Volunteer Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam)

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 Cultural Embrace by API’s Discover Southeast Asia” program consists of an exciting way for you to customize your own way to explore beautiful Thailand, Cambodia. A minimum of two weeks includes a week orientation to help you familiarize yourself with the culture, lifestyle, language, people, food, attitude, habits, and environment. Then choose to volunteer by teaching or tutoring English, assisting in an orphanage or elder home, social welfare, building/construction projects, and animal or land conservation; or decide to travel throughout the region to visit main attractions; or opt to enjoy a week on the beautiful beaches or learn and practice cultural and adventure skills (ie: trekking, bicycling, Buddhism/meditation, etc). All options are available for at least one week, so you may mix and match the different options to provide you variety to embrace this beautiful part of the world while matching your skills and preferences.

Click to read blogs of current and past participants. Learning Transformed - Life Transforming!

Volunteer Projects & Locations Available

Volunteer Orientation

The orientation week and training are the first step for a successful stay in Southeast Asia. Therefore the first week is dedicated to familiarizing yourself with the country and meeting the other participants. You will also engage in the following activities: learning about the culture, team-building activities, language and cooking lessons and visiting local tourist places. You will also have time to meet the local people, taste the food and learn about the countries customs. During this period, everyone will also be informed in detail about the program chosen and the different projects.
Volunteer Projects and Cultural Excursions
Thailand Program
If you are interested in volunteering during your time in Thailand, Cultural Embrace by API is able to organize the following week-long projects: teach/tutor English and/or sports coach; orphanage assistance; Clay-house construction; elephant conservation; eco/forestry conservation; or hilltribe volunteer. You may opt to spend time on our weekly Cultural Excursion & Activities programs which includes: exploring Buddhism & meditation; Muy Thai boxing, hillside trekking; cycling tours; or Koh Samet beach adventure. These excursions and activities are designed for you to get a first-hand look at how many Thai minorities live and how pristine and beautiful these areas are.

Shared accommodations (2-4 people) are included with 3 meals/day (M-F) and 2 meals/day (weekends). Recommended weekend arrivals for airport pickup from Bangkok airport. All flight times acceptable with possibility of overnight in Bangkok (inclusive). Expect up to 3 hours to transfer to the orientation location in Singburi.

Vietnam Program
If you are interested in volunteering during your time in Vietnam, Cultural Embrace by API is able to organize volunteer placements in the medical/health/nutiritian area, working with children at an orphanage, or volunteering with social services.
Cambodia Program
If you are interested in volunteering during your time in Cambodia, Cultural Embrace by API is able to organize week-long projects for you to teach/tutor English or be a sports coach to local students; orphange assistance; and/or community work at a local hospital. This program consists of helping students, aged between 7-18 years old, at various schools. Medical and healthcare work are available for volunteers that have some medical training and knowledge in Oddar Meanchey.
Shared accommodation (2-3) is generally in home stays with carefully screened and selected local families or in a local hostel. 3 meals/day (M-F) and 2 meals/day (weekends) are included. Recommended weekend arrivals for airport pickup from Siem Reap airport. All flight times acceptable but note an overnight stay in Siam Reap is arranged if arriving after 2pm. Weekday arrivals are not recommended but possible for an additional fee (~US$75). 

Program Highlights and Benefits

  Volunteering in Southeast Asia Offers:

  • An unforgettable experience helping and improving the local communities 
  • An opportunity to broaden your perspective and worldview
  • An opportunity to participate in and learn local cultural activities (e.g.: language, crafts, dancing)
  • Memorable travel experiences with the chance to see exotic sites you have always dreamed about 
  • The ability to make lifelong friends from around the globe
  • A valuable work experience that strengthens your resume, exhibiting your diligence, independence, and intercultural experiences 
  • A great way to develop and support your self-confidence and interpersonal skills   


Cultural Embrace by API Offers:

Guaranteed Volunteer Placement Prior to Departure
Cultural Embrace by API pre-arranges your volunteer project before you leave home to ensure an easy and hassle-free transition into your new life abroad.

Housing and Board
Basic, clean & comfortable accommodations with 2-4 person sharing basis in a volunteer guest house. Single room available upon request for additional fee. 3 meals/day (M-F) and 2 meals/day (weekends) are cooked at the guest house and are typical local dishes with plenty of rice and vegetarian options..

Visa Assistance
All volunteers to Southeast Asia travel on the tourist visa. Please contact the Embassy or Consulate of Cambodia, Indonesia, or Thailand to check details, or ask your CE by API coordinator. Please note that any visa fees are the responsibility of the applicant. And, while we can assist you during the process, ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure that you have obtained the appropriate visa for your work experience. Cultural Embrace by API has no control over the visa process and cannot guarantee that your visa application will be accepted.

