Southeast Asia has been one of the most desired destinations for backpackers and vagabonds alike in recent years, and with a peek at photos, it’s not hard to understand why. Thailand, in particular, entices travelers with its waterways that stretch through vibrant cities, ancient temples that light up nights blanketed in stars, white sand beaches that meet turquoise seas, street food satisfies and entertains…the list goes on.
Nestled within all the natural beauty lie many testaments to our capacity for humanity as well. Indeed, a notable Thai scholar has claimed that “Thai” in the Thai language means “human being.” It sure isn’t difficult to feel like a human being after soaking up the sun on luxurious beaches or making your way through rainforests.
Whether you are getting ready to make your own personal voyage through Thailand and looking for some ideas or considering your next destination where you can make an impact in a significant way, there are a variety of ways to get involved! Bangkok, capital city and the most populous of Thailand, and Chiang Mai, the largest city in Northern Thailand, offer many opportunities to make a difference through volunteering or add valuable and unique experience to your resume through internships.
Volunteer Opportunities in Chiang Mai and Bangkok
When one thinks of Thailand, mental images of riding elephants off into the sunset may follow. That strong association with Thailand and elephants is probably why this project exists: the sanctuary you will volunteer with rehabilitates elephants that have been relieved from working in the tourist industry.
Starting in 1997, GVI, a family-run organization, has connected 20,000 volunteers to community development and conservation projects all over the world, and now wants to take you to this elephant sanctuary. Huay Pakoot, a community located in the Chiang Mai Province, hosts volunteers who can expect to spend mornings in the field with the elephants and the afternoon working on community projects. This project is focused on being involved with the community, and ensuring that their volunteers are integrated into village life. This program is very intentional with fitting short, mid, and long-term objectives in with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and wants to make sure that your time volunteering is informative and fulfilling.
You will work with the elephants Monday through Friday and will have the opportunity to explore the area on your weekends. Volunteers will have your own room in a homestay, transportation to and from the airport, as well as required transportation throughout your time covered by GVI, and all necessary project training and equipment provided. This volunteer program lasts one week or longer and starts at $1,840.
For those seeking to gain experience in the law field, in a very different world, this unique opportunity waits for you in Bangkok! Since its founding, Global Nomadic has focused on empowering change through the connection of individuals. They intend for you to experience this as well through your professional internship in Bangkok. Your personal preferences will determine your placement within the firm, and opportunities range from administrative, to corporate, to criminal law, adding diverse experience and skills to a budding law career.
Interns are required to be at least 18, have a relevant academic background, be fluent in English, and give a minimum three-month commitment. You will be met at the airport and provided high-standard accommodations throughout your stay. Interns will also receive Thai language training, inclusion in exclusive business networking events, an education about Southeast Asia’s emerging markets, and get to play an integral role in understanding the growth of this emerging economy, all while developing your law skills through mentorship and hands-on experience. Fees begin at $940 for two months and you can begin at any time, subject to availability.
Since the organization’s start in 2010, Love Volunteers has had the goal to ensure that international volunteers have a life-changing experience while making a meaningful difference in diverse cultural settings. They have partnered with a local organization in Thailand that teaches young Buddhist monks English in temple schools.
If you choose to volunteer with this incredible program, you will help teach English to these monks by playing games, reading together, working through basic skills and more. You will stay at the Volunteer House located in Chiang Mai with daily breakfast and weekday lunch provided. Volunteer stays range from 2-week to 12-week periods. To sign up, you must be at least 18 and have a passion for teaching English! TEFL course completion, and some understanding of the local language is not mandatory, but would be useful in beginning this project. Fees begin at $669 for your first two weeks plus a registration fee.
Located in the heart of the capital of Thailand, this business internship with Frontier will give you both extraordinary and practical experience in consulting, sales, entrepreneurship, business development and more. Beginning in 1989 as a non-profit and non-governmental conservation and development organization, Frontier has focused on connecting individuals to projects that have a positive impact, both with the volunteer and the hosting community.
Being in such a prime location, interns can enjoy the ability to explore the rich cultural history Bangkok and neighboring areas have to offer: Siam Square, Rattanakosin, Khao San Road and so much more. To sign up, you must be at least 18 years old, interested in developing business skills in a very real and fast-paced environment, and apply at least 2 months prior to your preferred start date. You will be picked up at the airport, stay either in a hostel or apartment with all necessary amenities, and both shadow experienced professionals and work on assignments to hone your business skills for a competitive edge in the business world. Fees start at 4 weeks for $3,495.