Go further in Thailand

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Volunteer in Thailand

Find community, culture and connection in paradise.

Take a deep dive into the diverse cultures and scenic beauty of Thailand’s northern jungles and southern shores by joining one of our volunteer programs. You’ll make a vital difference to underserved communities working to improve access to education, healthcare and equal opportunities for all.

Positive<br/>impact

Positive
impact

Build a better world by contributing to vital, locally-led project work that strives for a more just and equitable future.
Ethical<br/>work

Ethical
work

In line with the UN’s SDGs, we are committed to ethical and sustainable engagement with our local partners and communities.
Beautiful<br/>community

Beautiful
community

Learn from the world’s most unique and significant cultures, in breathtaking remote locations.

Thailand volunteer programs

Overview
Location
Programs
FAQs

In Thailand, you can volunteer in two locations:

  • Phang Nga, in Southern Thailand, living near beautiful tropical beaches
  • Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand, living among a traditional elephant-keeping community 

 

We offer volunteer programs across a variety of various community development projects focussed on: 

 

Our standard projects are available for all ages, and we offer special volunteer opportunities for:

 

From its dense northern jungles to balmy southern beaches, there’s no better place to find your purpose and follow your passion than among the communities and cultures of Thailand. A trip to Thailand offers you: 

  • A tropical climate. If you’re looking for a year-round summer, Thailand is the place for you. 
  • History and heritage. Thailand boasts some of the oldest, and most beautifully preserved, ancient temples, including the sacred golden Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai, as well the even older Wat Chedi Luang temple, which was built in the early 15th century. 
  • Cultural diversity. Thailand – like most countries – contains a multitude of distinct cultural groups, each with a unique and vibrant cultural heritage, language and perspective. As a volunteer, you’ll have the privilege of living and working within some of these communities. This will give you the chance to learn about Theravada Buddhism – a belief system practiced by 90% of the population – and Animism – a belief system predicated on the belief that everything, including inanimate objects, are imbued with a spiritual essence.  
  • Cuisine: Most of you have surely heard of Pad Thai, the country’s delicious and famous stir-fried noodle dish. But Thai cuisine features an array of dishes for all palates, from traditional noodle soups to Thai red and green curries – including vegetarian, seafood and meat options. Not to mention all sorts of regional delicacies for adventurous eaters. Volunteers in Thailand won’t just eat really well, they’ll also learn how to cook some of these dishes alongside their local community hosts – which is a real treat!

We operate community development volunteer programs across two locations in Thailand.

Volunteer in Thailand: Phang Nga 

Travel to Southern Thailand to live and volunteer in Phang Nga, a province along the Andaman sea, and famous for Ao Phang Nga National Park, which contains the largest mangrove forest in Thailand. Since 2004, the small fishing village of Ban Nam Khem has worked to rebuild after being hit by a devastating tsunami. Here, you’ll work with local community members on various educational initiatives, including teaching English, public health, and gender equality workshops to both children and adults. This is an amazing opportunity not only to enjoy some of the most beautiful tropical beaches in the world, but also to dive, swim and snorkel in Thailand’s famous balmy blue waters. 

 

Volunteer in Thailand: Chiang Mai

In Thailand’s northern mountains, you’ll live and work in a traditional Karen village community, famous for keeping elephants. The elephants live as a semi-wild herd in and around the village. Here, you’ll assist various locally-led community development and environmental education projects aimed at providing sustainable economic empowerment across the community. These initiatives create economic opportunities based on alternative sources of income to traditional elephant-based tourism, and offer a rare view into the ways that communities and conservationists perceive and react to the realities of saving elephants in Thailand. 

If you’re worried about the ethics of this program, check out our blog about ethically volunteering with elephants to find out more.

Volunteer with children in Thailand

Volunteer with local community youth in Phang Nga to assist with improving their English speaking and writing skills. You’ll also work with them to improve their fine motor skills, the coordination of small muscles including those of the wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes. This is also an opportunity to develop your own professional lesson planning and workshop facilitation skills.  

Child protection

Safety is our number one priority. We take several steps to ensure children remain safe, healthy and protected across all our programs. This is part of our broader mission 

to ensure that ethical best practices are upheld to protect all youth involved while empowering local communities.

 

At GVI:

  • Our early childhood development programs don’t allow volunteers to work with children in residential care. We don’t support orphanage volunteering and you can read more about our stance and policy here. 
  • All our staff and participants are required to complete a police background check before arrival on the program. 
  • We regularly review our comprehensive Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy and on-site child protection training is provided once volunteers arrive in their host country. 
  • We also protect children from cyber and real-world threats by ensuring that our marketing follows child protection best practices. 

 

Public health volunteer projects in Thailand 

Contribute towards advancing UN SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being when you volunteer in Thailand’s Phang Nga province. Create awareness of preventative health practices through participating in health education initiatives, in the village of Ban Nam Khem. You’ll assist local teachers to encourage positive health practices in children and young adults of the province. Contribute to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) workshops. Supporting regular hand washing and other habitual hygiene practices can significantly improve the long-term health of youth and adults. 

