10 Best Places to Volunteer in Asia & South Pacific in 2018

by Published

Tired of just liking your friends’ boring Insta pics and craving some real human contact and a chance to make a difference? Volunteering abroad could be just the ticket to engage with another culture in a meaningful way. Why not volunteer in Asia or do volunteer Pacific islands’ work? Causes run the gamut of human trafficking, construction, healthcare, public health education, teaching English, and sustainable development. 

Young woman playing with a girl

Want to do volunteer work around Asia or on the Pacific islands?

As the largest continent in the world, there are many places you can volunteer in Asia. Sign up for volunteer work in Southeast Asia, in countries like Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. If you’re really looking to up your volunteer abroad game, head to India and Nepal where there are many who need help desperately. 

If you’re looking to the South Pacific, there are lots of worthy causes to keep you engaged.  In Australia, you can work in environmental and marine conservation in the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef. In New Zealand, you can teach English to refugees in Auckland and work in eco tourism in Dunedin. In Fiji and Vanuatu, help build houses and work in medicine to reach those who need healthcare. 

Are you ready to #payitforward? Here are the 10 best places to volunteer in Asia and the South Pacific in 2018 according to our meaningful travel community.

1. Australia

Koala sleeping in a tree

Environmental conservation projects in Australia present a lot of opportunity for international volunteers.

Head to the land down under for some of the world’s most unique biodiversity and spectacular landscapes. To keep these places pristine, volunteer abroad with environmental conservation groups scattered across the country. Work with scientists to track species and promote sustainable development in coastal areas and the Outback. On off days, take the time to hug a koala or two, have a great Aussie barbie, and tour the most beautiful beaches in the world. Surf’s always up, bruh!

Recommended program: Volunteer in Australia with Love Volunteers

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in Australia

2. Japan

Traditional Japanese homes with rice field and mountains

Celebrate Mountain Day and Greenery Day while volunteering in Japan!

Nature lovers, want to volunteer in a country that celebrates Greenery Day, Marine Day, and Mountain Day every year? Become a volunteer in Asia and learn some Japanese in the land of Pokemon go, a country that also places a premium on preserving the natural environment.  History and art lovers should also head to Japan to help conserve traditional architecture and landmarks in a hyper modern society. 

Recommended program: Volunteer in Japan with World Campus International

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in Japan

3. New Zealand

Homeless man on stoop

Make a difference in the life of a person who just needs a friend or someone to listen.

Do you know why the Maori call New Zealand the land of the long white cloud? It’s because Middle Earth is so close to paradise. However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. New Zealand needs international volunteers to rough it outdoors to preserve Kiwi wildlife and habitats. Help replant the rainforests and protect coastal areas from pollution and erosion. New Zealand is also a great place to build communities and work with refugees. 

Recommended program: Volunteer in New Zealand with Travel for Teens

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in New Zealand

4. Indonesia

boys paddling a canoe in a clear lagoon

Indonesia is stunning, but there is need for humanitarian aid, too.

Want to volunteer in the Pacific islands? Indonesia is home to over 17,000 islands, 300 ethnic groups, and some the world’s most unique biodiversity. Work in Jakarta’s orphanages, teach English, or help NGOs in one of the region’s most densely populated capitals. Help save turtles in Bali or protect wildlife from poachers in Borneo, the home of the oldest rainforest in the world. On West Papua, help replant trees and work in marine conservation.

Recommended program: Volunteer in Indonesia with IVHQ

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in Indonesia

5. South Korea

Girl handwriting

Education-oriented volunteer programs are popular in Korea.

Most people know that South Korea is the place to make money teaching English abroad but did you know you can also volunteer abroad there? Although the country is well developed, you can still find volunteer opportunities in Asia. Work in Seoul’s hospitals, community centers, schools, language cafes, and orphanages or get involved on organic farms in Gyeonggi. Make a even bigger contribution by volunteering to teach English to North Korean refugees or promoting human rights with international NGOs based in the country.

Recommended program: Volunteer in South Korea with CHI

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in South Korea

6. Thailand

Woman in marketplace

Make a difference in Thailand, where you will learn a new way of life.

Although on the surface, Thailand may look like the ultimate tropical paradise, it does have a dark underbelly. Although tourism helps the country rake in lots of foreign exchange, the country suffers from its negative effects, particularly human trafficking and child prostitution. Do charity work in Southeast Asia in Bangkok to protect vulnerable women and children. Volunteers in Thailand can also teach English in orphanages and rural schools, work in Burmese refugee camps, and help care for elephants and forests.

Recommended program: Volunteer in Thailand with GVI

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in Thailand

7. India

Woman on street in india

Pay it forward by volunteering abroad in India.

Although India is one of the world’s economic powerhouses today, it is still plagued with poverty, pollution, and other social problems. Work with international and local nonprofits in mega cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi, also home to some of the world’s largest slums. In India, you can also volunteer abroad in Asia in the fields of medicine, human rights, women’s rights, education, and childcare.

Recommended program: Volunteer in India with Volunteering Solutions

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in India

8. The Philippines

Storm over tropical beach

Regularly beat down by tropical storm surges, the Philippines needs extra hands in construction and childcare projects.

Want to do volunteer work in Southeast Asia? The Philippines’ 7000+ islands have a lot of work for international volunteers in health clinics, schools, orphanages, and rural areas.  Work in Manila, Cebu, Tacloban City, or on extremely remote islands in the archipelago. Teach English in rural areas, help coach kids in baseball, work with women in shelters, work in environmental conservation, or help build schools and community centers. 

Recommended program: Volunteer in the Philippines with Volunteer for the Visayans

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in the Philippines

9. China

Downtown hong kong

Megacities mean mega-opportunities to give back.

Although China is one of the world’s leading economies, it is massive which means that new wealth and opportunities doesn’t always get shared around. Do volunteer work in Asia by working with children with disabilities in Shanghai, play with orphan kids in Beijing, and teach English in Xi’an. If you’re looking for the ultimate feels, help feed and care for pandas in Chengdu. Inspire serious Insta envy taking selfies with these furry friends in need!

Recommended program: Volunteer in China with GoEco

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in China

10. Palestine

Shoes for sale in Israel

Take a step—no, a leap—towards voluntourism in Palestine.

If you watch international news, then you know that not everyone in Palestine is a happy camper. Life is hard in this heavily contested and often misunderstood part of the Middle East. Volunteers can work in humanitarian aid projects with local and international NGOs or teach English, sport, or music to refugees and other needy students. You can also get hands-on with environmental sustainability projects in recycling, agriculture, and construction. 

Recommended program: Volunteer in Palestine with the Excellence Center

See ALL volunteer abroad programs in Palestine

A note from GoAbroad

We’d like to thank our community for not only inspiring us daily, but for also giving us enough insight to share accurate predictions for meaningful travel in 2018.

Learn more about our research methodology, recommended programs, and links here.

Read the full report here.

Browse more of this year's report on top destinations to find volunteer work abroad

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