Thailand is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Millions of visitors are enticed each year by its stunning beaches, lush jungles, exotic foods, and happy people. All of these factors – combined with its famously low cost of living – make it entirely deserving of its enduring popularity.
The only problem is, that with an increasing number of people visiting every year, many of the most famous destinations in the country are becoming so crowded that they are losing some of the laid-back authenticity that made them so great in the first place.
Take the famous islands such as Koh Samui and Koh Phangan as an example. These beautiful islands were both places where some of the first backpackers visited, decades ago, and found untouched island paradises.
But with the steadily growing influx of tourists and almost unrestricted action of developers, the islands have undoubtedly lost some of their original charms.
For some people, they will provide the perfect environment for an easy vacation, but for other more adventurous travelers, they just won’t cut it anymore.
One excellent way for these people to see a more real side to the country, all whilst contributing to a good cause, is to volunteer in Thailand.
Here are some of the reasons why volunteering is a great way to see Thailand.
Get off the tourist trail
As I’ve mentioned above, some areas of Thailand are no longer the untouched retreats of yesteryear. But that’s not to say that Thailand is over the hill as a tourist destination. Far from it.
Travel companies, developers, and tour operators tend to focus their business on the same select few areas, meaning that the majority of the country is still largely unaffected by tourism.
Working as a volunteer can get you directly out into these areas, as they are usually the places that need help the most.
These more remote areas are often just as beautiful, if not even more so, than the tourist hotspots, but have a fraction of the number of foreigners there. This means you will have a more genuine experience of the country and its culture, fewer crowds, and be able to enjoy other benefits such as considerably lower living expenses.
Meet the locals
Another major way that volunteering can add to your enjoyment of Thailand is that it will enable you to meet more local people, and have more meaningful interactions will them.
As a volunteer, you are specifically staying in communities in order to offer your help, and this will be recognized by locals. This mutual respect will stop you from being seen as a walking pile of money, which can unfortunately so often happen in areas jaded by decades of tourism.
By being able to befriend local people, you can learn far more about their way of life and the country in general than you ever could as a normal tourist, which can enrich your experience of Thailand significantly.
Give something back
Volunteering is, of course, all about giving up your own time in order to help others. Whatever your preference, there will be a project suitable for you.
You might be interested in social issues, in which case teaching English or working with children could be a good option for you. Or you may be more environmentally-focused, so helping to care for elephants or working in a national park may be more up your street.
What should also not be forgotten is that, while your chosen cause should be a priority, there is also a huge amount for you to gain personally.
Volunteering can teach you about yourself, the country you are staying in, and be one of the most rewarding ways that you can possibly travel.
Volunteer to experience a different side of Thailand
Working as a volunteer in Thailand, whatever project you choose, can help you to see more of the country, meet amazing new friends, teach you new skills, and help you to understand the country on a deeper level.
For all these benefits, and the chance to genuinely help a good cause – volunteer.
Nicoleta is the resident content blogger for uVolunteer. Nicoleta is an avid linguist, speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. She spent a decade working in China in the education sector and working with major international development institutions and currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food.
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