• Thailand
    • Surin
    • Ko Samui
    • Chiang Mai

Program Details

Guesthouse Host Family Hostel


Starting Price
Price Details
Included: Airport pick up on arrival, Bangkok tour, transfers to and from volunteer projects, accommodation, some meals, friendly and knowledgeable local guide.
Jan 30, 2017
Oct 05, 2014
8 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Starfish Volunteers offers the very best volunteer programs and adventures in Thailand. Projects include caring for and living alongside elephants, building and community development in an authentic Thai town, teaching English to underprivileged children, childcare and early learning opportunities in a rural communities, and a worthwhile hands on medical placement program. Away from all of the over crowded tourist areas, our volunteer experiences provide support for small communities across Thailand. Not only will your experience be making a real difference but you will also discover the real Thailand. Programs range from 1 to 12 weeks in a variety of stunning locations, such as the jungle and mountains of Sangkhlaburi to the serene paradise of Koh Samui. Start your holiday with a difference today.

Program Reviews

4.50 Rating
based on 10 reviews
  • 5 rating 80%
  • 4 rating 10%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 10%
  • Impact 4.4
  • Support 4.6
  • Fun 4.6
  • Value 4.6
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 10 reviews
Mandi Schmitt
Yes, I recommend this program

2 Weeks with Elephants and Kids

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.
60 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
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.

63 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Loved it!

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!! :)

60 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

volunteering january 2012

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!

56 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience!

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.

57 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Rich, rewarding and fun!

This was my first time volunteering abroad, and it totally turned my life around. I volunteered together with my 9 year old son, which was fabulous to do together. We volunteered with the elephants, and also teaching English. We were immersed in village life,working each day with the mahouts caring for the elephants, and experiencing the variety of events that happen in a village daily. We were made to feel very welcome both by our host family, as well as by all the villagers. We particularly felt we were able to make a contribution while we were teaching English. The children we taught only have access to native English speakers to teach them when Starfish sends volunteers. Starfish ensures that there is continuity in the children's learning - we built on what the previous volunteer teachers had taught, and knew that volunteers to come after us would build on what we had taught. This makes the program particularly strong.
Starfish' programs are very well organised, and the volunteer coordinators were with us at all times, offering language translation as well as cultural interpretation of all we were involved in. And they were great fun to be around, really added to our incredible experience.
We felt safe at all times, and the beauty of this rich experience was our instant immersion into the Thai culture.
Food was great throughout the trip, both with our homestay family in Tha Thum, as well as during our time in Surin while staying at the volunteer house. I should mention the accommodation which was also excellent, being both clean and well located.We left feeling that we had made a difference, but also knowing that we ourselves had changed in this time. We are definitely planning to volunteer with Starfish again!

55 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
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Yes, I recommend this program

Want to do something really useful ?

“I recently spent 6 weeks working with Starfish on their School Development project. I had always wanted to help with a construction project in a developing country and this seemed to be the perfect fit for me. From the first time I contacted Starfish I was really impressed with their level of customer service, guidance, knowledge of Thailand, the projects and the reasons why they operate. They seemed to be very professional but I was mostly impressed by their insistence of meeting the expectations of the volunteers requirements before the financial aspect – as so many other ‘volunteer’ organisations fail to do!

From the moment I arrived in Bangkok, to sadly saying goodbye to the Starfish team and Surin, I felt safe, secure and well cared for by everybody involved. I made a huge number of friends for life and will never, ever forget one day I spent with them all. Nam, Worn, Deuan and all of the Surin staff did everything they could to make our lives easier, very often going above and beyond the call of duty. The volunteer accommodation was basic but really comfortable and the location was great. It gave us the chance to have peace and quiet but we had restaurants, supermarkets, bars and shops just a few minutes walk away.

The project I worked on was to help construct a brand new centre for the kids of the surrounding villages as the old one was severely damaged in recent storms. Throughout the time on the project we were supervised and directed by the Starfish team who were great at explaining our roles for each day. Everything was really well organised. We were transported to and from the site each day and not one of (there were 15 of us on the project) had a single complaint!

Thank you Starfish, you have made such a difference to the communities you support and also to the way I look at things. It was the most rewarding thing I have ever done and I will be back one day, for sure!”

55 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with Starfish

I volunteered with Starfish for a month last year, it was a really rewarding experience, one that I would do again in a heart beat.

I did 2 weeks working in a childcare and 2 weeks working with elephants at the elephant village.

Both projects were great and rewarding in different ways.

The children at the childcare were great and it was awesome been able to part of their lives. A day at the childcare consisted of looking and playing with the kids, helping to teach english and day to day class activities. We also help with lunch time meals etc. I miss the kids alot and would love to go back.

The elephant village was great and our co-ordinator Worn was amazing. A day in the village consisted of helping the local village with their sugar cane fields..planting, cutting, plowing etc. then we would look after the elephant, riding, bathing, washing, feeding etc. i loved every minute of my time there.

The staff at starfish are extremely nice and helpful..they become your friends and will do everything to make sure your stay with them is amazing. They really do go the extra mile for you!! I miss them all!

I recommend Starfish for anyone wanting to give back and volunteer. It is a great way to travel and do something different!

57 people found this review helpful.

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