Volunteering in Thailand

Thailand placement details

Volunteer in Thailand and help children improve their English on the West coast a couple of hours north of the famous Phuket island. If you want to put something back for a couple of weeks and gain a new skill whilst enjoying all the usual tourist highlights, then this is the project for you.

On this unique award winning programme you will gain an incredible new skill, even if you had not considered teaching previously, which has led to many of our volunteers to start new careers in TEFL (Teaching English As A Foreign Language). You do not need any prior teaching experience to be successful.

What makes this possible for all our volunteers is the attention to detail taken by your British programme manager. All the essential teaching materials you will need for each lesson are pre-prepared and ready for you to use and comprehensive training is provided on arrival. If you will be here between June and September you won’t be on your own either, volunteers are placed in pairs and threes to teach which means teaching is a little bit more fun too. And of course we cannot fail to mention that the children are extremely motivated for English and have a great respect for their volunteer teachers. You may be surprised to have so many young fresh, smiley faces in front of you eager to learn.

Here’s everything you need to know about our teaching project in Thailand including how to prepare, how it is all organised, what to take and getting around in your free time. Got a question? Get in touch here.

About the Project

What are the aims of the volunteer programme?

In 2004 the coastal region was devastated by a Tsunami wave which crashed inland destroying homes and killing thousands. The biggest consequence was the effect on the local economy.

The English teaching programme, started by a retired British school teacher in 2005, aims to provide the children with an alternative career opportunity in higher education or the recovering tourist industry.

How are volunteers making a difference in Thailand?

Do not be fooled by the large American style schools which you will see in Thailand and the perfectly turned out children in immaculate school uniforms.Many of the children come from very poor families who work in agriculture and may be working for as little as £1 a day.

Without good English these children cannot access higher education and university without passing the national examinations in English. But it is just these poorer schools, despite appearances, which cannot provide adequate English teaching.

Thai English teachers are fairly proficient at written English and grammar but lacking in oral practice so you can be sure you are not replacing a valuable teacher, but instead filling a much needed gap.


What if I have never taught English before?

No experience is needed. Although TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) experience can be useful it is certainly not a requirement. If you are new to teaching, check out our quick guide on the basic technique used by most TEFL teachers around the world.

TEFL teaching is easy to pick up unlike standard teaching at home. This is because TEFL teaching methods tend to follow an established routine with lots of repetition and question and answer rather than explanation.

This makes it easier for new teachers because you will be using the same general method for all your first classes, although the words will change.

In fact experienced teachers new to TEFL methodology may find drilling and repetition requires some unlearning of Western teaching methods.

If you would like a call back to discuss in more detail how the programme works and help with any questions complete a form and we’ll be in touch shortly.

How will I know how and what to teach?

Each weekend the coordinator gathers everyone together to prepare the lessons for the week ahead. There is no need to bring anything from home.

Pre-prepared lesson plans are provided and the children follow a curriculum which has been tried and tested over many years so you know what you’ll be teaching actually works! Although you can always bring a few short fun ideas for the end of your classes.

What other opportunities are there?

During the school calendar there are extra-curricular activities which volunteers help with alongside local teachers. This could include supervising the national exams, helping with sports days, presentations and the annual English summer camps which are popular. Longer stays over two weeks are also welcomed, allow approximately £40 per week.

Will I have free time to explore?

Absolutely as there is no teaching at the weekends and schedules permitting you may finish classes Friday morning.

There is a lot to see and do in this popular region and organised tours can all be booked in Khao Lak where the teaching programme is based.

Most volunteers don’t stay near their school at the weekends, instead they usually head off in a group back to Khao Lak for the beaches or to the resort island of Phuket. 

Free time in Thailand

The team in Khao Lak can organise trips in and around the area including the Surin islands, elephant trekking and trips to the national parks. If you let us know before travel they may be able to get a group of volunteers together as it can be more fun! Or simply arrive, meet your fellow volunteers and organise a convenient weekend to tour and explore.


Head to White Sand beach and wait for the sun to set.


White Sand Beach

Snack and drink £5

There’s no need to leave the Khao Lak area for great beaches, White Sand beach is considered the best in the Khao Lak area. Take a short yuk yuk or taxi from town.

Cafe bars and sun beds are available. Best time to visit when the tide is high and the sun is setting.

Volunteers recommend to stay all day until the evening. 


Volunteer takes an elephant trek with one of the local team’s daughters.

Elephant trekking

Price £30

Get into the jungle with an elephant trek including a stop at a waterfall and lunch.

Tours start at 9am from Khao Lak and finish at 2pm.

Don’t forget to wear swim wear under your clothes in case you swim at the waterfall, a towel and insect repellent.

Tents on the beach at Surin island campsite where most visitors stay.

Surin Island snorkelling in paradise

£98 3 day tour

Book a package tour in Khao Lak to the Surin islands for a back to nature experience on an unspoilt tropical island. Spot monkeys in the trees and colourful coral and tropical fish in the crystal clear shallow water.

The only attraction here is snorkelling with guides available and total rest. Bring everything you need to be comfortable if camping although tents are provided but little else. For a little more hire a rustic bungalow.

