but it will definitely broaden the mind and provide many unforgettable experiences. You could help nature, eco projects and marine conservation.
There are also various eco environmental projects preserving wildlife programs throughout Thailand in places like Chiang Mai, rural areas and the Southern islands. You can help a selection of animals, rehabilitation projects in Thailand give wildlife lots of care, and also you could work to help to improve the living conditions of captive animals. A lot of projects are located in Surin and Chiang Mai in the North of the country. On these placements, you will also learn about the culture of Thailand, animals needs and dangers they face. Daily chores include washing and feeding, gardening and working with the people in wildlife sanctuarys. Below you can view free volunteering opportunities with animals in Thailand.
Community Development Programs
You could help with construction work, join building programs or work to aid refugees and humanitarian efforts. There are lots of refugees and misplaced people living in Thailand especially in the North which is home to lots of Burmese people. There are volunteer projects where you can help Burmese refugees and work in the hill tribe region of Thailand. It's entirely up to you to decide which, but whatever project you pick you'll finish the week with new friends and the knowledge that you've made a positive impact during your stay. If you'd like to extend your time on a community project, this is easily done.
There are lots of non-profitmaking services run by local and international volunteer staff providing free English lessons to children and adults in places like Phang-Nga province, southern Thailand. Donations through volunteer fees are raised just to keep services running. Apart from the benefits to Thais, volunteers also have a good and fulfilling experience and that they benefit from our low-cost Andaman environment.
House Building Volunteer Projects
Have the chance to really flex your muscles and put them to good use on this building project in the heart of Thailand knowing that at the end of it you will have been part of making a dream come true for 40 children. Sangkhlaburi, a village 500kms northwest of Bangkok is an area of different ethnic minorities including Karen, Mong, Burmese refugees and hill tribes who do not have any status as Thai and therefore do not have any rights, in effect they are stateless.
This area is known for its human traffickers who thrive on these abandoned and orphaned children of the minorities who are easy prey and who do not have anyone or anywhere to stay safe. The children`s home in the area is able to look after 37 children and offer them a safe haven but with only 3 bedrooms this as you can imagine is extremely cramped! This project aims to build a new children`s home which will give plenty more space for these children. You will be involved in many aspects of building so you may be digging foundations, clearing land, painting, putting up walls, putting in toilets, water systems, creating play areas and gardens to name a few!
Hill Tribe Volunteer Programs
One of our most diverse programs in one of the most beautiful spots in the country, this visit to Thailand's northern hill tribe community will be hard to forget. The Akha people are a disadvantaged minority in Thailand but have a distinct culture and during your time with the families you will develop a new understanding and appreciation of it. This program will have you immersed in the village, experiencing a range of cultural activities and enjoying the surrounding fauna and wildlife through excursions, all the while helping out the local Akha people through various means like teaching, gardening and light renovation.
Some organisations have been protecting hill tribe culture for the past 30 years and work in association with UNESCO and UNDP. These volunteer packages are some of the best in Thailand. Hill Tribe projects in Chiang Rai and Northern Thailand offer a unique experience of the local culture.
Organic Farming & WWOOF
You could volunteer on organic farms and eco projects in Thailand. You will not be paid but will get free meals and accommodation in exchange for voluntary work. There are lots of local grassroots little farms Thailand, who grow vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon and pumpkin. Some farms even care for animals like sheep, chickens, pigs, cat, geese, horse, dogs, rabbit, deer etc. Activities can include feeding, bathing, cleaning and playing with the animals. Everyone can join and share ideas to help the farming community grow. The main purpose of these types of farms is to live in conjunction with nature and take care of animals to make them feel safe and happy, as well as to save the environment.
