Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in Thailand

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Internships in Thailand

 

A backpacker favourite for decades, Thailand has a wealth of volunteer projects to match all budgets. For those that want to keep their costs down self funding volunteering is much cheaper here than it would be almost anywhere else in the world.

 

First, Here's One Worth Paying For

Sometimes volunteering is about the experience and that experience is worth paying a little bit extra for. Here is our pick for Thailand:

Safari Volunteers

www.safarivolunteer.com

I absolutely loved our time at this park, near Kanchanaburi. It stands out as a highlight of not just this trip, but of all our travels. Deirdre didn’t enjoy herself quite so much as she thought almost every animal wanted to eat her, but still had a memorable time. This isn’t packaged voluntourism but real, if very enjoyable, work and I felt we were being of real use in improving the living conditions of the animals at the park. There are two programmes available. Working with the park's lions, tigers and leopards on the Big Cat Team or opt for the Zoo Volunteer Team if you are unsure of your favourite animal. Prices have gone up a little recently so Safari Volunteers falls outside our criterea for cheap volunteering - largely because not volunteering in Thailand is so cheap anyway - but we feel this project is well worth splashing out a little extra money and is still cheap for this type of project anyway.

Where: Near Kanchanaburi.
Accommodation & Costs: Two months on the Big Cat Programme costs around £1400 (or a little under £25 a day). The same time on the Zoo Programme is around £16 with prices falling further for longer stays.

Volunteering in Thailand

 

Grassroots Volunteering in Thailand

The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:

Father Ray Foundation

www.fr-ray.org

A home for 850 orphaned, abused and disadvantaged children. Volunteer tasks include teaching English at the Vocational School for the Disabled, accompanying blind students on a trip to the beach, daily walks with the elderly, spending time with the street kids at the Drop-In Center, arts and crafts at the Children’s Village. A six month commitment is expected.

Where: Pattaya. There is also a sister school in Nong Khai.
Accommodation & Costs: No fees are requested and accommodation and meals are provided.

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Thai Animal Sanctuary

www.thaianimalsanctuary.com

Thai Animal Sanctuary is a self funded and donation based organisation working for the protection and care of animals in North West Thailand. Volunteers are needed to help out around the sanctuary by walking dogs, grooming, medicating, assisting with the treatment of animals, cleaning, maintenance, bamboo building, fundraising, raising awareness, teaching on the Education programme, helping with accounts, updating the website, volunteer recruitment, and more.

Where: Sangklaburi.
Accommodation & Costs: No fee. Directly opposite the sanctuary is the volunteer house, which all volunteers are welcome to stay in, depending on available space. The cost to stay at the volunteer house is 150TB per night. Free meals are available to all volunteers in the school. Otherwise there is cheap food and accommodation available locally.

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Care for Dogs Foundation

www.carefordogs.org

Travel volunteers are welcome to help out around the Care for Dogs' shelter. The work can include socialising with the dogs, cleaning and bathing and walkies. A four day minimum commitment is required. After four days volunteers may set their own schedule, volunteering half or full days on Monday and/or Wednesday through Saturdays.

Where: Around 13 km south of Chiang Mai.
Accommodation & Costs: Care for Dogs is a fee free programme - though donations are always appreciated. Otherwise volunteers pay for their own food, accommodation and transport. An inexpensive homestay within walking distance can be arranged with a Thai family frp 250TB per night. Other accommodations in the area provide discounts to Care for Dogs volunteers.

Volunteer Work in Thailand

 

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Lanta Animal Welfare

www.lantaanimalwelfare.com

A non-profit organisation which aims to relieve the suffering and pain of the animals on Koh Lanta island through sterilisation and care. A love of animals is essential but you’ll also need to be hard working, motivated, friendly and mature, regardless of age. it is hard work including cleaning, gardening, maintenance and animal welfare duties. You’ll meet loads of great people and have lots of fun, but the animals come first. The minimum stay is one month and the maximum three months, although this can be extended in certain cases. Volunteers should be at least 20 years of age.