Arrival Pick-Up and Orientation
Airport pickup is available to volunteers that arrive during the weekend. Volunteers will be picked up at a designated meeting point and then transferred to the orientation site. If week-end arrival time does not fit with transfer times an overnight at the arrival city (in a very basic hostel/hotel) may be required (included with program fee). Weekday airport pickups are not recommended but possible with an additional transfer fee (~US$100). You will be met at the airport by our local coordinator who will then help them settle into the guest house and introduce them to their project. The first week includes many tours and lessons to help volunteers adjust and feel more comfortable.

Medical, Life and Travel Insurance
Participants are provided with medical and life insurance during the program term. This insurance coverage includes medical evacuation and repatriation, as well as 24-hour support services for medical and travel issues.

Cultural Embrace by API Culture Kit
Before your departure, we will send you a cultural kit that is filled with useful tips, advice, information, and your insurance card to prepare you for your amazing adventure of living and working abroad.

Full-time Representation
Cultural Embrace by API provides English-speaking representation in the United States and Southeast Asia prior to, during, and after your placement.

• TOMS Shoes, a One for One™ Giving Product 
Upon completion of your program and online evaluations, you will receive a pair of TOMS Shoes. With every product purchased, TOMS will help a person in need.  One for One™. Giving back is part of our ethos. We share the vision of the TOMS mission - to help contribute to making a positive impact abroad by providing a pair of shoes to a child in need. 

• Optional international mobile plan with data coverage
Opt for an AT&T mobile plan that offers low international rates, no roaming charges in over 150 countries, and bundled data and text. Current AT&T customers may simply add the coverage to their current plan and billing. Non-AT&T customers may use their own phone and swap with an AT&T SIM card.

Program Requirements

In order to participate in this volunteer program, Cultural Embrace by API requires that you:

  • Be between the ages of 21 to 70 
  • Have good physical health
  • Be open to foreign cultures and living abroad
  • Have a high level of responsibility
  • Be dedicated to the full term of commitment
  • Be a team player
  • Enjoy providing a service and working with others in a challenging environment

2015 Program Fees

Application Fee* US$300


Thailand $850 - 1 week orientation + 1 week project (children, women, social, education, disabled children, construction, clayhouse building, disabled children, Thai boxing)  Extra Week: $290
Thailand $1025 - 1 week orientation + 1 week project (Thai Buddhism, cycling, jungle trek, Gibbons project, beach, hillside tribe immersion) Extra Week: $500
Thailand $1175 - 1 week orientation + 1 week elephant sanctuary  Extra Week: $600
Cambodia $850 1 week orientation + 1 week project (children, women, social, education, disabled children, construction, etc)  Extra Week: $290
Cambodia $1025 - Mangrove conservation, temple conservation, hospital medical work Extra Week: $500
Vietnam $950 - Children, disabled patients, hospital work, orphanage, teaching/tutoring Extra Week: $290

*The $300 application fee is not included in your program fee. This application fee is non-refundable unless we are not able to place you after acceptance. 
Please note that prices are listed in US dollars and are subject to change according to exchange rates.

How to Apply

1. Obtain the CE by API Preliminary Application in one of three ways: 

(a) Download the Preliminary Application (pdf).
(b) Fill out an online information request form and specify that you would like to be sent an application.
(c) Call Cultural Embrace by API at 1-512-469-9089, US/Canada toll-free 1-800-844-4124; or Skype: Cultural.Embrace to have the forms mailed to you in 3-5 days.

2. Read the instructions carefully and submit:

a) Preliminary Application Form

b) Resume/CV 

c) US$300 Application Fee to: 

301 Camp Craft Road, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78746 USA

or email your application form, resume/CV, and payment (credit card payment form attached to program application form) to apply@culturalembracebyapi.com


Application and Post-Acceptance Process

Please apply 12 weeks (3 months) prior to desired start date. Expedited applications may be made on a case-by-case basis and are subject to an additional fee.* 

Upon receipt of your application, a Cultural Embrace by API coordinator will contact you for a 20-30 minute phone or Skype interview to learn more about your skills, experience, needs, and also to discuss the program details and expectations. Prior to your interview, you will receive an online placement preference form that you will need to complete beforehand. 

