If you would like to travel a bit differently in Thailand, we’ve got you covered with this volunteer guide – from the type of volunteering experience you’d like, to the location you want to explore! From the bustling city of Bangkok to the lush mountains of Chiang Mai and the paradise beaches in between, we’ll share the best destinations to give back in Thailand as well as handpick some interesting Workaway host projects for each one.
Types of Volunteer Work in Thailand
As one of the cheapest countries in Asia
, Thailand is an EPIC choice for those travelling on a budget. From ancient temples, unrivalled food scene, epic nightlife and incredible beaches there are so many reasons Thailand should be on your bucket list. Not convinced yet? Perhaps this guide will help you decide if volunteering in the Land of Smiles is for you, and which type of experiences align with your values and travel goals.
While we haven’t covered every single type of volunteer opportunity, (after all, Workaway has over 50,000 of them!
) these are the most popular types of hosts in Thailand in particular. Not every destination has opportunities in these categories, but they will hopefully inspire you to join Workaway and give volunteering in Thailand a go!
: There is a high demand for English teachers in Thailand, both in rural areas and in cities such as Bangkok. Volunteering abroad as a teacher is amazing experience for your CV
as well as a powerful insight into life in the classroom.
: Thailand is home to more than 10% of the world’s animals as well as coral reefs that support over 4000 species of fish. From elephant sanctuaries, to stray dogs, as well as conservation efforts for endangered species, there are so many animal welfare projects you can be part of as a volunteer in Thailand. Check out our guide to Workawaying with animals
for some inspiration.
Community development: If you prefer people to animals, perhaps volunteering with local communities is for you. Projects in schools, community centres and local groups are in demand of volunteers who love art, music, sport and of course meeting new people to help their communities thrive.
: Share your passion for the planet with the abundance of environmental projects
in Thailand. Projects include reforestation, permaculture, beach clean-ups and animal conservation, among many, many more.
: Volunteering in tourism is one of the best ways to experience Thailand’s tropical islands when travelling on a budget
. By volunteering in hostels, diving schools, surf camps or B&B’s you’ll not only get to be part of the action (for free!) but you can learn about ecotourism in Thailand
, how to run a business, and make lifelong connections along the way.
Human Rights Advocacy / NGO
: Not just a postcard-perfect paradise, Thailand is actually the chosen destination for many migrants from Myanmar (Burma) and Laos. This means support is needed for those who have risked their lives to cross the border and start a new life. By volunteering with NGOs
you can support various projects, including anti-trafficking and female empowerment.
Top tip: If you want to volunteer in Thailand, you can narrow your search by filtering the host list using the project types above and the destinations below. For example, add Chiang Mai as your location then enter “elephants” as your keyword. Or, Bangkok as your destination then “teach English” as your keyword.
Our Top 6 Destinations for Volunteering in Thailand
Chiang Mai is one of the best destinations to volunteer in Thailand because it offers something for everyone. You can either escape the bustle for the lush rainforest, elephant sanctuaries and fascinating hill tribes or head to the heart of the city famed for its night markets, and over 300 temples. Chiang Mai is also one of the cheapest destinations for digital nomads
if you dream of topping up your adventure fund along the way.
If you want to volunteer with elephants in Thailand – Chiang Mai is where you need to go! Poaching, climate change as well as deforestation are all reasons these gentle giants need your help. With Workaway, you can find opportunities to volunteer with elephants in Thailand that you know will be safe and have the animal’s best interests at heart.
For example, this Workaway host who’s eco lodge
is located one hour from Chiang Mai within an elephant camp. Their elephant experiences go to support “Daughters Rising”– an anti-human-trafficking organization that serves minority communities in Northern Thailand.
As the capital city, Bangkok is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, bustling neighbourhoods and world-famous street food. Tourists also flock here for the stunning Wat Arun and Wat Phra Kaew temples as well as the backpacker hot spot – Khao San Road. When it comes to volunteering in Thailand, Bangkok is a delight for those who prefer cosmopolitan vibes as it uniquely blends traditional Thai culture with modern influences from all over the world.
The volunteer opportunities in Bangkok are as diverse as the city itself. From cat sanctuaries, to cooking schools, art projects to au pairing – there are SO many reasons it’s one of the best destinations to volunteer in Thailand.
In particular, it’s a great destination for those who want to teach abroad as a volunteer
. Working with both adults and children, volunteers teaching languages such as English, Spanish and Mandarin are in demand.
Another way to experience the vibrant culture of Bangkok is through house sitting. There are many Workaway hosts who are in search of travellers like you to care for their homes and pets while they’re away. This means a free base to call home while you can enjoy the delights Bangkok has to offer. Sounds fun? Check out our comparison of house sitting vs volunteering
to find it if it’s for you!
As the largest island in Thailand, Phuket offers those picture perfect views alongside rich culture, vibrant nightlife and incredible food.
