Hill Tribe Assistance Program

Placement: If lending a hand to hill tribe people in Chiang Mai interests you, Cultural Canvas Thailand places volunteers within a local organization called Freedom House. Thai Freedom House is a community learning center focused on teaching Thai and English languages and the arts to Burmese refugees, who fled Burma to escape severe human rights violations. They are currently based in a small, wooden house in the center of Chiang Mai, Thailand and have been in operation since 2006. Basic education is unavailable to most ordinary Burmese citizens, which makes our services extremely valuable to these people. TFH also has a vegetarian café (Free Bird Café) onsite with a small shop (Pre Loved Clothing Shop) to help generate income for the learning center. Every staff member of TFH is a volunteer, including our directors. Volunteers at Thai Freedom House gain a wide variety of experiences, from teaching ESL and helping with administrative work to helping in the café project and recruiting new volunteers.


Hill Tribe Girl

Our students are Burmese refugees from construction camps around Chiang Mai and are not able to go to school for lack of I.D. cards and unstable living conditions. Therefore our project may be their only chance for an education, and it’s taken very seriously. That said, TFH also has a lot of fun with visiting artists, musicians and fundraising events, not to mention being located in the historic city center of Chiang Mai.

Wat Pa Pao

Alternate Location: Wat Pa Pao is a Buddhist temple situated in the center of the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, just outside the old city wall and moat. It was founded over 400 years ago by a Shan, and today serves as the main community center for Shans in Chiang Mai.

In February 1997, the Abbot of the temple, with other community leaders, set up a foundation at the temple with the aim of promoting the education of Shan people and the preservation of their culture.

Wat Papao

The foundation, which is officially registered with the Thai government, is named the Wat Pa Pao Foundation to Support Education, Art, and Culture. With support from the Japanese Embassy, the foundation was able to start an adult education school at the temple.
The Wat Pa Pao Adult Education School was officially opened on 11 October 1998, in conjunction with the Thai Non-formal Education Department. When the school opened, there were 131 students. This has increased to over 187, with a waiting list of many more.

The school teaches a basic Thai curriculum and is intended to provide Shan youth in Chiang Mai with literacy skills that will enable them to improve their job opportunities and future in Thailand. While the classes are in Thai, the various extra-curricular activities are all aimed at promoting the Shan culture. The school has thus proved extremely popular among the Shan youth in Chiang Mai, who have flocked to the classes both to improve their education and to join in community activities aimed at preserving their own culture.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks

The Program Fee Includes: Registration fees, donation to the host organization, pre-trip orientation materials, travel health insurance, in-country orientation and city tour, in-country transportation to and from placement, accommodation, food, Thai language training, in-country staff support, and 24-hour emergency assistance.

Donation to Host Organization:
If you are accepted as a volunteer by one of our partner organizations, $100 from the program fee is contributed toward your project.

Pre-trip Orientation:
Upon receiving your application and deposit, we will send to you the CCT Orientation Kit, containing all the necessary paperwork to entirely prepare you for your trip.
The orientation kit includes information on the issue pertaining to your project. It also includes a recommended reading list and information on Thailand , culture and customs.

In-country Orientation:
Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, whether by bus, plane or train, a Cultural Canvas Thailand staff member will be waiting to transport you to the Cultural Canvas Thailand headquarters where you will have an orientation. This will prepare you further for your chosen project and give you a chance to meet our staff and other volunteers.  Our staff will make sure that you have a grasp on Chiang Mai by taking you around the city and helping you to get acquainted with Thai culture and the Home-Base.

Thai Language Training:
Cultural Canvas Thailand provides three hours of Thai language training in the first week of your volunteer placement. If you would like to study further, you can arrange to do so with our Thai teacher. Additional hours are not covered the by CCT program fee.

You will be housed in the Cultural Canvas Thailand home-base conveniently located near the old city center. Here all of your basic needs are taken care of, including lodgings, meals, telephone and transportation. The home-base is located in a safe, conveniently situated neighborhood. It is a clean Thai-style accommodation with shared occupancy rooms.

Our in-house cook will provide two delicious, home-cooked Thai meals per day six days per week. A light breakfast is always available with cereal, fruit, toast, coffee, and tea. On Sundays, volunteers can cook for themselves at the Home-Base or grab a bite to eat in one of the many near-by markets or restaurants. Please let us know any specific dietary restrictions in advance so that all of your needs can be taken care of.

Upon arrival and departure, Cultural Canvas Thailand will provide transportation between the CCT volunteer house and the airport, train station, bus station, etc. Cultural Canvas also provides daily transportation to and from your placement.

Support and Safety:
The Cultural Canvas Thailand home-base is in a secure location with staff available 24-hours a day. Here you can receive international calls and internet access is within walking distance.

In case of emergency, friends and family can call the home-base or use our convenient U.S. 24-hour hotline.

In case of injury you will be admitted to one of Chiang Mai’s high-quality, private hospitals.

We provide comprehensive medical insurance and emergency evacuation assistance.  Included in your program fees, Cultural Canvas Thailand will provide you with travel/health insurance which is activated on the day you arrive in Chiang Mai.  This coverage ends on the last day of your program. 

For example, if your program begins on Sunday, January 22ndand you arrive in Chiang Mai on Saturday, January 21st, your coverage will begin on the 21st

The insurance provided by Cultural Canvas Thailand is exclusively for volunteers participating in the program and only during that period while volunteers are on the program. If you wish to continue traveling after your program, then it is your own responsibility to secure insurance.  However, if you wish to extend the insurance provided by Cultural Canvas Thailand before your volunteer placement or for your further travels, please contact admin@culturalcanvas.com and we can assist in this process.

Application Process:
Are you up to the task? Then complete the online application form. Use our secure online payment process to make your $300 deposit.

The application and deposit should be received 90 days prior to the commencement of your chosen project. For late applications, please inquire regarding availability, as exceptions can be made.
Full payment must be received 30 days prior to the commencement of your project in order to allow us enough time to provide you with the proper insurance and project placement.