How to Volunteer in Southeast Asia for Free with Worldpackers
Southeast Asia is one of my favourite regions in the world. It’s packed with exotic sights, sounds and tastes, beautiful landscapes, captivating history and culture and is home to some of the world’s friendliest people. Southeast Asia is an amazing travel destination that is also great value for money but it’s good to bear in mind that it’s also still quite a poor region and there are so many people, communities and projects that really benefit from hosting volunteers. Unfortunately however many opportunities to volunteer in Southeast Asia also come with a heafty price tag which means it’s not affordable for backpackers and budget travellers, but luckily the more savvy traveller can find ways to volunteer for free and even exchange their skills and time for free food and accommodation.
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Volunteering in Southeast Asia has so many benefits, not only for the organisation you volunteer for but also for the travelling volunteer. When I’ve volunteered I’ve got so much more immersed in the local culture, got off the tourist trail, made friends with the locals and learned new languages and new skills all while helping other people and saving money.
If you Google volunteering projects in Southeast Asia you’ll normally find companies want to charge you $1000’s to volunteer. I understand that organising projects and hosting international volunteers can be costly but as a budget traveller and backpacker I’ve never had the budget for these opportunities but luckily there are also some websites where you can find free volunteering projects and often you’ll also get free accommodation and some meals in exchange for your help so it’s a win-win situation for everyone!
Read More: 11 Ways to travel for free
How to volunteer in Southeast Asia for free (and even get free food and accommodation)
Worldpackers is my go to site when I’m looking for free volunteering and work exchange opportunities abroad. Worldpackers is a collaborative platform that connects you with hosts from 170 countries around the world where you can travel exchanging your skills for a free stay.
The concept started in 2013 with 2 friends who wanted to create a way for more budget travellers to be able to exchange their skills for accommodation around the world and to transform lives through travel. There are now more than 1.5 million travelers who have traded their skills and time for accommodations in 120+ countries with 5,000+ verified hosts in the Worldpackers community.
There are so many different and exciting projects you can get involved in including volunteering with NGOs, communities and ecological projects, teaching English, animal conversation projects, working in hostels and helping out in local family homes where you can exchange your help to receive free stay, food and other benefits.
This quick video explains it better than I can …
Putting together this platform of amazing opportunities is a lot of work but Worldpackers only ask for a one off membership fee of $49 per year but Global Gallivanting readers can get $20 discount off the membership price by following this link and quoting ‘GLOBALGALLIVANTING’ making it only $29!
For this bargain amount you can join an engaging community of more than 1 million travelers sharing ideas and experiences and get access to thousands of exciting travel, work exchange and volunteer projects.
Worldpackers even provide amazing support to help you find the perfect project and help you every step of the way. All the hosts are verified to ensure they offer a safe and rewarded experience and if anything should go wrong the Worldpackers insurance will put you up for 3 nights at a nearby hostel and help you to find another project.
One of the things I like the best about Worldpackers is the community and that you can read reviews from previous volunteers before you decide to join the project so you know exactly what to expect.
To get started simply go to www.worldpackers.com and sign up. Remember to use the code GLOBALGALLIVANTING to get $20 off membership. It takes just 5 minutes to create your profile by adding some bits about yourself, selecting what kind of trip you want and for how long you want to travel. Once your profile is verified then you’ll be able to chat with hosts and apply for volunteering opportunities across the globe! See here for tips on creating a winning Worldpacker’s profile.
My favourite Worldpacker’s opportunities:
The Worldpacker’s website makes it easy and fun to find the perfect volunteer opportunity. You can search by destination, type of work or skills involved and availability. There are almost 300 opportunities for volunteering in Southeast Asia on the Worldpacker’s site.
Some of the opportunities I’m most excited about in Southeast Asia include:
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia but it is also my favourite. This project, 5 hours from Battambang, looks so rewarding and is even rated as a ‘top host’ by Worldpacker’s volunteers. The work is mainly construction related but there is also the possibility to help with teaching, cooking and painting. You’ll stay in a dorm with a friendly Cambodian family and other international volunteers and get a real insight into rural Cambodian life whilst also being part of building a brighter future for the amazing Cambodian children. Meals are also included in exchange of 35 hours of help per week. See here for more info and to read the reviews.