A minimum 2 night stay is recommended to get the most out. Best time to visit October to May when the winds light and the sea blue and calm. Meals are provided at the camp-sites canteen.

Price £98 3 day tour.


Up to 30,000 attend the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party every month, the biggest in Thailand.

Full Moon Party

£150 incl. flight

The biggest party is at Koh Phangan beach on the East coast of Thailand. It hosts 10 to 30,000 revellers. The party starts at dusk when the sun sets and the full moon rises. Together with various DJs there are fireworks, jugglers, fire-eaters and acrobats. Most hotels require a minimum 3 night stay at the time of the full moon party.

To get there take a 55 minute flight from Phuket to Koh Samui approx. £110 return, followed by a ferry to Koh Phangan. Bus from Phuket to the east coast is a cheaper alternative but can take 7 to 10 hours and with the required minimum stay in Koh Phangan you will need at least 5 to 6 days to get everything in. Closer to Phuket, Koh Phi Phi island (‘The Beach’ film island below) has a smaller full moon gathering and you can catch the ferry in the morning back to Phuket if you are still awake in the morning! Do bring shoes rather than flip-flops for any full moon party as is a lot of glass in the sand from broken bottles. 

Dates for the full moon party in 2019: 21/01, 20/02, 20/03, 19/04, 19/05, 17/6, 18/7, 15/08, 13/09, 14/10, 11/11, 11/12.

Total cost from Phuket £150 approx. incl. flight to Koh Samui.

Visit ‘that’ beach in the film The Beach.


Phi Phi Island

Price £37 – £57

A beach that cannot be missed and the one featured in the film The Beach. Can be visited on a day trip from Phuket.

Take the ferry from Rassada Pier at 08:30, arrives 10ish. Ferries return to Phuket between 1 and 2pm. Or take an organised tour including guides and lunch for £52.

Price from just £37 – £57.

Thailand 3 Learn to surf

Surfing in Khao Lak.


Learn to surf in Khao Lak

Lessons £20

Between April and November it’s the surf season in Khao Lak and it’s perfect for beginners. Hire shops offer lessons for £20 an hour.

Thailand 1 Muay Thai

Learn Muay Thai boxing from the professionals.


Muay Thai

Tickets on door £25

If you are staying in Khao Lak for the weekend, make a visit to the Muay Thai boxing club in Bang Niang on Friday night, arrive for 8:30pm. Tickets on door £25. If you would like a training session  Rawai Muay offers private lessons for £20.

Take a snorkeling tour and discover another world.


Island snorkelling

Price at £65

Head to the pier in Khao Lak at 8am and meet your tour guide before heading off to the Similian islands for a day of snorkelling and relaxing on three different islands. Lunch included. Take sunglasses, sun hat, beach towel, long sleeved t-shirt. Pricey at £65 but it will be an experience you won’t forget and on your Khao Lak doorstep.

Waterproof camera would be a perfect addition for your personal kit list!

More about the Thailand programme


Volunteer relaxes at end of day after working with the local girl scouts.


OV volunteers based at school on the coast on beach between classes.

How does the project in Thailand work?

All Thailand volunteers fly straight into Phuket airport where our regular driver will be there to meet you and take you straight to the guesthouse in Khao Lak. Transfer time is about 2 hours. If arriving during the day, this will provide a great opportunity to take in the scenery on the coastal road.

How many schools are there?

The volunteer programme focuses on five main schools throughout the year with additional schools taking volunteers during the summer season when more volunteers arrive.

How are placements allocated?

School placements are allocated on arrival by the coordinator carefully matching volunteers to schools. Volunteers are placed in pairs and small groups wherever possible or placed with volunteers who have arrived before you and will be leaving soon. Friends or small groups of less than 4 are placed together. Accommodation near the school is provided by basic hotels which are comfortable by local Thai standards. And on Thursday or Friday volunteers head back to Khao Lak to meet up, prepare for the week ahead or take time out to relax and explore.

What happens when I arrive?

Volunteers flying to Phuket are met on arrival and transferred to the guesthouse in Khao Lak where all new volunteers are based for the first weekend. The recommended day to arrive is Friday. A Thursday may work well if your flight route was long or you would like to spend Friday resting.

On Saturday everyone gets together at the programme’s head office to prepare for the week ahead and collect materials. When you are dropped off at the guesthouse on Thursday/Friday don’t worry if no one comes from the office to meet you, they will know you have arrived as they arranged your pick up and transfer for you.

Use the time to relax, chat with other volunteers and backpackers in the bar/restaurant, try your Thai in local shops and enjoy the beach and the guesthouse staff all speak English. And don’t worry about not meeting up on Saturday – they will come and find you or contact the guesthouse, Khao Lak is a tiny place and the office is closeby.

What can you tell me about teaching materials

For teaching, worksheets are photocopied all follow the Thai national curriculum and are all ready to use, there is no need to bring any additional materials with you. Activities are idiot-proof and easy to follow which is great for anyone new to teaching or new to teaching English.

Everything has been tried and tested and used for many years by many volunteers so teaching could not be easier. The only other thing you want to make sure is that you have the right clothes for teaching, then you are half way there already!


