When should I apply for a volunteer in Thailand projects?
Global Crossroad has offered volunteering in Thailand projects (including internships) since 2003. We are able to place volunteers on the 1st or 3rd Monday of any month, year round. We recommend applying at least two months in advance, as there is an ever-increasing volume of applications. If your application must be expedited for quicker placement, please contact our office for more information.
What happens once I submit my documents and application to volunteer in Thailand?
Once Global Crossroad receives and reviews your completed application, it is then forwarded to our In-Country Coordinator in Thailand who will then finalize a personal assignment as per your qualifications, experience and requests. Your finalized placement details are forwarded to you upon completion.
How long does it take to process my application to volunteer in Thailand?
The application process may take up to 2-4 weeks – occasionally longer given the time of year and influx of applications to your chosen country. However, in the event that an applicant requires quicker placement due to time constraints, we request you contact Global Crossroad's offices prior to submitting an application.
What documents do I need to submit with my application to volunteer in Thailand?
The only initial documentation required is our completed application form, which can be found online (http://www.globalcrossroad.com/apply.php). We reserve the right to request further information or documentation; however, in most situations information contained in the application is sufficient. Applicants have the option to either submit their application online or download the application from the website and submit the completed form to Global Crossroad's USA-based offices by either mail or fax.
Are there any necessary requirements to participate in volunteer in Thailand projects?
The only qualifications are:
- An open-mind, a willingness to teach others as well a passion for helping those in need.
- Enthusiasm for living abroad, meeting new people and embracing varied cultures.
- Be in good mental and physical health.
Securing a tourist visa is the volunteer's responsibility and Global Crossroad requires all volunteers to obtain a tourist visa before departing for Thailand.
Please call our office or contact your nearest Thailand embassy to learn more about visa, visa fees and visa extensions. Much information can be learned online by searching out Thailand’s embassy or consulate.
Who manages the volunteer in Thailand projects?
Global Crossroad's in-country Coordinator in Thailand is responsible for researching appropriate volunteer projects as per the qualifications, skills and interests of the applicants.
What are the daily schedules while volunteering in Thailand?
Project schedules vary for each project in Thailand. Most projects in Ayuthaya start from Monday to Friday, for approximately 4-5 hours a day. In Surin and Sangklaburi, volunteers will from Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 3.30 pm. Volunteers have the weekends and evenings off to go sightseeing.
Where are volunteer opportunities in Thailand located?
Most of our programs in Thailand will take place in and around Bangkok. Review the details of your project on our website or in your placement documents for the particular city or area to which you will be travelling.
What is the language spoken in Thailand?
Thai is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group.
When are volunteer in Thailand projects available?
Global Crossroad programs are available year round and begin on the 1st or 3rd Monday of every month.
How long can I volunteer in Thailand?
We normally suggest participants volunteer for a 2-12 weeks timeframe. In general, most countries do not allow those travelling on a tourist visa to stay longer than 12 weeks. If you would like to stay longer, please contact our offices to discuss your options.
Arrival and Departure Information
Who will arrange my flight to Thailand?
International flight coordination and payment of international airfare is a volunteer’s responsibility.
At which airport should I arrive?
Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok; however, random placements may require arrival at a different airport. Please do not book travel until your placement is complete.
When does my assignment begins and when should I arrive in Thailand?
If you are volunteering in Ayuthaya, please arrive on Sunday. You will be transferred to Ayuthaya from Bangkok (a distance of about 3 hours). You will begin your project from the next day.
If you are volunteering Surin or Sangklaburi, you will need to arrive on Friday (preferably the first Friday of each month). If you arrive on the first Friday of the month, you will stay in Bangkok for 2 days. There will be a guided tour of Bangkok city and you will be transferred next to your project site. You will begin your work from Monday. If you arrive on other Fridays, there won't be a tour of Bangkok and you will stay in the capital city for just one month.
Will someone pick me from the airport? If so, how will I know who they are and where they are?