If you are accepted into the program, you will receive a billing statement and a list of required supplemental materials after your interview. Half of your program fee and all of the required supplemental materials will be due two (2) weeks following your interview. Once we have received at least half of your program fee, we will be able to send your information to our partners abroad to begin the placement process. After we have received your program fee in full, you will receive your placement confirmation and details, pre-departure information, arrival details, and your insurance card.

*Expedited applications may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Cultural Embrace by API requires an additional expediting fee of US$180 if your preliminary application is received less than twelve (12) weeks prior to your desired date of departure. If you do not have all the application materials readily available, we recommend that you begin the application process as soon as possible and submit as much information as early as you are able. 

To follow and know what our current and past participants have experienced abroad, join our Facebook,TwitterYouTube, and CE BLOG community. For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@culturalembracebyapi.com or you may call us at 1-512-469-9089 or Skype: Cultural.Embrace.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1) Why should I pay to volunteer abroad, and where does my money go to with CE by API?

CE by API and our local partners in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia specialize in assisting you with a pre-arranged and guaranteed volunteer placement, orientation, housing, meals, and insurance. This will alleviate the troubles and stress of getting everything organized in a new country, so you will have more time and energy to enjoy your service and experience abroad. Your time abroad will still be an independent and memorable one, but we are here to guide you to a safe, healthy and comfortable experience before and during your adventure, and provide professional development and networking support after your program too. 

Once you go abroad, you will be assisted by our in-country partner to provide full-time support in regards to your volunteer placement, orientation, housing, meals, and in-country activities. Your CE by API Program Coordinator based in Austin, TX is always available to support you in case you have any questions before and during your program. 

CE by API requires a completed preliminary application form, your resume, and US$300 application fee to begin the application process. These preliminary application materials will allow us to know that you qualify for the program requirements and are dedicated to the community you will be visiting. This US$300 application fee pays for: an experienced Program Coordinator from our Austin, Texas office that will provide personalized attention to help pre-arrange your program, full-time emergency response while you are abroad, pre-departure material including a cultural kit and t-shirt. CE by API also prorates the expenses for marketing, advertising, communication, and site visits/development among all of our programs within our application fees.

The program fee are the costs of the ground local operations. These fees may include (program and location dependent), but not limited to: partner fees, airport pickup and transfer, housing, meals, full-time local support, donations, materials, orientation, and international traveler's insurance with repatriation and evacuation. 

2) What are the living conditions like?

While on your volunteer placement, you will stay in a clean, simple volunteer facility. All accommodations are shared, gender separated, 2-6 people per room, like a hostel.  Social activities are planned so volunteers will get to know each other and enjoy working on projects together. Private rooms may be accommodated for individuals and couples depending on availability, and will require a nominal supplemental charge. Volunteers that would like to stay in upgraded facilities (designed for professionals and adults) and/or local hotels, please let your Program Coordinator know and CE by API will coordinate accordingly with a supplemental upgrade charge

3) What type of meals are included?

Typical meals are enjoyed by all, especially for those who have a knack for spicy and flavorful dishes. Vegetarian and dietary meals may be met, however, if you have specific allergies, you may need to provide your own food. Please list any special dietary requirement on your application.

4) What is the application process like, and when will I have confirmation about my volunteer project?

After CE by API receives your completed preliminary application, resume/CV, and non-refundable $300 application fee, you will be contacted by a Program Coordinator who will work with you before, during, and after your placement. S/he will conduct a 20-30 minutes phone or Skype interview (or in person, if applicable) to discuss your background, goals, and expectations of your time abroad. Prior to this interview, you will need to submit the completed online placement preference form to your Program Coordinator no later than two hours before your scheduled interview.

Upon acceptance to the program, you will receive an invoice of the program fee (if applicable), and a list of required supplemental application materials. The required supplemental materials include: signed program agreement form, copy of your passport info page, cover letter explaining your motivation for going on this program, one letter of recommendation, doctor's note certifying that you are in excellent physical and mental health, police background security check, and two passport-sized photos. All of the required materials and at least half (50%) of the program fee must be made within 14 days of your acceptance. The remainder of your program fee is due at least 30 days prior to your program start date. Failure to remit your full program fee payment in a timely manner will result in a late fee of US$180 or dismissal from the program with no refund. Confirmation of your placement with final details of your international insurance, pre-departure materials, and t-shirt are provided upon receipt of the full program fee.

Your program fee payment may be paid in full, or in two installments. We accept checks, money orders, electronic bank drafts, or wire transfers. If you wish to pay by credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discover), there is a 2.9% convenience fee. Please contact your Program Coordinator for any payment forms or wire transfer details.

5) What does CE by API's standard start date mean? 