Volunteers preparing classes together at head office at the weekend.


Volunteer picks up teaching resources at the programme’s head office in Khao Lak.

How is the volunteer group organised?

Volunteers are placed in one of two teaching teams, starting the week on a Sunday or Monday. There is no difference between the teams and friends are always kept in the same team.

On Sunday or Monday afternoon at 3pm (depending on your team) the pre-booked taxi or minibus takes the volunteer group to their hotel near their school placement. In the summer months there can be as many as 10 volunteers at the same hotel but will be teaching in different schools in pairs or small groups.

What level of support is provided?

Volunteers in Thailand are provided support in the first instance by the head of English at your school and Thai English teachers. Your British and assistant English speaking co-ordinator in town can be reached by telephone for any immediate advice during your stay that cannot wait until the weekend when you will be back in town.

All volunteers are strongly encouraged to return into town every weekend for the weekly meetings and to prepare for the week ahead. This is a great way to meet other volunteers, collect the next week’s lesson plans which are all pre-prepared and stay up to date with what is going on.

For accommodation support, your hotel manager and their staff will provide this and are experienced in looking after their volunteer English teachers. On the other side of the coin, a lot of preparation goes into organising the placements for volunteers behind the scenes before your arrival and trying to match volunteers to the school which the volunteer and the children will gain most from.

If you have any concerns about your placement during your stay, contact the local support team who will be able to advise you. There is usually nothing which a couple of days experience in the classroom won’t resolve.


A volunteer teaches Thai Moken children, marginalised sea-gypsy community, historically nomadic, now living in houses on stilts on islands.


Volunteer shares a class, often volunteers share in the summer months.

Do I need to learn to speak Thai?

English is widely understood, particularly in Phuket and in the South where it is almost the major commercial language although a Thai phrasebook and dictionary may come in handy.

You will have plenty of opportunities to practise Thai with teachers in the teachers room at the school as only the Thai English teachers will speak English but many more will want to get to know you and might invite you to a family get together after a few exchanged basic greetings.

Some lucky volunteers have been invited to parties, weddings and on expenses-paid weekend breaks by the school directors so you never know where stepping out of your comfort zone and making friends with local people may take you.

What’s the weather like?

Thailand has a tropical climate with high temperatures. Temperatures range from 20 to 35 Celsius. The hottest month is July. November to February are the coolest months and is a pleasant time to visit as the heat is more manageable.

Visas – what you need to know

Thailand is divided into different regions with their own laws, in a similar way to the American states. The region where volunteers are based does not follow national Thai immigration rules regarding volunteer/work visas. The chief immigration officer for the province inspects the programme annually. The last inspection was July 2014 and the programme was found to be exemplary.

The only provision for volunteers teaching on the programme in the province is that work is unpaid, hence the annual inspection to confirm this is the case. If you are in any doubt we can put you in touch with the programme’s director in Thailand who will be happy to confirm details of the province’s exemption to the work visa. However, there are stiff penalties for anyone found receiving salaries on tourist visas and not paying tax.

British passport holders do not require tourist visas for stays in Thailand less than 30 days, your passport will simply be stamped with an arrival date on arrival, you will need to arrive in Thailand with a return ticket or onward ticket to a neighbouring country to show you will not be overstaying your 30 days allowance in Thailand. If you are staying longer than 30 days a 60 day tourist visa can be obtained before arrival.

Where do I need to fly to?

All volunteers cover flights to Thailand, Phuket is the usual airport which is the nearest airport to Khao Lak (airport code HKT) and travel insurance which includes medical bills and repatriation. We automatically organise an airport pick up from Phuket from the regular driver unless you tell us otherwise.

Nearly all volunteers get return flights to Phuket which is the closest airport to Khao Lak. This is preferable to a flight to Bangkok followed by overnight train which still will require a 5 hour coach to finally reach Phuket as Phuket is beyond the end of the train line.

From Phuket airport it is approx. £20 payable on arrival, although the return journey will be cheaper on public transport to Phuket then taxi to the airport.

What’s the transport situation in Thailand?

Transport is usually provided by the schools so you will only be needing transport if you want to travel back into Khao Lak at the weekend to head off to explore. Phuket is the main attraction for a weekend trip although there are tours available in the Khao Lak area which can be booked easily after arrival. Buses or tuk tuks are the main form of transport in Thailand. A trip to Phuket by bus costs about £2 each way, a visit to the local market costs about £1 each way, per person, if two share. A modern taxi from Phuket town back to Khao Lak costs in the region of £17 to £28 depending on the company.


 How can I travel with someone?

Although most volunteers fly on their own, and about 7 in 10 do, the programme works best when volunteers are paired up at schools so it is extremely unlikely you will be on your own unless the other volunteer you are placed with leaves the programme early to travel! But new volunteers arrive every weekend throughout the year so there will always be new faces arriving each week to join you. If you would like to fly out with a fellow volunteer, we can pair you up, just let us know at the time of booking. You can also:

  • Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers and find a familiar face when you arrive. It is also a good place to find others who may want to travel around Thailand and further afield after their volunteering.
  • Join the volunteer community on Facebook and like the page to connect with others, receive regular updates and get inspired for a future project elsewhere. We regularly add a Travel Buddy list round up on Facebook too so when you spot one, leave a comment with your travel plans so others can get in touch and you can start planning together.

