The Complete Step by Step Guide to Volunteering in Asia

The Comprehensive Guide to Volunteering in Asia

This is your handy guide book, full of useful information and tips about volunteering in Asia. In this guide you will find information on popular projects, destinations and organizations for volunteering in Asia, along with information on culture shock, pre-travel planning, safety while travelling and volunteering in Asia and tips to help you pack the right items and have a rewarding volunteer experience in Asia.

Chapter 1: Volunteer in Asia: Getting started

All about volunteering in Asia

Welcome to Asia a continent of fascinating cultures, each with its own unique history, religious practices, landscapes, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and friendly people with heartwarming smiles. Whichever Asian country you decide to volunteer in you will have the adventure of a lifetime; with plenty of opportunities to explore the culture, see the popular sights and become a real part of a community, while giving back to those in need, enriching the quality of life for communities and making lifelong friends.

There are many parts of Asia where people have to live with environmental or social issues such as poverty, poor health, inadequate housing and little or no access to education. This is especially likely to be the case in rural communities.

Volunteer opportunities are available across Asia, and no matter what your skills, knowledge, passion or interests are, you will be able to find the perfect volunteer experience in Asia for you.

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Why you should volunteer in Asia

why should you volunteer in Asia

Whatever you are looking for from a volunteer abroad experience you can find it on the Asian continent. Grab this opportunity to see some of the world's most iconic tourist landmarks, gain experience that will set you ahead of the crowd in future job searches, or feel good about having made a huge difference to the long term prospects of people who deserve a chance to thrive and prosper.

You will have the adventure of a lifetime

Whether you are looking for cultural immersion opportunities, action and adventure, city experiences, historic sites and buildings, wildlife encounters, rest and relaxation or spiritual journeys; volunteer work in Asia will provide you with many wonderful opportunities to explore and discover the country, culture and yourself.

You will experience unique and fascinating cultures

Each Asian country offers a unique and fascinating culture. Staying with a host family and working within the local community provides many opportunities for volunteers in Asia to learn about their cultures through art, music, costumes, cuisines, traditions, customs, religions and festivities.

You get to try a variety of cuisines

Asia is known worldwide for its unique combinations of spices and fresh produce which create the amazing flavors of the food. Each country's cuisine is different of course, influenced by both history and the range of ingredients available locally. A volunteering experience in Asia is sure to deliver a sensory explosion to your taste buds.

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You will find serenity

serenity in asia

Asia is spoiled with many beautiful natural resources such as, rivers, oceans, waterfalls, hot springs, forests, mountains and sacred places, and is the perfect destination for awakening your senses and seeking spiritual healing.

You will find opportunities to relax, rejuvenate and collect your thoughts through meditation, praying and practicing yoga, or find your Zen through massage treatment and alternative therapy treatments.

You will view the world from a different perspective

Getting up close and personal with life in a developing country is a major part of living and volunteering in Asia, and an experience which provides important insights into the way other people live. This experience will provide many opportunities for personal growth, as you learn to adapt to new living and working environments and a different way of life.

You will bring smiles to the people you work with

There is nothing more rewarding then seeing you have had an impact on someone’s life. When you volunteer in Asia your time and energy spent with the community will have a positive impact on their quality of life, and the appreciation that you will receive from the people you help will provide many heartwarming moments.

You will experience new culture from the inside

When you volunteer in Asia you will not only get to the experience the beauty of the country through travel and being a tourist, you also get to view the country from a locals perspective, giving you many more opportunities to gain a great sense and understanding of the country and its people.

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What are some popular volunteer in projects in Asia

Asia is a popular destination for volunteering, so there are a large number of volunteer projects in various fields to choose from. These include teaching, social and community development, wildlife and environmental conservation, healthcare and medicine, orphanage work and childcare and construction.  Here are some of the most popular volunteer projects across Asia.

Work in orphanages

orphanage in asia

Due to high levels of poverty many families are forced to send one or more of their children to live in orphanages, alongside those who have lost one or both parents, been abandoned, or deemed to be at risk.

Orphanages provide shelter, food, clothes, support, love and a positive environment to the residents, and volunteers are always needed to help with these tasks. Typical duties on these Asia volunteer projects include: teaching the children educational and life skills, maintaining their health and hygiene, and spending time with them on activity tasks, reading stories, and creating arts project, along with some domestic work.

