If you’re lucky enough to be volunteering in Thailand during 2016, your visit will take place in the Year of the Monkey – a prime time to fulfil your desire for knowledge and experience, and satisfy your curiosity.

Thailand is a melting pot of Asian culture that includes many residents of Chinese descent. As such, Chinese customs and traditions have become a part of local lifestyles in Thailand, with celebrations taking place across the country for major festivals and events in the Chinese lunar year.

On February 8th, it’s customary in China to celebrate new year, and while it isn’t a public holiday in Thailand, many people will take time out from their busy lives to enjoy the festivities. If you’re volunteering in Thailand around Chinese New Year, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained during this special event, which marks the beginning of the Year of the Monkey.

Keep reading to find out more about this fascinating cultural event and how you can join in the fun when you volunteer in Thailand during the Year of the Monkey.

The Year of the Monkey: meaning

The Chinese zodiac calendar follows a 12-year lunar pattern, with a different animal representing each year. In 2016, the crafty and energetic monkey takes the spotlight.

The Year of the Monkey last took place in 2004, before then it was 1992, following the 12-year pattern. In the Chinese Zodiac, great significance is given to each person’s zodiac animal, based on their year of birth rather than the month they were born in. People born in the Year of the Monkey are believed to be energetic, curious and successful, with a strong desire for discovery.

This year, then, represents a great opportunity for accomplishment – nothing compares to volunteering abroad, where you’ll have the chance to make friends and make a difference, while developing your skills and achieving personal growth.


Chinese New Year celebrations

Images of  New Year celebrations

Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February 8th this year, and the Year of the Monkey will be marked with celebrations across the nation between February 5th and 15th.

Home to more than nine million residents of Chinese heritage, parts of Thailand like the capital Bangkok burst into colour, and Chinese families celebrate together by praying and enjoying a big banquet. Many people visit extended family over the new year period with gifts and well wishes.

The celebrations in some areas of Thailand last for days and comprises all manner of entertainment. If you’re volunteering in Thailand at this time, you can expect to see some of the following:

  • Around nine famous troupes are pencilled in to perform cultural shows at locations across Thailand, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Nakhon Sawan
  • Homes, shops and streets are decorated with red paper lanterns, posters and calligraphy banners to mark the new year
  • Dragon parades, fireworks and acrobatic displays take place across the country, accompanied by music in the streets
  • Chinese opera, puppetry performances and traditional dancing will be staged across the ten-day event


The Year of the Monkey represents a time for success and accomplishment – volunteering in Thailand is something to be proud of, enabling you to make a difference within communities - and within yourself. Whether you’re visiting Thailand at new year to enjoy the festivities over an action-packed week, or traveling to Thailand at a later date, there are all kinds of ways to mark the Year of the Monkey – whether you’re in time for the celebrations or not.

Great significance is placed on the zodiacal animal for the year; the monkey is quick and cunning, desiring enlightenment and discovery. Venturing overseas can be an empowering way to satisfy your curiosity about other countries and cultures, and Thailand never fails to deliver. Rich in fascinating traditions and stunning landscapes, Thailand is ripe for exploration, so why not embrace the monkey within and start planning your volunteer vacation today? You can find out more about how to fill your free time when you volunteer in Thailand by downloading our program brochure.

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