You will be greeted up at the airport, but you must send your travel itinerary to our Thailand in-country Coordinator and to us at Global Crossroad’s offices before your arrival in Thailand. You will be met by a local staff member or our in-country coordinator. They will be holding a sign with your name, awaiting your arrival outside of the airport.
If you miss our representative due to flight delay or confusion, please call the in-country coordinator number provided in your placement details. This rarely happens, but be prepared by keeping this important information with you as you travel. Make sure you look carefully for your pick-up representative, as it is normally busy outside of the airport.
What should I do if my flight is delayed?
- Try to call our Thailand in-country coordinator from the airport to notify him/her of the possible delayed arrival time.
- Check your placement instructions pertaining to details of hotels that have been recommended for late arrival if your flight will after midnight.
Call/email our Thailand in-country Coordinator once you arrive so that s/he can orchestrate a new pick-up time.
How can I get to my accommodations from the airport, if I did not connect with Global Crossroad's local representative in the airport?
In the event that your arrival time is changed/delayed, requiring you to stay overnight in a hotel (or if you failed to meet Global Crossroad's representative at the airport), you should hire a taxi at the airport. Request the taxi deliver you to the hotel designated in your placement details/pre-departure information. Remember to request a receipt from the driver.
IMPORTANT: Ensure that you have contacted Global Crossroad's in-country coordinator BEFORE boarding a taxi. Participants are advised to contact Global Crossroad's Thailand In-Country Coordinator the next day and let him/her know their whereabouts.
What do I need prior to departure from my home country?
- Please make sure that you pack all your necessary documents: passport, copy of passport and at least one other form of picture ID.
- Please bring your volunteer assignment placement details.
- Prepare financially to cover unforeseen expenses up to $50-100 USD/week for extra expenses and travel to your project each day.
- Prepare your mind and spirit for the experience to which you have committed. Culture shock affects everyone and it may be so strong that you want to quit the week after arrival. Take precautions: read about your county/city, study the culture and language(s) and learn about food and customs.
If I want to arrive earlier than when my assignment begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations?
You can arrive up to a week early for your assignment; however, you are responsible for making and paying for these arrangements (including accommodations and food), and must still meet the in-country coordinator at the airport on the designated date.
When should I depart from Thailand?
We ask that participants depart from Thailand on the Saturday following the completion of their assignment.
From which airport shall I depart?
All Thailand volunteers should depart from Bangkok International Airport unless you receive other instructions in your placement details.
Who will bring me to the airport for my departure?
GC does not offer airport drop-off services. You will need to arrange a taxi or bus ride to the airport following your assignment’s completion. This is a simple process and our Thailand in-country coordinator or your host family will normally be very happy to assist you with the arrangements.
Living Accommodations Information
Who will arrange my accommodations and what are they?
During your volunteer work in Thailand, Global Crossroad’s weekly fees include management of volunteers’ accommodations throughout projects and travel options. If you are volunteering in Ayutthaya, three local Thai meals a day will be included. Special meals are only available for vegetarians, but you need to let us know in your application. Please note that those who are volunteering in Surin will NOT have meals provided. Food and drinks in Surin are the volunteer’s responsibility. Volunteers will have access to a kitchen and there are restaurants and markets nearby the homes in which our volunteers stay.
While volunteering in Thailand, volunteers stay in either a home base (Ayutthaya) or in a volunteer house (Surin). The “home base” concept is a permanent residence set up especially for international volunteers. There are several bedrooms at our home base and volunteers will normally share a room with a same gender volunteer. There are community rooms and a television. The environment is very relaxed and social and a great place to unwind after a busy day. The kitchen and bathrooms are shared, and there is running water and “western-style” toilets. The neighborhood is very safe and clean. There are many amenities nearby like Internet cafés, grocery stores, restaurants and mass transit stops. These volunteer rooms will normally be shared with a volunteer of the same gender.
