There are plenty of reasons why Koh Samui is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, yet few visitors really experience life on the island, as lived by the locals. Volunteering abroad in Koh Samui will allow you to do just that. Immersing yourself into their culture, as a volunteer, means you’ll contribute something meaningful to the local community and still have the chance to enjoy all of Koh Samui’s coconuts highlights. A volunteer abroad on Koh Samui island can have their Pad Thai and eat it too—probably whilst watching the sunset from a stunning white sand beach
Popular Ways to Volunteer Abroad in Koh Samui
Most volunteer abroad programs on Koh Samui focus on community development through infrastructure and education projects. A range of program durations and styles are available, so it is important to do some research before you dive in (scuba diving being a great weekend option!).
Popular causes/program types in Koh Samui. With a focus on community development there are a range of education projects for volunteers on Koh Samui. This reaches from English teaching in the classroom, to summer camps and less formal options. Those looking for something more manual can make a tangible contribution through infrastructure development, contributing to improved living standards for the local population. Through all of these programs you will have the opportunity to interact with and learn from the people you work alongside, immersing you into the culture in a way you would never experience as a tourist.
Summer/short term volunteer programs in Koh Samui. If you don’t have too much time to spare, it is possible to volunteer abroad on Koh Samui for just a few weeks in your summer vacation or a break from school. Although volunteers are generally encouraged to stay as long as possible in order to maximize their impact and better understand the local challenges, some programs, such as educational summer camps are well suited to a shorter visit.
Long term volunteer stints. If you have the time available, a longer volunteer abroad experience is definitely beneficial as you will get to know the people with whom you are working better. The longer you stay, the more impact and change you are likely to see as a result of your contribution as well, not to mention extra time to enjoy life in paradise! English teaching is a great option for long term volunteers who have time to build relationships with their students.
Life in Koh Samui for the International Volunteers
The statement that “Life’s a beach” has really never been more appropriate. Volunteers in Koh Samui can enjoy afternoon swims in the ocean once their work for the day is complete, and weekends soaking up the sun or exploring further on snorkel or scuba diving excursions. Tear yourself away from the sand every now and then to explore some of the glistening Buddhist temples and famous “Big Buddha,” learning more about the main religion of Thailand in the process. The natural sights don’t stop at the coastline either, be sure to venture inland to chase some waterfalls or hike in the jungle!
Most volunteer abroad in Koh Samui packages will include accommodation and some meals. You will live either with a local host family, getting even more acquainted with real Thai life, or in shared accommodation with your fellow volunteers. Either way, the other participants will provide a great social network with which to explore and appreciate life on the island. A hot tip is to learn a few local phrases, particularly “mai phet” meaning “not spicy,” (this might come in handy when sampling the delicious local cuisine!).
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for volunteers in Koh Samui
You have very little to lose by agreeing to volunteer abroad on Koh Samui. The local environment and culture make it an exciting and culturally interesting location. Couple that with making a valuable contribution to the local community. To get the most out of your experience do your research in advance and come with realistic expectations. As a volunteer, you will be expected to work hard and won’t have unlimited hours to spend topping up your tan or sipping delicious coconuts. You will, however, benefit from free time at the weekends to explore your new neighborhood.
With a wealth of higher end resorts on the island, it’s a confusing economy to be faced with as a volunteer initially. As you get to know the community with whom you’ll work, take the time to learn about the challenges faced and how your contribution as a volunteer makes a difference.
No visit to Thailand is complete without fully embracing the deliciousness that is a local menu. Be sure to try as many of the local dishes as you can, from steamy Pad Thai to the many varieties of curry, the fried pineapple (or coconut) rice, and nutella-banana egg pancakes for dessert.
Volunteer abroad in Koh Samui—aka volunteer abroad in paradise. Appreciate all of the highlights of this popular destination, with the added bonus of engaging with the local community and better understanding the culture. It’s an experience you would simply never get as a tourist or visitor to the island, and one which will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Get more details, inspiration, and coconuts! Read our comprehensive guide on volunteering abroad in Thailand here.