Volunteer in Thailand with Friends for Asia

Meaningful Projects as a Volunteer in Phuket

The aptly named Pearl of the Andaman is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, which is why so many are eager to learn more about the volunteer projects in Phuket currently available. We are always on the lookout for new ways to help volunteers make a difference across Thailand. With that in mind, we keep our eyes open for potential volunteer Phuket programs as well.

Phuket is one of Thailand’s most successful tourist destinations, and it certainly has a little something for everyone. Whether you’re after five-star luxuries or more frugal backpacker offerings, you’ll find businesses, accommodation and activities to suit your budget in Phuket.

The History of Phuket

The name Phuket is actually used in a couple of different ways. To begin with, the entire island, which lies immediately off the mainland, is called Phuket Island (or Koh Phuket). This is the largest island in Thailand and remains one of the country’s most sought-after travel destinations.

There is also a town called Phuket at the center of the island. This is where most of the locals live, and it predates Thailand’s booming tourism industry. Here in the inland region, you could easily forget that you were on an island at all, though a relatively short drive in any direction delivers you back to the beach.

The island first gained international attention in the 1600s, when traders from Europe discovered significant tin deposits on Phuket. They established trade relations with Siam and developed mining facilities on the island to exploit these resources. In an effort to keep the English and Dutch (who were viewed as encroaching imperialists) at bay, the Siamese monarchy granted exclusive mining rights to France.

However, it didn’t take long for the local authorities to realize that they were better off exploiting their own resources. As a result, Phuket became a valuable asset to the Kingdom of Siam. The island’s history of mining combines with the advent rubber plantations and modern-day tourism make Phuket one of Thailand’s wealthiest provinces today.

May 2013 - 2

Volunteers in Phuket after the Tsunami

Given its relative prosperity, some would-be volunteers in Phuket determine that their energy and efforts would be better invested in one of Thailand’s more impoverished communities. However, it bears mentioning that Phuket’s wealth is far from evenly distributed across the local population. This is a community of haves and have-nots, and there is certainly room for social services and volunteer programs on the island.

In late 2004 when the tsunami struck and devastated coastal villages across the region, the prosperity gap widened. Many who were already living well below the poverty level suddenly found themselves without a home or a means of supplying for their families.

At this point, a generous outpouring of donations and willing workers rushed to Phuket and other communities along the Andaman coast. Thanks to their work and support, many people who were living in at-risk communities were able to pull through and survive this devastating event. Had it not been for these services, Phuket might look very different today.

Modern-Day Phuket

Today, it’s back to business as usual in Phuket. Tourists pour in from around the world to enjoy the sand, surf and famous Thai hospitality available here. The tourist facilities concentrate on the west coast of the island, with the historic Phuket town located at the island’s interior.

These are some of the best beaches in Thailand, ideal for swimming, sunbathing and water sports ranging from surfing to jet-skiing. The following are among the most popular tourist attractions and activities available on the island:

  • PhangNga Bay
  • Old Phuket Town
  • Phuket Shell Museum
  • Chalong Temple (WatChalong)
  • Bangla Road nightlife district
  • Thalang National Museum
  • Sea Gypsy communities
  • Phuket Aquarium
  • Phuket Butterfly Park and Insect World
  • The Gibbon Rehabilitation Project

Regardless of where you decide to volunteer in Thailand, the time you spend in-country will almost certainly include a visit to the beach resorts of Phuket. This is an excellent place to unwind and reward yourself after investing a couple of weeks of your time involved in service programs elsewhere in the country. In the meantime, we are always on the lookout for new ways that you can volunteer in Phuket. Feel free to contact Friends for Asia to learn about the opportunities for volunteers that we coordinate around the country.