The Versatility of Volunteering in Thailand

by Polly Dean

Volunteer opportunities in Thailand are scattered on a broad spectrum. A volunteer can work with children, animals, social justice groups, teaching, and more. In a country where people value calmness and seek joy on a daily basis, international volunteers in Thailand feel embraced and welcomed. Even the most seasoned of world travelers feel at ease, despite the bustling crowds of the big cities.

Temple bells
Volunteer in Thailand, land of a million beautiful views. Photo by Troy Peden

Volunteering abroad in Thailand can consist of so many different opportunities that it would be a challenge not to find one that suits your strengths and interests perfectly. Thousands of visitors looking to make a difference in another cultural setting head to Thailand, and for good reason. Thailand has an adaptable culture that is very welcoming to tourism, be it for volunteering or just visiting.

Teaching English

In Thailand, as in many countries, there is a huge need for English teachers. There are unique opportunities to teach English in Thailand, such as programs to teach the language to novice Buddhist monks. The experience of being assigned a specific temple, and getting an unparalleled look into the behind-the-scenes working of monastery, is an incredible honor. There are also numerous schools in Thailand for young and old alike that are in need of teachers. A native-speaking English teacher is an incredible asset for students learning English by improving their conversational skills, and confidence in pronunciation. Teaching opportunities in Thailand are available in all parts of the country, and can be very rewarding.

Social Justice Work

Thailand is home to some of the most staggering social justice exploitation in the world. Prostitution and sex tourism run rampant throughout the country, and some statistics show that up to 2 million women and girls are stuck in this web of prostitution. Men and boys are forced into this life as well. International volunteers in Thailand are needed to rehabilitate adults and children who have left the sex trade.

Organizations in Thailand are devoted to getting people out of the life of forced prostitution, and supporting them through education and job training. Helping former sex workers to acquire legitimate, sustainable jobs and careers is of the utmost importance, both to maintain their lives and to prevent them from re-entering the dark underworld of sex trafficking.

International volunteers help these efforts by working in projects such as English teaching, agriculture training, job training, and sex education, just to name a few. Volunteers with strong writing and organizational skills can be extremely helpful to organizations fighting the sex trade, with their skills used for grant writing, social media, advertising opportunities, and fundraising.

A village in Chiang Mai, Thailand

A village in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Medical Work

Medical internships are also readily available in this country that is slowly becoming more modernized in its major cities. HIV and AIDS are a common occurrence in Thailand, primarily among the poorest of inhabitants. Education in areas of sexual responsibility are coming up around the country, and with the help of the growing medical community, the epidemic could slowly be on the decline.

Work With Animals

Thailand houses some of the most unique volunteer opportunities in the world. Are you interested in volunteering in elephant camps in Thailand? Located throughout the country, these sanctuaries need people to help care for the country’s prized animals, the elephants. Days are spent bathing and feeding these magnificent creatures — be aware that this isn’t easy work. Elephants can sometimes eat upwards of 300 pounds of food a day and this means one must be able-bodied and ready to work hard. While the work can be tiring, the experience with these gentle giants is said to be calming and full of joy.

Travel & Tourism

Opportunities for travel and tourism in Thailand are plentiful and encouraged in one’s much-needed down time. Pair amazing volunteer work in Thailand with the lovely Thai people, and add in the reasonable cost of living, and this country might seem like a perfect option for both new and seasoned international volunteers.