Popular places to WWOOF in Thailand include:
- Big House Organic Farm
- Lungkahms Jungle Homestay and Farm, Chiang Mai
- The Panya Project, Chiang Mai
- Phrao Organic Farm, Ampur Phrao close to Chiang Mai
- Santipap Gardens, Ubanratan Dam Lake
Eligibility & How to Apply
Thailand attracts people from diverse backgrounds and from all different ages and most projects are open to all nationalities. To apply you will need to be in good physical condition and aged over 18 in most cases. There are special volunteer trips which operate for 16 and 17 year olds and families, these need to be booked in advanced to join as they are very popular.
Signing up can seem a daunting and exciting prospect, don't worry training and safety will be provided on arrival and you will be able to create amazing memories and pictures to last a long time. Most flights arrive into Bangkok and you will be met at airport and then be whisked away for an introduction - this is a great chance to learn more about Thailand, bond with your new friends and learn about the local are. Some structured programs will require you to pay a fee to participate which includes placements, support, meals and more.
Summer Volunteering Thailand
There are summer and group volunteer projects in Thailand which are very popular so you will need to apply early to avoid spaces being full.
Volunteer in Thailand for Free
Recommended organisations which offer free & cheap volunteering programs in Thailand include:
- Baan Dada - Volunteer or teach children on the Thai/Burma border
- Ban Noi Soi Community Learning Center - Offers free placements to anyone wanting to teach and help communities and refugees.
- DEPDC/GMS - Help prevent and protect children and youth from being trafficked into exploitative labour conditions in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand
- Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation (DRCS) - Tourists can volunteer on spectacular Koh Samui helping dogs
- In Search of Sanuk - Help disadvantaged people in Bangkok
- Care for Dogs, Chiang Mai - Volunteer with street dogs in Northern Thailand
- Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW) - Volunteer with animals on Koh Lanta
- PhaNgan Animal Care for Strays - Help dogs on the island of Koh PhaNgan
- Thai Animal Sanctuary - Help sick, injured and abandoned animals like dogs and cats at this incredible sanctuary in Sangklaburi, Kanchanaburi. Skilled and general placements are available
- The Little Farm Sanctuary Project - If you love animal and sustainable agriculture as well as love the simple life and want to be far away from the bustle of the big city. We welcome anyone who is interested and wants to take part in our volunteer project. you can share, play and enjoy to caring with animals on our eco friendly farm.
Finding paid volunteer jobs in Thailand can be difficult but the experience of participating can help you to meet new contacts which can lead to full time work in Thailand.
If you are really on a budget you could also want to be independent and set up your own program - this might sound a bit crazy, set up your own program? Well yes, why not! If you are planning to visit Thailand you will get to iteract with lots of new people, if you are planning to base yourself in a location why not just set up your own project? For example you could offer free English lessons to native local people and advertise by word of mouth or go into local community centres to offer assistance. Several places in Thailand offer spaces for foreigners to chat to locals and help them improve their English, for example at a lot of temples in Chaing Mai.
Help / Advice
If you need any help arranging a volunteer placement in Thailand please get in touch. You might also like to view all of our volunteering programs in Asia.
Thailand Volunteer Reviews
If you have ever volunteered in Thailand and would like to write about your experience, review an organisation or share any recommendations please contact us.
"This was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and really made me think about what I wanted to do in the future. I'm not going to pursue a career in conservation." - Lee, environmental conservation volunteer with Projects Abroad from the UK
"My time volunteering in Thailand will stay with me for the rest of my life! Bangkok is a huge great big city but has lots of sightseeing things to do for tourists - I also got weekends off to go visit other places." - Mike, social project volunteer from the UK
"I participated on an educational placement in remote town, by the end of the placement I got to know all the local people and we were treated so well. Most days we were encouraged to plan and create activities for children so we were busy non stop." - Megan, teaching volunteer from the USA
"This is the most unforgettable experience ever! No one can learn about a country this much and have this much fun without ISV. All of the leaders and activities are incredible and I'll never forget the friends and memories that I am leaving with. Thanks ISV!" - Taylor Jones, University of Manitoba who volunteered with ISV
"I made the choice to volunteer with Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary because it is a small and intimate program that puts the needs of their elephants first." - Deb, USA