You are about to discover a new culture, accomplish something unforgettable, and explore what Thailand has to offer!
Be a part of community-based, Thai-led projects in education, childcare, health, construction, and elephant care. Volunteer in the most stunning of locations from the Hill Tribes of the jungles and mountains in the north to the beautiful island of Koh Samui in the south.
When travelling it is not always easy to get to know the culture, the lifestyle and the traditions of the country one is visiting. That is one of the points I liked the most of the teach program; since I was almost all the time interacting directly with the people whether there were classes or not. I thought the program was about teaching, at the end I understood it was about learning.
Great experience helping a village school with a great guides from the team. I get to live like how the locals do, eat what they prepare and enjoy the beautiful beaches. Friendly smiles from everyone I encountered. I'll definitely try this again...
Just Choose a Project and Apply!
Our projects are located in several regions: Chaing Rai, Koh Samui, and Surin. Depending on your project choice, you may be living in a village homestay-type situation, volunteer or guest house with electricity, running water, and a western-style toilet. Conditions in the Hill Tribe, and Elephant Village projects will be more rustic.
GVN Projects: Only US $250 application fee + US $500 per week (for the first four weeks of placement), and $200 per week of placement after this. This includes accommodation, meals (as specified below), coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up and it is due at least 10 weeks prior to your arrival.
Elephant Village Life
Our Elephant Village program is based in a rural and traditional Thai farming village. The houses are made of wood, roads made of dirt, with rice and sugar cane fields as far as the eye can see. This village is home to 38 elephants which are treated by their owners just like your ordinary household pets. Until the mid-1980’s the local elephants here were still used for logging, now however logging is an illegal process. This means that the elephants have literally been made redundant.
With elephants consuming upwards of 300kgs of food daily and the need for regular health checks etc – it is extremely expensive for an ordinary farming family whose income maybe less than $5 per day. In order to pay for an elephants care, many of their owners (known as ‘Mahouts’) began to walk their elephants through the streets of the main cities, selling photo opportunities to tourists. This is obviously dangerous for both the elephant and their Mahout. In order to help one such village, our partner organization has joined forces with its elders undertaking to support to the villagers and their elephants by supplying physical labour and finance if they commit not to tout their elephants to tourists.
This is where volunteers come in… this is a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and work with Thai Mahouts, spending 4 days each week learning how to work with, train, feed and wash the elephants. The program is designed to ensure elephants remain in a natural environment and receive the healthcare and regular healthy diet they need. At the same time, the villagers enjoy spending time with volunteers from all around the world.
This is a ‘hands on’ program where volunteers will experience ‘real’ Thai community life; helping with cooking meals, farming the land, getting your hands dirty on small micro-development projects, and helping to teach the local children a few words of English. (The minimum age for this program is 18. Families welcome on a case by case basis.)
Elephant Village - Teaching English
The ability to speak, read, and understand basic English provides village children greater opportunities than they would have without this skill. In modern Thailand some form of English training is often a pre-requisite to work , with many universities only accepting applicants with an understanding of the language.
This teaching project is located at a rural government community school which has virtually no funding. English is taught with poor pronunciation from untrained teachers who have minimal teaching resources. Volunteers are needed to teach English with good pronunciation and modern teaching methods. Volunteer teachers in Thailand do not need teaching experience. Our main aim is to show the children that learning English is fun, easy, but important. All teaching volunteers are accompanied each day by one of our own experienced, English speaking local coordinators. They will assist with lesson planning, classroom control and translating. For any volunteers without experience in teaching, the coordinator will chat to you before your first day to help ease you in to it. Thai children are very respectful of their elders and foreigners.
In teaching these children, volunteers will be sharing tools for them to escape a life of poverty - you really will be changing lives.
Koh Samui - Teaching
Koh Samui is one of Thailand's leading tourist resort destinations attracting over a million visitors each year. Once you visit the island it's very easy to understand why; lovely golden sandy beaches, crystal clear ocean and friendly locals are just a few of the reasons. But step away from the tourist areas and you'll see a very different side of Samui, a side that struggles each day, that lives hand to mouth, a side that desperately needs help. Our focus on Koh Samui is with the next generation, the children at the local government schools. Working with our partners on Koh Samui we are giving these children the chance to learn English from native speakers, something that is usually only available to children from wealthy families. Volunteer teachers need no experience as our very own project coordinators are on hand to assist with each class. In addition, it's not only standard English lessons that are taught. Volunteers can choose to teach sports, arts, crafts and anything else that can include the English language and will reinforce the children's English learning.
