9 Wonderful Places for Volunteering in Southeast Asia

“Doing good will do you good.” If you feel this liner resonates well in the heart, you might want to check out these amazing places for volunteering in Southeast Asia.

If you care about the environment:

1. Organic Farm Vang Vieng, Laos

Mention Vang Vieng and most people would associate it with the legendary river tubing and all-day parties. While the party vibe has significantly decreased thanks to the local municipality’s involvement, much of Vang Vieng’s natural beauty is still incredible to explore. Just 4km away from the town centre is Organic Farm Vang Vieng, a delightful place to volunteer whilst having a relaxing break. Aside from helping out at the farm, you can also bag mulberry tea packs, milk the goats, teach English at a local school, and even assist in building a mud house!

Volunteering in Southeast Asia
Image by Organic Farm Vang Vieng

2. Pulau Bidan Permaculture, Malaysia

This island conservation and eco-tourism project is based in Pulau Bidan, located off the coast the northern state of Kedah, Malaysia. What can you do here? Expect to clock in about 4 to 5 hours of work during the weekdays, ranging from organic farming, cooking, feeding chickens and geese, or helping out with eco projects. The rest of the time can be spent exploring the beautiful island, playing with Muskat the cat, and enjoying the magic of bioluminescent plankton that glow on the beach at night.

Volunteering in Southeast Asia
Image by Pulau Bidan Permaculture

3. Sawah Bali, Indonesia

Living by the Balinese mantra of Tri Hita Karana, which means sustainability, health, and happiness, the programme focuses on conserving the agricultural landscape as well as creating new economic opportunities for farming families. At this small and cosy Balinese village homestay, spend your days learning about permaculture and sustainability, getting your hands dirty on the organic farms, whilst getting a hands-on experience with Balinese culture and spirituality.

Volunteering in Southeast Asia

SEE ALSO: More Millennials are Ditching Touristy Spots for Farmcations

If you care about animals:

4. Lang Tengah Turtle Watch, Malaysia

Volunteer work at one of the most pristine islands in Malaysia? Yes, please! Located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the idyllic Lang Tengah Island is where sea turtles come to lay eggs. The program was set up in 2013 to help save the turtles, especially Green Turtles which are native to the area, from extinction. Among the duties to be carried out here include helping to run the campgrounds and patrolling the beach and nesting area, making sure to keep poachers at bay. The open-air camps are basic but pleasant. You will be sleeping amidst swaying palm trees, the sound of splashing waves, and the gorgeous night sky.

Lang Tengah Turtle Watch

SEE ALSO: Turtle Tales in Lang Tengah

5. Safari Park Volunteer Program, Thailand

How would you like to feed and interact with monkeys, giraffes, rabbits, big cats, and other animals? There are a few programs that you can choose from, including Zoo Team, Cat Team, and Cub Team. The Safari Park Open Zoo is based in Kanchanaburi, just an hour away from Bangkok. Whilst the name might draw some flak as this is still technically a zoo, its volunteering program has earned plenty of rave reviews, which shows how much the people who work there really care for the animals.

Safari Park Kanchanaburi

6. The Orangutan Project, Borneo

Here’s a chance to care for our highly endangered (and totally adorable!) distant cousins. Based in different parts of Borneo, the Orangutan Project offers a variety of programmes to suit your preferences. Agriculture, construction, and enrichment are some of the key roles for volunteers. They even have a programme dedicated to families. Imagine how great it would be to go on a vacation with the children and expose them to a good cause at the same time?

Volunteering in Southeast Asia
Image by The Orangutan Project

7. Oslob Whale Shark Project, the Philippines

Here’s one for water-loving volunteers! The small town of Oslob, just an hour’s drive away from the Cebu city centre, has seen a boom in whale shark tourism. It started when the local fishermen started to hand-feed the whale sharks to counter the disruption of their own fishing activities. This programme was set up to study the impact of tourism on the whale sharks. And if this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, perhaps their sister programme Palawan Otter Project might be of interest?

Volunteering in Southeast Asia_Oslob Whale Shark Project
Image by

If you care about people:

8. Swim Vietnam, Vietnam

A cause with a different beat, Swim Vietnam is a programme dedicated to teaching children how to, well, swim! While it is easy to put swimming in a recreational category thus making it seem less of a priority, the fact is that drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children over the age of one in Vietnam. Offer your time and effort to teach the local children proper swimming and water safety lessons in this country blessed with flowing rivers and a beautiful coastline. It also helps if you have other skills such as accountancy, design, photography, videography, or fundraising.

Volunteering in Southeast Asia
Image by Swim Vietnam

9. Big Brother Mouse, Laos

Established in 2003, this inspiring programme is led by energetic young individuals who set out to improve the state of literacy in Laos. This concerted effort has since seen the publication of more than 350 books for the Laotian people. The centre is based in Luang Prabang, famed for its pristine waterfalls and quaint town. If you’re planning a holiday here, it’s worth your time to drop by Big Brother Mouse’s English speaking programme that takes place daily from 9 to 11am and 5 to 7pm. Interact with local students who are always eager to practice their English with a foreigner. All you need to bring are your English vocabulary, perhaps some pictures to add flavour to the conversation, and a warm heart.

Volunteering in Southeast Asia
Image by Big Brother Mouse

Travel Responsibly Anywhere, Everywhere You Go
To preserve and protect the environment and the local community’s livelihood in Southeast Asia, AirAsia has launched +Me campaign, in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Here’s how you can play a part in this movement:
1. Share your sustainable living/travel tips on social media with hashtags #AirAsia and #plusme; or 
2. Share this article; or 
3. If you’re on WeChat:

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  • An e-pledge will be generated easily for your social sharing!

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Written by Irvin Hanni

Irvin enjoys conversations with the trees and the stars. Sometimes they share recipes, sometimes they share jokes.

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