What do I need to take?

All teaching materials are provided, there is no need to bring anything from home. You will need some smarter clothes for teaching as the schools can be quite rigid in their dress code. A good way to know what to wear is to consider what teachers back at home would wear in the summer. If unsure, as a rough guide stick to the following: a plain blouse/shirt or long conservative summer dress, knee length skirt/trousers/chinos and sandals/shoes. Flip flops are okay. Volunteers dressing casually can find their placement cancelled without notice. British culture would involve a polite reminder to the teacher before this happens whereas most Thais prefer to avoid face to face offence at all costs so these things can come as bit of a surprise! At least now you are aware!

Thai schools love their presentation and awards days so it is also a good idea to take an extra smart outfit for these special occasions. There may also be senior government ministers or local dignitaries visiting so you won’t want to be the odd one out if the Thais are in suits!


Most volunteers will make a visit to a temple at some point during their stay. Buddhism is an important feature of life in Thailand.

Volunteers on a tuk tuk taxi head back into Khao Lak. Tuk tuk taxis are the usual form of transport in Thailand.

How will I get to the school each day?

Each morning at 8am the schools that are not within walking distance send transport to collect the volunteer team. Transport is also provided to take you back to the hotel after school finishes at around 3pm. All the schools are well accustomed to receiving volunteers and have an established system in place so you won’t get lost or left at your school or hotel!

How will I get back to Khao Lak at the weekend?

On Thursday or Friday (depending on your team) the volunteer team usually returns to Khao Lak together by taxi which leaves the hotels at around 4pm. Then you are free to rest and explore.

What can you tell me about Thailand?

Thailand is an independent country that is situated in the heart of southeast Asia. Burma and Laos border Thailand from the north, Cambodia to the east, from the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia and the Andaman sea from the west.

In terms of total area mass, Thailand is the world’s 50th largest country. The current king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, has ruled since 1946 and is currently the world’s longest serving head of state.

Thailand is a wondrous kingdom, featuring Buddhist temples, exotic wildlife, and spectacular islands. Along with a fascinating history and a unique culture that includes delectable Thai food.

Volunteer Jessica takes a Muay Thai boxing lesson.


OV volunteers and children having fun after classes

What can I do during and after the project?

There may be a beach nearby if you are lucky to get a town on the coast but if not then the coast will never be too far away and you will be back in Khao Lak every weekend to meet up with everyone.

At the weekend volunteers either hang out at Khao Lak or head to Phuket to take a tour. Many volunteers head to the beautiful beaches within easy reach. Visit the James Bond Island in Phuket and visit where the Leonardo Dicaprio film ‘The Beach’ was set.

Take in a muay Thai (Thai kick-boxing) match; this traditional sport can be seen every day of the year at the major stadiums in the provinces. Thai boxing matches are preceded by elaborate ceremonies and accompanied by lively music. Head off after your volunteering to enjoy Thailand’s thousands of kilometres of coastline. Have a go at sea canoeing and kayaking through the spectacular limestone islands in Phang Nga Bay and explore the half-submerged caves and grottoes.

Summer camps and P.E. weeks

The King of Thailand has a lot of power and influence. Every year the King decrees that all the schools in Thailand will have a summer camp or PE week. They are great fun, but they can happen at very short notice, often announced on a Friday to start the following week!

Summer camps often involve English with the whole school year taking a class at the same time which can be quite a spectacle. At some schools volunteers have together on a stage using microphones taught to 800 children. That’s something to mention on a CV for public speaking experience, although no one will force you to if you don’t want to, but it can be an unusual experience.

Summer camps tend to happen in July but the King’s PE week can be at any time. As volunteers stay for a minimum of 2 weeks, one week should not interrupt things too much and the unique experience should make up for any irritation in the sudden change in the schedule. If you require a set minimum number of weeks classroom teaching because of a course requirement at home we recommend adding an extra week just in case. Flights are no more expensive for a 3 week return than a 2 week return and with the cost of living in Thailand considerably less than in Europe, you will only need around £50 for an extra week’s volunteer accommodation, meals and transport so it can make sense to stay longer if you can.

Volunteers share a class using well used teaching resources – the sticky board and printed flashcards.


OV volunteer in their class with the local teacher.

What should a parent be aware of?

The area where the programme is based is away from the backpacking hub in Phuket so there are few distractions mid week. The school week is pretty much like any other at home with lesson planning after school for the next day. From experience it is recommended all volunteers complete a minimum of 2 weeks to get the most out of their experience, often after the middle weekend in a 2 week stay, even the most novice teachers find teaching straightforward as you get used to the routine/accommodation/children and the teaching method which was introduced on arrival.

Each weekend most volunteers head back to Khao Lak to relax or into Phuket for the weekend, passing by the head office on their way back to their school on Sunday to collect the next week’s teaching resources.

The biggest danger in Thailand for tourists is when hiring mopeds and having accidents and being fined by the police for not wearing a helmet when hiring one so best to avoid!

