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Teaching Novice Buddhist Monks

Chiang Mai, Thailand
from £745 (2 weeks)

Ref: AV087

Saffron robes and novice monks - and not a tourist in sight!  A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to teach English in the traditional and holistic temple schools of Chiang Mai. It is hard to believe that this traditional life still exists in the twenty-first century but volunteers to this very popular project get to experience it first hand as well as learning to meditate and the chance to join in their Buddhist festivals.


Who can join: Anyone aged 18 years of age and above
Accommodation: Dedicated volunteer accommodation near the centre of Chiang Mai
Transfer time:
Pick up Point: Chiang Mai Airport or Bus Station
Meals: Breakfast daily and lunch on working days
Volunteer numbers:

Duration & Fees

2 weeks£745
3 weeks£855
4 weeks£995
5 weeks£1,095
6 weeks£1,245
8 weeks£1,445

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Start Dates

Project Start Dates are on the first and third Mondays of each month. Volunteers are requested to arrive the Friday before the start of their project for their two day orientation.

Start Dates for 2020

6 Jan | 20 Jan | 3 Feb | 17 Feb | 2 Mar | 16 Mar | 4 May | 18 May | 1 Jun | 15 Jun | 6 Jul | 20 Jul | 3 Aug | 17 Aug | 7 Sep | 21 Sep | 5 Oct | 19 Oct | 2 Nov | 16 Nov | 7 Dec | 21 Dec

Note: This project is closed for Thailand Summer Break and Mid-Thailand School Break


£180 deposit at time of booking – balance payment of project fee due 12 weeks before departure

What's Included

  • Airport transfer on arrival (departure transfer can be arranged through project staff on the ground - approx 5 USD)
  • Accommodation in shared rooms in volunteer house
  • Breakfast everyday and lunch every working day
  • Assistance from the onsite co-ordinator
  • Two day orientation includng half-day city tour, cultural dinner and show 

What's not included

  • Flights to and from Thailand
  • Visas if required
  • Medical Insurance to cover repatriation
  • Cost of CRB check
  • Transport to and from project
  • Dinner and lunch at weekends


  • Teach English to novice Buddhist monks in northern Thailand
  • Work in a holistic temple school
  • Learn to meditate and join in and celebrate Buddhist festivals
  • Enjoy spending free time in the fascinating city of Chiang Mai
  • Benefit from a comprehensive two-day orientation programme
  • Receive full support from the onsite co-ordinator

Thailand is a country with great appeal with ancient capitals, forests, mountains and exciting festivals that are truly captivating.  Chiang Mai, in the north of the country, is one of the most popular cities for tourists from all over the world who come to take cookery or massage courses, to trek to the maountains or to visit remote hill tribes.  Volunteers see a different side of Thailand, something that the average visitor misses altogether, and also have the satisfaction of knowing that they have changed lives in small but significant ways during their volunteer placement to this beautiful and exciting country. 

Daily life starts early in the temple schools of Chiang Mai.  As the volunteers arrive the novice monks will be lining up to get the morning notices from the faculty.  Education in the temple schools is holistic - combining mind and body as rarely seen in the west - and the school day starts with a period of prayer and meditation.  Classes begin at 8.30 am and a further session of prayer and meditation follows the lunch break. 

Fluency in English is highly prized in Thailand and English-speaking volunteers are in high demand.  Although teaching English will be a priority, volunteers will also have the chance to teach classes in art or share other skills they may have and can bring to share with the novices.  The role of the volunteer will depend entirely on their comfort level.  There is the option of going into class with a Thai teacher and assisting with the daily lessons, but for those who feel confident on their own,  there will be the excitement of planning their own lessons and leading their own class.  The school day is from 8.30 am - 4.30 pm from Monday to Friday and volunteers will expect to teach for about 15 - 20 hours a week.

The proficiency of volunteers in the English language will benefit so many students, many of whom  come from impoverished families and would not be able to afford an education if it was not for the charity of the Buddhist community. In all but one of the five temple schools all of the students are novice monks and the same is true of their teachers, all of whom wear the saffron robe as a way of life.