If you are volunteering in Surin, you will stay in one of our volunteer houses, where you will share a bedroom with a same-sex volunteer and enjoy communal living areas. Volunteers share bathrooms, a kitchen and communal living spaces. The houses are close to local amenities such as restaurants, markets, shopping, transportation, internet cafes, etc. Staying with other volunteers can offer the support system a volunteer will crave during their program.
A unique and important part of Global Crossroad’s successful volunteer in Thailand programs is our volunteer support in-country. We put safety and comfort first as we deliver enriching and consistent experiences for our international travelers. Our support is multi-faceted while volunteers are in Thailand and our staff is in contact with our volunteers on a regular basis either with face-to-face visits or via phone/email. Key support comes from our country coordinator and in-country field staff. These individuals are employed by our company and committed to ensuring your experience the best it can be. Your chosen project staff offers support as well and they are familiar with working with international volunteers and accustomed to answering questions and providing guidance. Volunteers also have access to our country coordinator’s mobile number for emergencies. With longer assignments, our field staff visits regularly (every 2-4 weeks) to ensure the experience is meeting your expectations.
Specific details regarding food, accommodations and contact details for our local coordinator will be provided in personalized volunteer placement documentation prior to arrival.
Are single rooms available?
Occasionally, in most cases you will share a room with a same-gender volunteer. Please note your request and we will do our best to meet your needs.
If I arrive with my friend, or girlfriend/boyfriend, can we stay together?
In many situations yes, but please contact our office regarding your situation, since it may depend upon individual accommodation availability and time-of-year circumstances. Please be reminded that volunteers of different genders are often not permitted to stay in the same room, unless they are a married couple.
Will there be other foreign volunteers/interns at my placement?
Yes, more often than not, but this depends on the exact assignment and accommodation placement. If you want to travel with a companion or group, we allow and encourage this option. You may be placed with different host families, but these residences will generally be located close (within one to two miles) to each other. Please be reminded that volunteers of different genders will normally not be allowed to stay in the same room, unless they are a married couple.
What are the bathroom facilities like?
Bathroom facilities depend up on the location and project. Most of our host families have running water and western (or modern)-style toilets. However, in a few projects/accommodations there are varying toilet and bathroom situations.
What are the laundry arrangements?
In most cases, laundry will be washed by hand. It is the responsibility of volunteers.
Can I use appliances if I bring them from my home country?
Yes, but you will need an electrical converter. Information for different countries can be found on the internet, for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity. Your local small appliance specialty or travel retailer can advise you on plugs and voltage converters.
Who manages my meals?
In Ayuthaya, Global Crossroad organizes food and accommodations for the extent of your volunteer assignment. In Surin and Sangklaburi, volunteers will have to either cook or eat out. Good food is inexpensive in Thailand.
Can you accommodate special diets?
Global Crossroad can provide both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. We cannot accommodate special dietary needs (i.e. diabetics). If you require a special menu beyond vegetarian/vegan needs, you will need to be responsible for your own meals.
Is the running tap water safe for drink?
In most developing countries, tap water is not safe to drink. We recommend that you purchase bottled water for your consumption, but make sure that the cap's seal is not broken! You can also request that your host family boil water for you each day for you to consume.
Are there hot and cold-water facilities available?
Specifics pertaining to availability of hot water will be included in participants' placement details.
Will bottled water be provided?
No, the purchase of bottled water is a volunteer’s responsibility.
Health and Safety
How safe is Thailand?
Any international travel requires caution and awareness. We suggest that all volunteers consult their own government advisory office before participating in a Global Crossroad program. International travel does present risks, especially with the modern-day threat of international terrorism. The U.S. State Department issues travel warnings and advisories in many countries for American travelers. These travel advisories and warnings change frequently as situations in each country transform.
NOTE: Stay far away from any illegal drugs, since in Thailand the penalty is life-long imprisonment or even death.
These links provide travel information:
British Foreign Office Advice
American State Department Advice
Australian Government Advice
Canadian Government Advice
What are the principle health risks in Thailand?
