Starfish Volunteers

Starfish Volunteers

About

We offer the very best volunteer abroad experiences in Thailand. We have been bringing eager and enthusiastic volunteers and curious adventurers to Asia for over 10 years, so we know all there is to know about volunteer travel and adventure tours in this part of the world. Whether you are thinking about volunteering with animals on our elephant conservation projects, teaching English to some very excited children, or building and community support in a small community – we have a project for you!

Our volunteer programs are fun, exciting and make a lasting impression on both you and the communities we assist. Take a look at our volunteer abroad holidays and find your perfect volunteer adventure. Not sure where to start? Why not take our volunteer quiz to find out which of our volunteer programs suits you best? Don’t wait, your adventure is waiting for you, book your holiday with a difference!

Founded
2003

Reviews

Mandi Schmitt
Mandi
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I didn't know until after my volunteer trip how common it is for elephants to be mistreated for the sake of tourists. Luckily, I am confident that elephants I worked with were happy and healthy. We rode them to a lake each day to let them bathe and drink. Then, we rode them to the fields where they were allowed to graze and eat for as long as they wanted. I never saw them hurt or nervous. It was really incredible interacting with these gentle giants.

I also spent time at a nursery with 40+ toddlers. This was a bit less organized, and I didn't feel like I was helping much, merely maintaining order. I wouldn't participate with the kids again.

The staff was great and conducted tours of Bangkok. They were all friendly and helped the volunteers adapt to the new culture. I was very sick when I went to volunteer, and one of the staff came to the hospital with me and stayed the entire time, translating and comforting me. I really enjoyed getting to know them.

What would you improve about this program?
Though I loved working with the elephants and playing with cute Thai children, I felt this organization was more about giving the volunteers an experience rather than truly contributing to a sustainable project. This was in part my fault, because I only had two weeks to commit. There were other volunteers staying for longer and doing different projects (like working at a medical clinic and doing construction) who did feel like they were contributing in a more meaningful way. For the kids program, I would change the minimum length of the project to at least a month so that volunteers could have a chance to become more involved.
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Marvin
2/10
No, I don't recommend this program

I'm a 5th year medical student and i found the medical project quite disapointing from a medical point of view,i don't think it suits advanced medical students,it will be first quite raging to see under qualified people refusing to do what you say( i had to argue and prove them with internet that you were using amoxycilin in triple therapy in gastric ulcers and yet she deliberatly wouldn't want to give it, or see a nurse do stitches( i couldn't fit in the gloves) trying to join both sides of the wound at once and get her needle lost in the patient's foot).and spending a whole week looking for mosquitoes larvaes in water and sticking papers to sticks,it's not what i expect to do as a "medical project".also food is not included,it's not for the 4 euros it costs/week,but for the principle.also the cleaning lady at the house can wash your clothes for 100 bahts...it's 20 bahts across the street,they charge you 800 bahts to ride the elephants,and don't expect a refund if you leave early.this organization is only about money and that's sad.(but the staff is lovely).i wouldn't call it medical volunteering,and i think it only suits young(1st,2nd max) nurses students who will do a lot of wound dressing,but if you have some medical training,don't do this project.

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Nat
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was in Thailand for 3 months volunteering on the elephant and the turtle project and loved every minute! You give a lot to the communities and people you work with, but you receive so much in return! It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, specifically the elephant project! Feeding the ellies, getting to the know the character of the ellies and the mahouts, planting food for them, masheteeing trees for them, walking them to the river to "bath" and play, having fun with the local kids, the food, the weather, the peace, the fun, the whole experience was awesome!! :)

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chester
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was part of a group of 7 student nurses from England volunteering in Surin hospital in Thailand. We all thouroughly enjoyed our experience with starfish and can not fault them at all. From the moment we landed in Bangkok airport a member of their team has been with us to answer any queries we may have, nothing is too much of a problem for them.
Arranging the trip was simple as the staff in the office in Bangkok are extremely efficient.
The staff in Surin province, were the hospital and other volunteering projects are based, are very welcoming and you instantly feel at home.
We will defintely be returning to Thailand amazing place!

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Bradley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with starfish volunteers in Thailand was an incredible experience! I worked on the elephant project for two weeks and had the time of my life. The staff were fantastic and went Beyond their job requirements to ensure our stay was safe, including organizing our weekend activities. The village we stayed in was welcoming and gave us a great insight into rural thailand life. Starfish staff were easily contactable both before and during our trip which made the experience run smoothly and safely. I recommend volunteering with starfish, and further encourage people to work on the elephant project as it is an incredible experience, being up and close with elephants every day.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Elephant in Thailand

Why did you decide to volunteer with Starfish Volunteers in Thailand?

Brad: I decided to volunteer with Starfish after searching the internet for volunteer experiences that involve animals. After finding a few projects in Thailand that work with elephants, I read reviews on a couple of websites and found that previous volunteers that have worked on the elephant project in Surin with Starfish volunteers had a great experience. It was that easy!

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Brad: Volunteering with elephants was an incredible experience. We were driven to a village, about an hour away from Surin City, in which we slept in a Thai house from Monday to Thursday. The Thai family were incredibly welcoming. As well as making us feel at home, they were excited to teach us a few Thai words. In the mornings, we would head to the sugar cane fields, and either help cut the sugar cane to feed to the elephants, or prepare the soil for planting. After a delicious Thai lunch, cooked by the Starfish volunteer coordinators, it was time to ride the elephants to the river for a bath. This was my favourite activity, as these animals are so gentle and smart. It is a great time to bond with your elephant and mahout (elephant trainer). Sitting on the neck of such a large creature, while looking out over the abundant rice fields and chilli plantations, is something that has to be experienced to be appreciated. Night times were spent playing games with the village children, who loved coming over to the homestay and interacting with the volunteers.

How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

Brad: This experience surpassed any expectation I had when heading into this volunteering project. To be able to be immersed in a culture where all of the little things in life are appreciated, has definitely impacted on my future. It has made me realize the important things in life, and to not take things for granted. I have now added more volunteer projects to my life plan, as it was such a rewarding and eye opening experience. As a university student in a health profession, I feel that my acquired skills would be beneficial in places such as Thailand, and would consider working in said areas in the future. Volunteering is definitely a life changing experience and I urge anybody who wants to work with elephants, to apply through Star fish Volunteers, as the staff go beyond their job description to ensure your stay in Thailand is safe, and enjoyable.

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