Teaching English

As many parts of Asia are popular tourist destinations or developing international business contacts there is an increasing demand for opportunities to improve English language skills. Consequently there are many English teaching positions available across Asia, working with either children or adults, in schools or through private lessons.

When volunteering as an English teacher in Asia you will be responsible for planning and teaching lessons, assisting local teachers (if placed in a school), helping with homework and conducting assessments.


In many Asian countries, especially in rural communities, there is a serious lack of quality healthcare or medical services and facilities, along with a lack of education on heatlh issues. This means that many people in rural communities have poor hygiene and health, which in turn leads to many avoidable health issues.

Medical and healthcare Asia volunteer programs provide assistance in hospitals or clinics, delivering quality medicial and health assistance and services to those in need. Tasks undertaken will generally depend on your experience in the medical industry.

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Empowering women projects

Throughout Asia there is still inequality between men and women, especially regarding access to further education and employment. Women's empowerment programs have been set up in Asia to build their confidence and develop their busines and entrepeneurial skills through training opportunities.

Volunteers on these projects help deliver this training through workshops and classes, and by helping the particpant's grow in confidence by providing a supportive and encouraging environment.

Wildlife conservation

wildlife red-pandas in asia

Asia is home to some incredible wildlife, and volunteer programs have been set up to monitor, protect and sustain their lives and natural habitats. There are many wildlife conservation volunteer projects across Asia, involving a variety of animals, including elephant protection programs.

Volunteers are usually involved in tasks which involve protecting and maintaining the natural habitats, rescuing and rehabilitating animals, educating communities on the importance of protecting species, monitoring and tracking behaviours and a range of general duties which could include: research, buliding, cleaning.

Where are some popular places to volunteer in Asia?


volunteer in Nepal

With its ancient and mystical culture, turbulent political history and breathtaking natural wonders - including the world's tallest mountain, Mount Everest - Nepal is a country full of action, adventure, cultural heritage and spiritual practices. From sacred places with spiritual significance, Buddhist monasteries and temples, to vibrant cities and unique cuisine, Nepal has something to offer everyone. Choosing to volunteer in Nepal will change your perspectives on life forever.

Unfortunately, Nepalese residents in many parts of the country are living in poverty, a situation which was worsened after the April 2015 earthquake, and there is a great need for help and assistance from volunteers to rebuild and strengthen the country and its communities. There are many volunteer opportunities available in Nepal, and popular projects include: teaching, medicine, childcare, women's empowerment programs, conservation and community development.

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China is a country offering a charming blend of history, heritage, and ancient treasures along with many conveniences of the modern world. From the magnificent Great Wall of China, the Leshan Giant Buddha and panda bears, to bamboo forests and diverse cuisines, a volunteer project in China offers an experience like no other.

Whether you want to get out and explore the landscapes, discover ancient cities, cultures and heritages or marvel at the cultures and traditions, visit museums, pagodas, temples and natural wonders and shop at the bustling city markets, you'll never run out of things to do and see.

There are many volunteer programs in various destinations across the country. Popular volunteer projects in China include: general care projects, business, teaching, healthcare and medicine and animal care projects, panda conservation.


Famous for the Taj Mahal, its spicy and flavorsome cuisines, colorful festivals and Himalayan peaks; India is a county of endless surprises: an eclectic blend of various cultural influences, ,spiritual practices, vibrant and bustling cities and quiet rural hamlets, and beautiful forests, coastlines and rivers.

As India develops the divide between the wealthy and poor is growing, leaving thousands exposed to poor living conditions and little or no access to health and educational services. India is a popular destination for volunteers, with projects available in the fields of: English teaching to children or monks, orphanage programs, health and medicine, women’s empowerment programs and wildlife conservation.

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volunteer in Thailand

With picture perfect beaches, dense jungles and the sacred, colorful architecturally designed temples, to the warm friendly smiles of the Thai people; Thailand is a country where you can enjoy exploring both nature and culture, then relax and have a massage, snorkel the crystal clear waters, try an elephant ride or learn how to cook some delicious Thai cuisine.

Thailand volunteer programs are offered throughout the country, and popular opportunities include: teaching English, outdoor projects, (agriculture, conservation and construction), healthcare projects, teaching Buddhist monk, working with children in orphanages/childcare centers or kindergartens, and humanitarian projects which include: women’s empowerment and refugee projects.