We use the Center for Disease Control traveler's health recommendations www.cdc.gov. You should also consult a travel doctor who will be knowledgeable about current epidemics, health risks and recommended vaccinations.
Is the food safe if I buy it from a street vendor?
No! Thailand is still considered a developing country and you should be cautious. While you are in Thailand, food safety should be a major consideration. You can hardly resist the tempting novelty of street vendors and their food variety, but you should abstain. Our suggestion is to avoid eating on the streets until you get familiar with the general situation. The food will likely taste quite different from anything you have had before. Food safety problems can range from chemicals and contaminants, to bacteria as well as some other diseases. In Thailand, poor food cooking, preparation, and storage, as well as improper cleaning and disinfecting of cooking supplies is very common among street vendors. Therefore, we do not suggest buying food from street vendors.
What are the sanitary conditions in Thailand?
- Be prepared and never expect a clean toilet 100% of the time. Carry some tissue in case you need to use the public toilet.
- In Thailand, toilets generally do not do well when flushing large amounts of items or feminine hygiene products so do not flush them and throw them away in the trash.
- In some areas/restaurants, toilet systems are old, have very narrow plumbing and are easily blocked. In these cases, a small basket is usually placed beside the toilet (for your used toilet paper).
- Use hotel lobby toilets; these are everywhere and are tend to be clean. Still, they may not always have toilet paper.
Are ATMs easily available? If yes, which debit and credit cards are accepted?
Major cities have ATM machines, although not all will accept international cards. You can withdraw cash from most international banks from ATM machines, but $2-4 USD surcharges apply for each transaction.
MasterCard, Visa, Cirrus/Maestro and American Express cards are widely accepted in big cities and resort hotels but not in family-run guesthouses or restaurants. Use caution when paying by credit card as there is potential for fraud.
Ensure that you notify your home bank of your intent to travel to Thailand. This will provide you necessary information and alleviate any confusion at your home bank regarding international transactions (which can result in a cautionary freeze on your account in some cases).
What is the local currency and how do I know the exchange rate?
The baht (THB) is the currency of Thailand. It is subdivided into 100 satang.
You can find current exchange rate information at currency websites like www.xe.com, or by looking in a newspaper like the Wall Street Journal.
Where should I exchange my money?
ATMs are widespread and are the easiest ways to get Thai baht outside of the airport.
Credit cards are accepted in big cities and resort hotels but not in family-run guesthouses or restaurants.
How much money should I bring with me?
Global Crossroad manages food and rooms for our volunteers throughout the assignment; therefore, you will not need more money to pay for these expenses. However, if you plan to take part in activities outside of our organization or buy some souvenirs, you will need to bring extra money.
On a side note, you must also remember the fee for visas, which can range from US $50-100 depending on the length of stay. There may also be an airport tax that you pay upon your departure from Thailand. You will want to determine the amount of extra money you bring based on these factors.
Is it safe to carry cash with me?
Carrying cash is not always safe; therefore, do not carry a large surplus of cash with you. It is advised that you carry cash in a money belt with some additional stashed in your wallet.
How do I contact with Global Crossroad's local coordinator?
The contact details of our Thailand in-country Coordinator will be given in final placement sheet. You can contact him by email or telephone; we suggest all volunteers talk with country coordinator before they arrive.
How do I contact my family and friends once I arrive in Thailand?
International Direct Dialing from Thailand is available in cities. Phone cards are widely available and calls can be made from post offices, hotels and phone booths on the streets. In hotels, local calls are generally charged at a nominal fee. Internet cafes are available in most towns, although they can sometimes be noisy as they are a popular spot for the youth to play online games. You can use any type of communication to call back home.
How can my family members contact me?
Communication options depend on where you are placed. Most placements will have access to a post office, so mail and postcards are an option. If you are in a city placement, there are many places to make international phone calls or access the internet. These details will be provided prior to your departure to Thailand, so you can share communication options with your family and friends before you depart.
Can I bring my telephone from my home country?