Most of the novice monks will be aged between 12 – 15 years old and will have had little interaction with foreigners. Volunteers are encouraged to take lunch with the students and their teachers - and what a treat that is - when the daily menu consists of stir-fries and savoury curries and jasmine rice!  Over lunch is a great time for volunteers to get to know the students and monks with whom they will be working. 

To join this project, volunteers need to be 18 years old or over and although no specific qualifications are required, volunteers should enjoy working with young people and teenagers, have a creative flair, as well as being open and respectful to Buddhism and the monks' culture. Volunteers will, however, need to be fluent in both written and oral English and provide a certified police background check before their placement begins.  This is a legal requirement for anyone working with children and young people.

This project offers a fantastic opportunity which will doubtless enrich the lives of the volunteers who spend some time here.  There is no way that visiting Thailand as a tourist would give volunteers access to authentic Buddhist temples where they will be able to join in group meditation, recite mantrass with the students and celebrate their festivals as a guest of the monastic community.  It is certainly a chance in a lifetime and a tremendous experience for volunteers who join this project. 


Extra Information

Known as the Rose of the North, Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city, making it an incredible place to explore as it is the most cultural city in northern Thailand and dates back to the 13th century. There are over 200 Buddhist temples, where the iconic saffron robed monks and ancient stupas which are a symbol of Thailand can be seen. There is a great welcoming atmosphere in Chiang Mai along with tasty food, great shopping, cultural opportunities, and adventure activities.  It is a great base for exploring more of northern Thailand and a wonderful place for educational pursuits such as learning the Thai language, Thai massage, Thai cooking, Muay Thai, and Thai Buddhist meditation. Volunteers who would like to learn more of the history of the area can visit the Chiang Mai National Museum where they can view exhibits relating to the people of Lanna, the Tribal Museum which looks into the life of the local hill tribes and the City Arts and Cultural Centre which looks at Chiang Mai to-day as well as in the past.  The Playhouse Complex is a new attraction in Chiang Mai where cultural performances can be enjoyed.

The people of Chiang Mai speak Thai, but they have their own dialect which is called Northern Thai, Phasa Nuea, or Kam Muang. Chiang Mai is a good place to learn the Thai language and most volunteers will pick up some words during their normal daily activities.  For anyone wishing to learn more of this fascinating language, there are lots of schools which run courses and project staff will be able to make recommendations to anyone interested and who has time to spare. Even learning just a few simple Thai phrases, and of course how and when to wai (bow) properly, is very much appreciated by the local Thai people.

Festivals in Chiang Mai offer a chance for visitors to learn more about the local culture and have some fun. The most important festivals are New Year, the Chaing Mai Flower Festival in February, Songkran Water Festival in April, the City Pillar Festival in May or June and Loy Krathong usuallly in November.

One of the problems volunteers may incur in Chiang Mai is deciding where to eat.. Every type of food can be found on sale in the city, and it is easy to eat well and very inexpensively.  There are many local dishes to try including Chiang Mai Sausage - spicy pork and served with sticky rice; Kau Ka Moo - pork knuckle with rice and hard boiled egg and pickled mustard greens or Khao Soi - an egg noodle dish usually with chicken and crispy noodles on top. Chiang Mai is the best place in Thailand to learn how to cook Thai food because there are so many great schools, including Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School and Siam Rice Thai Cookery School.

The most popular places to visit in Chiang Mai include:

  • Doi Suthep, a granite mountain that towers over Chiang Mai and offers some spectacular views of the city. There is a fourteenth century temple on top of the mountain – visitors can climb 309 steps up to the temple or cheat by getting the tram.
  • Chiang Mai Zoo which is the only zoo in the country where visitors can get to see giant pandas.
  • Wat Chiang Man which was built in the thirteenth century and acted as the first royal temple in the city or Wat Chedi Luang another important temples in the City.
  • Suan Buak Haad Park is good place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city or to go for a jog. There is a nice lake in the park and a few stalls selling food.  You can even feed the huge fish in the pond, relax on mats for rent, and even get a Thai massage.

