12 Photos from Volunteers in Thailand That are Crazy Inspiring

by Megan Lee

The quintessential volunteer experience abroad: exploring beautiful Thailand, a country famous for it’s warm beaches and warmer smiles. But that’s just scratching the surface. There’s way (way WAY) more to this Kingdom than a good fruit shake. There are humans, creatures, and systems that are broken and in need of help from a willing heart like yours. Volunteers are needed in Thailand, especially when you consider...

  • English language proficiency in Thailand is very low and dropping relative to other countries; in fact, it is the third worst in Asia, despite the 2015 commitment/adoption of the CEFR framework.
  • Since the May 2014 coup, the political situation remains one of transition. Arrest and detention of urban refugees and asylum-seekers increased in 2014 and early 2015, and are expected to continue.
  • There are a number of animal welfare charities working in Thailand, but the country does have a poor reputation in the area of animal welfare; however, changes are being made. In fact, the infamous Tiger Temple was closed in early 2016 in response to accusations of exploiting animals.

Since you don’t want to do the tourist-thang and aim to go deeper in Siam, we hope the above stats will inspire you to get involved, give your time, and walk away from volunteer opportunities in Thailand with more than souvenirs. Read on to incite your wanderlust and snag some quick volunteer in Thailand tips:

Phraya Nakhon cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
Photo Contributed by Lauren Carey

TIP #1: When you’re taking a break during your volunteer trip in Thailand, try to beat the crowds and capture the early morning magic of places like this, the Phraya Nakhon cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park.

Monk overlooking mountain
Photo Contributed by Lauren Marinigh

TIP #2: You don’t need to don an orange robe to appreciate the wisdom of one of the world’s most ancient philosophies. Fill your free time by asking questions about Buddhism, around 90 percent of Thai people are Buddhist!

Ready to volunteer abroad? Find programs in Thailand today!

Girl in a sunflower patch in Thailand
Photo Contributed by Amelia Perri

TIP #3: Delight in Thailand’s natural wonders; aim to come home with a deeper appreciation for nature’s gifts, both big and small.

Old Thai man in front of a photo of the Thai King and Queen
Photo Contributed by Rachel Rueckert

TIP #4: In Thai culture, you must always keep your head lower than that of anyone older or more important than you.

Thai boat
Photo Contributed by Davis Kendall

TIP #5: Love life under the sea? Volunteers are needed in Thailand to contribute to the research, protection, and restoration of reefs in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.

Start your research with these volunteer opportunities in Thailand:  International Volunteer HQ | GoEco |Treetop CountryLove Volunteers

Selfie of a girl riding an elephant
Photo Contributed by Kathryn Ayre

TIP #6: If you choose to volunteer with elephants in Thailand, or in an animal sanctuary of any kind, be sure to conduct extensive research and ask plenty of questions to ensure the animal welfare is the organization’s #1 priority.

Rain strewn flowers
Photo Contributed by Lesa Sexton

TIP #7: Take time to express gratitude for your experiences in Thailand. Look around you, your surroundings are a gift. To maximize your learning potential, make every second count.

A lantern release in Thailand
Photo Contributed by Amelia Perri

TIP #8: If you volunteer in Thailand in November, you’ll be lucky to partake in celebrating the Loi Krathong lantern festival, a centuries-old party to honor the end of the rainy season.

Check out these popular types of volunteer programs in Thailand:

Animal Welfare | Refugee Relief | Orphanages | Teaching English

Golden temple statues in Bangkok
Shine like you've never shone before.

TIP #9: Wanna fit in with the locals? We (double dog) dare you to memorize how to say Bangkok’s official name: Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.

Two young Thai girls making silly faces
Kids are an easy first-in when it comes to befriending the Thai locals.

TIP #10: Many volunteers opt to support education programs or volunteer in Thailand’s orphanages, and can you blame them? Those smiles are special! Ask yourself these 24 questions before volunteer in an orphanage in Thailand.

The best cities to volunteer in Thailand are:

Bangkok | Chiang Mai | Koh Samui | Chiang Rai

Hot peppers in Thailand
Photo Contributed by Peter Hershey

TIP #11: Lucky for you (and your tastebuds), cuisine is a huge part of the local culture. So much, in fact, that Thai folks greet each other by asking “Gin Khao Yung,” meaning, “Have you eaten yet?”

Girl in a tree swing on a Thai beach
Photo Contributed by Ayako Watanabe

TIP #12: The lessons you’ll learn while volunteering in Thailand will be many. They might not always be this beautiful, but they’ll always be important and valuable. While you might be able to volunteer in Thailand for free, you’ll walk away with a wealth of knowledge and experiences. 

Still trying to decide between multiple programs? Create a MyGoAbroad profile to compare volunteer opportunities in Thailand.

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