Yes, but it may or may not work. You will want to contact your mobile phone provider to make sure that your phone will work while you are in Thailand, but remember that roaming will apply and those charges can be very, very expensive. To avoid them, you may be able to buy a local SIM card to use in your phone. Research and confirm this information before traveling.
Culture & Customs
Is there a special dress code that I should follow while staying in Thailand?
Volunteers should dress conservatively when at their assignments. Jeans and a t-shirt are acceptable. No short-shorts and tank tops please. Remember to consider the regional religious beliefs of Thailand, which may be extremely conservative and revealing clothing is unacceptable - shorts and skirts must be at least knee-length and no one should show their shoulders.
Please note: When entering temples, mosques or buildings of religious importance always check what dress attire is required. In most cases, covering your head is required also take off your shoes and be dressed conservatively.
What should I know about religion in Thailand?
The last census (2000) shows that 94.7% of Thais are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims are the second largest religious group in Thailand at 4.6%. There are other, smaller religious groups represented throughout the country.
How do I respect the people of Thailand?
Be inclusive and show respect of their culture.
Thai culture is rich in customs and traditions. The Thai people enjoy sharing their customs and traditions with foreigners so feel free to take part with them. You can go with your host family on outings if they ask you to or invite them along with you to go on an outing. Simply helping your family do household chores will be another bonding experience that you can enjoy.
Never show disrespect for the royal family (this is illegal), dress conservatively, do not engage in a lot of public displays of affection, be polite and learn the appropriate Thai greetings. Never touch another person's head. Don't hurry and never lose your temper – try to always speak with low voice.
There is a strong social hierarchy – respect superiors whether they hold higher positions or are simply older than you are. Body odor is considered rude so, shower often. Shoes should be removed and left them outside family houses and temples. Whenever you go on sightseeing trips, you will be visiting temples, therefore, shoes should be easy to take off and wear.
Thais never say no! Therefore, you must understand that "yes" sometimes can mean no. (A very difficult situation to understand!)
More Information about Thailand
What is weather like in Thailand?
Official Thai Holidays
1 January New Year's Day
3 March Makha Bucha Day
5 March Substitution for Macha Bucha Day
6 April Chakri Memorial
April 13 - 15 (12+16+17 in some areas) Songkran Days
1 May Labor Day
5 May Coronation Day
7 May Substitution for Coronation Day
11 May Plowing Day
31 May Visakha Bucha Day
29 July Asarnha Bucha Day
30 July Buddhist Lent Day
12 August the Queen's Birthday
13 August Substitution Day
23 October Chulalongkorn Memorial Day
5 December the King's Birthday
10 December Constitution Day
31 December New Year's Eve
What about tipping in Thailand?
According to LonelyPlanet.com, “Tipping is not generally expected in Thailand. The exception is loose change from a large restaurant bill; if a meal costs 488B and you pay with a 500B note, some Thais will leave the 12B change. It’s not so much a tip as a way of saying “I’m not so money grubbing as to grab every last baht”. Apart from this, it is not customary to leave behind the change if it is less than 10B.
At many hotel restaurants or other up-market eateries, a 10% service charge will be added to your bill. When this is the case, tipping is not expected. Bangkok has adopted some standards of tipping, especially in restaurants frequented by foreigners.”
Materials to Bring
• mosquito net
• padlock and chain
• sleeping bag liner and sleeping bag
• pillow case
• water purification tablets
• wet wipes and no-water washes
• first-aid kit
• waterproof pouch
• tealight candles (during a power cut these are safer than regular candles)
• collapsible water bottle
• waterproof poncho
• gaffer tape
• universal bath plug
• Towel and personal bath kit
• SPF/sun protection, sunglasses
• Insect net
• Bedding (if noted in placement document)
• Medical first-aid kit
NOTE: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is generic information and should not be used as a definitive travel guide. Travel information and situations abroad change constantly. Participants should consult Global Crossroad or travel advisors to verify this information.