What do I need to pay for the placement?

Once you have booked on and secured your place on the Thailand programme with the registration fee, there is an additional once only support fee of £195 which includes your first two nights accommodation in Khao Lak on arrival, midweek accommodation near your school for week one and week two. The second and third weekends are paid on a pay-as-you-go basis to keep your weekends flexible depending on whether you choose to stay near your school or visit Khao Lak or Phuket with friends. This means you will not be paying for weekend accommodation in advance which you might not be using if you decide to stay in a hostel elsewhere whilst sightseeing.

Can I extend if I decide to stay longer?

Absolutely! After all the experience you will have gained in your first two weeks it would be a shame to let anyone leave the programme who don’t want to. It’s always great for volunteers to continue building on what they and the children have learnt. Extensions over 2 weeks are on pay-as-you-go basis at your hotel near your school, if we know before you go that you may be staying for more than 2 weeks we will inform the local team for you so they are aware. If you decide in Thailand to stay longer than originally planned it is essential to make your coordinator aware so they can plan for new arriving volunteers accordingly and liaise with your school. There are no charges to volunteer more than two weeks, volunteers simply pay the hostel to continue their stay, expect to pay between £30 and £60 a week depending on the type of hostel or type of room you choose.

How much will I need for meals and daily living?

For meals and daily expenses allow for £20 – £30 a week. For a weekend trip down to Phuket, a boat trip to the islands and hotel accommodation with meals out and drinks allow £100. But we recommend taking as much as you can extra because you might decide to do extra activities or fit in a full moon party if the dates coincide with your stay!

What happens after I have booked?

  • As soon as you have booked with the once-only £125 registration fee (this covers one or more projects within a year), you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for you trip.
  • We will Buddy you up with another volunteer going to the Thailand volunteer programme arriving around the same time so you should have a good chance to travel together if you wish to
  • You will also receive an email confirming your place and guiding you through the next steps in preparing for your trip

Below is an example timeline of what to do next after booking for July 2019

  • At anytime : As soon as you have booked with the once only registration fee and received confirmation from us, get return flights to Phuket airport. There is usually a need to change plane somewhere along the way usually in Doha or Bangkok, but this is normal as there are few direct flights to Phuket. Your ticket to Phuket will cover you the whole way and when you arrive at each airport you simply follow international transit passenger signs for your next flight so it could not be simpler. Flights can go up considerably over time and you may save one or two hundred pounds by buying early. There is generally no difference in cost between a two week or eight week return flight so if you can afford to cover your weekly stay and have the time available it can be more economical to stay longer. Most volunteers to say they would have stayed an extra week if they had realised. If there is a big difference in flight price between short and long stay it may be the particular travel dates you have chosen are expensive so it is worth to keep trying different travel dates. Search for flights on the website skyscanner.net or call a few agents (Dial A Flight, Trailfinders) and ask for their best quote before you make a purchase.
  • Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
  • Join the volunteer community on Facebook to see recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates.
  • 3 to 4 weeks before travel: contact your travel nurse or travel clinic to make appointments for jabs and boosters (for more information on what is typically recommended please refer to the NHS website fitfortravel). Malaria tablets are not needed for the region you will be volunteering in. Visit our travel health section for more advice on how to get your jabs organised.
  • Anytime before travel : Arrange suitable travel insurance – this can often be bought at the same time as your flight, ensure medical bills and repatriation are included as medical bills can soar abroad without adequate insurance. 
  • A visa is not required before travel to Thailand for UK passport holders if you are staying less than 30 days. If you are staying over 30 days, then a 60 day visa is required which can be obtained before travel. Longer stay volunteers have recommended a type O visa.
  • As soon as you have your flight to Phuket: Email us your flight to organise your pick up.
  • At anytime : pay for your project – we will send you an invoice by email to pay online – don’t worry we will send you a reminder if you forget!
  • We will organise your pick up and transfer from Phuket airport automatically when we receive your flights. If you are travelling from elsewhere we will put you in contact with the local team to organise a meeting point or the best directions to Khao Lak.

Want to know more?

If you have any big or small questions on this award-winning Thailand programme or would like to check dates please contact us at the earliest opportunity.Alternatively complete an easy enquiry form with your contact details and we’ll be in touch! On a budget? If you like the sound of Thailand but might not be able to stretch your budget this time round to long haul flights, take a look at our Morocco programme where flights from the UK and Europe start from as little as £50 return with Easyjet and Ryanair.

