13 Best Countries in Asia for Volunteering

13 Best Countries in Asia for Volunteering

Where Can I Volunteer in Asia?

Asia has achieved remarkable economic progress in recent decades. Despite this, it is still home to nearly half of the world’s poorest people. According to World Bank’s 2018 report, out of the 783 million of the extremely poor who live below the poverty line of US$1.9 a day, about 33% of that number live in South Asia and 9% live in East Asia and the Pacific. If you have a look at the top five countries with the biggest population in the world, four of them are Asian countries. Due to the sheer size of the continent, and the number of people living in it, it is no surprise that a lot of today’s volunteer abroad opportunities lie in Asia. Asia is an extremely diverse continent with different cultures and customs. Asia has something for everyone, and here are some of the best places to volunteer in Asia:

1. Japan

Even for Asians, Japan is definitely one of the countries on everyone’s bucket list. Who wouldn’t want to have that beautiful Instagram-worthy picture with sakura blooms in the background? Of course, to also visit the infamous Nagasaki Arch that survived two atomic bombs! They say that Japan is the Germany of the East, with hard-working & diligent people, and perfectly clean streets. Also, for sushi lovers, it’s paradise. Not to mention, heated toilet seats! However, volunteering abroad in Japan can be expensive due to the higher cost of living compared to neighbouring countries.  English learning programmes are in high demand in Japan, and other volunteer programmes include environmental work, as the Japanese are serious about city planning and ecological preservation. Fancy going to volunteer abroad in the land of Pokemon Go? 

2. India

29 different states, 26 official different languages spoken, and a whopping population close to 1.4 billion people.  Accommodation & food in India are relatively cheap, and transport is good & affordable. In India, you can visit the desert, climb the Himalayas, spend a day on the beaches of Goa, wander in jungles, and explore urban cities. You can spend a lot of time visiting every corner, and each corner will reward you with a unique kind of natural beauty. As one of the world’s fastest developing countries, India has a few teething problems and could definitely use your help with issues such as women empowerment, pollution and more if you’re keen to volunteer there. 

3. Malaysia

Formerly known as Malaya, Malaysia is considered by many to be Asia in its truest sense, since it is the most culturally diverse in the region. Located in Southeast Asia and being a contrast between fast-paced technological and economic development versus the slower rural areas, you can discover many unique opportunities to volunteer in this culturally vibrant country. If you’ve always assumed that the concentration of wildlife is only in African countries, think again! Come to Malaysia, where the rainforests are filled with orangutans, sun bears, pangolins, sambar deer, mouse deer, Borneo pygmy elephants and much more.  Check out this list of articles that are all about Malaysia (Truly Asia): 

4. Indonesia

Did you know that Indonesia is the world’s largest island country? An archipelago of 17,000 islands and 300 ethnic groups, Indonesia is every backpacker’s paradise.  Over 60% of the country is forested, and the volcanic activity has produced an environment supporting thousands of animal species. Abundant in nature, culture, and volunteer opportunities, Indonesia truly lives up to unity in diversity.  Tourists have fallen in love with this beautiful country that their attachment inspires them to give back to the country by volunteering. Want to help the turtles in Bali? Or maybe protect the tigers from poachers in Borneo? Yes? Look no more, Indonesia is your destination.

5. Thailand

When you think of Thailand, you think of elephants, right? Thailand attracts thousands of volunteers yearly due to the high amount of volunteering opportunities, especially in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. From teaching English, working in elephant sanctuaries, and even dog sanctuaries - caring for dogs with disabilities, you can definitely find something here that lies in your interest. Thailand is famous for massages, temples, and food - you might have seen street food that consists of fried cockroaches, grasshoppers, spiders and more. What’s really interesting about Thailand is that the Kathoeys (aka Ladyboys) are widely accepted and many are nationally known and beloved celebrities. LGBTIQ individuals are welcomed in society.

