Volunteer in Thailand with Friends for Asia

Volunteering in Thailand FAQs

What immunizations do I need before volunteering in Thailand?

As we are not medical professionals, we are unable to offer professional medical advice. We do recommend following the recommendations of your family doctor along with reading and following the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control’s page for travelers to Thailand.

When do projects start, and when do I need to arrive?

Our project start dates are normally the first and third Monday of each month. These dates sometimes change due to holidays. We require volunteers to arrive in Chiang Mai or Bangkok between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on the Friday prior to their project start date.

How do I get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

There are many buses and trains traveling between these destinations. For volunteers traveling before their project, getting tickets a few days in advance is ideal. Flying is also an option. The following airlines offer flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai:

Thai Airways
Nok Air
Bangkok Airways

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Please keep in mind that AirAsia and Nok Air are budget airlines, and their tickets cost about half that of the other two. Furthermore, there are two Bangkok Airports. Nok Air and AirAsia fly exclusively out of Don Muang Airport and do not provide service to or from Suvarnabhumi Airport (the larger airport). Opposite this, Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways use only Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Who will be picking me up from the airport, bus station, or train station upon my arrival at Chiang Mai or Bangkok?

Our volunteer coordinators pick up volunteers from their arrival point. On Fridays (arrival days), the coordinators wear Friends for Asia logo shirts and hold a sign with the arriving volunteer’s name on it.

Can I extend or change my project once I’m already participating in the project?

We can sometimes make arrangements for volunteers to extend their projects, but this is based on availability. It is best if we have a clear picture of a volunteer’s project(s) as early as possible. We only change projects for volunteers and interns when it’s absolutely necessary. When possible, we feel that it is best for volunteers to fulfill their commitment to their project before changing to another.

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Is Friends for Asia an NGO?

The term “NGO” is ambiguous at best. Friends for Asia is a registered non-profit foundation in Thailand and is not connected to or affiliated with any government or religion. We have no political ties and are completely independent. We have held legal registration as an organization in Thailand since November of 2007.

Why does it cost money to volunteer, and where does my project fee go?

As Friends for Asia is not financially supported by any government, religion or large corporation, we require volunteers to submit a project fee to help financially support our organization. A portion of the project fee goes to paying for vehicles, accommodation, office space, staff salaries, utilities, etc. This project fee includes various services and benefits that differ from project to project. Some of the basics included in the fee are accommodation, airport pick-up, two-day orientation, meals, 24-hour emergency assistance, program coordination and documentation of project participation.

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

How many other volunteers and interns will be in Chiang Mai or Bangkok during my project?

This depends upon the time of the year. We are busiest during the North American and European summer holiday months of May to August. In Chiang Mai, the number of volunteers ranges from 15 to 40.

What type of police check to I need to submit to participate in projects where I’ll be around children?

The type of background check will depend upon where you are coming from. We accept background checks issued by the volunteer’s national government as well as those conducted by local police stations.

What is the average volunteer age?

Our average volunteers are in their mid-twenties; however, we do have volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life participating in our projects. Through our family volunteer projects, we’ve had volunteers as young as 14. Our oldest volunteer to date has been 81.

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Can I stay in my own accommodation? If so, is there a discount on the project fee if I do not stay in Friends for Asia’s accommodation?

Yes, we do allow volunteers to stay in their own selected accommodation during their project, if they wish. More than 95% of our volunteers and interns stay in the accommodation that we provide for them. We are unable to offer any discount on the project fee for volunteers staying in their own selected accommodation.

How much money will I need to have when volunteering in Chiang Mai or Bangkok?

Girl's Home 7

This will greatly depend upon the meals you choose to eat, the shopping you do and the souvenirs you buy. Living frugally, a person could reasonably get by in Chiang Mai on less than US$3 per day. Western food, beer and other alcoholic drinks will increase your daily spending dramatically. Bangkok is more expensive, but still very reasonable, especially for an international-class city.

Can I contact current or previous volunteers?

Due to our privacy policies, we are unable to provide applicants with the personal contact information of previously serving or current volunteers. Many of our previous and current volunteers have subscribed to our Facebook page. By posting messages here, applicants may receive a response from volunteers or interns who have previously participated in Friends for Asia’s projects.

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

How can I get my clothes washed when I’m participating in Friends for Asia’s volunteer and intern projects?

We have a washing machine in each of our accommodation spots. There are also laundry services that wash, dry and iron clothes at relatively cheap rates. Our Accommodation page and video covers this area in greater depth.

Do I have to speak Thai to volunteer or intern?

No, volunteers and interns do not need to speak Thai to participate in our projects. We do have two short Thai lessons during orientation, and we suggest volunteers and interns try to learn and use as much Thai as they can during their project.

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Should I bring my computer?

This depends on how much time you plan to use it during your project. All of our volunteer accommodation sites have free wireless Internet for volunteers and interns to use. We also have two new desktop computers in each of our volunteer accommodation spots (4 total) for volunteers and interns to use. There are also very inexpensive internet cafes near our volunteer and intern accommodation spots. If you plan to keep up with friends and regularly update your social networks, then yes, you may want to bring a laptop or tablet with you. If you plan to e-mail friends and family at home once or twice a week, we recommend leaving the computer at home and just using our own volunteer and intern computers at the accommodation spots, along with Internet cafés to keep in touch. There are also three certified Apple stores in Chiang Mai, where one can purchase new Apple devices, along with get them repaired.

Should I bring my cell phone?

English Education Thailand 4

Thai cell phones and service are relatively inexpensive. One can purchase a cheap cell phone for around $20, and buy prepaid calling cards at almost any corner store or at 7-11s. We recommend buying an inexpensive cell phone upon arrival and selling it before departure. This prevents you from being subjected to heavy international roaming charges. Furthermore, we’ve seen many volunteers receive confirmation from their service providers that they will be able to use their cell phones in Thailand, only to arrive and find out that this is not the case.

Additionally, we also provide volunteers in the Elephant Camp Project, Single Mother’s Home Project and the Orphanage Project use of a cell phone during their project.

Can I start my project outside of the regularly scheduled project start dates?

No, we require volunteers and interns to start only on these dates. We provide a mandatory two-day orientation prior to each start date and are unable to provide this for just one or two people.

Volunteer Thailand Orientation - City Tour 20

Will I have free time to travel and see Thailand?

Yes, our volunteer projects run from Monday to Friday, leaving you the weekends to explore Chiang Mai or set out on regional excursions. Trekking, zip-lining, rafting and many other outdoor activities are easily booked through local travel agencies.

Are there ATMs in Chiang Mai and Bangkok that I’ll be able to use?

Yes, ATMs are widespread in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok. In Thailand, most ATMs are on the Cirrus and Plus networks, which covers nearly all internationally recognized debit and ATM cards. For foreign cards, Thai banks currently levy a THB 150 fee on top of any fees incurred by your home bank.