Nicoleta Radoi makes the case for volunteering in Thailand.
Embark on a trip to Thailand and it’s hard to go wrong. You are pretty much guaranteed to find all the things you’d expect: beautiful beaches, lovely people, and a rich variety of flora and fauna are everywhere.
However, the country does have more than its fair share of socio-economic problems that mean there are various challenges, both social and environmental, that international volunteers can help with.
Regardless of what cause you choose, be it protecting endangered wildlife or educating underprivileged children, you are sure to find a worthwhile and genuinely helpful project in Thailand.
Here are just a few of the reasons you should consider being a volunteer in Thailand.
Enjoy nature and stunning scenery
Volunteering is an excellent way to see a lot of Thailand’s world-renowned, jaw-dropping scenery and natural beauty.
The beaches are what most people associate with the country, and that is justified by the countless examples of stunning coastline. The most famous and probably the best examples are mostly found in the southern regions of Thailand, as well as on the various islands that pepper the seas surrounding the mainland.
Beaches are by no means the only thing that make the scenery so great. The jungles found all over the country are havens for a dazzling array of animal and plant life. There are also the mountains of the north, the lush rice paddies, and much more.
Experience local life and culture
Spending time as a volunteer means that you will be living around and interacting with local people every day.
Through this close proximity and communication, you will have unique opportunities to learn all about the way locals really live. This can help show you the fascinating culture and history of Thailand.
It can also lead to genuine friendships with locals, which adds so much to any trip. Thai people are very friendly, but normally tourists often find it difficult to make meaningful connections with them.
Being a volunteer shows that you are there to offer your help, so locals will respect and appreciate that and welcome you into the community as a result.
Get away from the tourist hotspots
In addition to the opportunities gained by visiting a small local community, volunteering also enables you to avoid the overcrowded tourist hotpots. In my opinion, volunteering in Thailand can actually save you a great deal of money. It’s true that Thailand is comparatively cheap to travel in, as opposed to Europe and America, but as tourism steadily increases, prices are creeping up.
In fact, there are tourist hotspots where general living costs are about the same as you would find back home. In islands like Koh Samui, or hugely popular areas like Phuket, tourists have been turning up in such numbers for so long now that luxury hotels and expensive bars and restaurants have taken over.
By volunteering, you are going to almost always find yourself living far away from tourist traps such as these. Consequently, prices for just about everything are lower, from food and drink, to accommodation and transport.
Another great thing about getting off the tourist trail is that things are not catered towards Western tastes. Things like food will be a much truer representation of real Thai cuisine, and everything will have a more authentic atmosphere in general.
Make a real difference
Ensuring that all your hard work is actually contributing positively towards a good cause is vital when choosing a volunteer program, so you should always research carefully.
It is also very important to choose the right destination. Thailand is perfect for this. Despite significant economic growth in recent years, many people still live below the poverty line. Provided you choose a reputable organization, you can make a tangible impact on your chosen cause.
For example, if you teach English to school children you can see the improvement in front of your eyes, which is a great feeling.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to visit this amazing part of the world, and you’ve got a desire to give something back while you travel, then volunteer in Thailand for a different kind of vacation.
GETTING THERE AirAsia flies to and within various destinations in Thailand. For flight info and fares, visit airasia.com.
Nicoleta, the resident content blogger for uVolunteer, is an avid linguist who speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. Passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food, she spent a decade working in the education sector in China and with major international development institutions. She currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.