Volunteers wishing to do something more active will have no problem finding things to do such as:

  • Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand, and is known to be the fiercest martial art in the world. Volunteers can get to learn this fighting style at a number of camps in Chiang Mai including: Chay Yai Muay Thai, Lanna Muay Thai, KC Muay Thai, and Muay Thai Sangha.
  • There is a good selection of gyms in Chiang Mai
  • Bamboo rafting can be enjoyed at the upper part of Mae Ping and Mae Tang rivers. Many of the hiking and elephant tours will also include bamboo rafting as part of the package.
  • Some of the best hiking areas in Thailand are in easy reach of Chiang Mai and there are many companies offering these tours.
  • Whitewater rafting/rapids rafting is available at the Tang River (Mae Tang).

Some of the most exciting things to do in Chiang Mai would include:

  • A chance to learn meditation and there are a number of temples offering instruction and retreats
  • The Night Market is one of the most popular tourist attractions and it is a great place to go to buy souvenirs or cheap clothing.
  • Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport – there is over five floors of shopping here as well as a giant Major Cineplex Cinema.
  • Zip line tours, and this is an exciting way to explore the jungle canopy.
  • Great nightlife in Chiang Mai with the most popular bars found around the Night Bizarre and Tha Phae Gate.
  • Dreamlake Fishing Adventure is a fishing resort 
  • The Chiang Mai Night Safari - the third largest nocturnal zoo in the world. There are three zones in the park including Predator Prowl Zone, Jaguar Trail
  • Zone, and Savanna Safari Zone – there are also resorts in the park for those who want to really feel like they are on safari.
  • Tiger Kingdom - a chance to get right up close to tigers – none of the tigers here are drugged but visitors are allowed to get up close with them if they like.
  • Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders

Getting around Chiang Mai is easy.  The city has the famous Rot Daeng which cannot be found anywhere else in Thailand. This covered pick-up truck can be the cheapest, most convenient, and safest way to get around the city. Motorbikes can be rented for quite inexpensively and this is probably the best way to get around the city and cope with the traffic congestionl.  However it must be remembered that Chiang Mai is not a safe place to learn how to use a motorbike for the first time. There is a metered taxi service.  It is easy to walk or cycle around Chiang Mai but it can get hot!  Most volunteers will want to try one journey by tuk-tuk but this can be an expensive way to get around.  A Mae Ping River Cruise is a good way to explore the city from the water – the average tour lasts about two hours and includes a Thai meal.

There are plenty of local travel agents where weekend trips and activities can be booked and project staff can help volunteer arrange any activities. 

Getting There

Volunteers should fly to Thailand’s capital of Bangkok and then either make their way to Chiang Mai in the north via train, bus or by air.  Either mode of transport runs regularly between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, is relatively cheap and can be easily booked once in Bangkok. Arrival days are the Friday before the Monday project start date.  Volunteers will be picked up from the airport, bus or train station and transferred to the project accommodation.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence and can make any flight arrangements required.  Please contact Amanzi Travel for information.

Support and Orientation

Support and advice is available from Amanzi Travel office staff and project/trip leaders. Upon booking, you will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack that provides all the details you will need to prepare for your trip.  This document includes information on accommodation, staff, visas, optional activities, packing checklist and medical advice and if you have any questions that are not answered in the pack we are always on hand to help and advise. We will do all we can to ensure that you are well prepared and looking forward to your trip. You will also receive an in country orientation on arrival.

A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emergency contact number is provided for everyone who travels with us.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence (9401) and is able to arrange your flights on request giving you financial protection for your flight and trip costs. We also offer advice on personal travel insurance for your trip.

Chiang Mai, Thailand, Teaching Novice Buddhist MonksChiang Mai, Thailand, Teaching Novice Buddhist MonksChiang Mai, Thailand, Teaching Novice Buddhist MonksChiang Mai, Thailand, Teaching Novice Buddhist MonksChiang Mai, Thailand, Teaching Novice Buddhist MonksAccommodation is provided in two dedicated volunteer houses in the centre of Chiang Mai city and is the perfect spot to unwind after a day of volunteering. The houses can accommodate up to 35 people and all bedrooms are air-conditioned.  Rooms are shared  but have built in bathrooms with hot water and a western style toilet.  There are comfortable living rooms where volunteers can watch English films, skype family and friends or surf the internet in their spare time. 

