Volunteering in Thailand
Incredible food, iconic beaches, famous Muai Thai kickboxing, and lush, wildlife-filled forests are several of the reasons it’s one of the most visited countries in Southeast Asia. Thailand has a bit of everything for every type of traveler: adventurer, foodie, history buff, sports fanatic, or altruistic volunteer. While it’s considered an emerging economy, many indigenous Thai people still face serious challenges. As a result, volunteering in Thailand has the potential to provide support to not only the people in these remote villages, but also the local animals and environment.
Fast Facts on Thailand
Capital City: Bangkok
- Bangkok is located on the central coast of Thailand
Currency: Thai baht
- Find your currency’s exchange rate here
Languages: Thai is the official language
- English is spoken somewhat widely in major cities but very little/not at all in small villages
Population (2016 estimate): 69 million
- Thailand is the 20th most populated country in the world; just ahead of the UK, France, and Italy
Size: 198,120 square miles or 513,120 square kilometers
- About the size of Spain and Puerto Rico combined
2018 Global Peace Index Ranking: 113 out of 163 nations (Medium)
- For comparison: USA (121 – Medium), Canada (6 – Very High), United Kingdom (57 – High)
Our local NGO partner in Thailand has been working in partnership with karen hill tribe communities for many years. Previously only providing camping tours with the elephants in the forests, they’re now bringing volunteers into the fold for short-term community development projects in the village and surrounding forest.
In 1989, Thailand enacted a ban on logging in an attempt to reverse the negative effects of deforestation (specifically, flash flooding). Prior to the ban, elephants were used in the logging industry as working animals. While the reasons for the ban were in the best interest of the country and environment; the negative result was thousands of loggers and their elephants out of work. Result, the elephant tourism boom. Elephants and their mahouts were forced to leave their homes and forest to go and work in the tourist orientated cities, forcing their elephants to undertake tasks they are not accustomed to doing (rides, shows, painting, begging) because this is what they believed tourists wanted to experience – both mahout and elephant usually living in very poor conditions.
This conservation community-focused group is passionate about eliminating the poor welfare that is experienced by many Asian elephants when they’re kept in captivity for touristic purposes. Through awareness, education, research, and community outreach; our partners are working together with communities to help create more humane and natural tourism opportunities for the elephant owners to earn a living and provide a viable alternative to elephant tourist camps.
Hill Tribe Community Development
Volunteers in Thailand live and work with a local Karen Hill tribe to improve aspects of their environment that benefits their community as well as their elephants. This project also gives you the opportunity to observe captive elephants living freely in their natural habitat. You’ll help our partner organization create a better environment for these beautiful creatures and promote their ethical treatment around the globe. Conservation starts in the community, so that’s where this project begins!
The core focuses of this volunteering program is firstly to assist with much needed projects throughout the community and secondly being given the opportunity to watch elephants living in their forest home. The elephants roam through through beautiful dense forests surrounding the village as opposed to residing in a contained area. They’re almost entirely hands-off, with the exception of the mahouts who are their caretakers within their forest home.
This project has 2 locations; one in Chiang Mai province and one in Mae Sot province.
|Duration||Cost (1 person)||Cost (2+ people)|
Included: 3 meals per day (upon arrival at project) • Homestay in the village • Tents/hammocks in the forest • Professional English-speaking guide • National Park fee • Elephant fund donation
NOT Included: Flights • Vaccinations • Visas • Travel insurance • Local transport • Personal expenses • Bank/wire transfer fees
Our Thailand project carries a “single supplement” to help cover the costs associated with only hosting one volunteer at a time. That is why you see separate pricing in the table above. The reduced rate is for groups of 2 or more.
Additional Transportation Fee
Our local partners highly recommend using their fully-insured, knowledgeable drivers. The villages can be difficult to find and relying on a 3rd party driver could result in not finding the village. As such, all individuals traveling with GOAT Volunteers are required to utilize this service to reach the village.
- Chiang Mai province (~ 4 hours) is £157 round-trip
- Mae Sot province (~ 2 hours) is £125 round-trip
The transportation fee is for solo volunteers; it is reduced if there are more than one individual being driven.
All projects incur a $250 application fee. Please see the The Fine Print page for more information.
The climate of Thailand is considered Tropical and is characterized by three main seasons: cold, dry, and wet. Located north of Chiang Mai, the village experiences the following climate norms:
Cold Season: November to February
Dry Season: March to May
Wet Season: June to October
Temperatures throughout the year vary dramatically; ranging anywhere from 10° C to 35° C.
Hottest Month: April | average highs of 98° F (36° C)
Coolest Month: December | average lows hovering around 58° F (14° C)
Special Considerations | Volunteering in Thailand
Please keep in mind that Thailand is a developing country. That means that infrastructure, amenities, and sustenance will likely differ from what you’re accustomed to.
The tap water is not drinkable, but purified water is provided.
For additional information, please visit our Resources page.