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The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ― Lao Tzu

Thailand Volunteer Opportunities: Give Back While Backpacking

THAILAND | Monday, 15 October 2018 | Views [140]

Backpacking in Thailand is something that many people want to check off their bucket list, and it is easy to see why. The beautiful country is full of unique experiences, great food and a huge selection of accommodation that can be enjoyed for a fraction of the price of many Western alternatives. Thailand is great for those who want to experience a Southeast Asian country on a budget. To top it off, the Land of Smiles is truly full of friendly faces, with the locals often making travellers feel at home even though they are in a foreign place.


But something that people often don’t really think about, and an act that doesn’t cost you a cent, is volunteering. Thailand has so many options for you to do so that you can probably choose any category that speaks to you, and I’m pretty sure you’ll find. Let’s look at how you can give back during your travels.  


Chai Lai Orchid


Elephants are majestic creatures that are commonly associated with Thailand. The image of people riding on chairs on the backs of elephants is something that is hopefully dying out and is being replaced with volunteer options that allow you to enjoy their company in a whole new way. With so much controversy surrounding elephant camps and tours, it can be tricky to know where to go. That’s where Chai Lai Orchid comes in.


This eco-resort is based in the beautiful mountains of Chiang Mai and is a great way to interact and connect with elephants in their natural habitat. Chai Lai Orchid lets their guests enjoy the elephant’s company without any bells and whistles whilst promoting elephant rescue and human rights. You’ll get to play with the elephants, bathe them and ride them (bareback, of course!).


In addition to helping elephants by rescuing and caring from them, Chai Lai Orchid is also part of Daughters Rising, an anti-trafficking NGO that educates and empowers women from Burma and minorities in Thailand in order help them against traffickers. You can make a donation to both of these causes (Dollars For DeeDee & Friends and Daughters Rising), but I highly suggest making the trip if you can!


Baan Dek Dee


Baan Dek Dee is a small orphanage located in the hills of northern Thailand that works in a unique way. While there are many charity foundations throughout the region, Baan Dek Dee has a one-of-a-kind approach to the way that an orphanage should be run, thanks to the vision of its founder, Manop, who was once an orphan himself. Manop believes that it is important to give Thai orphans the opportunity that so many of us take for granted - a chance to actively pursue their passions. He does this by educating them, feeding them and clothing them until they complete university or are able to work.


The children at Baan Dek Dee end up living at the orphanage for many different reasons, but the one thing that they have in common in that they have all experienced true hardship. Baan Dek Dee doesn’t have the funding or exposure as many other charity foundations and relies solely on donations to stay afloat. There are a few ways you can help Baan Dek Dee, but if you can, contact the orphanage and see what volunteer options are available. The reaction that you get from the children when you visit them is truly something special.


The Lanta Animal Welfare


Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW) is a non-profit organization based on Ko Lanta. LAW's objective is to rehabilitate suffering and sick animals on the island through sterilisation and care. Here you can come face to face with some of Krabi's most adorable creatures. They allow visitors to take the animals for walks and socialize with them. Lanta island is popular with tourists seeking a holiday away from the parties. If you’re staying in Krabi town, you can take a bus directly to Lanta island. If you’re staying in Ao Nang beach area, there are 2 daily ferries from here, so you could spend part of the day exploring Ao Nang area. I would recommend staying in Holiday Inn Express Krabi Ao Nang Beach, the first bike friendly hotel in Thailand who provides bicycle amenities for guests to explore Krabi in the most sustainable way.

Care For Dogs


Anyone who has visited Thailand knows that there is a serious overpopulation of stray dogs in the country. There are strays to be found in practically every part of the country, which is largely due to the excess of puppies for sale and neglected dogs that are dumped at temples or on the street. Care For Dogs aims to reduce the overpopulation through spaying/sterilisation programmes and encouraging local adoption. They also operate a rescue centre for puppies and dogs and help treat homeless dogs by giving them vaccinations and appropriate medical care.


Care For Dogs is always looking for volunteers to help with a wide variety of tasks. It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting Chiang Mai for a few days, weeks or months, they can always use your helping hand. The only requirement that they have when it comes to volunteering is a 3-day commitment at minimum. If you love dogs and want to help out, definitely pay them a visit during your stay.


It’s up to you which of these three (or all!) you’d like to visit or help, or maybe you’d like to conduct your own research. After all, there are so many other volunteer opportunities out there. All I hope is that you’ll consider giving back during your stay. In the words of Winston Churchill, “you make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”


Tags: backpacking, thailand, volunteering

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