slider3 5In the northern areas of Thailand, such as Chiang Rai, many of the local people have not been fortunate enough to have access to any type of formal education, most commonly those without Thai citizenship - some are required to work in the fields with their families, others are too poor to be able to afford the travelling costs, resources or uniforms. Free education is not automatic for stateless children. For those able to go to school, resources are at a premium, staff are hardpressed, and the free education will end for many, before those with citizenship would be able to graduate. There is a real need for volunteers to assist in the education of not only young children, but also adults from surrounding hill tribes and local villages. These lessons and activities take place in a variety of venues, with a range of ages and abilities, and minimum of resources.

The volunteer work schedule can vary from year to year, and term to term, as villages become accessible after the rains have finished, or a new school asks for volunteers to come to teach. Currently, the schedule includes helping at four different childcare centres, three schools, a hospital, a Buddhist temple, as well as lessons for local hilltribe tour guides, Mirror staff, and local children each week.

The area around Chiang Rai is home to thousands of hilltribe people, so schools are a mixture of many ethnic groups, including Thai, Akha, Lahu, Karen, Mien, Lisu as well as other tribes. The childcare centres are located in hilltribe villages and serve a vital role of preparing the children for government schooling which is conducted in Thai language, not the children's native tongue. The role of the volunteers is to assist the teachers in taking care of the kids and conduct activities that will help the kids develop.

Volunteer job list

  • Teaching English
  • Lesson planning
  • Resource development

Other duties are involved, such as cleaning dorms, and some manual labour on homestay, so there is a need to be flexible and understanding.

It is important to note that we rely solely on donations of resources for teaching. If volunteers can bring resources with them, or buy them locally, this is very helpful. If photocopies are wanted for teaching, we ask that volunteers pay for these copies themselves, as the fee paid does not cover extras such as this. It is also much more fun to make/draw/paint your own resources rather than photocopy them.

Volunteer requirements

  • Fluency in English language, including good spelling and grammar
  • Ability to focus and learn quickly
  • Positive & realistic commitment to volunteering
  • Open mind
  • Positive attitude
  • Flexible to changing situations
  • Self assurance
  • Committed to, and capable of, working in a team setting
  • Sensitivity and affinity to others
  • Clean & tidy
  • Respectful and polite
  • Smartly dressed
  • Neat and modest

Other information

The culture in Asia is not the same as in the West. What may be considered appropriate or not offensive, in your culture, can be viewed completely different here. Respect, and personal safety, should be paramount. Also, culture shock in Thailand can occur, and people react differently - some are homesick, some get depressed, and others withdraw into themselves, so prepare thoroughly for your stay be reading all the available information. It important that the candidate is emotionally able to handle situations confidently, capably, and calmly. If more information is required, please email volunteer@themirrorfoundation.org

Orientation period

Volunteers spend the first day getting picked up, settling in, learning how to make Thai desserts, and helping our handicrafts project (optional). Day two is orientation in the morning, with a teaching workshop in the afternoon. This gives you a chance to learn about Thai culture, what it means to be a volunteer at an NGO, pick up some Thai language, integrate, and get over any culture shock and jetlag. It also gives us the opportunity to assess your qualities and strengths. New volunteers then join the programme for the rest of the week.

The homestay generally occurs over the first weekend, and usually consists of a night at a local hilltribe village. If a teaching group is sent offsite for the week to teach, then this is considered to be the homestay.


Volunteers work with children and vulnerable adults, and as such are in a position of responsibility and trust. To help us, we ask you to provide a national Criminal Record check.


The basic fees are set out in the list below. This fee includes the 7,000B registration fee. Select the number of weeks you intend to volunteer for, and the corresponding fee is the total amount to pay.

  • 2 weeks: 18,000B
  • 3 weeks: 19,000B
  • 4 weeks: 20,000B
  • 5 weeks: 23,000B
  • 6 weeks: 26,000B
  • 7 weeks: 29,000B
  • 8 weeks: 32,000B
  • 9 weeks: 35,000B
  • 10 weeks: 38,000B
  • 11 weeks: 41,000B
  • 12 weeks: 44,000B

Registration fee

7,000 Thai Baht (plus 5% admin fee)

A registration fee is required to secure the placement, subject to prior agreement by our staff via email. Once the fee has been received, a detailed form will be emailed which must be completed prior to arrival. The deposit is non-refundable. Payment is made via PayPal - a PayPal account is not required.

