Volunteer Travel Advice
Travel checklist for our volunteers
Travel, Transport and Traffic Information for Volunteers in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Nepal
Bangkok is a major hub in Southeast Asia for international airlines. It is easy to connect with regional flights to locations in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos from there. Airlines regularly offer discounted fares through travel agencies and on the internet.
If you are planning to stopover in Bangkok before going to your placement, there are many things to do. You can take an express boat up and down the Chao Phraya River and stop by markets, temples, and restaurants along the banks. This is a great way to see the sights and get your bearings. Be careful of private boat trips, as they can be expensive.
Southeast Asian food is conquering the world! People in this region enjoy eating and cooking, and it is an important social part of their culture. Eating locally is very cheap. You can have lunch or dinner in a local place or on the street for 0.5–2 USD/Euros. Be sure to tell them “not spicy” (mai pet) if you don’t like spicy food, or you may end up spending a lot more money on drinks!
Take the train to Nong Khai from Bangkok, night or daytime (about 11 -13 hours; 2nd class express a/c sleeper,
998 Baht) from Hua Lampong train station in central Bangkok.
The train to Nong Khai is the Northeastern line and you need to go to the very last station, Nong Khai.
Buy a ticket at the train station at least day in advance if you want an a/c seat/bed reservation.
or you can book online at https://traveltickets.12go.asia
By Bus: Bangkok – Nong Khai
You can also take a day or night a/c bus from the Northern Bus terminal better known as Mo Chit. It is the biggest bus station in Bangkok or pick it up from the Khaosan Rd.
There are several bus companies driving daily from Bangkok to Nong Khai. Many buses leave in the evening and arrive in Nong Khai early in the morning.
You can fly to Udon Thani from Bangkok, a one-hour flight. There are several low cost daily flights from Bangkok to Udon Thani and you can book a flight online. Such as:
– https://traveltickets.12go.asia/en (Travel planning in South East Asia — buses, ferries, flights, railways)
– Flights.Openmind.Travel – We search hundreds of travel sites (OTAs) at once to find the cheapest flights and best hotel deals for you.
Then take a van from the airport to Nong Khai (45 minutes, 200 Baht).
Or let us know and we can arrange for a taxi to meet you at the airport.
We can also arrange for a taxi pick up at the airport.
Several airlines have flights linking major towns with Bangkok. Some also have flights linking major towns in Cambodia and Laos with Thailand. A one-way flight from Bangkok to Udon Thani, close to Nong Khai, is 1000 – 2500 Baht, Euro 25 – 40, the same as to Phuket.
Inexpensive ground transportation is comprehensive in Thailand, less so in Cambodia, Laos and Nepal but still widespread. Bangkok to Nong Khai one way, bus or train, A/C, costs about 10-30 Euros.
Do not expect buses or trains in SE Asia to be punctual!
By Bus. Buy a ticket at the bus station in advance in Bangkok at the Southern Bus station (Sai Tai bus station) or from Khaosan Rd. You can also make a reservation at any travel agency or at your guesthouse. Companies can normally pick you up at your guesthouse.
By Air. You can fly to Trang from the Don Muang airport (90 minutes). Several flights per day. Several offer discount fares.
From Nong Khai
By Bus/train. From Nong Khai to Bangkok by overnight “VIP” bus (350-600 baht, around 8 hours; arrives at Mochit bus station) or overnight train (998 baht, about 10 hours; arrives at the Hua Lompong station). Spend the day in Bangkok; some volunteers check into an inexpensive guesthouse to take a shower and rest. Go to the Southern (Sai Tai) Bus Station for the bus to Trang town.
By Air. Fly from Udon Thani to Bangkok, then connect to a flight to Trang.
From Nong Khai
By Air. Flights to Siem Reap depart from Udon Thani (about one hour from Nong Khai) connecting through Bangkok on Thai Air, Air Asia and Bangkok Air.
By Bus. Take a bus to Khorat, Nakorn Ratchasima, (6 hours), and then switch to a bus for Aranyaphratet (4 hours). Take a tuk-tuk to the border and walk across to Cambodia. Once across, take a taxi to Siem Reap (2 hours; you can usually find others to share one with).
By Air. Several airlines fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap. Fares start from around 5000 baht for the one-hour flight.
By Bus. A direct bus operated by The Transport Co., Ltd. leaves from the Mochit Bus Terminal at 8 and 9 a.m.. The trip to Siem Reap takes 8-11 hours and costs 750 baht.
Check price : Bangkok to Siem Reap @ bus, flight
From Vientiane, Laos
By Air. You can also fly from Vientiane, Laos to Siem Reap which may be convenient after having participated in our Cross Cultural and Volunteer Training in Nong Khai. Cross the border to Vientiane, stay at a guesthouse overnight and catch the early morning flight to Siem Reap (one stop in Pakse, Laos; around 9000 baht).
By Air. Many international airlines fly to Kathmandu, the capital. You can get a visa on arrival. From Kathmandu airport you can get a taxi to come to your stay, 30 minutes drive, costing 10-15 dollars or NCRs 650 to 950.
Bus. Take a bus from Indian cities like Delhi, Banaras and other cities up to the India – Nepal border and then cross the Nepali border at Birganj, Bhairahawa or other crossings by local transport.
