ACCOMMODATION AND MEALS
Volunteers are accommodated on-site at our partner organization’s headquarters in Chiang Rai. Volunteers live in a communal environment with other staff and volunteers in separate male and female lodgings. The accommodation is well integrated into surrounding the environment, as the buildings are made of wood and soil. The dormitories are cool in summer and warm in winter and they are also environmentally friendly with a design that minimizes tree logging. Mattresses are provided in the form of traditional Thai mattresses, which are much thinner than Western style. While bedding is provided, volunteers are required to also bring their own sleeping bag for their homestay experience and weekends away. Windows and doors are fitted with mosquito screens. The living conditions are basic and volunteers should be prepared to have cold running water and bucket showers. Generally in the second week, all Outdoor Work volunteers are taken on a homestay experience, working on a construction (or similar) project and living with a local family. Teaching English volunteers usually have a non-working homestay experience over the first weekend. Both of these are subject to change, depending on circumstances. Living conditions in the villages are even more basic and squat toilets and cold bucket showers are the norm. During the weekends (Sunday to Monday), volunteers can stay at the headquarters, however volunteers many choose to travel and return on Monday evening in time for work on Tuesday.
Traditional Thai cuisine is based on appealing to the four fundamental taste senses with a balance of the following flavours: sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. Common ingredients in Thai cooking include fish sauce, shrimp paste, chilli paste, coconut milk and lime juice. Staple foods include rice, rice noodles, vegetables and herbs. Meals served at the volunteer accommodation during the weekdays are typically Thai, however Western style food is also served. During the weekends, food is not provided and volunteers purchase food at local shops and cook for themselves, or eat out in town. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.
Volunteers are picked up from the airport in Chiang Rai on the Monday of their program start date and spend the day resting, meeting other volunteers and staff. Volunteers also take part in a Thai cooking lesson and get involved in some light volunteer work, if they are up for the challenge. Orientation is taken by our Thailand team at the office in Chiang Rai. Orientation begins on the Tuesday morning after your chosen start date and runs for the entire day. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Thailand – Introduction to Thailand, Thai Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Thailand, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays: A typical volunteer day would be as follows:
8.00 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8.30 AM Morning meeting for all volunteers.
9.00 AM - 11.30 AM Volunteer work begins. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at. Lunch breaks vary in time depending on the working schedule, but all volunteers get an hour to eat and relax.
5.00 PM Work at the placement ends. Dinner at the volunteer accommodation.
6.00 PM Volunteers have free time to spend as they wish, however many volunteers use this time to plan lessons or do extra work for their projects. One volunteer is assigned to be the Entertainment Officer, so there is always plenty to do in the evenings.
As the volunteer working week runs from Tuesday to Saturday, Sunday to Monday is considered the weekend for volunteers on the IVHQ Thailand volunteer program. During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Chiang Rai and Thailand. Volunteers can book weekend treks through our partner organisation once in country. If volunteers wish to volunteer over the weekends, they can join local staff to visit local hill tribes, or learn weaving and Thai massage from local people.
Please note, volunteers working on the Teaching English project will work exclusively on this project. Volunteers on the Outdoor Work project will work with the hill tribes on the second and fourth weeks. All volunteers receive a program orientation, an elephant ride and a t-shirt.