For someone like me who is an avid yoga practitioner and keen to learn more about meditation this is an amazing opportunity to live with the monks and nuns at an authentic Buddhist meditation center not far from Bangkok. You’ll be asked to help 15 hours per week with general maintenance, cleaning, animal feeding and creating content and in return get free dorm accommodation, free breakfast and lunch and get to live with the nuns and learn about Buddhism and mediation from them. See here for more info and to check the reviews.
This top rated host has teaching opportunities available all over the exciting country of Vietnam. You work 5 hours a day, 5 days per week teaching children and local communities English and other skills.
You’ll get an amazing insight into the Vietnamese local culture, a chance to experience life in different areas of Vietnam whilst also making a difference to the local communities. In return you’ll get free airport pick up, free meals and accommodation, free training and guided tours and possibly even employment opportunities if you wanted to stay for longer. See here for more info and to read the reviews.
I’m always saddened when I see all the stray dogs in Asia so this is the perfect project for dog and animal lovers. You’ll help take care of about 300 rescue dogs in this dog rescue center just south of Yangon in Myanmar – rated as a top host by previous Worldpacker volunteers. You’ll help out for about 10 hours per week and in exchange get free meals and dorm accommodation as well as free yoga, meditation and language classes.
There’s lots to do here, as well as taking care of the animals they also need help with maintenance and building, teaching English to locals and children, cooking and gardening. The hosts are quite flexible and can work around the volunteers skills and interests. See here for more info and to check out the reviews.
If you’re a party animal and love to meet and have fun with travellers from all over the world then this could be the perfect opportunity. The Gili Islands, a few hours boat ride from Bali, are nothing short of paradise and your job here will be to make guests feel welcome, create an amazing pre-drinking atmosphere and take the guest out to the best parties every night and ensure everyone has a great time.
You’ll also be organising group activities, tours and games to keep your fellow backpackers entertained and having the best time of their life. You’ll volunteer for 32 hours per week and in return you’ll get a free bed in the team dorm, free breakfast and loads of drink and party discounts. You get to live on a tropical paradise island and party every night for free! What could be better! See here for more info and to read the reviews.
Click here to see all the Worldpacker’s Southeast Asia opportunities. There are also lots of worthwhile projects to get involved with in India!
If you’re looking to build new skills towards a new career then volunteering on a Worldpackers opportunity could even add experience to your CV (resume) or add to your portfolio (for freelancers and aspiring digital nomads)
Why Worldpackers is different and better than other plaforms
Worldpacker’s may not be the first platform to offer volunteering and work exchange opportunities in Southeast Asia but they are the best and well worth the membership fee for these 4 reasons:
- Verified Hosts: As a big number of Worldpacker’s travellers are solo female travellers they take safety really seriously. Before any hosts can post opportunities they have to go through a verification process with Worldpackers to ensure they’re offering a safe and rewarding experience.
- Support Team: You’ll receive plenty of support from the Worldpackers’ customer service team before, during and after your travels (safety is paramount and you won’t find a customer service team like this anywhere else!). No other free volunteering platform offers this level of support.
- Worldpackers Insurance: If a traveler has any issues related to their host during their stay, Worldpackers will cover 3 nights accommodation for the traveler at a nearby hostel and the support team will get them set up with another Worldpacker host asap.
- Experts & Community: There are over 1 million Worldpacker’s travellers who leave reviews of projects, contribute writing travel and volunteering tips on the platform and are also available to chat with newer travelers to offer peer-to-peer advice.
Ready to get immersed into the local culture, help people, learn new skills, save money and have the adventure of a lifetime!? Head over to Worldpackers now to create your account and start getting excited applying for opportunities. Visit www.worldpackers.com now and don’t forget to use the promo code ‘GLOBALGALLIVANTING’ to get $20 off the membership fee!
By the way: International flights and visas are not able to be covered by the volunteering opportunities. This article was brought to you in collaboration with Worldpacker’s and include affiliate links but, as always, all opinions are my own and I only recommend brands that I use and love myself.
Have you been a volunteer in Southeast Asia with Worldpackers? I would LOVE to hear about your experiences so please leave a comment below.