Summer Volunteer Programs in Thailand
98% Rating
(25 Reviews)

Summer Volunteer Programs in Thailand

Program Highlight!

Explore the intersection of modern medicine and indigenous wisdom as you lend a hand to community health projects on our Bali: Global Health Initiative™ program.

Explore the beautiful and rich culture of Thailand while volunteering. Global Leadership Adventures offer multiple Service Learning Adventures, from orphanage work to caring for elephants:

* The Elephant Village Initiative: Learn about the importance of elephant conservation and how to care for these majestic animals.
* The Elephant Conservation Project: Take your compassion for animals a step further as you work on elephant conservation efforts on a permanent care reserve.
*Cultural Kaleidoscope: Take in all of Thailand - its sights, sounds, and colors - through its vibrant culture.

While volunteering you will also have the chance to zip-line through a rain forest, sight see in Bangkok, hike through jungles to hill tribes, and of course experience food, arts, and music first-hand.

Chiang Mai
Program Categories
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
Airport Transfers
Starting Price
Price Details
Includes: All meals and purified water, Lodging in GLA Home-Base, All excursions and activities, 24-hour emergency hotline, Airport Transportation, Local Transportation, Pre-departure Orientation, Travel, medical and evacuation insurance, Phone call home upon arrival.

Questions & Answers

It's really going to vary trip to trip, but for my Thailand trip we did service nearly every day, except for when we first arrived. You usually start early in the morning and will have a break for lunch. Some days end at lunch time and some days you will have a lunch break and keep working. For some programs they try and set it up so your recreational adventure activities are on the weekends, but...

Program Reviews

based on 25 reviews
  • Growth 9.4
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.6
  • Housing 9.8
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 16 - 25 of 25

Elephant Village Initiative

This was my fourth and final trip with Global Leadership Adventures. After traveling to Costa Rica, the Galapagos and the Dominican Republic with GLA, I was thrilled to finally be going to Thailand. The local staff was amazing and I learned so much about Thai culture. Working with elephants every day was an experience rivaled by none. After spending a few days in the city of Chiang Mai, we finally headed off to the village where the Elephant Conservation center was. We woke up very early every day to clean up after the elephants and bathe them, a surprisingly enjoyable task. We also participated in other service activities such as planting trees, teaching english in schools, and cutting and planting grass (the food for the elephants). I really was not sure what to expect as this was my first time traveling to Asia. But now that I have spent two weeks there and met so many wonderful people, all I can think about is going back. I was in the first group of the program so we acted sort of as the guinea pigs for what service work activities would work the best. We also were given the chance to help cook at the conservation center. We were assigned a day to cook dinner and we learned how to prepare an official Thai dish. I have a million wonderful things to say about this program, and I couldn't be happier with my experience. I was really able to discover my love for learning about other cultures, and my love for preserving species. We engaged in meaningful discussions about animal rights, and how one person can make a change (a discussion started by our mentor Ash Hastings). I cannot recommend Global Leadership Adventures enough, it is such a wonderful program.

How can this program be improved?

As I said we were sort of the guinea pigs so a lot of things we noted were set to be fixed by the time the next group came around. We wanted to do more community service as a group because some days felt relatively easy. For the next groups they had planned on incorporating more service work activities.

Yes, I recommend

Thailand Cultural Kaleidoscope

The name of the program has to be 100% true. Last summer, I chose to go to Thailand with Global Leadership Adventures instead of having a Sweet Sixteen and I could not be any happier. I learned so much about the Thai culture and absolutely loved the program. I learned about the food that they ate, even making my own, how to pray like a Buddhist monk, and about the country as a whole. I made so many friends, who I still keep in touch with and would love to go back. There was certainly the element of "Adventure" while I was there. We went zip lining, biking, kayaking, hiking, and so much more. We met a local hill tribe and even went to a Thai high school where we met some students. We also had the option to shop at markets. It was an immersive opportunity and I will never forget it. The volunteering itself was wonderful as well. We went to an orphanage and a home for women. The children at the orphanage were extremely happy and appreciative of us coming, which was always a pleasant experience. At the home for women, we helped build some bamboo fences and prepare the home for the rainy season which was approaching rapidly. They were very appreciative as well. Overall, I loved this program so much that I decided to go on another program the following year in Ghana. I believe Global Leadership Adventures is worth every penny and is truly a life-changing experience that everyone should consider.

