thailand

Thailand is one of the greatest and most popular tourist destinations in the world. It also happens to be an amazing choice for volunteer vacations.

Despite its relative prosperity, some regions still have many social and environmental issues that require help.Volunteers are welcomed by the local people, who are very easy to get on with. They are usually incredibly friendly and appreciative, especially if you are there to contribute to their country.

When volunteering, you can easily visit other parts of the country and incorporate volunteering into a longer trip so you get to mix things up and see as much as possible. A bit of tourism and a bit of integration with the culture while giving something back is a great combination for any holiday.

With so many excellent volunteering opportunities, it’s difficult to choose which to dedicate your time to. Do you focus on people i.e. education, orphanages etc, or do you focus on environmental causes, such as protecting Thailand’s incredibly diverse, but often under threat array of animal and plant life.So, if you’re looking for vacation ideas to make your next trip a bit different, then try volunteering.

Here are 3 excellent examples of projects that illustrate why everybody should consider being a volunteer in Thailand.

Volunteering at an elephant camp

thailand

One of the most iconic symbols of Thailand is the Asian elephant. Their national beer is even named after it!

It’s undoubtedly an incredible experience to get up close and personal with elephants. The huge animals are intelligent and mild-tempered, meaning that for many years, tourists have chosen to visit them and even ride them on jungle treks.

Unfortunately, this demand has led to wide-scale abuse. Young elephants are often mistreated and injured during ‘training’, and elephant physiology means they are not suited to carrying heavy loads, such as people. This doesn’t stop some people from continuing to exploit them for the lucrative tourist market, though.

Other than avoiding elephant tours that are known to exploit the animals, you can help by volunteering. Many different companies offer this kind of program all over the country, so you’ll have a lot of choice of ethical companies.

As tourists wise-up to the harm being done to the animals, the situation is improving. It’s no longer as lucrative to disregard the elephant’s health and well-being, but the abuse is still occurring in Thailand.

If you love animals and want to try to help the elephants, this could be the perfect choice of volunteer project for you.

Projects are likely to entail looking after the animals, exercising them, washing them, feeding them, and generally improving their quality of life. Many of them are rescued from abusive owners, so you can truly contribute towards making their lives better.

Teaching English to monks in a temple

monks

This option for anyone looking to volunteer in Thailand can be a truly eye-opening experience.

It is humbling to see the dedication of the monks and begin to understand what it means to dedicate your life to a lifestyle that seems so alien in Western cultures.

A good example of this type of teaching is run by uVolunteer, in Trat province in the east of the country.

Participants who choose this project get to live and work around the monks and assist in the operation of a language school that had been established to broaden the horizons of young monks.

The monks are generally young (teenagers mostly), and begin with a very low level of English comprehension, so it can be extremely rewarding to see your hard work pay off in front of you.

One of the best parts of these projects is the unique insight it can grant you into such a sacred and respected section of Thai culture; something that simply wouldn’t be achievable any other way.

Volunteering with hill tribes

thai tribes

The Thai hill tribes are very distinct from the rest of the Thai population, culturally, geographically and ethnically. Even within the group of millions of people that are collectively referred to as the ‘hill tribes’, there are several distinct groups. For example, the Hmong, the Akha and Karen, who all having different customs, languages, and heritages.

One thing these tribes do have in common is that they almost exclusively inhabit the north of Thailand. These regions of Thailand are excellent places to visit, for many reasons. Firstly, the entire area is beautiful. The lush, fertile landscapes are stunning places travel through. Rice paddies, mountains, jungles and rivers pepper the entire north, and you could explore the area for a long time without getting bored.

If you’re really interested in learning more about the unique populations of this area, then volunteering with hill tribes is an ideal way to achieve it.

The tribes have unfortunately suffered considerable exclusion from the rest of Thailand. This is in part due to them being a minority, and possibly furthered by their reluctance to embrace modernization.

As a result, most of the tribes are extremely poor, living from the land. They often rely too much on passing tourism, which is not always organized with the best intentions, and preventable disease, poor education, and loss of cultural identity are real problems for many of them.

Good volunteer projects can provide invaluable help to these people. Education can be hugely beneficial. Business, language, literacy, and disease prevention are a few examples of things being taught that provide massive tangible improvements to the tribes’ living conditions.

Volunteer to get more from your next trip to Thailand

Working as a volunteer offers so much to anybody willing to try something a little different.

Not only can you make a huge difference to the lives of real people, you can also develop as a person, learn new skills, and have a great time.

Bio

Nicoleta Radoi

Nicoleta is the resident content blogger for uVolunteer. Nicoleta is an avid linguist, speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. She spent a decade working in China in the education sector and working with major international development institutions and currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food.

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