Malaysia is almost two different nations, separated by the South China Sea. On one end is the multicultural, moderately developed mainland, and the other is Borneo, essentially a wild jungle. Parts of the nation are extremely developed, in particular, the capital city Kuala Lumpur, which was once home to the tallest buildings in the world.
However, for travelers who want to experience Malay culture in more depth and contribute to its overall development, volunteer projects in Malaysia offer the opportunity to do so. From volunteering with Orangutans on Borneo to working with providing safe drinking water to rural villages outside of Kuala Lumpur, experiencing Malaysia through the eyes of a volunteer will a perspective few get.Photo Credit: Ah Wei (Lung Wei)
There are many areas in Malaysia which are impoverished and where education is of low quality. There is thus a tremendous need of English teachers in the nation. As a teacher you will teach English along with other subjects to Malaysian children and youth in schools.
Many areas of Malaysia are underdeveloped and thus have a need for volunteers. As a volunteer, there are many opportunities for you to help the Malay, whether it be in construction projects or projects that help villages get running water.
The Island of Borneo (which Malaysia shares with Indonesia and Brunei) has abundant wildlife. The island has rich rainforests and there is a need for volunteers to help in conservation. As a volunteer, you will work with the local community and work on protecting the rainforest and its wildlife. Borneo is home to many unique animal species, particularly among animals and amphibians.
As a volunteer in Malaysia, you are recommended to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, get vaccinated for Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis. For more information visit MD Travel Health.
There is a general threat in Malaysia with regards to terrorism, but it isn’t too serious and it certainly shouldn’t being a deterrent in visiting the nation. Bag snatching is the most common crime that tourists experience so stay vigilant in crowded areas.
Where are the best places to volunteer in Malaysia? Well, that depends on what you want to do. Kuala Lumpur is best for volunteer English teachers, whereas Borneo holds the bulk of the environmental and conservation projects.
Johor Bahru is another large city in Southern Malaysia, one of the biggest industrial centers in the nation.
By and large though, you'll likely be volunteering in a smaller village outside of a major city -- which will also, obviously, give you a totally different experience than what you would have gotten in KL or Johor Bahru!