Volunteers will be provided with breakfast at the volunteer accommodation and they can start their day with toast, cereals, eggs, oatmeal, yoghurt, fresh fruit and the wonderfully aromatic coffee that comes from the highlands of Northern Thailand.  Lunch will be provided during working days and consist of stir fries and savoury curries, but dinner is not included. Volunteers will be able to eat very cheaply at local Thai and other international restaurants and cafes only a few minutes' walk from the volunteer houses.  Some volunteers even enrol on a Thai cookery course and then show off their skills in the kitchen to fellow volunteers!

Click here to view the full interactive mapThailand

Thailand overview

At the centre of Indochina, is the Kingdom of Thailand – as it officially known. Thailand nestles between Burma, Laos and Cambodia above and Malaysia below, with the Gulf of Thailand to the south and the Andaman Sea to the west.

Thailand’s second largest city of Chiang Mai is known as the Rose of the North and visitors can experience homestays in local villages, rural jungle treks and 13th century Buddhist temples. The islands on Thailand’s east coast consist of Koh Phangan, Koh Toa and Koh Samui, which are famous for Full Moon parties, diving and tourism respectively and of course white sandy beaches and coral reefs. While Koh Phi Phi was hit by the 2004 Tsunami, it is also the home of ‘The Beach’ and iconic limestone cliffs. Other synonymous activities with Thailand are Muay Thai boxing, Thai cooking courses, mountain climbing, elephant riding, river rafting, canopy walking, learning to dive and holistic retreats.

The capital city Bangkok is the country’s political, commercial and cultural hub, as well as being the gateway to Thailand for most travellers arriving by air. The city is a mixture of old and new, with high rise skyscrapers, old temples, the Royal palace, wide dominating motorways and little shops on street corners. The city is used as a hub to travel around the rest of the country and its many islands, as well as the surrounding countries. Thai people are, as throughout Asia, extremely warm and welcoming and cannot help but wear that huge Asian smile.

Highlights of country

  • Includes jungles, mountains, islands and beaches
  • Warm and friendly Thai people
  • Learn to dive in Koh Tao
  • Legendry Full Moon parties on Koh Phangan
  • Easy access to other Asian countries for further travel


Summer 38 °C 230 °C
Winter 28 °C 22 °C

Thailand has a tropical climate almost all year round. Southern Thailand has two seasons; the wet season and the dry season, which are the different on the east and west coasts. The east coast has rain between September and December, while the west has heavy storms from April through until October. The south of Thailand receives the most rain, with around 2,400 mm falling each year, which is 1,000 mm more than central and northern Thailand.

Northern Thailand’s seasons are more defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, except for expected rain between February and March. From November to March, there are cooling breezes in northern Thailand while the temperatures rise between March and May.

Key Facts

Population – 66.80 million
Capital - Bangkok
Currency – Thai Baht (THB)
Official languages – Thai
Time difference – GMT + 6
Telephone - +66

Teaching Novice Buddhist Monks

It is the most fulfilling work I have ever done, and believe I will ever find. The novices, the teachers, and the people of Thailand made this experience the best of my life thus far.

Dylan, USA (Teaching Novice Buddhist Monks)

Teaching Novice Buddhist Monks

Teaching Monks has definitely made my trip marvellous and unforgettable. Living in Chiang Mai for two weeks as a volunteer, I had the precious opportunity to experience Thai life almost as a local. People here always wear a big warm smile, and the city would just melt everyone’s heart. I would highly recommend volunteers to come teaching English to Monks. The satisfactory feeling that comes afterwards is truly rewarding!

Helen, HongKong (Teaching Novice Buddhist Monks)

Teaching Novice Buddhist Monks

Teaching Monks for my short time was a good opportunity to look into the lifestyle of teaching, as it is something I plan on doing after I graduate from college. If teaching is not your profession, this is still a positive experience to do something out of the norm and something you can look back on later in life and appreciate the small difference you might have made in someone’s life.

Ben, USA (Teaching Novice Buddhist Monks)

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