Placement at a glance

Volunteer optionsVolunteer in Thailand teaching English at schools close to the stunning west coast.
SupportPre-departure helpdesk, in-country coordinating team and 24hr emergency support.
Project locationOn the Andaman Sea coast, just north of Phuket.
AccommodationSome teaching teams live-in at schools, others are transported daily from a hostel close by.
FoodOn the Andaman coast, the going rate is 40 - 120 baht for a bowl/plate meal or between 80 and £2.40 pence in British currency.
Working hoursUsually full time, 4 to 5 days a week.
Minimum stay2 weeks, arrive Friday for weekend training and prep, Or arrive Thursday to relax on Friday. Opportunity to extend visit after arrival by simply paying the hostel for your accommodation, approximately £40 - £50 per week.
Volunteers usually stayMinimum 2 weeks, longer stays possible.
Project operatesWhen schools are open: Mid June to end September, Mid November to end February. Twice a year English and Sport summer camps are requested by the King, these are at short notice cannot be known in advance. If you require more teaching hours it is recommended to stay 3 to 4 weeks to allow for these. However most volunteers find the unique experience of these weeks more than makes up for any lack of classroom teaching!
When to applyEarly booking recommended.
Costs£195 one-off contribution plus £13.50 hostel accommodation for second weekend. The one off contribution covers the following: First weekend hostel accommodation in Khao Lak. Midweek accommodation week one near school placement. Second week midweek accommodation near school. Orientation and training on arrival. All teaching materials. Transfer to school. Organisation of school placements. On going support from your programme support team at their head quarters in Khao Lak.
Airport pick-up serviceOrganised automatically for all volunteers from Phuket airport pick-up: £20 - £30 payable on arrival.

Accommodation info

  • Shop 5 Minutes Shop 5 Minutes
  • Bar at hotel Bar at hotel
  • Chemist 5 Minutes Chemist 5 Minutes
  • Bus 5 Minutes Bus 5 Minutes
  • Taxis 5 Minutes Taxis 5 Minutes
  • Cash Machine 15 Minutes Cash Machine 15 Minutes
  • Bank 15 Minutes Bank 15 Minutes
  • Phone Booth 15 Minutes Phone Booth 15 Minutes
  • Internet at hotel Internet at hotel
  • Laundry - provided with your stay small fee Laundry - provided with your stay small fee

Basics, what to take?

  • Adaptor
  • Toiletries/sheets

More info


For volunteers in Thailand the first weekend of your arrival a hostel stay will be organised for you in Khao Lak where our programme headquarters is based. After transferring to your school, a conveniently located hostel will be organised for you. All volunteers teaching at the same school stay in the same hostel so you will not be short for company and opportunities to make friends as everyone follows the same daily programme. When not teaching at the weekends you have three options, stay at your hostel if you do not need to travel back to Khao Lak for teaching materials, travel back in to Khao Lak or on to Phuket or other places of interest as preferred. For this reason the second weekend is payable locally on a as-you-go basis to provide greater flexibility in your free-time so you are not paying for accommodation you are not using at the weekend.

Extensions over two weeks are also on pay-as-you-go basis, if known if advance we will inform the local team for you so they are aware.

Meet the project team

thailand.the team01

A retired British school teacher who has been working tirelessly in Thailand since the Tsunami in 2004 and Sunny his hardworking assistant head up this incredible programme which has been wowing the local education authorities for it’s quality teaching methods and dedicated volunteers.

The local team will help you to plan for your classes and help with any aspect of your stay away from your volunteering. Whilst volunteering at your school you can contact your coordinators at anytime by phone or email or speak to the school volunteer supervisor who will be more than happy to help although you’ll be back into town to meet up with everyone every weekend.


Suny, one of the coordinating team in Khao Lak is more than happy to help with anything you need during your stay on the programme


The benefits of your local in-country team

What is a volunteer coordinator?

Whilst you volunteer in Thailand you will have access to the services of a volunteer coordinator. This is the person responsible for organising your volunteering and looking after your welfare needs during your stay and they are all English speaking.

Thailand volunteers are fortunate to have their programme organised by a retired British primary school teacher with over 10 years experience of supporting volunteers on his own programme.

What experience do volunteer coordinators have?

All our coordinators are local people with knowledge and experience gained over many years of supporting volunteers. They have a deep knowledge of their local community, providing an invaluable source of information.

9 in 10 coordinators at our destinations have between 5 – 7 years experience and 7 in 10 of our coordinators have supported more than a thousand volunteers each (current as of August 2013).

If they don’t know where to buy Parmesan cheese when the shops are shut, no one will!

Who are volunteer coordinators?

At some destinations the volunteer coordinator will also be the manager/director of the project you are volunteering if you are based in one location. Examples of manager/coordinator projects will be Kenya-Mombasa/Peru/Cambodia/South Africa/Argentina/Uganda/India.

Some destinations require an independent volunteer coordinator because there are many projects volunteers go to. Independent coordinators will organise a variety of placements at many different projects in the local community throughout your visit. He/she will liaise with all the projects/schools/hospitals on your behalf to organise schedules for your volunteer group. Examples of volunteer programmes are: Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador.

Thailand and Nepal offer a mix of both.

Is there only one volunteer coordinator?

Coordinators have other staff supporting them, from drivers to housekeepers, and cooks and assistant coordinators.

Support team size varies between project type and time of year. The typical size of any support team will be 5 – 7. There may also be a long stay volunteer helping out

The Uganda school project had at last count 15 local staff supporting volunteers which ranged from security to water carriers!

What do coordinators do?

Airport pick up

Your in-country coordinator will organise your pick up and make sure you get to the volunteer house as smoothly as possible. If your coordinator does not meet volunteers from the airport, their trusted regular driver will be sent to meet you.