Where: Koh Lanta.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteering with LAW costs around £100 for the first month, £50 for the second month and £20 each month thereafter. Volunteers stay in male or female dorms with two bunk beds per room. Water, tea and coffee is available but volunteers buy their own food and other drinks. One of their supporters offers volunteers a free cooking class, staff prices at their bar and a 50% discount on food at their restaurant.

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Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation

www.samuidog.org

Volunteers are welcome to help out at this Koh Samui animal shelter, whether it is for an hour or a year. They have two shelters: a small one in Chaweng and a larger one in the south west of the island. Tasks can include painting walls, spraying, de-ticking or bathing some of the 350 dogs and looking after the 100 cats. Those ready to devote two days a week in the office to deal with some of the foundation's paperwork are very welcome to stay there.

Where: Koh Samui. They have two shelters: a small one in Chaweng, and a larger one at Ban Taling Ngam in the south west of the island.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers should be self funding, including finding their own accommodation.

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PhaNgan Animal Care

www.pacthailand.org

PAC provides nursing and veterinary care for the island’s stray and unwanted animals. Running an animal care facility requires the completion of a multitude of tasks, so there are always jobs available for a willing pair of hands. Vets and nurses are particularly welcome, as are long term travellers to Koh PhaNgan able to stay for three months and willing to train and work as a clinic assistant. Applicants must be at least 21 years old.

Where: Koh PhaNgan.
Accommodation & Costs: PACS may be able to offer discounted accommodation, depending on availability, to long term volunteers for around £50 per month, including wifi, electricity, drinking water, tea, coffee & milk.

 

Hostel Work Exchanges

Many hostels use help exchange networks (see below) to find volunteer staff but the following either advertise on their websites or are particularly noted for taking on volunteers:

Clayzy House

www.lantaclayzyhouse.com

Created by its owner, Neng, using mainly bamboo, grass, driftwood and clay, plus a very big (and a little bit crazy) imagination, this quirky backpacker hostel on Koh Lanta has benefited from an army of amazing volunteers from around the world. Volunteers still help Neng and his wife, Nikki, to run, renovate and keep on creating the Clayzy community. Take a look at their Workaway profile first and let them know if you have relevant experience and what dates you are available.

 

Other Opportunities to Volunteer in Thailand

We haven't heard back from our last email to Issara, the owner of At Home Sukhothai, confirming these details but when we stayed in his guest house in 2013 he told us he regularly invited someone to work in his garden and reception area for a period of up to two months. In exchange, he provides a room with a fan and outside bathroom, some meals and a bike. More details can be found in this short post on our The Working Traveller blog.

Most of International Humanity Foundation's volunteering is done in Indonesia, but they also have a Chiang Rai office. Prices range from $150/week for voluntourists who teach four hours a day and stay for less than one month to free for co-directors who must commit to a minimum of six months. Volunteers live in-center with all meals provided.

 

Help Exchange Networks in Thailand

Workaway - https://www.workaway.info/hostlist-TH.html
HelpStay - http://www.helpstay.com/projects-abroad?keywords=Thailand&XID={XID_HASH}
HelpX - http://www.helpx.net/hostlist.asp?host_region=967&network=9
WWOOF - http://wwoof-thailand.com

 

More Volunteering in Thailand Resources

Volunteer Work Thailand - An excellent source of volunteer ideas and free volunteer work in Thailand.
11 Great Volunteer-Ready Dog Shelters in Thailand - Franca and Dale list dog shelters across Thailand that welcome volunteers.
Monk Chats in Chiang Mai - Travellers can help young Monks get better at speaking English. This post gives a little background to what is involved and locations around town where you can join a Chat.

 

Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in Thailand

Stay for free in return for caring for local residents' homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). You can also get a free $25 Airbnb credit from us here.