Vietnam is well known for its turbulent past, but perhaps less so for the rich cultural heritage, beautiful scenery and delicious food it offers visitors. Reminders of Vietnam's colonial past are easy to spot in the French influenced architecture, and of course in the ever present baguette, a popular breakfast food amongst both locals and visitors alike.

Volunteers in Vietnam can enjoy traditional cultural activities such as the amazing water puppet shows, cruise the calm waterways of Halong Bay, visit intricately designed temples and enjoy some of the best coffee in the world.

Although things are changing slowly, there are still many communities in Vietnam where the residents face desperate social and economic issues. The volunteer project opportunities in Vietnam are all working towards creating better living environments and financial opportunities for these people.

Popular volunteer projects in Vietnam are: business projects, caregiving, working with children, construction, education, organic farming, agriculture, eco-tourism and community projects.


Home to the magnificent ancient temples of Angkor Watt, the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia is a truly fascinating country with so much to offer volunteers. Whether you enjoy spending your free time at the beach, exploring historical sites, hiking through lush countryside or simply relaxing in a coffee shop, volunteer work in Cambodia won't disappoint.

In the twenty first century it's easy to see the influences of the modern world on Cambodia's major cities, yet many of the friendly and gentle-natured residents still live in dire poverty, and the situation in rural areas is even more acute. Volunteers are desperately needed to help educate the younger Cambodians, and improve the quality of life for all of those in need.

Popular volunteer projects in Cambodia include: health programs, working with children, farming, education, wildlife projects and community development projects.

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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a true island paradise, made up of picture perfect white sand beaches rugged mountains, tropical forests, cascading waterfalls and vast tea plantations. There's more than nature on offer in Sri Lanka though, with plenty of historical and cultural sites to explore, wildlife focused excursions to sign up for, and plenty of great restaurants serving tasty traditional meals and banquets.

Volunteers in Sri Lanka will be immersed into what is a much simpler way of life than they may be used to, and perhaps be surprised by the warm and friendly people who they will meet on a daily basis.

Many Sri Lankans live below the poverty line, and need assistance in strengthening social and economic infrastructures. Help is also needed to conserve the natural surroundings and habitats of Sri Lanka's wildlife.

Popular volunteer projects in Sri Lanka include: teaching, working with animals, caring for children, health and medicine projects, construction, community and social development.


Laos is a small, untouched piece of paradise; a place where there is little stress from modern day demands. It is a country with rich traditions and ancient buildings, and one which has been blessed with stunning lush mountains and beach landscapes. It is also home to some very courteous and friendly people.

Laos is unfortunately also one of the poorest countries in the world, and volunteer projects in Laos operate to improve and enrich the lives of the people of this wonderful country.

Popular projects in Laos are: sustainable projects, teaching English, working with children, teaching Buddhist monks, medical projects and construction/renovation projects.


Indonesia is a country made up of many beautiful islands, each with its own unique culture, and is a playground for nature and marine based action, adventure and explorations. From the crystal clear waters of the ocean, stunning beaches and jungle clad hills, to the rice paddy fields and orangutans swinging through the trees; Indonesia is a place where you can experience natural beauty, a fantastic array of wildlife, unique cultural immersion opportunities and friendly local people.

Indonesia is however a developing country, with many residents living in poor housing conditions, and lacking access to quality education and health services. Consequently there are many Indonesia volunteer projects available to choose from.

Popular projects include: conservation (especially elephant, orangutan and turtle projects), working with children, education, community development and construction.

Chapter 2: Volunteer in Asia: Choosing the Right Project in Asia

Choosing the Right Project in Asia

There are so many different options on offer if you want to volunteer in Asia that making a choice can be quite difficult. How can you know which project and organization is the best one to book your volunteering experience through?

To help you make this important decision we've put together some great information on the key factors you should consider, along with some recommendations of the best organizations, in terms of value for money, industry experience, ethical standards and reputation for volunteer programs in Asia.

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How you can select the best Asia volunteer organization

Program costs

A volunteering placement in Asia can be quite expensive, so you should always find out exactly what each organization's program fee includes, e.g. are accommodation/meals, transport, cultural immersion opportunities or insurance included? Overall, does the fee represent value for money?

It is also important to find out how your fee payment will be distributed, and how much of it will go towards supporting host families and the local projects. A good company will take an open, honest and ethical approach to this topic, and provide a decent amount of financial support to both.

