I have decided to go on a volunteer trip to Thailand for a while. I know that I can help people, learn new things and make a difference in the world. But I always assume that I can volunteer for free. HQ Thailand Volunteer HQ)

I was shocked that I have to pay to volunteer. Besides my flight, food, and accommodation, I even have to pay program fee! So I started searching online, trying to find out the reason behind it and I found the answer in this article.

Donations should be spent on programs and services, not your shampoo.

I thought, great! Now I just need to find a program, and I can change the world.


Hold on right there. Because this is where the real challenge starts.

  • Legible

    So many volunteer programs on the web, how do I know which ones are legit?

  • Time Duration

    Lots of programs last for 12 weeks and I have 5 weeks only!

  • Program Fee

    I am willing to pay. I also don’t want to break the bank.

However, I found an organization called Volunteer HQ. It’s a company in New Zealand, but they offer programs across the world.

They have a well-established website, lots of positive reviews and tons of information. Looks pretty legit so I decided to give it a shot! I signed up for a 2-week outdoor volunteer program in Thailand! And it’s possibly the best two weeks in my life!

Here’s a video on the website of people talking about this program!

Now, let’s get started with my reviews and photos during my volunteer trip!


General Information and Environment

Program Overview

I think it will be easier just head over to Volunteer HQ’s website! Click here!

The organization you will be working with is Mirror Foundation, a local NGO based in Chiang Rai. Mirror Foundation partners with few organizations (volunteer recruit) like Volunteer HQ so you will meet lots of people from around the world.

Location

The volunteer base is in Chiang Rai which is roughly 3-hour-bus-ride away from Chiang Mai. And it takes about 45 minutes on a Songtaew to get to the base from Chiang Rai Bus Station (The Central Area.)

So yes, it is very very far away from everything.

It costs 500 baht (About $18) for a round trip on Songtaew to go to the city. Usually, 6 to 10 people shared one, so it’s very cheap to go into the town despite the distance.

Free Time

I was working with the outdoor team, and we have a lot of free times. Thai people are relaxed, and they don’t rush to finish work. We usually had a 2-hour lunch break or even longer if the weather was too hot. Sometimes we finished early to go to the waterfall. We didn’t work for three days due to rainy weather. And we had a 3-day-weekend.

But, that was my experience, I visited Thailand in the wrong time, and the weather wasn’t good. I was upset because I enjoyed working very much.

On a typical working day, we finished work and got back to the base at 4:30. Dinner served at 5.

Usually, volunteers tried to figure out actives for the night during dinner. We went to night markets, bars, festivals or shopping malls. If we didn’t go out, then we played monopoly or just sit in the bamboo hut and chat with each other. Oh! And most of the people got tired by 9. So it wasn’t that much of free time during the week.

The weekend was from Saturday to Monday in Mirror Foundation. It was great since most of the people traveled somewhere further on the weekend and we didn’t have to rush back! Local staff dropped all volunteers off at Central Bus Station on Saturday afternoon. They didn’t pick up, so we had to get back by ourselves.

Most of the volunteers spent their weekends in Phu Chi Fah, Phi, or Chiang Mai.


Accommodation

Can be separate to 2. One at the volunteer base and the other one is homestay. Usually, volunteers stay at the base for a week and homestay with hill tribe another week. But I was only there for two weeks, so I only went to one homestay.

Homestay

Accommodation provided at homestay varies. The photo was the one I stayed at. Lucky for the girls, it was the most luxurious house in the tribe. Even so, it was only very thin mattress placed right on the floor and a teddy bear as the pillow.

Female Volunteer House

Basic and clean. 2 dorms, 10 beds each and 5 shower blocks with the squat toilet. It was awesome to live with so many people! Fans and mosquito nets, and lockers available. Cold shower and low water pressure.


Meals

The meal provided in Mirror Foundation was fantastic! Authentic Thai food cooked with local products.

Usually rice, one dish with meat, two dishes with vegetable, soup, and fruit for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Friday was the best, spring rolls and fried noodle. Yum yum! Everything was mildly spicy, for someone who wasn’t used to spicy food, like me, took two days to get used to it.

Filtered water and tea leaves were provided.

Also, I suggest you buy some coffee powder or whatever you preferred in a supermarket before get here. Thai coffee has an adamant and sweet taste, and I couldn’t get used to it.


Outdoor Work

On the contrary of the indoor work which was more schools and classes basis, usually, go to certain places on certain time. Outdoor work was more project basis.

Me, for example, built a concrete road for two days for school. Then moved onto a rural tribe to dig dirt for another two days. Went back to the school to finish and decorate the road for one day. Went back to paint the museum for another day. So outdoor work was much more variety.

Was it tired? The first two days were, mixing concrete with rocks and sands were much heavier and challenging than I thought. After that, most of the tasks were easy.

It was nice to be active for few weeks!


How Much Did I Spend?

This is what most of the people asked me so I am sure some of you have the same questions!

I stayed in Bangkok for an extra week after, but I didn’t count it in since the expenses in Bangkok varies for different people.

As you can see, I spent approximately $1,039USD for my 2-week volunteer trip.

  • Flight (Taipei-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Taipei)  $200USD
  • Program fee 380 + Registration fee 279   $659USD
  • Personal expense while volunteering   $180USD

My Review

I only had one complaint about my experience———— I stayed too short, I should have signed up for a longer period.

I stayed for a very short two weeks due to this was my first volunteer trip. I wasn’t sure if I would like it. Now, I am here telling you that I LOVE IT.

Cold showers, squat toilets, limited access to the Internet and have to wake up early. These sounded cruel for me before, but now that I think about it, all these things were the beauty of it. Got out of my usual routine and lifestyle from home, I embraced every moment while traveling abroad and enjoyed the whole experience the way I never expected.

The best thing about outdoor volunteer is that I got to see the results immediately. And the work continued even after I left. I picked up from former volunteers, and I knew it would be finished in the future. I knew what benefits my work brought to the individual or communities.

The last, I met so many beautiful people. The outdoor work brought everyone together and become close. Digging road in 30 degrees, having lunch during the break and hiking to a waterfall after a long week. All the moments were magical!

I genuinely recommend this volunteer program to everyone who’s seeking a volunteer opportunity in Thailand!

And the last, if you decide to go on a volunteer trip with IVHQ, you can use my code “A77BB” to get $30 off!