For this Volunteer in SE Asia program, the standard start date is the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, unless specified with your Program Coordinator (i.e.: due to holidays or full enrollment). If you wish to start on a different day, please let us know your start date preference and you will be charged an extra US$150 on your program invoice. 

6) How long can I volunteer in SE Asia?
The minimum duration is two weeks, and you may stay up to one year. 

7) What type of visa assistance does Cultural Embrace by API provide?

Participants going to Thailand, Vietnam, or Cambodia must apply for a tourist visa. You may buy tourist visas upon arrival in to Cambodia, however, we recommend that you organize your visa prior to departure. Volunteers going to Vietnam will be required to get a tourist visa prior to arrival. You may apply directly through a Vietnamese consulate or embassy or use a visa service company. Please note that any visa fees are the responsibility of the applicant. And, while we try to assist you during the process, ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure that you have obtained the appropriate visa for your volunteer experience.  CE by API has no control over the visa process and cannot guarantee that your visa application will be accepted.

8) What should I wear and bring to SE Asia?

Depending on the time of year and location of your placement, you will need to dress accordingly. Please note that the projects in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam are more conservative and traditional than the larger cities. CE by API will provide you with more details in your CE by API  pre-departure kit.

9) May I volunteer and/or live with a friend or partner?

Yes, you can enroll in this program with a friend or partner.  Please just let us know so we can make sure your trip is coordinated simultaneously.  We encourage you to travel and explore your world with others. This enhances your experience and memories, and you can be rewarded US$50 for each enrolled person you refer to travel on a CE by API program.

10) How long will it take to make my placement?

We ask applicants to apply at least 2 months in advanced of your desired start date. The placement may take less time than this, but we want to ensure that we have enough time to find a great placement for you! There is an additional administrative fees if you apply less than 2 months in advanced, and we do not contact our local partners until we receive at least 50% of the program fee payment. If you apply and want to volunteer in Southeast Asia with less than 2 months of us receiving your application, we may organize this on a case-by-case basis, and a $180 expediting fee. Please contact your C.E Program Coordinator to see if there is space available for a rushed placement.

11) What do I do if I have a problem or complaint within my volunteer placement?

You should first speak with your project supervisor or manager to give them an opportunity to explain or investigate the situation. If the complaint still exists, then please contact our partner in Thailand, Cambodia, or Vietnaml, as well as let your CE by API Program Coordinator (Austin office) know so we may diplomatically mediate on your behalf. Please note that you will be assigned an in-country representative that will assist you with any questions or concerns. We also encourage you to fill out our program evaluations.

12) When should I buy my plane ticket and does Cultural Embrace by API provide any resources to help with plane tickets?
Plane tickets should not be purchased until after your placement has been confirmed.  CE by API works with consolidators and discount travel agencies that can help find cheaper tickets than those that are available to the general public. We have a partnership with STA Travel (1-877-236-1048) for great student/youth rates, and they have a very nominal service fee if you need to make any changes before or during your travels.

13) Is there someone I may speak to about their experience on this program, and being abroad?

Yes, we have a network of current and past travelers that are happy to communicate with you. Due to confidentiality, please contact our Austin office to receive a list of names and contact information of participants and alumni that have agreed to be contacted by others. Additionally, we encourage you to check out, use, and get involved with our social media community. These community sites will provide great insight of what you should expect on your adventure abroad.

14) May I take my child(ren) or pet(s) with me? 
Minors under the age of 18 are not allowed on our individual programs (volunteer, intern, work, teach). However, we are able to accommodate families to travel on our group trips.  Please contact CE by API if you wish to tailor a program for your family. If your program accommodations include staying with a host family or in shared housing, pets are prohibited. If you arrange your own accommodations, your host destination’s immigration laws may require your pet(s) to go through quarantine.

15) What is the Carbon Offset Program I read about on the website?
CE by API wants to positively impact our world. We have partnered with Carbon Clear, one of the largest providers of carbon offset credits, to address the environmental effect of their travels abroad. CE by API has chosen projects that participants may elect to sponsor for US$15. Past projects include: methane capture landfill project in Valparaiso, Chile; energy efficient railways in Delhi, India; and a biomass cogeneration project in Sao Paulo, Brazil. For more details about this program, follow this link:http://www.apistudyabroad.com/about/green/.

16) How and why are CE by API collaborating with TOMS One for One™ movement?
We share the vision of the TOMS mission – to help contribute to making a positive impact abroad by providing a pair of shoes to a child in need. Thus, to keep the movement going even after you finish your CE by API program, we will gift you a pair of TOMS shoes upon completion of your online evaluations and program.