Industry experience

The number of years an organization has been in the industry, along with the number of projects and volunteers they have worked with over the years, is often a good indicator of their worth. You could also look for details of any fundraising an organization has done, and any related awards they have been given.


A professional organization will want to stand out from the crowd, which usually means hosting a well presented website, with an easy to navigate site map and lots of relevant information; along with an active, and well monitored online presence on a variety of social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

A good Asia volunteer organization will also show professionalism in customer service so be sure to send an email or use online chat to find out any further information and to gauge how responsive and helpful they are.

Positive reviews

Reviews from previous volunteers are a great source of information when it comes to helping you to choose a professional and reputable organization. A successful organization is likely to have many reviews from past volunteers, with the majority of the reviews reflecting positive experiences.

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Chapter 3: Getting Ready to Volunteer in Asia

volunteer in asia

Volunteering in Asia is an exciting opportunity full of new experiences, adventures and friends. Get the most out of this experience by doing some pre-travel planning so everything in place for when you arrive. In this chapter you will find information on visas, vaccinations packing and more, in fact everything you need to know to help prepare you for the amazing journey ahead.


Every Asian country has different visa requirements for volunteers, so it's is vital you check these out before you make a final choice of destination, and well before you plan to travel. Some visas can be secured online or upon entry into the country, while others take weeks to process.

Check out more information on visa requirements on sites such as


For entry into any Asian country all foreign nationals will require a valid passport with at least 6 months validity from the planned date of departure. Pay attention to dates, as a 1 month volunteer trip would mean 7 months validity from your entry date. Immigration officials will not bend at all on this rule.


Your health and safety is important when you undertake a volunteer position in Asia, so before you go pay a visit to a medical professional to discuss any vaccinations and medical precautions you can take to protect yourself against any unwanted illness, infections or diseases while in Asia.

The following vaccinations are recommended for travel to any Asian country: Tetanus, mumps/measles and rubella, polio, hepatitis A & B and Typhoid.

Each country may require other vaccinations or preventative medications, so be sure to check all requirements for your country. The websites mentioned below are useful guides:

Air Ticket

The cost of your airfare will depend on which Asian country you will volunteer in and your point of departure, but everyone can use these handy tips to look out for a good deal.

  • Know what airports you could possibly fly in and out off and check the different price options
  • Sign up for accounts at airlines and flight search booking engines to receive email alerts on special deals and fares. (Joining air mile programs also helps.
  • If you have some flexibility with your travel dates this can sometimes lead to a cheaper fare. Volunteering in low season can also be a cost effective option.
  • Use a variety of flight search engines which compare multiple airlines, routings and fare prices, such as and
  • Check all the fare rules to ensure that there are no hidden charges. Cheap fares may charge extra for checked in baggage, meals and entertainment and change/cancellation fees.

Raising fund

Volunteering in Asia will be a wonderful life changing experience, however this can be an expensive undertaking when you start to add up volunteer program fees, airfares and any other travel related expenses. However if you are genuinely determined to make it happen than there are several ways in which you can do some fund raising to support your volunteering cause.

You could host an event, set up a stall at a local market and sell something or sell some of your unused goods on an online auction side like EBay. Another option is to set up an online campaign where you can promote your volunteering campaign via social media platforms, and receive online donations from friends, family and the general public.

Check out the sites below for some more fundraising ideas and online campaign sites:

Suggested reading

Guidebooks are good sources of information on the history, food, politics, culture and main attractions of a country. Lonely Planet, Fodors and Rough Guides are all worth a read, and some are also available as ebooks.

Consider investing in a good phrasebook too. It's handy to have a paper copy for everyday use once you are there, too.

If you are interested in more general literature about Asia here are a few recommendations:

Packing advice and tips

Considering the strict limits imposed by airlines on baggage weight, and the logistics of hauling whatever you take around, both before and after your Asia volunteer work, it is important to make every pound or kilo you put into a suitcase really count.

Clothes will take up a lot of your space, but as weather conditions can vary greatly between different regions in Asia it's wise to do some research on what to expect once you have a definite location and date in mind. Remember to include items which will be suitable for your daily project work, and take into consideration any cultural or religious norms, if applicable.

