Visitors to Southeast Asia will find many inexpensive volunteer projects in the region without having to look too hard – though they will be more limited if you hate dogs and don’t want to teach English.
Most of the projects listed below do not require any special skills or fees to participate but volunteers should expect to pay towards their food and accommodation, where provided, or find and pay for their own.
Safari Park Volunteer Initiative, Thailand
This independent volunteer initiative near Kanchanaburi could use some helping hands looking after animals including tigers, monkeys and a giraffe. The price has gone up a fair bit since we first wrote this post but we thoroughly enjoyed our time volunteering at this safari park.
Monk Chat, Thailand
We neglected to include Monk Chat in our recent round up of 34 places to volunteer in Chiang Mai. The idea is for travellers to drop in to a temple for a few hours and help the monks practice their English. The official website listed below is a little circumspect on what goes on at Monk Chat (the first rule of Monk Chat is never talk about Monk Chat?) so we suggest visiting this guide for more information.
Big Brother Mouse, Laos
Laotians are very much at the forefront of this project to make reading fun and improve literacy, but passing travellers can help make a difference with English practice sessions held at their Luang Prabang drop in centre.
Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, Thailand
There are many rescue centres and shelters for dogs around Thailand including this one on the popular holiday island of Koh Samui. Volunteers are welcome to help out for an hour or a year in one of their two shelters where tasks can include painting walls, spraying, de-ticking or bathing some of the 350 dogs and looking after the 100 cats. Accommodation is sometimes available.
Sapa O’Chau, Vietnam
Sapa O’Chau focus their activities around their recently opened education centre for students from Black H’mong and Red Dao minority villages. Founded by Shu, a former child street seller, the organisation is reliant on volunteers, such as Peter Gilbert to teach or assist in the classroom. There is no fee to volunteer and Sapa O’Chau can help volunteers find accommodation locally for around $5 per night.
Teach for Myanmar
This small not for profit programme matches volunteer teachers with a diverse array of community based organisations across Myanmar to make education more accessible to young adults from poor and marginalised communities. Volunteers are placed for ten weeks to seven months and should be aged at least 23, have a degree, native level English language proficiency and some teaching experience in English or another subject. There are no fees but volunteers cover all their own expenses.
Cambodia School of Higher Education
This school in the countryside about 6km from Siem Reap wants help teaching English to the kids and improving the English of their teachers. Volunteers work two hours in the morning and three in the afternoon and can also help the children plant vegetables. Weekends can be spent visiting the temples around Angkor or fishing. $60 a week covers accommodation with a local family and three meals per day.
The Bali Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre welcomes volunteers to teach their dogs to walk on a leash, follow commands, and with feeding, cleaning and generally loving their fur-babies. Accommodation in Ubud is provided for a fee.
The Naga Pelangi, Malaysia
The Naga Pelangi is a traditionally built Malay boat based in Lankawi on which volunteers can experience life on a sailing boat in a beautiful tropical setting. The German owners of the vessel recruit two to four volunteers at a time through Workaway to help with maintenance work, including sanding, varnishing and painting. No sailing skills are required but volunteers should be physically fit with a liking for manual labour. Accommodation is provided on board and food costs are shared when no money is coming in through charter.
Good Earth Agriculture, Thailand
A sustainable agriculture project to the northeast of Bangkok that welcomes volunteers. A contribution of 1500 baht (around $50) a week covers accommodation, three healthy meals a day, wifi and use of the swimming pool. Teaching English at a local school is also an option.
For more free or cheap ways to volunteer in Southeast Asia please visit our Free or Cheap Volunteering section.
Some details may have changed since this post was written.
Image courtesy suvajack.