A must see destination is Phang Nga Bay National Park. Thanks to its striking rock formations and sunken caverns, this beautiful bay is considered a geological wonder. It also offers the perfect conditions for sea kayaking as the bay is extremely sheltered.
Bond fans may also enjoy the famous “Bond Island'' locally known as Khao Ping Kan. Used as a filming location for the Bond films, it is located around 25km from Phuket with traditional longtail boats offering tours.
As the most visited island, Phuket is one of the best destinations to volunteer in Thailand for those who want a taste of the tourism industry. There are hosts offering opportunities in all kinds of tourist accommodation from hostels to homestays.
Whether you prefer to get your hands dirty with tasks such as decorating or DIY or help behind the scenes with marketing, there are many hosts in Phuket who would appreciate your skills.
However, an influx of people comes with a detrimental impact to the environment. This means there is a demand for volunteers to assist with marine conservation
, beach cleans and sustainable education.
Another bucket list destination to volunteer in Thailand is Koh Samui. With its crystal clear waters, laid back vibes and epic party scene it really is a backpackers paradise. Water sport fans will be spoilt for choice with snorkelling, diving, kayaking and paddleboarding opportunities. The island is also well known for its beaches with Chaweng, Lamai, Taling Ngam, and Natien some of the most beautiful.
Koh Samui is a great base for island hopping as well as exploring the beautiful Ang Thong National Park. The national park covers 42 islands and a total of 102 square kilometres. However, if the beach bum life isn’t for you – don’t worry! There are still so many (dry) activities to enjoy including cooking courses, yoga classes and even Muay Thai training.
Koh Samui offers amazing volunteer opportunities for eco warriors
. Whether its animal conservation, sustainable building projects or eco tourism, locals are passionate about protecting their paradise. There are also opportunities to volunteer with dog and cat sanctuaries with the area struggling with strays.
As mentioned Koh Samui is ideal for island hopping, so one of the best things about joining Workaway
is that your membership doesn’t restrict you to one location. You can hop between several destinations and embrace a variety of projects while volunteering in Thailand.
Talking of island hopping, just 45 minutes from Koh Samui by boat is another epic destination to volunteer in Thailand – Koh Phangan. You may have already heard of its famous full moon parties, but there is so much more to this island than bucket cocktails and beach parties.
The island also offers stunning coral reefs bustling with exotic fish as well as lush jungles dotted with waterfalls. Hikers may also enjoy a walk at low tide along the sand bar to Koh Ma, a small but stunning island that is connected to Koh Phangan. Or head for the hills to the towering Khao Ra Mountain is one of the best Koh Phangan attractions.
Like with many of these destinations, locals relied heavily on tourism for their income. However, following the devastating events of the pandemic, many tourism businesses struggled for survival. This has opened a wealth of opportunities for volunteering in Thailand. From party hostels to paradise yoga retreats Koh Phangan allows you to support locals while living in one of the most beautiful destinations on earth.
For somewhere completely different, I believe I’ve saved the best until last. As someone who has visited all the destinations on this list, Pai is not only one of my favourite places in Thailand but in Asia. Especially if you’ve been island hopping in the South, or navigating the busy Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Pai is literally a breath of fresh air.
It is a beautiful mountain village in northern Thailand that offers a completely different vibe from anywhere else on this list. It is renowned for being a bohemian backpacking destination with a plethora of yoga, spiritual and meditation opportunities dotted around the area.
Other highlights include Tham Lod (a striking cave which you can tour on traditional bamboo rafts) , watching sunset at Pai Canyon and swimming in Pai hot springs.
Pai is one of the best destinations to volunteer in Thailand if you are creative. From jewellery making to artisan crafts, mural painting to artist retreats there are so many ways to share your creative skills with the local community.
As mentioned, it is also a hub for spirituality with meditation, yoga and breathwork retreats
attracting travellers from all over the world. By volunteering in Pai you can enjoy these retreat experiences for free, in exchange for your time and skills.
Homestays are also particularly popular in Pai offering a chance to live with locals instead of the usual party hostels or beach resorts. This is an amazing way to learn how to cook traditional Thai food, volunteer with children or showcase your DIY skills.
Although the paradise beaches and towering temples attract tourists from all over the world, by volunteering in Thailand you will be able to not only enjoy these highlights but understand this country on a deeper level. Getting to know the people behind the Land of Smiles will prove to be such a rewarding experience, that will genuinely make a positive impact for years to come.
Whether you want to volunteer with elephants in Thailand, teach English or showcase your marketing magic in tourism, there are countless ways you can connect with the communities here and learn about their fascinating culture. Perhaps you already have a dream destination in mind, or maybe you fancy trying a few from this list... either way, by joining Workaway, your next Thailand volunteering adventure is just a few clicks away