South East Asia is where I first volunteered 12 years ago and since then I’ve worked throughout the region with many different programs. I have had some life changing experiences and learnt so much from working on projects here.
There are plenty of volunteering opportunities but you must be careful because not all are good, some are just a money making machine. So do your research before you travel and make sure it is a project that really does give back to the local community.
Here are 3 top locations that I would recommend to everyone looking to volunteer in Southeast Asia.
Battambang is one of the lesser known cities on the tourist route in Cambodia. Anyone who has been there knows it’s a great little city full of friendly locals, great restaurants and very affordable accommodation. Lots of volunteers flock to the city each year because there are plenty of worthwhile placements here and it also allows volunteers to have a good time after work everyday. Opportunities here are English teaching because there are tons of free schools for children living in the villages who can not afford extra tuition. Maybe my favourite location in Asia to volunteer.
Everyone who visits Myanmar usually arrives in the bustling city of Yangon, from there they usually hop on a bus or plane heading up the country to places such as Bagan & Inle Lake. Dalat is just across the river from Yangon and can be reached by taking a public ferry ride for 10 minutes. Even though it is so close to the capital city it is a very under developed place with a lot of need. There are plenty of monastic schools with hundreds of boarding students, they always require help and you can donate food or your time. I would advise staying in Yangon and commuting each day because there is not much in the way of entertainment in the evening.
Mae Sot, Thailand
Mae Sot is located in the north west of the country right on the border with Myanmar. Many volunteers head here because there is a large migrant and refugee community – they are here because the y fled a civil war which was happening over the border. There are NGOs you can work with and many migrant schools that are always happy to accept volunteers. Do note that schools and NGOs will only accept long term volunteers, so do you research before you go to Mae Sot.