Thailand is a popular destination for backpackers taking their first trip abroad. That’s because it’s safe, cheap, and friendly and the experiences you have will stay with you for a lifetime.
However, many travelers who simply visit the top tourist sites miss out on so much more that Thailand has to offer. The culture is rich, the language unique and the locals are so welcoming that you’ll feel like you’re part of the family. We think the best way to make the most of Thailand is to volunteer.
Here are our top three perks of volunteering in Thailand:
Most tourists get by during their time in Thailand with minimal vocabulary, mostly just ‘beer’, ‘pad thai’, ‘thank you’ and ‘hello’. However, if you can learn a few more words than that and are able to communicate with the locals you’re sure to get more out of your experience. You’ll be able to get to know the locals better and also gain a greater understanding of their lifestyle. Your volunteer coordinator during your volunteering project in Thailand will be happy to teach you and as you have the weekends to spend at your leisure you’ll have the chance to practice your language with the locals around town. Why not try to visit the market or order some food in Thai?!
Thai is a difficult language to pick up as they have a different alphabet so once you have mastered a few words and sentences you’ll truly feel as though you have accomplished something. Plus, learning languages with a Roman alphabet will feel much easier in the future!
Because you are staying in one location for an extended period of time during your volunteering project, and are not moving from tourist hot spot to hot spot, you really get a chance to learn about Thai people and culture. You’ll start to understand why they do, eat and say the things they do as well as the history behind this.
Thailand is known for having many national holidays and you will learn about the reasons for these and the celebrations that take place. The Royal Family is an important part of the culture of Thailand so asking locals about this will really get them chatting! Some of the festivals worth celebrating while in Thailand are Songkran and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony.
Culture is something that most travelers will barely scratch the surface of while traveling in Thailand so this is definitely a perk of taking a volunteering programme abroad.
“The students wanted to know more about myself and the culture that I represented. Furthermore, many seemed to be very interested in my thoughts on Thai culture. Hence, teaching in Phonphisai enabled the opportunity for myself as a teacher, and the students, to teach English through the means of sharing both cultures.” – Joe Pournovin
Volunteering in Thailand with uVolunteer gives you the chance to work in a temple and teach the monks how to speak English. This gives you a unique opportunity to learn about their lifestyle, culture, and religion.
Buddhism is a very gentle religion and regardless whether you are a religious person or not you can learn about positivity, generosity, calm and much more. Not only will you feel like you are giving something to the community by teaching them English, you will feel like you are gaining information from them about meditation, gratitude, and tranquillity too.
Most travelers will simply visit Buddhist temples in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and take in the sites of the Golden Buddha and shiny pagodas, but by volunteering in the community you will be able to gain a much greater understanding. By the end of the trip, you may consider some of these monks friends of yours and might even have had the chance, like Adam (below) to experience some unique Buddhist ceremonies.
“All the Thai locals are so friendly, from the teachers at school to the strangers you meet in the street. I even had the chance to attend the ceremony of a young Thai gentleman becoming a monk. The ceremony was for the nephew of a friend of Meaws and it really was incredible to be invited to such an occasion. Something I’m sure 99% of western travelers to Thailand haven’t experienced.” – Adam Stiff
Language, Culture, and Buddhism are three things that will make your volunteering trip stand out against a standard trip to Thailand. However, these are by no means the only perks of traveling in this amazing country. Not only will you enjoy a rich cultural experience during your volunteering project, but you will also have weekends off to travel to some fascinating destinations. There are loads of national parks offering everything from rainforests to islands; the beaches are stunning with warm white sands and the food is cheap, delicious and healthy! What more could you want?!
No matter which volunteering trip you take in Thailand you’ll be sure to make memories and friends for life and we can almost guarantee you’ll be back to Thailand in the future!