Volunteer in Thailand
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- Teaching English, Childcare or Outdoor Work project options
- Based in and around Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand
- On-site dormitory-style accommodation or homestay experience
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Most affordable program fees
- Between 5 and 15 volunteers start in Thailand each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Thailand to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Thailand will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Thailand with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Thailand volunteer program is based in Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand, which is renowned for its beautiful mountain scenery and historic sites. This is where orientation and general administration is carried out by our independent local team. Volunteer placements are located near the volunteer headquarters and in the hills with local hill tribes.
Volunteer programs start on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks. The Teaching English project has a minimum duration of 2 weeks. The Childcare project is closed for holidays in the months of April and October.
Volunteers are required to fly into Chiang Rai, which is a 14 to 16 hour flight from most major airports in Canada.
Volunteers who enjoy physical labour and the sense of achievement felt after completing a job will be well suited to our Outdoor Work project in Thailand. Previous volunteers on this project have completed a variety of jobs, including:
- Building water tanks
- Extending water pipe systems
- Building check dams
- Building school classrooms
- Painting school classrooms
- Developing an agricultural project
- Assisting with the maintenance of a vegetable garden
- Working on developing a plantation
- Repairing roads
- Repairing the homes of elderly villagers
- Building new homes or toilets for elderly villagers
Some work is scheduled and is expected to be carried out on a regular basis and other jobs will be assigned to volunteers as they arise. It is important to note that there are three distinct seasons in Thailand (hot, rainy, cold) and sometimes outdoor work is not possible. If this is the case, volunteers can get involved in related work that can be carried out protected from the elements, such as researching methods of agricultural production, which can be applied within the local community, and presenting planned projects to villagers.
Volunteers on the Outdoor Work project will work with the hill tribes on the second and fourth weeks.
In northern areas of Thailand, local people have very limited access to formal education and there is a real need for volunteers to assist in teaching, not only young children, but also adults from surrounding hill tribes and local villages. Volunteers are needed on this project throughout the year and although local schools are closed for holidays from March to May and during October, the local team runs school camps and other activities for local hill tribe children. Volunteers may work alongside other volunteers and local teachers, and will also be expected to teach classes individually. Each volunteer is required to complete a lesson plan every morning or afternoon, prior to teaching a class. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
Volunteers on the Childcare Project work in centers from the local villages and surrounding hill tribes. Children between the ages of 2 to 6 years old come to the centers during the day. Volunteers work alongside local teachers to assist with running teaching activities, maintaining the classroom and helping with the children at mealtimes. Volunteers will teach for approximately 90 minutes of a morning and then assist with meals and cleaning up. Volunteers will then be required to assist with resource development and planning of an afternoon for approximately 2 hours as this is when the children sleep. Volunteers do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate on this project but you will be required to discuss your topics with the teacher. Volunteers are needed on this project throughout the year, excluding holidays during April and during October, and during this time you are welcome to join the Teaching project.
The program begins on the first and third Monday of each month, and volunteers need to arrive in Chiang Rai before 5pm on the Monday.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation a short drive from Chiang Rai. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night of your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Thailand prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up from a meeting point in Chiang Rai at 11am on the Monday morning.
On Monday, you’ll spend the day resting, meeting other volunteers and the local team. 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 hosted by our local 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.
A volunteer day is subject to change depending on the time of year that you are volunteering. A typical daily schedule might 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
1.00 PM Volunteer work continues
5.00 PM 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
Volunteers are accommodated on-site at our local team’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 the surrounding environment, as the buildings are made of wood and soil. The dormitories are cool in summer and warm in winter with an environmentally-friendly design that minimizes tree logging. The windows and doors are also fitted with mosquito screens. The living conditions are basic and volunteers should be prepared to have cold running water and bucket showers. Mattresses are provided in the form of traditional Thai mattresses, which are much thinner than western style. While bedding is provided, you are required to bring your own sleeping bag for the home-stay experience and weekends away.
Generally in the second week of a volunteer program, 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 their first weekend on the program. Both of these are subject to change, depending on circumstances. Living conditions in the villages are more basic and squat toilets and cold bucket showers are the norm. During the weekends (Sunday to Monday), volunteers can stay at the local team’s headquarters, however, many volunteers choose to travel and return on Monday evening in time for work on Tuesday.
WiFi is available at the local team’s headquarters, however the connection is limited so we recommend bringing an unlocked phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in Thailand. The local team can assist you with purchasing a SIM card during your program orientation. You can also access WiFi at cafes and restaurants in Chiang Rai.
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.
“I love projects that allow you to get your hands dirty whilst also allowing you to see tangible results for your efforts so it was great to work on reinforcing the road at the village as well as clear the foundation for the church in the village. I really enjoyed the genuine look of approval and gratitude we got from the village chief as we left the village. Such a humbling experience to give so little, and yet receive so much gratitude - only wishing we could do more.” - Jacob Donatelle (Outdoor Work Volunteer in Thailand)
As the working week runs from Tuesday to Saturday, Sunday to Monday is considered the weekend for volunteers on the Thailand 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 organization once in country.
See our Thailand Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Thailand!
|Currency||Thai Baht (THB)|
Weather and climate: The climate in Thailand varies between the north and south regions, however the temperature is relatively hot year-round throughout the country. The southern coastal region is characterized by a monsoon climate, which brings heavy rainfall from April to October in the South West and from September to December in the South East. In central and northern inland parts of Thailand, the climate is tropical with the rainy season lasting from May to November, bringing hot and humid weather. During the dry season, temperatures are cool from November to February and are hot from March to May. In Chiang Rai, the hottest average temperature is 36°C (96.8°F) in April and the coolest average temperature is 15°C (59°F) in December. Please see Weather Spark for more details on the climate and weather forecast.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a national criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Thailand.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.