Liaise with local projects

If you are on a mixed volunteer programme (Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador) your coordinator will be regularly liaising with the projects you will be going to today, this week and next, organising suitable times and communicating schedules to the volunteer group.

Help organise specific placements

Coordinators will also ensure that volunteers with special preferences eg. medical/building can get involved as fully as possible in their preferred area of work.

Show you around and help you to locate things

Need a Sim card? Want to buy some paintbrushes for an art session tomorrow? Speak to your coordinator – they will advise on where, how to get there and prices.

Provide an orientation on arrival

Your coordinator or their local team will provide an orientation on arrival of what’s where and how to get started. This may take the form of a more formal meeting for all new arrivals by your coordinator or through informal advice for new arrivals from staff, long stay volunteers, handouts, information on the noticeboard as per needs dictate.

This will usually include any important cultural awareness if this may affect your stay. For example bare tummies should be covered in Ghana for example otherwise the children won’t stop giggling!

Help you when things go wrong

We are often asked what happens when things go wrong. Your local team are the experts on getting you the help you need immediately. They have seen it all before (in a nice way) and are well experienced in looking after hundreds of volunteers each year with all the usual niggles from sunburn to upset tummies. Whether you need a doctor in the night for sickness or you want to try out a new project or move bedroom or volunteer house.

If you have remembered to print off your project contact details and leave them with family (these are sent before travel to all volunteers) – your family can also contact the coordinator directly. Or they can call us and we can put them in touch.

But if you need further assistance or advice we are here to help you. Contact us straightaway and we might be able to make the niggly issues go away.

For any country related crises which may occur which would require volunteers to return home, your coordinator and their team will ensure everyone is safely escorted to the airport or Embassy as per the advice provided by each volunteer’s government together with any additional support that may be required.

Help you when you feel unwell

Coordinators are the first port of call if you think you may need medical assistance. They will organise an escort to the local clinic/hospital and make sure you are well treated. They can also contact home and will be happy to speak to parents to explain how you are. If you are volunteering alone, they may also stay with you in the hospital or request that a member of their staff and a volunteer keep you company as it can be quite daunting to be in a foreign hospital, even if it is only an infected mosquito bite!

Most health problems are minor and with a day or two’s bed rest either at the volunteer house or the local hospital and plenty of water, most volunteers are back to their normal selves again.

While on the subject of hospitals – make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover local medical bills and repatriation. In developing countries and where medical care is mostly private, it is not uncommon to be admitted into a private room for something which would be treated as an out-patient back home. Without insurance, hospital fees can be as much as £200 per day.

For doctors appointments when you only need a prescription, your coordinator will help you to locate the nearest doctor/clinic. For these it is often easier to pay on the spot and not claim on the insurance. Expect to pay approx. £5 – £15 per consultation and £5 – £20 for basic medication.

Organise excursions

Your coordinator knows all the best trips and best prices which volunteers over the years have participated on and recommended. If the options are not posted on a notice board ask your coordinator what is available and how to book. Typical prices across all destinations as a very rough guide: £30 – £40 for a day’s activity, £200 – £400 for a trek/budget safari for 3 – 5 days. Most volunteers go together in a group for more fun and get discounts. Additional trip discounts for volunteers are available in Ghana and Tanzania.

Return transfer back to the airport

Your coordinator can organise the return trip back to the airport for you, simply ask a few days before your flight. This is not automatically organised as many volunteers will have made friends and may leave the project a day or two earlier to sightsee before flying home, want to go shopping right up to the last minute or forget that the transfer was booked and have already jumped in a taxi!

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Thailand specific questions

Do I need experience?
Not at all. For 9 in 10 volunteers this will be their first time teaching, a full orientation and training is provided on arrival to all volunteers before heading off to your school. In addition all volunteers are provided with complete lesson packs with flashcards you’ll use and full easy to use instructions. Example of instruction: “hold this up in front of the class”, it’s that easy!

Where will I be staying in Thailand?
The volunteer programme’s headquarters are in Khao Lak. This is where the senior coordinator and his team’s office is and where you will first arrive. After the weekend orientation, volunteers move off to their hotel near their school. Volunteers are placed in pairs The programme focuses on 5 schools in the region within a 40 mile radius of Khao Lak, although extra schools are used in the peak summer periods. At the weekends, all volunteers return together to Khao Lak to meet up, prepare lessons for the week ahead and head to the beaches together around the Phuket area.

Do I need a visa for Thailand?
For stays of up to 30 days no visa is required. Simply enter as a tourist. For longer stays, unfortunately the schools are unable to provide letters of introduction as the school placements cannot be known in advance. The local coordinating team are well known and respected by the local authorities since they started the school volunteer programme following the Tsunami in 2004, so you will not encounter any problems volunteering at the schools on a tourist visa.

Can I stay longer than two weeks?
Yes, longer stays are welcomed. This can be decided at any time during your first two weeks. Extra weeks on the volunteer programme are not charged, instead you simply pay your hostel directly to continue your stay. Depending on the type of hostel or quality of room you prefer you can expect to pay between £30 and £70 per week. 

Do I have to arrive on a particular date?