Take a look at this list of items most volunteers consider essential:

  • Travel documents (passport, visa, itineraries, travel insurance policy and extra passport photos)
  • Credit cards and cash in local currency (if you are able to obtain some before you go). **It is a good idea to let your bank know of your travel plans, in case your account is suspended due to unusual activity.
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Travel adapter, (check the electrical requirements for your chosen destination before you go)
  • Camera, memory cards and any accessories
  • Torch
  • Day pack for excursions and day trips
  • Lightweight rain and windproof jacket.
  • Travel towel and toiletries.
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Tissues, toilet paper or wet wipes (for use in public toilets where there may not be any available)
  • A country specific guide book
  • A language phrase book to help you communicate with the locals
  • Any required medications that you will need
  • Scarf or sarong for women to cover shoulders in temples or sacred places, and long pants for both men and women

Gifts for projects

Whichever Asian country you volunteer in the local people will be thankful for the time you spend helping to improve both their quality of life and environment. An easy and welcome way to show your own appreciation to both your project staff and host family is to take a small gift from your home country for them. Suitable gifts include coasters, key fobs or learning resources if working with children. Your gift provides a long lasting reminder of your presence, and will be treasured by the recipients.

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Chapter 4: Volunteer in Asia: Information You Must Know

Before you embark on your Asia volunteering experience make sure you find out as much as you can about your project, expectations, host family and local support systems. This information will help you to familiarize yourself with and prepare for your volunteer experience, and ensure a smooth start to this amazing adventure.

Get detailed information about your project

Talk to or email your main contact at the volunteer organization you chose and ask for the following details:

  • Name and location of your volunteer project
  • All relevant contact details for your project (address, email, phone, website) and name of your contact person
  • Name of your supervisor or mentor
  • How many people you will be working and volunteering with
  • If there will be any local staff that will speak English
  • You roles and responsibilities during the project
  • Daily work schedule including starting, finishing and any break times

Learn more about your host family

Most volunteer programs in Asia will include homestay accommodation, where you are placed with a local family, and live as part of their household, sharing meals and gaining first hand insight into the usually hidden domestic culture of your destination country.

Learning something about your host family before you arrive will help make your stay more rewarding, so it's worth asking your organization for details of the following:

  • Their names and ages
  • If they have any religious or spiritual beliefs and if so what they are
  • Whether you will have a private or shared room. If shared will you be sharing with a family member or another volunteer.
  • What access you have to other areas of the house, (i.e. kitchen for cooking your own meals, laundry, living area)
  • Have they hosted any volunteers in the past if so how many
  • Are there any house rules which you need to follow and respect
  • Are there any opportunities to join the family on local excursions or to cultural events
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Get connected with local support

As a volunteer in Asia you need to have a secure and accessible support system available. Your volunteer organization will either have their own office with staff that fill this role, or they will have partnered with a local agency who will play the same role. Whichever applies, make sure you have their contact details in hand when you arrive.

When volunteering in Asia your local support team will be a valuable resource for destination information and recommendations, and will also be there if any issues or problems arise with your host family or volunteer project.

Make a final call before leaving

To ensure everything is in place before you leave on your exciting volunteering journey in Asia it is a good idea to contact your volunteer booking organization one last time a couple of days before you set off. Check they have your flight details, (airline, flight number, arrival date and time, and confirm where and when you will be met, and how you will recognize the person taking this role.

Chapter 5 Volunteer in Asia: Arriving and Volunteering

No matter where in Asia you decide to volunteer it is bound to be an unforgettable experience. There are few opportunities in life where you can travel, experience a foreign culture from a more authentic perspective, make a huge difference to the lives of people in need and also have the chance to develop yourself, so it's vital to make the most of every moment. Here are a few tips to help make sure this happens.

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How to make your volunteer placement in Asia a rewarding experience

Choose the right project

Choose the  right project in asia

Whatever you decide to do it should involve something you are passionate about, have an interest in learning about or makes use of your skills and knowledge. If you are passionate and enthusiastic about your project you are more likely to find greater rewards.

Do your research before you go

Before you head off on your volunteer placement in Asia do some research on your destination. Find out about the culture, customs, language, geographic regions, economic situation, education and healthcare systems. Reading travel guides, tourism sites and travel/volunteering blogs will help you find these things out. You should also look for current news and events which may affect your stay, and follow official safety advice for your destination region.

