Rural Community Healthcare in Thailand


Based in the beautiful mountains of Northern Thailand, this program works to support Thai healthcare professionals to expand and improve the work they already do. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to shadow the work of professional doctors and nurses as they work in the community, focusing on preventative healthcare combined with testing and home visits.

Program Overview

This project is based in the beautiful mountains of Northern Thailand. Despite having free universal healthcare, large numbers of minority and impoverished Thai people lack access to healthcare. This program works to support Thai healthcare professionals to expand and improve the work that they already do. Donations and additional funding can increase their resources, enabling them to improve the quality of their work.

The program provides students an amazing opportunity to shadow the work of professional doctors and nurses as they work in the community. There is a focus on preventative healthcare and simple management of issues, combined with testing and home visits.

Working with Thailand’s famous public health system, volunteers have the opportunity to see and learn about how effective outreach in the community kept COVID-19 deaths at bay despite having some of the first COVID cases outside of China. With only 2,500 cases per 100,000 people (UK: 12,000, US: 13,000, Australia: 491), health professionals in Thailand used a mixture of community outreach, active testing and home isolation to ensure that COVID-19 was contained and initially eliminated from the community. This program provides volunteers the chance to learn firsthand how community outreach and connections are created and maintained and to see the resulting health benefits.

Project Details: 

  • Project Activities: Home visits, testing and disease prevention; English language and health education; Small community development projects (medium level of fitness is required)
  • Project Availability*: Fixed program dates each year – see the Program Fee and Dates tab (below) or contact CISaustralia for upcoming availability. A minimum of 2 and maximum of 12 students per group. Apply early – places are limited. Every individual application will be assessed depending on availability
  • Project Duration: 2 weeks
  • Working Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
  • Location: 1 hour outside Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Excursions: If you would like to participate in any excursions or cultural activities (at own expense), these should be undertaken outside of working hours, likely on weekends and/or before or after your program dates. Our on-site staff can assist in providing advice
  • Support: Comprehensive, 24/7 on-site support from full-time Project Coordinator with the group at the clinic. In-country Site Director is also available throughout the program, plus the CISaustralia 24/7 emergency line
  • A valid Police Check or Working With Children Check is required
  • Minimum Age: 18+
  • Language: English

*Note: Special standalone group programs can also be organised, with customised dates, for groups of 2 to 12 students. Please contact CISaustralia for details.


The following are among the countless highlights of this fulfilling program:

  • Raise awareness of basic healthy living strategies and techniques for preventing disease, both communicative and non-communicative
  • Enrich the lives of those in need through health promoting activities such as education and sustainable development projects
  • Follow up with patients on the results of testing for various diseases and assist in educating prevention
  • Contribute in the community by putting together and delivering basic medical parcels or first aid kits for remote villages
  • Assist local caregivers to provide much needed home-based care for patients in their rural homes
  • Gain observational healthcare/medical experience as you learn about local healthcare services, including two rural clinics
  • All participates will also spend time with school students from grades 1 – 8 supporting their English and health education
  • Immerse yourself in the local Thai and hill tribe culture learning all about the customs and also a bit of the language
  • Live within the mountains of northern Thailand, close to elephants, amazing national parks and more than 7 different ethnic groups

Sample Itinerary

7:00am – Rise and shine! Eat breakfast and begin to get ready for your project

8:30am  Depart group housing to head to morning projects, for example local clinic or home-based care 

9:00am  Start of your work day

12:00pm  Lunch break! Eat lunch with your colleagues and learn about the culture

1:30pm – Depart for afternoon projects, for example HIV Education, supporting teachers at the local school or community outreach such as building or painting projects.

4:30pm – End of the work day! Return to your volunteer housing

5:50pm – Dinner at the volunteer house where evenings are very sociable affairs. Volunteers discuss their day’s work and prepare for the following day’s activities while enjoying a cooked meal.

Volunteers will return to the city of Chiang Mai on Friday afternoons and have two nights a week in the city. This will enable them to participate in other activities, get better access to the internet, go shopping and generally explore the amazing sights of Chiang Mai. Students will be picked up from the guesthouse on Sunday afternoon to return to the project.

Depending on the number of participants, volunteers may be placed at two different clinics in different sub-districts for the majority of the placement. There will be separate homestays and staff overseeing participants at the different locations and students will come together for the mid-program trip into the mountains and on the weekends but will spend the rest of the program at separate locations.

COVID Safe Travel

The health and safety of our students is our highest priority. We take our duty of care for our students, their families and our Australian University partners seriously. For all of our program locations, we have developed a site-specific COVID-19 risk matrix and risk management and emergency response plans so that health and safety response protocols are monitored, managed and communicated.

In preparation for your overseas program, it’s important that you carefully read and understand information related to COVID-19 Travel Safety and Insurance Requirements.