 

Volunteer Experiences*

Volunteer Work in Kanchanaburi with Safari Volunteers - Our own experience volunteering on a safari park near Kanchanaburi, including taking a lion for a walk.
Eco-tourism in Thailand – a Straw Bale Hostel! - Yara Coelho volunteered with Clayzy House on Koh Lanta.
Volunteering with Animals Abroad – Our Week at the Dog Rescue Project in Thailand - Amy and Andrew find the perfect volunteering opportunity during their trip to the Elephant Nature Park where they help out with their Dog Rescue Project.
Volunteer with Elephants at Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park - Anni finds volunteering is probably the most effective way that non-scientists can get involved with these incredible animals.
Our time at Elephant Nature Park - Giselle and Cody help to care for a new born baby elephant and for over 2000 dogs rescued from the illegal dog meat trade.
Our Week at Care for Dogs, Chiang Mai - Franca and Dale make their first step into volunteering.
Mae Taeng, Pun Pun and You Sabai Organic Farms, Thailand - Cristen and Miguel set off on a motorbike road trip from Chiang Mai and end up at a couple of nearby organic farms.
Volunteering With WWOOF - A WWOOFers’ impression of her volunteering experience on the Three-Generation Farm in Mae Rim, Thailand.
Phangan Animal Care (PAC) - Ross Fairgrieve shoots a video for a charity dedicated to caring for the stray animals of Koh PhaNgan.
They Gave me a Machete: A True Story of Corn-Cutting - Diana hacks away at a field of corn to feed elephants.
Safari Volunteers, Working with Exotic Animals - While cruising the work exchange site Helpx, Wil stumbled upon Safari Voluteers and enjoyed an amazing experience he’ll never forget.
Thai Monk Chat - Noah Lederman talks to people dressed in orange.
Eco-tourism in Thailand – A Straw Bale Hostel - After a bad volunteering experience Yara Coelho enjoys a better time volunteering with an eco-hostel, made of mud, bamboo and straw bale.
The Joys of Free Volunteering in Thailand: Tiger Piss, Fur Balls and Excrement - One of a series of posts by Turner Barr on his time working at the Tiger Temple.
The Reality of Tiger Temple: My Final Thoughts on my Volunteering Experiment - Mixed emotions push Turner Barr to move on from volunteering at the often controversial Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi.
Wildlife Volunteering at the Safari Park Open Zoo in Kanchanaburi, Thailand - Jennifer volunteered to improve the lives of animals living in the Safari Park Open Zoo in Kanchanaburi.
The Safari Park Zoo Volunteer Project - Tessa and Nicole spent a week here feeding monkeys, walking lions and tigers, bottle feeding young leopards, and cleaning up poo.
Day to Day at the Safari Park - Tom feeds baby lions and cleans up monkey poo. Just an average day when volunteering at a safari park in Thailand.
Volunteering at the Safari Park Open Zoo Kanchanaburi - A Dutch girl flies into Thailand to feed lions, giraffes and monkeys.
Volunteering with Dogs in Thailand - Dale and Franca care for dogs in Chiang Mai.
Volunteering at Elephant Nature Park in Thailand - Volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park alters Mindy’s life long after leaving ‘Team Poop’.
Daily Responsibilities and Activities at the Surin Project - Mindy picks up elephant poo and does the chicken dance.
Volunteer in Koh Lanta Thailand – A Disaster! - Yara Coelho puts up with a poor Workaway host.
Volunteering at Elephant Nature Park: What’s It Like? - Amanda planned her entire Southeast Asia trip around volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for injured and abused elephants in northern Thailand.
I Had the Time of my Life Helping Elephants in Thailand and How You Can Too! - Despite not being a fan of voluntourism, Stacey felt the Elephant Nature Park was well worth her support.
Life on Lanta - The clock is ticking on Koh Lanta’s chill factor and affordability, say Melissa and Craig, but by helping out at a little happy hippy guesthouse they managed to secure both.

 

* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations

Images courtesy Emily Hooton and Franca and Dale