Get to know the locals

No matter where you volunteer in Asia you will find the locals are friendly and welcoming. Spending time getting to know them will be a rewarding experience, and a great way to integrate into the community and learn about their cultures, customs, traditions and religions. As an added bonus you have a handy source for both language practice and recommendations on where to eat, or things to do.

Explore the country

When you volunteer in Asia you will have the chance to get out and see something of your chosen country. It's generally easy to arrange weekend trips to see the sights or enjoy a quiet nature based break with other volunteers, so make the most of it.


Make the time to get to know the people you are working and volunteering with, and you'll enjoy a richer experience overall. You don't have to be best friends with everyone, but extending or accepting invitations to social events, even when you don't really feel like going, will help build a strong network of people you can have fun or travel with.

These connections will not only be a valuable source of support for you while volunteering in Asia, as they may become lifelong friends. At the very least they will form the backbone of a group you can call on for guidance and references in the future.

Safety while volunteering in Asia

Paying attention to safety concerns is important wherever you travel in the world. As a volunteer in Asia you may well be heading for a destination which has experience of economic and political instability, as well as potentially dangerous weather conditions.

Take the time to read up about current travel advice and warnings before you leave. You can usually find these on the homepage of your embassy in the destination country.

Here are some general safety tips to help you prepare for a safe and rewarding volunteer experience:

  • Make sure you have the correct visa, and that it is valid for the period of time you will be traveling.
  • Register your travel details with your consulate so you can be located in case of an emergency. Some countries allow you to do this online, including those below.
  • Australians - Smartraveller account
  • New Zealanders - Travelling or living overseas
  • US Citizens - What is STEP?
  • Obtain contact details for your volunteer organization, local country support team, host family and the emergency services in your Asian country of choice.
  • Ensure you have a high quality travel insurance policy with maximum protection and a 24 hour hotline.
  • Don't skip having the required vaccinations or stocking up on essential medications.
  • Notify your bank of your travel plans, and make a note of their emergency hotline in case you have any problems with your card; it gets lost or stolen or is subject to credit card fraud.
  • Email or take photos of your travel details so you have a back up copy. Send or give copies of your travel documents, itinerary and contact details to your family or good friends too.
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When in Asia

  • Always carry around a copy of your passport and visa, (leave your original documents in a secure place)
  • Find out where your closest police, fire and ambulance stations, hospital, consulate and tourist information office are.
  • Keep a copy of your host family's or hostel address (and phone number) on you, preferably written in the local language. This is useful if you get lost and need directions.
  • Choose food from street vendor carts which are busy with local trade, not just tourists.  
  • Stay alert when crossing roads. In many countries traffic rules are probably quite different to those you are used to.
  • Always wear a (fully fastened) helmet when riding a motorbike, even as a passenger on a motorbike taxi.
  • Parts of Asia can be very hot and/or humid, so be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

Do’s or don’ts in Asia

These will vary depending on which Asian country you will be volunteering in, but there are a few general rules which you should follow when volunteering abroad.


  • Keep up to date with current news and events
  • Keep your distance from stray animals which could be carrying disease
  • Dress conservatively and respectfully especially when visiting sacred temples, monasteries and religious sites
  • Respect the country’s cultures and traditions
  • Be passionate and enthusiastic about your volunteering project
  • Spend time getting to know your host family, the people you work with and the local community
  • Always be aware or your surroundings and the people around you
  • Conceal valuables, carry your bag across your body if possible, and never leave any belongings unattended.
  • Be open minded and willing to listen to and accept others beliefs and opinions


  • Break the law or flout local norms
  • Do not bring up any sensitive topics such as religion or politics
  • Do not bring unwanted attention to yourself and stick out in the crowd as a tourist (e.g. by wandering the streets with an open map or guidebook)
  • Lose sight of why you are volunteering
  • Take photographs of people before asking permission
  • Put any valuables in bags which will travel in the luggage compartment of a bus
  • Spend all your time in tourist areas. Get out and explore your surrounding area
  • Don’t go into any areas which are known to be unsafe,
  • Don’t trust everyone selling tours or taxi services on the streets
  • Be afraid to leave the tourist areas and explore, just use your common sense
  • Don’t disrespect the local people in any way
  • Do not make remarks about the poor living standards in comparison to Western countries
  • Pass up any opportunities for cultural immersion experiences

The following website provides more information on this topic: Travel Taboo

Culture Shock

Along with the breathtaking wonders of nature and landmark buildings you will find across Asia you will be faced with less heartwarming sights too. In developing countries there are entire communities living in extremely poor conditions, low educational and healthcare standards and high levels of unemployment.