Train. Or you can go from Indian cities to the India – Nepal border by train and then switch to local transport to cross the Nepal border. Once across, you can get a visa on arrival. Take a bus for Kathmandu (8 hours). Please change your money in NC Rupees at the Nepal border.
Transportation to placements varies according to location.
Northeast Thailand/Isan: teachers often pick up volunteers from the our Training Center in Nong Khai. Placements in Nong Khai town are easy to get to by tuk tuk and bus. A staff member usually goes along with the volunteer to the placement for several days.
South Thailand: Mui, our South Thailand manager, meets volunteers in Krabi and usually takes them to their placement.
Laos: a Lao staff member normally goes along to the placement.
Mae Sot: volunteers are met by our local representative in Mae Sot who takes them to the placement.
Cambodia: Hak, our Cambodian manager, meets the volunteers in Siem Reap and takes them to the placement.
Nepal: our Nepalese representative meets volunteers at the airport in Kathmandu and introduces them or helps them arrange travel to the placement.
Daily travel to a placement
Our local host or placement representative arranges with the volunteer the method of daily transportation from their local accommodation to the placement. Sometimes teachers agree to pick up volunteers daily to take them to the placement. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to get to the placement daily on their own unless otherwise agreed.
- Leave a set with your family at home and bring one with you
We recommend getting a travel insurance that covers accidents and medical treatment. Ask your insurance company or travel agency. If you pay for your ticket with a credit card, it normally includes travel insurance. Ask your travel agency or Credit Card Company. Bring your insurance policy/certificate and leave a copy at home!
Bring bed sheets (and a sleeping bag during the cool season: Nov.–Feb.).
Appropriate clothes for your volunteer work. Shirt, blouse with collar, long trousers, skirt below the knees and shoes not flip flops for office and school work.
Bank/Credit card that you can use in ATMs/Bancomats. Bring two, in case one does not work.
Your travel insurance policy/certificate. Important.
Your laptop and cellphone, if you have one. Can be useful to prepare work and lessons. You can buy a local SIM card on arrival.
Brochures about your home country, family (students and local people are very curious!), games or learning CD-ROM’s and kits.
A Thai, Lao, Khmer, Nepali/English Dictionary.
Long-sleeved shirts and long pants for the evenings/cool season.
Bed mosquito net.
Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal and other medicines.
Sun block, sunglasses, hat.
For Country Updates on the Coronavirus, COVID-19, go to the WHO, for Thailand also the Tourism Authority of Thailand, updates.
Corona News from Openmind Projects Volunteer Update regarding the Covid 19, Thailand, Laos effects on volunteering.
Vaccinations and medicines:
Ask your doctor and travel agent for advice but do also check the Internet. Many governments provide useful information there. Some of our volunteers have paid more for their vaccinations and medicines than for their ticket to Thailand! Most medicines can be bought in Thailand at lower prices than in Europe or North America. Doctor’s fees are also lower, so you might save money by only taking the medicines that need to be taken in advance in your home country.
Here are some good links about health and vaccinations:
CDC Travellers’ Health (U.S.)
National Travel Health Network and Centre (U.K.)
Smart Traveller (Australia)
See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect. The following vaccines are often recommended by doctors and governments in Europe and America:
Rabies, if you will be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
Typhoid vaccination, according to some doctors.
If you will visit an area where there is risk for malaria (such as the Phu Khao Khouai Mountains in Laos) take your malaria prevention medication as directed.
If necessary, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults.
Please note that most medicines can be bought in Thailand at lower prices than in Europe or America and doctor’s fees are lower!
To stay healthy
Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness of travelers. Diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites that can contaminate food or water. Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Malaria occurs only in certain regions. Dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases and general irritation too. There is no risk for yellow fever in Southeast Asia.
Wash your hands often.
Use a mosquito repellent.
Sleep with a fan (to blow mosquitoes away) or with a bed net.
Drink bottled or boiled water. Avoid tap water and fountain drinks.
Eat only cooked meat.
Don’t handle animals (especially monkeys, dogs and cats) to avoid bites, lice, fleas and serious diseases.
Most local expenses such as meals and accommodation are included in the volunteer donation we ask you for. See conditions on our Volunteer costs page.
Guesthouse rates are very low and vary from 120–800 baht depending on location and standard. Food, water and soft drinks are very cheap in Southeast Asia: a meal in a local restaurant costs between 30-150 baht.
Local transport by bus and train is also cheap, a ticket from Bangkok to North or South Thailand is about 700 -1000 baht.
Flying is also cheap, especially if you book long in advance. There are several airlines offering cheap flights, such as Nok Air, Lion Air, Air Asia, Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways.
You can compare ticket prices here (Travel planning in South East Asia – buses, ferries, flights, railways).
We can help you find cheap flights
Find and book your flights on www.openmind.travel.
Compare and choose your best deal at CheapOair, Kiwi, Compensair, 12Go Asia, Trip.Com, SkyScanner or Aviasales.
They give a percentage of what you spend to support our work as an NGO and at no cost to you. You can support our work if you book via openmind.travel.
Leading flight websites, travel agencies on OpenmindTravel