From its mamaks to economy rice stalls, RM1 entrance fees to waterfalls and lush botanical parks to deal sites like Saleduck that provide its visitors with savings for some of the country’s most popular travel, dining and lifestyle portals – it is a well-known fact that one of the most appealing things about Malaysia is how easy it is to survive and travel on a shoestring budget.
However, if you’re looking for something that is a little bit more community-driven, a great way to experience Malaysia is through the good ol’ art of volunteering. Whether you’re handy with a paintbrush or are a bit of a permaculture wiz, there are thousands of organisations that enlist the help of volunteers to see their projects through. From sustainability workstays on organic farms to tutoring and teaching English to local children, you’ll get the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and see Malaysia and her kin from a truly authentic standpoint as you work on projects that have the power to positively impact the lives of many.
So if you find yourself traversing through Malaysia on your last dime, why not exchange your time and skills for bed, lodging, food and an experience like no other. To get you started. here is a list of five great organisations that offer volunteering opportunities to both locals and travellers.
A homegrown social enterprise that works towards encouraging sustainable living through up-cycling and design projects in Malaysia. From interactive art installations that beautifully incorporate discarded materials to running educational workshops and outreach programs aimed at empowering people to regenerate their waste and turn them into unique and functional creations, the initiative accepts volunteers from all walks of life, especially if you’re particularly experienced in production, engineering, photography, permaculture, design and sustainability.
Step away from the chaos of the city and retire into the hidden jungle enclave that is Bamboo Village. Located in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, the resort/homestay features beautiful chalets that caters to solo travellers and families looking to reconnect with nature and all of its elements. Explore the surrounding waterfalls and hot springs, trek through the jungle and mingle with the other guests. Volunteers are provided with free boarding and typically help out with housekeeping, maintenance, bookings and reservations, gardening and landscaping. The resort requires volunteers to be able to stay for a minimum of 7 days so this is a great work and holiday opportunity for travellers with a little bit more time to spare.
A non-profit organisation that revolves around bettering the lives of underserved communities in Malaysia, SOLS 247 develops, produces and executes education modules and social empowerment programs that are designed to alleviate poverty and activate these communities towards taking charge and bettering their lives on their own terms. Volunteers are required to commit to the organisation for an average of three months and typically help out in a variety of programs, some of which include corporate training, English tutoring, IT education and youth development.
Register as a volunteer and connect with hosts around the world ( and in Malaysia!) The diverse community of hosts on Workaway lets you get in touch with hundreds of ongoing projects and establishments that you can become a part of. From island conservation and eco-tourism work in the islands of Malaysia to social media development and tourism assistance for up-and-coming backpacking hostels, this is one of our favourite platforms because it links volunteers to smaller, more under-the-radar projects in some of Malaysia’s more remote gems. Interested workawayers can sign-up with a USD$29 fee that grants them a full year’s access to the list of hosts on the site. For travelling couples ( or two friends), sign up fee is priced at USD$38 for a year.