Coming to terms with these things can be challenging and perhaps even overwhelming at times, and although the feelings you may experience are natural – culture shock is difficult to avoid whenever you spend time living in a foreign culture – there are ways you can minimize the effects.

Here are a few tips to help you do this


Rather than just jumping straight into it take the time to do some research on the country you plan to volunteer in. Some basic knowledge and understanding of the environment, living conditions, economics, politics, history, cultures, religions and current news events of your destination will help make your transition into your volunteer in Asia role much smoother.

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Integrate into the community

Getting to know your surrounding environment and local area by trying to integrate into the local community and embrace new ways of living will help you to deal with some elements of culture shock. Volunteers in Asia who practice the language, learn about new cultures, traditions and customs and allow you to live like a local instead of a tourist.

Embrace the experience

At times when you volunteer in Asia you may well find some situations challenging, and at these times it's key to keep in mind why you decided to volunteer there. By embracing all you experience as a learning opportunity you will find it easier to focus on enjoying each day with people who appreciate your enthusiasm, skills, support, care and friendship.

Read about what volunteers have to say

Reviews written by previous volunteers are good source of information about volunteering in Asia, and volunteering in general. They provide a unique insight into the projects, the destination and often also include stories about the culture shock they experienced.

Expect the unexpected

When you first arrive to begin your volunteer in Asia adventure your senses will be exposed to many unfamiliar sights, sounds, tastes and smells. Enjoy the newness, the unexplainable and the plain strange things you will come across.

These encounters however are all part of an authentic volunteer experience, and once you learn to acknowledge and accept them as part of the country and its people you can truly enjoy a unique volunteer experience in Asia.

Things to do while volunteering in Asia

No matter where you decide to volunteer in Asia each country has special things to offer. Some are known for vistas and views, others for food, their rich historical past, wildlife, or spirituality, and as a volunteer you have the perfect opportunity to explore it all in depth.

When you volunteer in Asia you will not find it hard to fill your free time as there are so many things you can do. Here are just some of them:

  • Spot and photograph exotic wildlife
  • Relax on pristine beaches
  • Capture your memories to share with your friends and family through photos and videos
  • Get to know the locals and join them in their social activities
  • Visit ancient sites and cities
  • Go on a trekking adventure
  • Photograph the beautiful and diverse landscapes
  • Take classes/tours or learn about the language, customs, traditions and religions from locals
  • Enjoy the local regional and national food
  • Attend a traditional festival, celebration or community event
  • Explore your local area and discover local hang outs
  • Discover the essence of the country and its beautiful warm hearted people
  • Go on a spiritual journey
  • Learn the art of yoga, meditation or natural therapies
  • Make lifelong local friends

Do your research and find out the best things to experience and see in your volunteer Asia destination. Here are some sites with more recommendations of things to do.

Top Things to Do in Asia

50 Things to See in Asia Before You Die

Chapter 6: Volunteer in Asia: Completion of Project & Follow Up

Completion of Project & Follow Up in asia

No matter where in Asia you choose to volunteer you are going to have an unforgettable experience; full of heart-warming moments, new learning experiences, amazing cultural immersion opportunities, adventures and new found friends.

When you get home again your friends and family will all want to know about the adventures you've had, and a great (and easy) way to share your experience is through a blog. There are many free sites where you can create a page to write about your experiences, perceptions of the destination, record the, highlights, unexpected moments and even difficult times, and of course upload photos or videos.

Sharing your experiences this way also helps raise awareness of the importance of volunteering in Asia, and the positive impact that your time volunteering had on communities who really need help. Your organization will appreciate this boost too, as will prospective volunteers, who can gain an insight into volunteering in Asia through your experience.

If you want to continue to support your project down the road there are lots of ways to do that from your home base. You could raise money by hosting charity events, or become an advocate for their cause and raise awareness in the community, collect and send supplies/resources, or you could create an online fundraising campaign which is accessible by the general public worldwide, a space where people can donate money to your campaign which will than go directly to the volunteer Asia project.

