Volunteer in Thailand with Friends for Asia

Teach English to Buddhist Monks

This project is available in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Saffron robes, morning alms and novice monks – and not a tourist in sight. It’s hard to believe that such a staunch traditional life still thrives in the 21st century, but Thailand’s temple schools are a world away from “everyday.” As a volunteer English teacher, you’ll experience the difference first-hand.

Volunteering in Thailand – A Day in the Life

Morning comes early in Thailand’s temple schools. As you arrive, novices line up to receive morning announcements from the faculty. Prayer and meditation follow, leading up to the start of class at 8:30 am. Another round of prayer and meditation follows lunch. Education in these temple schools is holistic – a marriage of mind and body rarely seen in the West.

Teaching Monks Volunteer Video

Volunteer Tasks

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Every volunteer’s background and skill set is different, and your placement depends entirely on your comfort level. You’ll have the option of going into class with a Thai teacher and assisting in daily lessons, but if you’re confident in your ability to teach and manage a class, then there’s no substitute for planning and leading your own lessons. You’ll be at school from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday, teaching a total of 15 to 20 hours per week.

English proficiency is highly prized in Thailand, and your fluency puts you in high demand. While there’s no question that administrators will prioritize your role as an English teacher, you’ll also have the opportunity to teach art classes or share other skills and specialties with the novices. A satisfying degree of flexibility underpins this assignment.


Making a Difference – Volunteer

In all but one of the five temple schools, 100 percent of the students are novice Buddhist monks. The same is true of the teachers, nearly all of whom don the saffron robe as a way of life. Many of the students come from impoverished families and wouldn’t be able to afford an education if not for the charity of the Buddhist community. As it is, they get to study secular subjects, millennia-old Buddhist doctrine and, thanks to your generous efforts, the ins and outs of the most important language in the world.

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

The experience is likely to be just as enriching for you. Tourists couldn’t dream of enjoying such a high level of access to an authentic Buddhist temple. You’ll have the option to join in group meditation, recite mantras with students and celebrate festivals as a guest of the monastic community. Of course, none of this is compulsory, and no one will be offended if you limit yourself to the academics.

Most importantly, you’ll be helping these students forge connections at a formative time in their lives. Students at the five temple schools range in age from 12 to 15, and most have had little meaningful interaction with foreigners. Volunteers are encouraged to take lunch with the novices and teachers – difficult to refuse when the daily menu consists of stir-fries and savory curries layered over jasmine rice. This leaves plenty of time for out-of-class discussions and the chance to get to know the monks you work with.

Volunteer Qualifications

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

The minimum age requirement for the Teaching Monks Project is 18. Volunteers do not need any specific qualifications, but should enjoy working with teenagers and young adults and be open and respectful to Buddhism and other cultures. Volunteers should be proficient in written and spoken English, along with creative, considering there is a lack of teaching materials within the school.

Friends for Asia requires all volunteers in this project (and all other projects where volunteers work with children directly) to submit a certified police background check before volunteer service begins.

Teaching Monks Volunteer Video #2

Volunteer Stories

“I found myself sitting with a monk in one of the classrooms, learning meditation via two other teachers at the school who helped translate his Thai to English.” – Marissa Kent, California, USA

“It is the most fulfilling work I have ever done, and believe I will ever find. The novices, the teachers, and the people of Thailand made this experience the best of my life thus far.” – Dylan Rapoport, New York, USA

Click here to view all the Volunteer Stories from the Teaching Monks Project.

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Volunteer Project Fees

Participation in the Thailand Teaching Monks Volunteer Project starts at $799 for two weeks. Each additional week is $119.

Volunteer Project Fee Includes

  • Comprehensive Pre-Departure Information
  • Visa paperwork (for projects over 8 weeks)
  • FFA Volunteer Insurance
  • Airport pick up
  • Accommodation during orientation and entire project time
  • Breakfast every morning
  • Lunch every work day
  • 2 day Orientation (including half day city tour, cultural dinner and show)
  • Onsite Coordinator
  • 24 hour emergency assistance
  • Written record of service completion (for volunteers that successfully complete their project).

Volunteer Fee Does Not Include

  • Travel to/from Home and Thailand (airfare, train tickets, etc.)
  • Thailand visa costs (if applicable)
  • International Medical Insurance
  • Cost of criminal police background check (required for this project)
  • Cost of transportation to and from Project site and and accommodation (roughly $2 per day)
  • Lunches on weekends.
  • Dinner

View additional information about the Teaching Monks Volunteer Project

Thailand Teaching Monks Volunteer Start Dates for 2023

  • 9th of January
  • 23rd of January
  • 6th of February
  • Closed for Thai Summer Break
  • 15th of May
  • 5th of June
  • 19th of June
  • 3rd of July
  • 17th of July
  • 7th of August
  • 21st of August
  • 4th of September
  • Closed for mid-School Year Break
  • 6th of November
  • 20th of November
  • 4th of December
  • 18th of December

Thailand Teaching Monks Volunteer Start Dates for 2024

  • the 8th of January – arriving on Friday, the 6th of January
  • the 22nd of January – arriving on Friday, the 19th of January
  • the 5th of February – arriving on Friday, the 2nd of February (maximum four week program)
  • Closed for Thai School Summer
  • the 20th of May – arriving on Friday, the 17th of May
  • the 3rd of June – arriving on Friday, the 31st of May
  • the 17th of June – arriving on Friday, the 14th of June
  • the 1st of July – arriving on Friday, the 28th of June
  • the 15th of July – arriving on Friday, the 12th of July
  • the 5th of August – arriving on Friday, the 3rd of August
  • the 19th of August – arriving on Friday, the 16th of August
  • the 2nd of September – arriving on Friday, the 30th of August (maximum four week program)
  • Closed for Thailand mid-school year break
  • the 4th of November – arriving on Friday, the 1st of November
  • the 18th of November – arriving on Friday, the 15th of November
  • the 2nd of December – arriving on Friday, the 29th of November
  • the 16th of December – arriving on Friday, the 13th of December