What are popular places to volunteer abroad?

It is possible to find somewhere to volunteer pretty much anywhere in the world. However, if you are looking into volunteer abroad projects and organizations, you will have found that most of the projects available are located in developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Reputable organizations will only send volunteers to locations where they can guarantee their safety although you will be in locations with high amounts of poverty and other social and health problems.

All of the different volunteer abroad destinations offer different types of projects in different countries that have a great deal to offer. Whether you are looking to get involved in a specific type of project, for example medical, educational or environmental, or you are looking to experience a specific culture, this guide will give a brief overview of the most popular volunteer abroad destinations and what they have to offer.


Thailand has always been a popular holiday destination for those looking to experience stunning tropical beaches, awe-inspiring ancient ruins and delicious food. For similar reasons, Thailand is undoubtedly the most popular volunteer abroad destinations in Southeast Asia, and one of the most popular destinations in the world.

Projects available in Thailand are varied, but some of the most popular are:

  • Elephant conservation and care
  • Teaching Buddhist monks
  • Teaching English to children and adults in different communities.


The cultural diversity of India has for a long time appealed to tourists and volunteers alike. India is well known for its rich blend of cultures, languages and religions which make it a truly unique volunteer abroad destination. In addition to this cultural diversity, India is also famed for the diversity of its landscape with beautiful rivers, beaches and mountains as well as bustling cities and ancient relics.

Despite this natural richness, India is still a country which suffers from extensive poverty and as such, the vast majority of volunteer projects in India involve working with underprivileged groups, especially women and children. Much of the work is in education, to enable these marginalised groups to get themselves out of poverty. There is also a large number of volunteer abroad opportunities in India related to healthcare, particularly HIV/AIDS.


One of the most popular locations for volunteering abroad in Africa is Kenya. Kenya is probably most well-known for its wildlife and safaris. It is also popular for the stunning beaches on the Indian Ocean.

Despite the huge boost that tourism brings to Kenya, it is still a developing country that faces a number of social and economic problems. Tourism only benefits a limited portion of the population and the rest of the country still suffers from poor education and health facilities. Volunteer projects in Kenya are mostly related to these issues, such as teaching English, working in orphanages and working on medical projects related to AIDS/HIV in particular. There is also a great deal of work related to animal conservation as Kenya is home to some of the world’s most endangered species.


Uganda is home to many lakes, including the famous Lake Victoria which is the largest tropical lake in the world and is also one of the sources of the River the Nile. Uganda is also home to many rare and endangered creatures including gorillas and chimpanzees.

Uganda has experienced a great deal of war and political instability in its history and whilst the situation has been mostly stable in recent years, they are still suffering immense poverty and is still one of the poorest countries in the world. The country has suffered greatly due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and as such has a great need for medical volunteers, who have already made a great difference in the country. There is also a constant need for volunteers in orphanages and teaching English job.


Brazil is one of the most popular volunteer abroad destinations in South America. Volunteers and tourists alike are attracted by the endless sandy beaches, the vast Amazon Rainforest and despite the glamourous image, living conditions in parts of Brazil, especially the famous Favelas of Rio de Janeiro are very poor and the country has a very high unemployment rate. Volunteers are usually required for community development, childcare and teaching. Obviously there is also a great deal of conservation work taking place in Brazil in the threatened rainforest.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the country with the highest density of biodiversity in the world. Despite only occupying 0.03% of the Earth’s surface, the country is home to 6% of the world’s biodiversity, including a huge number species which are endemic to Costa Rica. The diverse landscape of Costa Rica is home to beaches, volcanoes, hot springs, rainforests and a large lake.

Ecotourism has boomed in Costa Rica in recent years as have financing and pharmaceutical industries. This has led to a need for volunteers in teaching English and conservation. Turtle conservation projects in particular are extremely popular in Costa Rica as volunteers usually live and work on the beach!


Another popular part of Central America to for volunteer abroad projects is Guatemala. Every year, volunteers are drawn by the ruins of Antigua and the history and culture of Guatemala City. The country also has stunning biodiversity, volcanoes and beaches that make it an increasingly popular tourist destination.

Despite the growing tourism in Guatemala, the country is still facing many issues such as poverty, the destruction of the environment and malnutrition. Therefore, there are numerous volunteer abroad programs in Guatemala in areas such as animal conservation, construction and teaching.