6. Philippines

Deeply influenced by Spanish, and American culture, the Philippines is a unique blend of Eastern and Western culture. The Filipinos are known for their happiness and affinity towards foreigners. With volunteer opportunities abound, there is little reason not to stay and volunteer in the Philippines. Whether you work at a clinic, school, orphanage, help rebuild a post-typhoon site or work on marine conservation, it is guaranteed that the amazing Filipino hospitality will provide you with an amazing experience. Many Filipinos are well-versed in English which should help you feel more welcome, especially in your first few months. 

7. China

China’s population is astoundingly large.  It makes up close to 20% of the world’s population. Their rich history never fails to impress foreigners and tourists. Despite being one of the strongest economies in the world, they still have a huge population living an absolute underprivileged life. Volunteer work in China includes teaching programmes, volunteering with orphans & disabled children, and also feed and care for pandas!  Let’s not forget about The Great Wall of China. Did you know, that due to age and heavy traffic, this great monument is now one of the world’s 100 most endangered sites? Another volunteering opportunity you can sign up for if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty is to help clean one of the seven wonders of the world. You can help and have an adventure at the same time!

8. Palestine

Even though the political situation in the region is extremely complicated, the Holy Land’s rich history still clocks in plenty of visitors. Life in Palestine may not be easy, but volunteers still make their way there to join multiple volunteering opportunities such as working in humanitarian aid projects, refugee camps, and both local & international NGOs to teach English.

9. Vietnam

Probably one of the most popular destinations for backpackers and English teachers. This tiny country offers cultural experiences like none other, especially with their laid-back vibe and wonderfully friendly people. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi offer the most volunteering opportunities such as teaching English, healthcare projects, or feeding and caring for adorable pangolins.  If you’re ever in Vietnam, don’t miss the incredible limestone pillars of Ha Long Bay and the local markets of Sa Pa.

10. Cambodia

Located on the east of Thailand lies Cambodia, home to the infamous world wonder, Angkor Wat, the largest religious site of worship in the world! But the country has so much more to offer, with its unique history, culture, & traditions.  Cambodia is still trying to deal with societal drawbacks, so volunteers are highly appreciated in this country. Voluntourism has become a full-fledged industry here which brought upon tons of bad press, so choose your volunteering programme wisely. That child that you think is an orphan, might not be an orphan after all. Yes, they are taken out of their homes for YOU and other volunteers to take pictures with to post on Facebook. This denies them proper education and results in poverty. 

11. Myanmar

Like in most parts of Southeast Asia, there is always a need for teachers, builders, and medical staff in this beautiful country. There are also NGOs and orphanages in Myanmar that need help from volunteers. It is sad to say that in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, they are suffering from one of the largest crisis in the world; the persecution of more than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims. It is crucial for you to do your research before buying your flight tickets to this country. Help tackle these issues that Myanmar is facing to work towards a new and more prosperous country.

12. Nepal

Home to the world’s highest peak, Mt. Everest, Nepal is the obvious choice for mountain lovers. The beautiful landscapes and monasteries will definitely capture your attention.  One-third of the country still live under the poverty line, and Nepal is considered one of the least developed nations in Asia. Kathmandu, the capital city, faced a massive earthquake that killed 9,000 people in 2015 and is still trying to recover from it, hence the multiple volunteering opportunities. Volunteering opportunities here will definitely take your experience beyond spiritual enrichment.

13. Sri Lanka

Even though this nation is still developing, it never has a shortage of things to explore. Volunteers who are interested to work in Sri Lanka will have many available options, and they would get to travel to the best destinations in the country! These include turtle conservation, community developments, elephant camps, and also orphanages.    Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a better idea about volunteer opportunities that each country may present you with. Whichever country you may go, you are sure to gain incredible volunteering abroad experience. Next, how to prepare to volunteer in Asia?  VOLUNTEER WITH US Read more:   Read More - Everything You Need to Know About Volunteering in Asia
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