Yes, I recommend
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Global Leadership Adventures - Thailand

Thailand was the best experience of my life. I had the best time with the best people and i learnt a lot about the country and myself. We visited many beautiful places including temples, we learnt about the Thai culture and beliefs. The staff were amazing and really supportive. We learnt about how elephants are treated in Thailand. The group also did alot of community service, half of the group went to a women's refuge and the other half went to an orphanage to help out. Global Leadership Adventures were the best company to volunteer abroad with because they are helpful and dedicated and i would recommend the company to anyone.

How can this program be improved?

I would advise the company to take participants to an elephant sanctuary instead of an elephant camp. This is because the elephants are not being treated well in the camps and the sanctuary will treat the elephants better.

Response from Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

Thank you for your feedback, Louise! We're glad you described your experience in Thailand as a positive one. We have since chosen another organization to work with for our elephant experience which focuses on ethical care for elephants.

Yes, I recommend
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A Summer To Remember

This past summer, I went on the Thailand Cultural Kaleidoscope Program with Global Leadership Adventures and had an absolutely amazing two weeks. We were able to experience so many different cultural experiences in such a short amount of time, hence, I felt like we got a lot out of our time there. We went ziplining, tried and cooked local foods and dishes, bamboo rafted, explored Buddhist temples, hiked through hill tribe villages, rode elephants through the jungle, and bathed elephants in a local river. Along with this, one of the main focuses of our time in Thailand was going to a school and teaching English to the Thai children. It was an absolutely amazing experience unlike anything I had ever done before.
The GLA staff really made the trip what it was. They were knowledgeable about the country and made us feel safe at all times. Along with those important things, they were also very fun, funny, and easy to relate to.

How can this program be improved?

I would have loved to get a bit more direction on the website as to which service program we were doing. I loved teaching English, however, was very much looking forward to working with the women's shelter. We didn't actually end up doing any of that. I'm very happy that we worked with the schoolkids, but it would have been nice to know that we were only focusing on one service project.

Yes, I recommend
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Best time of my life!

I really, really loved going to Thailand with GLA. They were amazing and I felt safe with all the mentors and staff at all times. We got to do all the amazing things we saw online and the program really opened my eyes to things I had it been aware of. I was sick at one point and one if the mentors got me medicine, and took care of me just like my own mom would. I felt so safe and happy.I walked away from this experience happy and proud I had done it. The only thing was that is was super expensive. But in my personal opinion-totally worth it. I was actually awarded a scholarship for myself and a friend to go again of $500. Most amazing program ever.

How can this program be improved?

Well I would say don't bring a friend. I made so many friends along the way and I'm planning on doing another trip with a few of them next summer. There were two girls who came together, and while they made friends, they mostly stuck together. It really was great.
Maybe just a little too expensive.

Yes, I recommend
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I spent a total of five weeks over the summer with Global Leadership Adventures, two of which were spent in Thailand on the Elephant Village Initiative trip. After weeks of comparing different programs and weighing the pros and cons, I decided that GLA was the right program for me, and I've never regretted it. Global Leadership Adventures not only made me feel safe and secure during the entire process, but the program really feels like a community. The facebook pages set up make it very easy to talk to people who have already done trips through GLA, and the support system does it's job incredibly. The mentors on this trip were amazing, and when we requested an activity they did their best to make sure it happened (which made the trip even more amazing). I would love to do another trip with GLA, and would recommend it to anybody.

How can this program be improved?

I would have liked to spend more time with the elephants, but otherwise it was perfect.

Yes, I recommend
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You won't regret it!

I'm Tedra, a senior in high school who attended the Global Leadership Adventures excursion to Thailand this past summer in June 2013.

It may sound like an exaggeration, but this experience was unforgettable. The days were jam-packed with service that helped the locals and showed them they were cared about- on my particular trip we worked with HIV/AIDS affected orphans, single mothers shunned from their communities, and other Thai peoples in need of various things. This is not all we did though- we explored Chiang Mai and the deep culture within and the peaceful people who lived there. We went to an elephant refugee camp and bathed them, went to the tallest mountain in Thailand, went to numerous temples and had a blast learning about those who are not-so-different from us. Though our days were packed with service and adventure we always had a beautiful and safe home-base to go back to so that we could unwind and build long-lasting friendships with the other students.