Balance of payment

The balance must be paid in full before arriving at the foundation, via PayPal or bank transfer. The placement will not begin until this has been completed. Payment is non-refundable once the programme has begun. Payment can only be made using the following methods:

  • via PayPal in advance (Add 5% to cover admin fees)
  • via bank transfer (Please pay any transaction fees)

Additional weeks

4,000 Thai Baht per week

If a volunteer wishes to extend the programme, after arriving, a fee of 4,000 Thai Baht per week will be required. If the extension is agreed, then payment must be made in advance of the additional week(s). A volunteer cannot extend beyond the maximum 12 weeks.

The above fees include the following services

  • Pick up from Chiang Rai airport on the programme start date
  • Work-related transportation during the programme
  • Basic meals and accommodation at the foundation (Monday lunchtime-Saturday lunchtime)
  • Drop off in Chiang Rai at the end of the programme (Saturday afternoon at 5pm)

The fees do not include

  • Flights, insurance, visa
  • Non-work related transportation
  • Snacks, beverages, or other personal purchases

What is required to join the programme

  • Valid medical insurance, to cover your entire stay*
  • Criminal Record check (see information page for details)
  • Deposit paid in advance
  • Balance of payment paid at least two weeks prior to arrival
  • Completion of our online form
  • Agreement to Terms and Conditions
  • Signed waiver form on arrival

*Although we don't insist on travel insurance as well as health insurance, we strongly recommend it.

How to apply

Important - give yourself enough time to obtain a background check, which can take up to from one day up to two months, depending on the individual country.

  • Fill in the enquiry form
  • Obtain and email a copy of the background check
  • Once offered a placement, pay the deposit
  • Fill in the final form sent out once the deposit has been received (this will be a private area on the website for our volunteers. This information is used to prepare for your arrival - diet, dorm requirements, health, insurance, etc)

If you have any questions about the placement, please email us at volunteer@themirrorfoundation.org

There are some important points to know, which will help you in choosing:

  1. All Thai schools are closed during: MARCH, APRIL, MAY, OCTOBER. The weeks surrounding these dates are used by these schools for exams, and registering new pupils, so lessons that volunteers are due to teach can sometimes be cancelled at short notice.
    Although this is the case for formal schools, we still run most of the extracurricular lessons, childcare, and set up English camps for our scholarship students. It is also an opportunity to develop and replenish our teaching resources, and review the teaching for the previous term.
  2. We are in the far north of Thailand, but it doesn't mean that there is no infrastructure - we have electricity, roads, banks, mobile phones, internet access... it also means that about half of our teaching is done in government schools (largely populated by hilltribe children), not tumbledown bamboo shacks with naked children running around after cute puppies - what we mean is, get any romantic notions out of your head, and arrive without preconceptions, because you'll more than likely be disappointed. (the point about the tumbledown shack... it can happen occasionally, but don't count on it...)
  3. The work done by our volunteer teachers is vital. It helps the hilltribe children move up the ladder in the job market - without an education, chances are much greater for a youngster to fall into unemployment, crime, drugs, prostitution, and teenage pregnancy. To be able to learn English from native speakers, is an extra skill which will help them in the future - Chiang Rai is a developing tourist area, and Thailand as a whole has a massive tourism industry, so getting a job in the local supermarket will be greatly helped by the knowledge of English.
  4. Volunteers will generally go on a homestay. This can sometimes involve teaching (occasionally manual work), but we view the homestay as a way to experience hilltribe life firsthand, making it easier to understand the issues involved.

Volunteers get together as a group once a week, and discuss who will slot into which teaching job for the following week's lessons. The staff are happy to stand back and let the volunteers organise this themselves - it not only helps to ensure a largely consensual distribution of work, it also develops the volunteers as they go through their stay.

Please register on this website first, to access the enquiry form and deposit links below

Enquiry form

Registration Fee payment

Download this file (Indoor Teaching Information Booklet - F2016.pdf)Indoor Teaching Guide[Information on the methods and skills of teaching]1548 kB
Thailand Volunteer! - by The Mirror Foundation