Some online campaign sites are Causes or Global Giving

Stay in contact with all those who had a hand in creating a positive and rewarding volunteer experience for you, including: your host family, locals you meet along the way and volunteers in Asia who you worked alongside. They can be a valuable resource for future volunteering endeavors, travel or career moves.

Are You Planning to Volunteer in Asia?
Looking for safe, reputed, and affordable volunteer program?

Chapter 7: Volunteer in Asia: Most Frequently Asked Question by Volunteers

How will I get from the airport to my host family/volunteer house?

Your volunteer organization will arrange your transfers from the airport to your host family on arrival. A local representative will be there to meet you at the airport, so make sure you update your organization if anything changes with your flight details.

Will there be support from staff in country?

Yes, in most countries there will be a local support team available to answer questions, offer recommendations on local services and resolve any issues that you may have during your volunteering experience. Ask your organization for full contact details of your local support team before you leave your home country,

How many other volunteers will be on the project with me?

The number of volunteers that you will meet will vary, depending on the time of year and how many volunteer spaces the project has in total. If you have a strong preference in this area you could ask your booking organization for more details, and pan accordingly.

If I volunteer with my friend can we be placed in the same project and housed together?

Yes, in most instances you and your friend working together and staying in the same accommodation facilities will not be a problem, however it his strongly recommended that you notify your organization of this during the booking process so that suitable arrangements can be made in advance.

Are meals and housing provided?

Most Asia volunteer program fees include accommodation with either a local host family (who provide all or most meals), or in a hostel, (which may be self catering. Check with your organization for full details

I am a vegetarian, will that be a problem?

In Asia being a vegetarian will not be an issue at all, as vegetarian food is common due to culinary tradition, religious beliefs or economic necessity. This type of food is rarely considered secondary to meat based dishes.

Will my host family be able to speak English?

In most instances you will be placed in a host family where at least one of the family members will have a grasp of the English language. If you would prefer to be sure that communication won't be any problem speak to your booking organization about it, so suitable arrangements can be made for you.

Can I travel to other cities during my days off?

Yes, Asia volunteering experiences are also about getting to know a country, its culture and its people, so you are actively encouraged to explore your local area, visit other cities or take part in activities or tours on your free days.

Do I have to bring my own bedding and mosquito nets?

If accommodation is included as part of your program fee then bedding and linen will be provided for you. If you are volunteering in an area of high humidity, or where mosquitoes are common then you may want to pack a mosquito net.

What if I don't speak the native language?

In most of the larger Asian cities or tourist areas of Asia you will find many locals will understand or speak a little of the language. Even so, it's a good idea to download some language apps or a translator, or take a travel phrase book with you, as travelling in rural areas may be a little more difficult otherwise.

How will I get to my project every day?

This will vary from project to project. For some placements you may need to arrange public transport and for others you may be lucky enough to live close by to the project and walk. Check with your organization which transport options are available to you, based on your specific project and accommodation.

Can I speak with a volunteer who has completed the program?

Some organizations have a database of volunteers who are willing to be contacted about their previous experiences, while others have an online volunteer community forum set up to provide assistance and support. Check with your organization to see what is available for you.

What kind of food will I eat while I'm there?

If you are living with a host family they will probably serve traditional or popular food, which may vary between regions of a country. Ask your organization for more details, or do some research on the local cuisines and dishes of the country you will be volunteering in. If you are based in a city there will probably be some sort of fast food outlet available to satisfy any cravings you have for western style food.

How many hours per day will I be volunteering?

This varies between projects, but on average a volunteer will spend between 4-6 hours a day on site. You may work a four or a five day week. Check with your organization for more specific details on your project.

How much money do I need to bring?

Most volunteers will find Asian countries are relatively inexpensive in terms of transport food, drinks and groceries in comparison to most Western countries. If you plan to be around for a long time, like to socialize a lot, love eating out and want to take a trip most weekends or to travel after volunteering it's best to do some research on the costs of these things for your country, then plan your budget around your findings.

This free eBook is just written to help volunteers. So please use this book just as a general reference or source of information. We cannot guarantee the validity of information as changes in the field can be sudden. As it is impossible to provide a definite or authoritative guide it is vital you verify information directly with a relevant and up to date source. We cannot be held liable in any way for damages caused should you choose to overlook this advice.

Are You Planning to Volunteer in Asia?
Looking for safe, reputed, and affordable volunteer program?