CISaustralia monitors Smartraveller and reliable news feeds to keep up to date with the latest COVID information and any associated travel restrictions and entry requirements for all destinations where we have programs. Due to the constantly evolving COVID-19 situation, Government travel advice can change quickly. For the most up to date information on Thailand, visit the Smartraveller website.

The Volunteer's Role

By providing additional resources and funding, volunteers will be able to expand the work of the clinics. Enabling them to reach a larger population and expand the services available to hard-to-reach communities. Many mountainous districts in Thailand have large populations of minority hill tribe groups who are often living in poverty and excluded from many basic government services due to their ethnic status and also remote location. Program participants will be able to participate in trips to these more remote areas where clinic staff and volunteers will work together on vaccinations, testing, simple medical care and record keeping. Simple medical kits will also be provided to villagers.

Public Health Clinics
Run by Thailand’s Ministry of Health, these clinics have a mix of public health workers, nurses, nurse practitioners and doctors. These are attached to local communities of between 2,000-10,000 people and engage in day-to-day disease prevention, basic treatment at the clinic, and public health education and outreach. Weekly activities might include a vaccination campaign, dengue prevention, treating simple wounds at the clinic, diabetes check-ups and other similar campaigns. With a mix of outpatient work and outreach into the community. These clinics were the frontline during Covid working with local village health volunteers to do contact tracing and quarantine during the early outbreak and they have been credited with preventing a serious outbreak in the region.

This is appropriate for nursing, pre-med, pharmacist, physiotherapist and any general healthcare students. The clinic does something of everything, so it is a good introduction to a wide range of fields for students with limited experience. Placements are focused on shadowing professional health workers.

Home Visits, Testing and Disease Prevention
Thailand’s universal care creates incentives for the government to prevent disease and other health issues before they require treatment. As such, every district typically in an area including between 2,000 and 8,000 people has a primary health clinic responsible for public health outreach. Small teams of doctors and nurses work in the community to provide vaccinations, test for contagious and noncontagious disease and warning signs, provide aftercare, home visits, public healthcare work and education to the community. Volunteers will shadow the health workers as they work with the community. The public health clinic manages Covid cases in the clinic. Volunteers will be working on the frontline with Covid patients and will be testing people for covid. Students should bring their own PPE including face masks, face shields, disposable scrubs, etc. Onsite staff can assist students to purchase PPE onsite if needed.

Local School English Language and Health EducationAs part of our efforts to give back to the community all participants spend time supporting local school students with their English and Health Education. Depending on the school schedule and class times, students assist around 2 hours a day when they are not at the clinic. Students work with grades 1 – 8 with classes focusing on English language as well as health education.

By assisting the children in the schools we can impact not only their English-speaking ability, as English language is highly sought after, we can also provide age relevant important basic healthcare understanding, healthy living strategies and appropriate health education.

The local schools are government run and serve a diverse population from the area including migrants and hill tribe children. Schools in the region suffer from a severe lack of funding and limited resources. By supporting the schools and the local community we hope to increase the effectiveness of our outreach programs.

Small Community Development ProjectsAs part of the placement, participants will work on a small development project – such as toilets, seating or running water for schools or villagers. Due to the nature of the project, this will be decided closer to the program start dates. Projects undertaken will improve the quality of life for local people and help to address the massive inequalities faced. This may also include participating or supporting local people to find, start or continue sustainable income generation projects, such as community managed forestry and community-based tourism.


There are a variety of cultural activities and places of interest volunteers can choose to visit on their own (at own expense) outside of project hours, likely on weekends and/or before or after your program dates. On-site and local staff can assist in providing advice and recommendations.

Some example of the cultural excursions you might want to explore on your own time include:

  • Elephant friendly day trip – Learn about these amazing animals with the opportunity to feed and bathe them.
  • Thai cooking class – Head to the market and learn all about Thai Herbs, vegetables and fruits and then make 5 different dishes of your own from starters to dessert.
  • Trekking – Take some time to get out of the city and visit one of the beautiful national parks in the surrounding mountains. Visit Hill tribe villages, learn some more about their culture and spend some time in nature.
  • Chiang Rai – Take a day trip to the mountains around Chiang Rai, where you can relax in tea plantation fields and visit the beautiful and unique White Temple.


The ever-friendly and polite Thai people are full of smiles (Thailand is known as the ‘Land of Smiles’). From its busy cities, historic temples and palaces, and pristine, postcard-like coastlines and beaches, Thailand is a one-stop shop that has a bit of everything. Whether you thrive off of busy streets with countless vendors and outdoor dining, or prefer walking among thousands of years of history, or relaxing on a stunning beach, Thailand has something for you.

This program is located in and around Chiang Mai, 700km north of Bangkok, with a population of around 150,000 (greater metropolitan population of around one million). A historic city that dates back to 1296, Chiang Mai sits beautifully amongst the highest mountains in the country and has over 300 Buddhist temples.

