Volunteering in Thailand – Koh Lanta Animal Welfare
While island hopping in Thailand we made a brief visit to the quiet island of Koh Lanta. On reflection, we didn’t explore enough of what the island had to offer, but we took the opportunity to relax and to give something back by volunteering.
Down the road from our bungalows was an animal shelter that I had heard about where you could go and volunteer, either for weeks or just for the day or even a few hours.
This shelter is called Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW).
What do they do?
They are a charity providing rescue of dogs and cats on the island, but they do so much more than this. They provide veterinary care for people with animals plus run many education services trying to improve the situation for animals on the island, particularly dogs. It is well known that Thailand sadly has a large stray animal problem, and a lot of animal abuse also takes place. A lot of this is through lack of education, and they, unfortunately, have very cruel ways that they personally try to curb the growing problem. LAW do a lot of work to get animals sterilised. As of 2016 the amount of animals sterilised is approx. 15,000 an incredible feat!
They also do adoption services, mobile clinics, and school programmes. They are working really hard to not just help each individual animal that comes along, but trying to tackle a culture change.
We decided we wanted to go see for ourselves the work they were doing.
We had a tour delivered by a residential volunteer called Chris. Coincidentally through acknowledging each others accents we realised we both came from the same small town in the UK, and were pretty confident we’d met before down our local. Small world!
Anyway he showed us around the lovely site and introduced us to the different animals and we learnt all about the work they did. We then had some time for cat cuddling and meeting each character. I’m a big advocate for interactions like this. A lot of them will have suffered abuse or mistreatment so it’s really important for them to start to receive kindness and get used to humans if they have a chance of adoption. Also, it’s incredibly therapeutic cuddling cats – I could do it all day.
After this Chris suggested we could take two dogs for a walk down the beach if we fancied. So off we went with two dogs in tow. It was wonderful seeing them trotting along enjoying the walks and the surroundings. On the beach there were lots of white crabs running into their crab holes and we had such a laugh watching them desperately trying to catch them and jumping in the holes (bless them they never were quite fast enough). We played fetch and even had a little splash in the water. This was the best way to explore the stunning shores of this island.
When we got back it was a bit hard saying goodbye to our new friends, however we knew now they were safe and well, so that made us feel happy to leave them in this knowledge.
We highly recommend stopping by if you’re ever in Koh Lanta.
Please check out their website if you want to know more about it here.
It’s now even the No 1 thing to do on TripAdvisor currently – if you needed any more proof this was worth doing there you go!
You can also read more about the backstory of the sanctuary here, as well as reading about some fellow travellers experience.
Other volunteer opportunities in Thailand
Of course this isn’t the only volunteering opportunity in Thailand, in fact, there are lots!
Most volunteer opportunities are broken down into animal welfare, healthcare, teaching or human rights. Most of which require no previous experience and placements can range from days to weeks.
If you want to volunteer for longer placements it’s worth doing your research in advance and seeing which agency/charity is best for you. If you’d rather help grassroots organisations for shorter periods it can be worth researching upon arrival in the area you want to do it. Some of the areas with the most opportunities are Bangkok and Chiang Mai, although there will be opportunities where you can help all over the country.
I prefer to volunteer and support smaller organisations as your money and time goes directly to the cause, you can see the results right in front of you! But any form of volunteering will be so valuable and appreciated.
It’s always good to remain humble when travelling and this is the best way to do that. I always feel so lucky and happy I could help when I do some volunteering, even back at home.
Has anyone else been here? Or does anyone else recommend any volunteering opportunities in Thailand?
Let me know in the comments below!