I was lucky enough to go to Thailand with Volunteering Solutions for the 3 Week Summer Volunteering Project.
The hostel where I stayed was pretty basic but did the job. I strongly suggest that you put your valuables in the safe downstairs behind the counter!!! From memory, it doesn't cost anything but if you lose the key it's about £25 to get a new one. There are various nearby places that do laundry which are very cheap and charge per kg. The breakfast is very basic - bread (a toaster) jam, fried eggs, mini pancakes and frankfurter sausages. There is free wifi downstairs in the eating area and if you're on the first floor you might be able to use the wifi from downstairs but mostly there is no wifi in the rooms.
I was lucky enough to have JJ as my guide for the 3 weeks. He was lovely, super helpful and a friendly man who totally took care of us the whole time! He is of Thai origin, so knew how everything worked and he's also a very experienced tour guide!
The first full day was a boat tour which was a really nice way to see the sights and get to know the group.
There was an optional evening event of a 'lady boy' show which was quite expensive! You had to pay for that separately but transport there was organized for you. It was very bizarre indeed- a mishmash of snippets of musicals performed by LadyBoys. I guess Thailand is known for its LadyBoys so I am glad I went, but it was about £25 - which was actually expensive!
Nightlife along Khao San Road is crazy- every night is like a Friday or Saturday night! Very cheap cocktails and loads of weird bugs you can eat here.
Going to a temple to teach children during the day was fun. We played lots of games and as a group bought lots of sweets to hand out to the children at the end. Always a nice gesture to say goodbye, I believe.
If you love a massage, then Thailand is the place. A foot massage is about £2.50 for half an hour.
We went to a huge market for an afternoon. As always, be prepared to haggle! It's seriously hot, always have lots of water with you - bottled water is like 20p and is sold everywhere!!
The Child Care Project was really amazing.
You basically just have to be proactive, there weren't any set tasks with the children in the mornings, you just kind of hang out. For me, it was fine as I enjoy children's company but if you're not used to children, I suggest you get there and just try and interact as much as you can.
Children love snap chat!! That can keep them amused for hours!
There are many temple trips, and I would suggest you go as the temples are beautiful.
The week at Mr. Lee's elephant village was my favorite part. It was such an amazing project! The accommodation was super basic, you are about 10 in a room on mattresses on the floor with mosquito nets. There is a basic shower with lukewarm water and sink as well as a flushing loo!!!
The people who look after you (the mahouts) are lovely, super friendly. They sleep right nearby with the elephants. You wake up and get to see the elephants from your room - it's pretty special.
You get to wash the elephants in the nearby pond. It initially seems a bit gross to get in the water with the elephants poo floating around but it's fine.
There is no wifi for the week at the elephant village! I found it fine actually, quite refreshing as it made you just stop and enjoy your surroundings instead of looking at your phone!! And socialize with your group!
One weekend we decided to go away. Half the group went to Cambodia (which was doable) and my group went to Khao Samed island. JJ kindly went with us. Again, although it was a long journey it was worth it, we just left the elephants village a day early.
The island was beautiful, sea and beautiful sandy white beaches. Be aware of jellyfish, though!!!!!
Another option given was to see bats coming out of a bat cave (extra cost) - totally worth it. It was incredible to see over 1 million bats leave the cave! A real stunning scene. You get to go in the cave before to see them all.
The trek at the national park is no big deal at all. I packed my trekking boots and everything but trainers would have been enough. We only hiked for about an hour and a half. But it was beautiful, loads of wildlife! No need to buy special socks from the shop, though, pulling your socks up and wearing trousers is absolutely fine!!
Malaria tablets. All the people from England did not take tablets. However, all the people from America did. Everybody was fine. If you're from America and you're torn I suggest you don't take them!
I suggest you take diarrhea tablets, headache pills, loads of mosquito repellent (but you can get it all cheaply out there!) and rehydration sachets- oh and sun cream. I had factor 30. Drink loads and loads of water!!!
I was pretty lucky and didn't get sick, just be sure to wash your hands as much as possible and drink lots of water. Coconut water is super cheap (like 25p a bottle) and is really good for rehydration!
I did the summer project in India the year before and I have to say in terms of volunteering the project to India was better. Don't get me wrong, I had an amazing time on this project but I got a lot more out of the project to India.
I also went to Kenya at Easter which was AMAZING. So, if you do have questions about the 2 weeks special to Kenya, or the Summer project to India or Thailand I am more than happy to answer them!! Just get in touch with Sahil, The Operations Head. I'm going to do the 2 week special to Ghana this Easter! Can't wait.
Hopefully, whatever project you decide, you'll have a great time. Sahil and his team are super helpful and very quick to respond to any questions!
If you go to Thailand, hopefully, you'll be lucky enough to have JJ as your guide who really was wonderful. He even came with us on our weekend away to Khao Samed Island and kindly organized it all for us so we weren't ripped off!