The city is known to Thai people as the ‘Rose of the North’ and is a popular tourist destination for Thai and foreigners alike who come to experience the great climate, cosmopolitan atmosphere, amazing food and to explore the surrounding mountains.

Popular activities include trekking into hill tribe communities, riding elephants, hiking in Doi Inthanon National Park (home of Thailand’s tallest mountain), savouring tasty street food, enjoying the nightlife and witnessing the city’s many festivals and cultural celebrations.

Weekends will be spent in Chiang Mai, while during the week volunteers will be based about a one hour’s drive away in a rural village getting the unique opportunity to truly immerse in hill tribe culture!


Students will stay at a homestay with a Thai family learning about Thai culture and becoming a part of the community. All rooms have a fan and hot water, with Western beds and mosquito nets. During the week, breakfast and dinner will be provided, either by the host or local restaurants. Lunch will be provided at work in consultation with the project staff. Breakfast will often be quite simple – toast and jam or eggs and rice. While lunch and dinner will be larger meals with multiple options. All food is of course based on local Thai food and rice. On the weekends, students will be expected to purchase their own food. There are a multitude of amazing restaurants in Chiang Mai and staff will be happy to provide recommendations.

On the weekends, students will be housed in a small guesthouse in central Chiang Mai. Rooms have air conditioning, hot water, Wi-FI, TV, towels, sheets and pillows.

Why Volunteer with CISaustralia

CISaustralia believes strongly in supporting volunteer initiatives across the world that promote sustainable and long-term societal, environmental and economic change to benefit and empower local communities.

While the term volunteering is widely known and accepted, we prefer to use the term Experiential Service Learning. This better relates to our philosophy surrounding close community engagement as well as a focus on projects that have a long-term approach and a range of positive impacts for both communities and our students. Over 98% of CISaustralia participants receive academic credit for their program abroad, which fosters a more culturally immersive and deeper reflective experience.

CISaustralia volunteering programs contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which aim to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. While not every program will achieve all seventeen of the UN goals, your role as a volunteer will have a positive impact by doing work that really matters. We partner with organisations that have in-depth, first-hand knowledge and close relationships with local communities. Prior to your departure, our team in Australia will prepare you with extensive resources so you feel supported every step of the way. You will also be supported throughout your entire overseas program by our fantastic and experienced in-country staff. 

Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience, enabling you to learn and grow on many personal and professional levels, to broaden your perspective on the world and to become a global citizen. CISaustralia prides itself in having the strongest global partners who are socially responsible and equally committed to their local communities and ethical practices. We love what we do at CISaustralia and are here to provide you with the support you need to successfully volunteer abroad – so that you can contribute to positively changing the lives of others, and yourself, along the way. Get ready for an exciting once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

Read more: Why Volunteer Abroad with CISaustralia?

Program Fee & Dates

2 weeks (Set dates only)
This program is available on fixed program dates (only). Programs start on a Saturday and end on a Saturday. Application deadline is 90 days prior to commencement. Program must have a minimum enrolment of 4 students each intake for the program to run. The program is capped at 12 students. Each application will be assessed depending on availability. Please see specific dates below or enquire for upcoming availability.

Special standalone group programs can also be organised, with customised dates, for groups of 4 to 12 participants. Please contact CISaustralia for details.
Application FeeA$ 95
Program Fee A$ 3,999
OS-HELP A$ 9,504
July 2024 (2 weeks)
Limited Places Available - contact CISaustralia to reserve your spot
Application Deadline10 May 2024
Arrival Date07 July 2024
Departure Date20 July 2024
Application FeeA$ 95
Program Fee A$ 3,999
OS-HELP A$ 9,504


Program fees include the following:
  • Volunteer placement and supervision
  • CISaustralia support services before, during and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial advice
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure guide and session
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off (on specified program dates within designated times)
  • On-site orientation and project induction
  • Accommodation – single or shared room in a local homestay during the week, guesthouse in Chiang Mai on weekends
  • Welcome and Farewell Dinner
  • Meals – 3 meals per day during the week
  • City tour
  • Thai cultural values training
  • Elephant excursion
  • Donation to the clinic
  • Program risk matrix and COVID-19 risk assessment
  • Risk Management and Emergency Response Plan
  • 24/7 on-site support – Site Coordinator, Project Leaders and Site Director
  • CISaustralia Certificate of Participation (available on request)

What is not included:

  • Program application fee
  • International Student Identity Card
  • Flights (CISaustralia will however provide travel guidance and support via our formal travel partner)
  • Medical insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Police or Working With Children Check
  • Vaccinations (if required)
  • Weekend meals
  • Extra travel/excursions (other than those mentioned above)

Dates are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the dates in your acceptance paperwork and you are confirmed on the program.

CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partners.

Adventure Awaits

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