If you want to volunteer in Asia, why not volunteer in Thailand? Volunteering in Thailand could be a wonderful and life-enhancing way to see another country, contribute to a community, and walk away with an enhanced resume and life experience. In some cases, your volunteer work may be a great way to gain professional experience and earn academic credit. You might even get to learn a new language. In short, if you want to volunteer abroad, Thailand might provide a perfect opportunity.
Why Volunteer Abroad in Thailand?
There are numerous volunteer opportunities in Thailand. Why not take advantage of them? Schools, medical clinics, grassroots organizations, nonprofit organizations (environmental, women’s health, anti-poverty, etc.), and other entities await your arrival. Through them, you can offer and sharpen your existing skills, perhaps develop new ones, and learn about Thai society. You may also learn a new language (Thai is the official one), submerse yourself in a lovely culture, and enhance your academic and professional career. As you do so, you may also enjoy Thais’ devotion to fun and peaceful living.
What Might Life Be Like When I Volunteer in Thailand?
One of the great things about volunteering in Thailand may be that you won’t just be volunteering there—you’ll be living there! This means that you can submerse yourself in Thai culture while you contribute your energy, skills, and creativity to Thailand’s communities. Perhaps you’ll get to enjoy Thai food, explore the country’s many sights, and connect with the Thai people in your neighborhood. You may also get to travel to other regions and countries before or after your program or even on long weekends. Through Thailand volunteer programs, you may get involved and enjoy a cultural adventure!
Here are some of the things you might enjoy as you volunteer abroad in Thailand:
Its food: Many people treasure Thailand’s cuisine. It’s often made using fresh herbs and roots (such as cilantro and galangal and ginger) and typically incorporates rice, noodles, vegetables, meats, and various spices such as garlic, coriander, lemon grass, pepper, chilies, tamarind, and others. Much of Thai food is laced with flavors of kaffir lime, fish and shrimp sauce, and coconut (often in the form of coconut milk). Common meats include pork, chicken, beef, duck, and water buffalo. Common vegetables include onions, bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bamboo shoots, and others. Much of Thai food is sweetened with palm sugar to balance its sour, bitter, and spicy tastes. Some popular Thai dishes include:
- Tom Yam: a kind of sour soup made with various types of meats and vegetables. One popular one is tom yam kung which is made with prawns and a tart and spicy base.
- Laap: seasoned minced meat flavored with roasted rice powder, lime juice, fresh herbs, and fish sauce. It’s often served alongside sticky rice.
- Khao soi: a noodle soup with a curry base that typically includes meat (often chicken or beef) and comes with a side of shallots, pickled greens, and lime that consumers might opt to put in their soup.
- Kai yang: grilled chicken commonly marinated in fish sauce, coriander, and garlic and served with sticky rice and a green papaya salad.
You might enjoy these and other popular Thai dishes alongside a Thai drink such as cha yen (black tea served with condensed milk and sometimes sweetened), nam manao (water, lime juice, and sugar), or sweet milk (milk, ice, and flavored syrup).
Its culture: Located in Southeast Asia, Thailand’s culture is influenced by India, China, Cambodia, and parts of Southeast Asia. You may see evidence of these influences in Thai décor, architecture, customs, and cuisine. Thailand is also heavily influenced by its primary religion: Buddhism. As you’re walking through the streets, you might come across “spirit houses,” shrines, and other displays of iconography expressive of the country’s religious and indigenous roots. Day-to-day life in Thailand might include navigating through populated and bustling streets, finding calm along beautiful beaches, sharing food from street vendors with friends, or heading out for a night of live music, socializing, and dancing.
Some common customs in Thailand include “wai,” a practice that sometimes includes putting the hands in a prayer position and bowing the head to great people and say thanks, “sanuk,” or the premise that life should be fun, even at work and especially while socializing. The Thai also hold high regard for the head (the highest expression of one’s self) and less regard for the feet (the lowest expression of one’s self) and therefore take care to not touch each other’s heads and to sit pointing their toes and feet away from their company.
Its sights: There are many sights to behold while you’re volunteering in Thailand. Some famous ones include:
- The Grand Palace, located in Bangkok, where you can see the Emerald Buddha and other nearby sights such as Wat Pho (the home of a large reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn.
- The Golden Triangle, where Burma/Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand meet. (It is also where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River).
- Elephant sanctuaries, of which there are many. The elephant is a national symbol in Thailand and much revered by locals.
- Floating markets, where locals sell and trade their goods and wares by small wooden boat (some famous ones include the Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi and the Taling Chan, Bangkok).
- Kanchanaburi, where you can explore WWII memorials and museums to learn about some of Thailand’s more haunting but important history.
In addition to seeing these sights, you may want to visit Thailand’s national parks, ancient ruins, temples, and numerous other UNESCO World Heritage sights.
How Do I Find a Great Volunteer Abroad Program in Thailand?
Numerous volunteer programs in Thailand may offer a great opportunity to steep yourself in Thai culture while you contribute to an organization and community. To see your options, simply browse through the list below. When you find a program of interest, click on the program name or “LEARN MORE” to get more information or be connected to the program’s site. When you’re ready to sign up, do so directly through the program or by requesting additional information. We wish you luck as you take the first step of your life-enhancing adventure!