On my trip I never once felt unsafe, alone, or invaluable in any way. Our mentors always made sure all of our needs were taken care of and they made sure we knew the importance of what we were doing and what we could do as Leaders, and I am forever greatful for that.

I highly reccomend any GLA trip to everyone. If you'd like to know any more about GLA, you can visit their website at, and make sure to check out their Young Leader blog at

Do take some time out to check out this trip and organization and try to go! You won't regret it!

How can this program be improved?

If I had to change one thing, it would be volunteer hours. I wish we spent more time volunteering but I realize there wasn't much time because I went on the two-week excursion.

I also wish that the elephant refugee camp was more humane to the animals, but my friends and I voiced our concerns about treatment to the elephants and the staff promised to look into possibly supporting another camp!

Yes, I recommend
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Amazing Way To Spend The Summer

Global Leadership Adventures is an amazing program. I attended their Galapagos trip in 2013 and attended their Thailand program last summer. If you are considering stepping out of your comfort zone and helping in a foreign country this is completely the program for you. GLA is extremely safe and professional. All the home bases are beautiful, the food is delicious, the activities and excursions are always amazing, and the staff is kind and extremely knowledgable. GLA gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture. Part of the staff usually lives in the country year round and knows their way around. For example: In Thailand we got to eat Mother's day lunch cooked by our drivers family and had the opportunity to help their neighbors plant rice. No other program is like GLA. They constantly keep you busy and active and give you an unforgettable experience. Volunteering is such a rewarding experience. In Thailand we worked at three locations: an orphanage for children with HIV, a home for mothers from hill tribes, and an orphanage for trafficked children. Although it was very sad and upsetting, the experience of working at these organization was completely unforgettable. This trip is designed for those that want to step out of their comfort zone no matter to what extent. I decided to try bugs and live shrimp and a fish spa while I was there, others did not. This trip is designed to give you opportunities to immerse yourself completely into a different culture; It is your choice to what extent you choose to immerse yourself. Nevertheless this was an amazing trip that I would recommend to everyone. The sights, the food, and the atmosphere helped me fall in love with Thailand. I know I will be back in Chiang Mai very soon.

How can this program be improved?

For the most part this program was great. The volunteering aspect could possibly be improved. Although the work we do is mostly manual labor we still have an opportunity to play with the children. The manual labor is of course invaluable to the places we worked at, I just wish we had more of an opportunity to interact with the children at the orphanages.

Yes, I recommend
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GLA Thailand 2013

Such an amazing experience and company to volunteer with. I went to Thailand this summer (2013) with GLA and was really impressed by the home base as well as the American and Thai staff members. The volunteer sights were really nice and for the most part it did not feel like you were volunteering because you were just having fun with the people you were helping. Once you arrive at the actual base with all the other 29 kids you might be nervous but by the second day you will have already begun to make friends and memories. I cannot wait to volunteer abroad again with GLA during the summer of 2014 because it honestly did change my life. The hardest thing to get used to is probably the humidity in Thailand. The second you walk outside you are all sweaty and your clothes will stick to you all day. Other than that its all fun and games.

How can this program be improved?

For Thailand specifically I would like to see more opportunities for interaction with children. Id honestly say that we did more manual labor. Yes we did hang out with the children but we didn't really teach them anything. Some of the schools we went to just tossed a few of us with a group of Thai kids and were given no instructions. I would like if the GLA staff members could give us multiple ideas and games to play if and when that situation does come up.

Yes, I recommend
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A cultural immersion

As a student who had never been to Asia, this program was truly incredible because it made me discover the real Thailand. On a day to day basis, get to work and help in a local community and meet people you would never see on a tipical holiday ! I was immersed in a new culture that I got to discover and love during those three weeks !
I had the summer of my life while helping others, and won't ever forget it !

How can this program be improved?

Thailand has a huge diversity of landscapes and we go to experience life in the city and in the mountains, unfortunately we didn't get to see the famous paradisiac beaches but we only three weeks you can't obviously visit the entire country.

Yes, I recommend

About Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)

With a history and heritage in global education, Global Leadership Adventures packs our itineraries with leadership development, volunteering and the delight of taking learning off the beaten path. Our unique program design produces what many...