Koh Samui - Building
As with our teaching project on Koh Samui, the school development work has been designed to help schools that struggle to operate on a day to day basis. With very little income to these government run schools it's not only the education curriculum that suffers, the bricks and mortar suffer too. Our aim with the building project is simple, to return these once proud schools to their former glories, to improve the health and safety and sanitation and to offer these children and the local community a school that's both more conducive to learning and something to be proud of.
Volunteers need no experience in any form of building or laboring, just a willingness to get involved. Our own project coordinators will be on hand each and every day to assist and to plan and to ensure that the work is completed safely and on time.
The projects our volunteers will undertake here will depend on various factors including the requirements of the schools, the weather, safety and most importantly, the budget. Quite simply, the more volunteers who sign up, the more budget there is available and the bigger and better the project.
Chiang Rai Hill Tribes - Childcare
Each hill tribe community has its own very basic childcare service. Very often the building and contents have been donated by well-wishers and supporters. The staff who work at these centres have no training and so struggle to look after large numbers of children. By volunteering at one of these centres the number of children who can attend doubles, or triples, giving the parents more opportunities to get out to work in the fields and earn as much money as possible for the family. No experience is required to join this project however if you have a particular skill that you feel would be of use, please let us know. Volunteers are accompanied on this project each and every day.
Chiang Rai Hill Tribes - Teaching
Most hill tribes have access to schools that have been set up to offer a basic education for the children. Combined with the usual curriculum these kids learn about cottage industries that they may be able to earn an income from once they leave school at 12 years old. However for any child who excels in English they have an opportunity to take part in a local initiative to become local tour guides. They will work with tourists to the region, offering treks and so on, that will bring in a much higher income and support themselves, their family and community.
Learning English from a native speaker is an incredible opportunity for these children and is a luxury usually only available to children from wealthy families. As a volunteer teacher you will really setting these kids up for a much brighter life and not only be giving them the tools in which to support themselves but also support their family and their entire community.
No experience is required to join this project however if you have a particular skill that you feel would be of use, please let us know. Volunteers are accompanied on this project each and every day
Chiang Rai Hill Tribes - Building and Community Development
The hill tribe communities supported by our volunteers live in very basic conditions. Houses are generally constructed from materials that have been found and nailed together. Running water and electricity is often a luxury available only to those who may have a regular income. Community centres, if any, are very often unsafe and crumbling through lack of funding to redevelop and refurbish.
Working with these communities volunteers help to improve the health, safety and standards of these community buildings and where required to redevelop homes of families who may be desperate for help.
Our development projects however are not only aimed at people and buildings. We work with communities to aid their farming, water coursing, tree planting and ground erosion projects. The work that volunteers will undertake depends entirely on the needs of the communities at the time.
Volunteers need no experience in any form of building or laboring, just a willingness to pitch in and help. Our project coordinators will be on hand each and every day to assist and to plan and to ensure that the work is completed safely and on time.
Thailand Application Form
Our vision is to connect people with communities in need, with a particular focus on vulnerable women and children. We do this by supporting the work of local community organizations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.
We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:
Be a part of GVN's efforts to inspire learning, innovation and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world. Work with exceptional grassroots projects in community development, conservation and wildlife, personal development, fundraising and physical challenges.
Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 14 years experience in placing 20005 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $2 million to help women and children in need.
Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.
How GVN works...
The first step is to fill out an application to see if we have a place for you. Then if your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.
GVN is a registered Charitable Trust, so volunteers finance themselves, or can fundraise online with our unique GVN platform, with US donors receiving tax receipts. The Program Package provides you with all that is listed below, along with personalized support from our expert staff and the knowledge that you'll be working with a reputable and registered charity with over 14 years experience in the field.
At the heart of our work is the communities our volunteers work to support - we ensure that these communities truly benefit from your time in Thailand and that the Program Package fully supports you financially while you're volunteering.
GVN Projects: Only US $250 application fee + US $500 per week (for the first four weeks of placement), and $200 per week of placement after this. This includes accommodation, meals (as specified below), coordination, supervision, training, airport pick up and it is due at least 10 weeks prior to your arrival. If signing up closer to the time, special arrangements can be made for the due date.
The Program Package also includes a project donation, which supports the work the GVN Foundation does in addressing nutrition, education and healthcare needs, as well as supporting longer-term development approaches, including income generation activities and microfinance.
Your program package includes:
Personal support from your Program Specialist throughout the preparation process.
Your Program Guide, with all the details on Thailand and your placement.
Fundraising strategies and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
Access to Your Own Online Journal: which helps you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner GYT Flight Centre who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.