The preferred day to arrive is a Friday, preferably during the day, to be rested and ready for the orientation on Saturday. Some volunteers arrive on Thursday to get over their flight and have a day to relax. It is possible to arrive earlier in the week and a transfer from Phuket airport to the hostel in Khao Lak will be organised day of the week.

Will I be placed with my friend/travel Buddy?
Everyone arriving with a friend are met together and placed together in the same accommodation, no one is split up! Because schools generally only take up to 5 volunteers at any one time, large groups of more than 6 volunteers may be divided between two schools but you will still be able to meet up at the weekends.

I am worried about travelling on my own – can I buddy up with someone?
We can help you find someone to travel together – use our Buddy List or pop us a message on the main Facebook Group and we’ll add you to our weekly round up of travel buddies.

Will I need any jabs?
Unlike Africa, fewer jabs are needed for a trip to Thailand which is great news! The boosters which are usually advised are Hep A and Tetanus. Malaria tablets are not generally recommended for the area you will be teaching in, although if you are travelling to the border regions or neighbouring countries after volunteering, malaria tablets are essential. For further advice visit your doctor or travel health nurse. (Taken from the nhs website fitfortravel 21/08/13).

Do I need to bring anything for the children?
All lesson materials are provided so there is no need to bring anything extra for your volunteering, although a Thai phrase book may come in handy when chatting in the teachers room with the teachers who do not teach English. Some volunteers have recommended taking a few postcards from home to pass around new friends as an icebreaker.

What clothes do I need for teaching?
Clothes are very important in Thailand, not so much for the visiting backpacker and tourist but when living and working with Thais. It is worth spending a little extra time before travel to make sure you have the right clothes to make your stay more comfortable and not feel the odd one out! You will need outfits for 4 different environments:

(i) Teaching : Smart casual clothes. Best way to get this right is think what a teacher in your country would wear in the summer, so no shorts and flip flops. Get this wrong and the school might not let you in the classroom next week! Thai culture is quite tight on this area like the British will grumble quietly when someone jumps a queue, Thais will avoid face to face conflict with guests. Instead they will call your coordinator who will have to pass the uncomfortable news on to you that you need to move school. On a couple of occasions schools have stopped the English programme completely! So best to over dress at the start to avoid any misunderstandings! If you are staying for a long time you may want to ask if the the school can provide a uniform for you. Thai school teachers usually wear usually a short sleeved polo-shirt with the name of the school embroidered on paired with a skirt or trousers. We recommend two short sleeved blouses, polo shirts and two longer skirts/chinos with sandals ideal. That way you can wash one and wear the other. In the heat clothes will dry quickly overnight. Try to avoid shorts even if they are longer, better to wear clean tidy jeans and a suitable top than have bare legs in the classroom.

(ii) Casual holiday clothes for relaxing at the hotel / in your free time : Take all the usual shorts, strappy vests for your free time.

(iii) Beachwear: If you staying awhile it is recommended to bring more than one set of beachwear as the sun is strong and colours fade and fabric weakens if you spend all your free time at the beaches! You may also want to bring an underwater camera to get some cool shots in the clear water.

(iv) Formal outfit: This is very important. If you are not taking the smartest of outfits for teaching then do pack one smarter outfit for special events at the school. Awards presentations are common and Thais like to dress up formally. They may also like to introduce their volunteer teachers to visiting parents and local dignitaries. It can be embarrassing to be in shorts and flip flops in front of a famous (in Thailand anyway) government minister wearing a suit! A summer weight jacket or cardigan which can be thrown over your normal teaching clothes might be enough, anything which makes it look like you have made a bit of an effort for the occasion. Female volunteers might simply use a longer length sun dress they also use at the weekend. For male volunteers a plain clean shirt, chinos and shoes should suffice.

How can I keep in touch with home?
The weekend hostel in Khao Lak has the full range of services for volunteers. Where internet access not available at your school hotel, most schools offer volunteers an hour or so to use the net each day.

Contact us for specific questions

We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Give us a call for a quick chat on 01603 280702 or email contact [at] originalvolunteers.co.uk to get the answers you need!

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Average Review Rating: from 8 reviews.

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I wanted to thank you for arranging my placement at the school in Soiyak. The teachers very friendly and made me feel welcome there and I really enjoyed teaching the children and mixing with them. I got to learn about their backgrounds as well as their aims and hopes for the future. The behaviour of the children is a...

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I don’t really know what to say or where to start, Volunteering in Thailand has left me speechless! When I first arrived I was so nervous about being in another country and teaching English without a lot of knowledge of what I really needed to do. There were many times in that first day when I thought to myself I j...

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I had the time of my life as a volunteer in Asia

I have had the time of my life in Thailand and i am currently on a gap year travelling the world taking part in many projects through Original Volunteers. I had been teaching in Ghana for a month before hand and I kept saying  that Africa  was wonderful  and I loved it so much. I felt that  it would be hard to co...

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The children were amazing in this part of Asia

The coordinator in Thailand was incredibly organised. They got me picked me up from the airport, told me all about the school, and generally looked after me every step of the way. The school was really lovely and all the villagers went way out of there way to look after me and the setting was incredible. The children ...

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