 

Volunteer teaching in Thailand 

Most of our community development programs include some teaching. You might be teaching in local schools as part of our early childhood development programs or offer adult English classes aimed at providing broader economic opportunities as part of community empowerment initiatives. You might also run workshops on public health as part of our global public health programs. 

TEFL certificate

You can earn a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate as part of your time on one of our volunteering programs. Please see this page for more information.

Interested in becoming a volunteer in Thailand, but still unsure about some of the details? We got you covered.  

 

What kind of volunteer work is available in Thailand? 

 We offer a range of different community development volunteering programs in Thailand. Choose from projects focused on:

  • teaching
  • volunteering with children
  • public health 

 

Is volunteering ethical? 

Before joining any volunteer program, it’s always good to double check whether the efforts you are supporting are committed to ethical, sustainable development. What standards and best practices have been put in place to make sure you are contributing ethically? 

At GVI, we’ve been committed to the highest level of ethical best practice throughout all levels of our organisation for over 20 years. We live by our ten ethical principles and five human empowerment principles. Our badge of ethics represents our dedication to continuously improving our policies, with the assistance of our ethics officers and external experts in their respective fields. 

GVI doesn’t support orphanage volunteering. For more information, see our stance on orphanage volunteering. We also support ChildSafe, a global child protection initiative, and regularly review our comprehensive Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy

You can read about the work we’ve done with the help of volunteers like you in our Impact and Ethics Report

 

Is volunteering in Thailand safe?

Extremely safe. We take every precaution to make sure our participants can live and work safely, no matter where they are in the world. We have trained support staff on hand 24 hours a day to ensure that all participants across all our programs are well taken care of.

Read more about our health and safety protocols

GVI is one of the most well respected international sustainable development organisations. Our programs have been featured in various international newspapers and magazines, including The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, Geographical magazine, BBC Wildlife magazine and various international television programs including a six-part series on the Sky Travel channel and a feature on the BBC Holiday program. We work with some of the most prominent organisations in the field including Panthera, PADI, Coral Watch, The Endangered Wildlife Trust and the South African National Parks. Since 1997, we have sent more than 3,000 participants away each year. 

You can speak directly to one of our enrolment officers or alumni, who can answer any and all questions you might have about life in Thailand or life on the GVI base.

 

Does GVI support orphanage volunteering in Thailand? 

No. Read more about our stance against orphanage volunteering and donation. 

 

Can I volunteer in Thailand on a short- or long-term basis?

We have volunteer opportunities that range anywhere from one to 24 weeks, and we can accommodate your specific requirements as needed. Please speak to one of our enrolment officers for more information on how to put your specific application together. 

 

Are there any prerequisites to volunteer in Thailand? 

No, you don’t need any specific qualifications to join a GVI volunteering program in Thailand. All our programs include health and safety and child and vulnerable adult protection training. 

To join a standard program you must be at least 18 years of age, however we do offer teen volunteering opportunities in Thailand for teens aged 15 to 17. 

All our staff and participants are required to complete a police background check before arrival on the program, and on-site child protection training is provided once they arrive in the host country. We also protect children from cyber and real-world threats by ensuring that our marketing follows child protection best practices.

 

Can I become a volunteer teacher in Thailand? 

Yes! We offer community development volunteer projects focussed on teaching local children and adults. These programs are open to anyone keen to develop their teaching, presentation and cross-cultural communication skills. 

 

Can I teach English as a foreign language in Thailand? 

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is a specialist certification that isn’t required to join one of our teaching volunteer programs. However, if you’re looking to upskill and earn an additional qualification, you can use the opportunity to earn your TEFL certificate while working on one of our Thailand teaching volunteer programs. 

 

Is accommodation included? 

Accommodation is included. Depending on whether you choose to volunteer in Thailand’s northern region, near Chiang Mai, or in the south near Phang Nga, you’ll either live in a homestay, hosted by a local family, or be living on GVI’s base. 

Upgraded hotel accommodation is also available in Phang Nga. For more information, please speak to your enrollment officer.  

 

Who will I be volunteering with?

GVI volunteers of all ages come from a vast number of countries around the world and have a diverse range of backgrounds. At each location, our international team of GVI staff are there to guide volunteers throughout their stay. Due to the long-term partnerships GVI has established with local partners in Thailand, and many of our other locations around the world, volunteers work closely with local community members. This gives them insight into the local context and allows them to gain experience in intercultural communication.

 

What if I have more questions about volunteering in Thailand?

You can meet us and our network of alumni at any event we attend throughout the UK or one of our online events to ask as many questions as you need to! See our Open Day page for more information about our upcoming events. 

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New and Exclusive: GVI Experiences

A locally curated selection of extra activities are now included across our programs.

Learn to make traditional Thai and Burmese food

Learn to make traditional Thai and Burmese food

Visit the Buddhist temples of Ban Nam Khem

Visit the Buddhist temples of Ban Nam Khem

Practice traditional Thai yoga massage

Practice traditional Thai yoga massage

Master Muay Thai self-defence techniques

Master Muay Thai self-defence techniques

Raft along the Sok River

Raft along the Sok River

Hike to hidden waterfalls

Hike to hidden waterfalls

Visit an untouched mangrove island

Visit an untouched mangrove island

Sleep in a floating river bungalow

Sleep in a floating river bungalow