Accommodation: Guest House, home stay, volunteer house - as specified (varies between projects)
Meals: Daily meals - as specified (varies between projects)
Project Donation: Included.
Airport pickup: On arrival date.
Training: In-country orientation and training.
Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency e-mail.
Transport: From Bangkok to your project - as specified (varies between projects)
An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN.
A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service.
The opportunity to stay connected with your project.
Global advocacy and fundraising campaigns to continue your part of the movement for social change with an international non-profit that has granted over $2 million to our partner organizations.
The program package does not include: Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, daily transportation to your project (if required), departure from the program.
We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $25 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, transportation and entertainment.
Tell me more about Thailand?
The Kingdom of Thailand, covering an area of 514,000 square kilometres, lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, roughly equidistant between India and China. It shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Lao P.D.R. to the north and northeast, Cambodia to the east and Malaysia to the south. Thailand has a population of about 60 million. Ethnic Thais form the majority, though the area has historically been a migratory crossroads, and thus strains of Mon, Khmer, Burmese, Lao, Malay, Indian and most strongly, Chinese stock produce a degree of ethnic diversity. Integration is such, however, that culturally and socially there is enormous unity. For more information we suggest you purchase the Lonely Planet’s guide to Thailand.
What is the climate like in Thailand?
In Thailand there are three seasons: hot, rainy, and cool. For the Europeans that arrive in Thailand there seems to be only one season: a hot season. During the night the temperature only drops a few degrees and the humidity during the day and night is over 70%. If volunteering in one of the hill country programs you'll generally experiences temperatures about 5 degrees cooler than in cities.
How does GVN choose volunteers for this program?
Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Each application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you may have that relates specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program. An openness to new experiences and willingness to pitch in and help where needed is also something we are looking for in our volunteers.
After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.
Do I have to be from New Zealand?
No, the program is open to people from all over the world.
What age do you have to be to volunteer?
The minimum age for this program is 18 years. There is no upper limit, you just have to be in good health. If you are interested in volunteering as a family please contact us as this may be possible.
Do I need to speak English to become a volunteer?
Yes. It is important that you have a good level of English as this is the main language used at the project.
Are we able to do any sightseeing while volunteering?
Yes, there is so much to see in Thailand. The weekends are yours and you can certainly plan to sightsee during your time off. You are also welcome to travel further around Thailand before or after your placement.
Are there more expenses once I arrive?
The in-country fee covers accommodation and meals as specified. If you arrive early or intend on staying on in Thailand for longer than you are volunteering then you will need to have extra money for this time. You will also require some money for your days off and any sightseeing you wish to do. Other costs include your flights, visa, shots, travel insurance, departure tax, personal expenses eg toiletries, shopping, etc.
How safe is it to volunteer in Thailand?
We work very hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering. Thailand is one of the safer countries in Asia and you will find the people very welcoming and kind. Of course any traveller can encounter trouble - especially if you are indiscreet with money or valuables.
Who organizes my visa for my volunteer placement?
Volunteers will need to arrange their own tourist visa for entry into the country if one is required. To assist you, you'll find inks to Thai Embassies through out the world in our Thailand Program Guide.
Do I need travel insurance?
Yes. All GVN Volunteers are required to have travel insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.
For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as "loss of deposits" cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/
How do I pay my fees?
Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer. Your placement is not confirmed (ie secured) until your program fee has been received - or your deposit payment made. Any charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer's expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. [Note: if the program fee is not paid in full 7 weeks out from your start date, your placement will be cancelled.]
Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2016 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2016 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.
Approximately the size of France, Thailand covers an area of 510,000 square kilometres, and its population of 60 million is growing at a rate of 1.5% per year. Thailand shares its border with Myanmar in the west and north, Laos in the northeast, Cambodia in the east and Malaysia in the south.
The program is located in northern Chiang Mai Province.
Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged socio-economic groups within Thai communities, focusing on rural communities, school and pre-school children, eco-development, and medical care.
As a volunteer in Thailand you can provide love, affection, education and support to children. You will help to improve education in schools ensuring children learn and flourish. Depending on your interests you can also contribute to building and eco-development projects in impoverished communities. A nursing program is available for those with the necessary training. You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in Thai communities.
What else can I do in Thailand?
Visitors to Thailand will have no problem finding things to do!
Take some time before or after your volunteer placement to explore urban Bangkok, bohemian Chiang Mai and the island of Ko Phi Phi.
During your free time when volunteering you can explore the local towns and their restaurants, markets, spas and hotels. Or take some time to cool off at the beach with a dip in the sea.