Thailand is a beacon for volunteers; whether you're interested in working at a refugee camp or volunteering with stray dogs, the opportunities for volunteers in Thailand are widely varied.

Not to mention, volunteering in Thailand lets you step outside the normal tourist bubble. Working with an NGO lets you settle into a daily rhythm that shares the Thai daily rhythm of work and celebration. Thais work hard yet smilingly acknowledge you as you walk through ancient and modern entrepreneurial activities.

Because Thailand shares borders with Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Cambodia, all of which have a history of human rights abuses, scores of human right agencies have been long established in this area -- and it's easy for you to make these neighboring countries (which are also historical, beautiful and fascinating) part of your volunteer plans.

Bangkok and Chiang Mai in particular have multiple volunteering opportunities and NGOs:

Human Right Advocacy

There are many NGOs in Chiang Mai, with branches in Mae Sot, that do grassroots work with migrant workers and their families. There is great need for educators, grant writers, and handicraft artists. Some NGOs specialize and work with regional migrants, like Katchen women and Shan youth.

Thailand is the chosen destination for many migrants from Myanmar (Burma) and Laos – at great personal risk and effort people cross the border to Thailand from their countries that share a long history with Thailand. Wide ranging aid programs are provided by many small NGOs up to the United Nations whose ILO (International Labour Office) includes Local Strategies for Decent Work Specialists.

Learn more about human rights in Thailand from the Human Rights Watch.


Both paid and volunteer jobs alike for ESL teachers are common in Thailand. However, if you still don't have a TEFL certificate or teaching experience, becoming a volunteer ESL teacher in Thailand is your best (and most responsible) option.

Wildlife and Conservation

Besides teaching, volunteering with Thailand's wildlife -- particularly elephants -- is another popular area for international volunteers. Spend your days helping to conserve wildlife habitats, rescuing stray dogs, or tracking elephants.

NGO Work, Training and Monitoring

Many NGOs need people who can ‘train the trainer’ and expand the work staff available. Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB) participates and coordinates events to raise awareness of human rights in Burma, an region whose recent elections is being closely watched by the world as it allows more visas for the first time in many decades.

Other popular fields to volunteer in include: economic justice, youth advocacy, education, teaching English, and women's rights

Questions to Ask Before Volunteering

  • Do I need to learn Thai?
  • Will there be other volunteers where I'm working?
  • What will my accommodations be like?
  • Will I be in a rural or urban area?
  • What requirements are there for my volunteer project?
  • What can I do to prepare myself for living and volunteering in Thailand?

Best Places to Volunteer in Thailand

For volunteers looking to contribute to all kinds of social issues in a big city, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are perfect destinations. Both of these cities offer a number of volunteer programs to choose from while being surrounded by Thai temples, people, and culture.

Chang Mai is also a much more calm and spiritual city in comparison to Bangkok. If you're looking to volunteer on the coast, head south. Phuket and Krabi are overrun with tourists, but many undiscovered islands and villages outside those two major cities remain.

Ko Samui is an island off the east coast of Thailand that offers great opportunities to see wildlife and nature, especially interesting for those who want to work in conservation.

Contributed by Charlotte Bennett Schoen

Volunteer Programs in Thailand

Volunteering is a great way to make your travel experience more meaningful
Displaying 1 - 15 of 123 programs
GVI: Volunteer in Thailand
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Most Affordable & Best Rated Volunteer Programs in Thailand from $320 with IVHQ
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Volunteer in Thailand | Most Affordable Volunteer & Intern Projects
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Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in Thailand from $435
14 reviews1 interview

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Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | Thailand Summer Program
15 reviews5 interviews

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Operation Groundswell
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Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Southeast Asia Semester: Human Rights & Cultural Exchange
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Study Human Rights and Cultural Exchange with a community of students...

Love Volunteers
Make a REAL difference in Thailand with Love Volunteers from just $619!
5 reviews1 interview

Join Love Volunteers in Thailand to experience Chiang Rai as a local...

Friends for Asia
Friends for Asia: Volunteer Programs in Thailand
9 reviews4 interviews

Volunteer abroad in Thailand with Friends for Asia! With a variety of...

Cross-Cultural Solutions
Cross-Cultural Solutions: Volunteer Abroad in Thailand
8 reviews2 interviews

Poverty has declined substantially over the last 30 years in Thailand...

GIVE Volunteers
GIVE Thailand Rural Reforestation & Wildlife Conservation
15 reviews

Our Thailand program is all about showing you the authentic side of...

Thailand Teach
Thailand Teach: Teaching English in Rural Thailand
12 reviews2 interviews

We aim to help local temple schools in rural communities by improving...

Volunteer and Teach English in South East Asia
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11 reviews4 interviews

Looking for a great opportunity to develop your C.V whilst having the...

Oyster Worldwide
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