Work and Travel in Asia


Volunteer and Paid Work Opportunities in Asia for Travellers

Asia is the ultimate backpacking continent. For those who don’t have big budgets and want to see something exotic, Asia has more than enough to satisfy the adventurous. This continent has everything from the high-tech nation of Japan to the spiritual experiences that Asia has to offer.

Volunteering in Asia is one of the best options for a backpacker who wants to see more of this huge, incredible continent on a budget. Any travel guide for Asia will tell you it can take a lifetime to uncover this magical part of the world.

There’s also no shortage of volunteer and paid work opportunities in Asia. Here are some of the work and travel programmes in Asia you should be looking at.

1. Look Out for Hostels

Asia has always been the land of backpackers. Whether you want to soak up the sun in Thailand or try out your yoga positions in India, there’s an array of hostels and guesthouses across the whole continent. If you want to volunteer and sample a new culture, do it in Asia.

Practically every country has hostels taking on foreign volunteers.

2. Teach English in Asia

The power of Asia on the world stage is growing. Asia offers some of the best paid work opportunities in the world for teachers of English. Countries like Saudi Arabia, China, and South Korea offer great salaries for anyone with a TEFL qualification, or the equivalent of.

Work and travel in Asia and English teaching could prolong your trip by months. There are so many countries in this rich tapestry searching for qualified native English speakers to introduce them to their language.

3. Work in an Orphanage

Travel in Asia and you’ll see that countries from China to Cambodia to Timor-Leste have had turbulent histories. Unfortunately, those histories have left many children without parents. There are orphanages all over Asia filled with kids who need help.

Foreign volunteers can work in Asia and make a difference. Orphanages can be in big cities or in remote locations. Not only can you give back, but you can volunteer in Asia and connect on a deeper level.


Asia has complex visa requirements depending on the country. We’re going to take different nationalities in turn to give you an idea of the visa requirements for Asia you’re likely to come up against:

EU Citizens: Much of Southeast Asia is open visa-free to the majority of EU citizens. The Middle East often requires visas, as is the case with big countries like China and Russia. India, Myanmar, and many of the ‘Stan’ countries require a visa or the need to apply for a visa-on-arrival.

UK Citizens: UK citizens fall under the same visa policy as the rest of the EU. The UK passport offers nearly all of the same benefits as a French or German passport (the more powerful EU passports).

US Citizens: US citizens enjoy most of the same benefits as Europeans. The difference is countries like India, Myanmar, and Vietnam require electronic visas to be issued.

Canadian Citizens: Canadian citizens benefit from similar visa policies to Europeans. The key difference is the need for visas in practically all of the Middle East and the ‘Stan’ countries. These are formal visas that must be obtained from an embassy.

Australian and New Zealand Citizens: Australians and Kiwis hold near identical passports. For the countries of Asia, both nationalities will be able to enter most countries visa-free. However, visas are required for nearly all of the Middle East, with the exception of Iran, which offers a visa-on-arrival.

Russian Citizens: Russian citizens enjoy visa-free travel to the majority of Asia. Notable exceptions include Japan and China. Russians also must apply for visas to access nearly all of the Middle East.

South African Citizens: Most of Southeast Asia, minus Vietnam, can be entered visa-free by South Africans. Japan and China both require visas, as does the Middle East, except Oman. The ‘Stan’ countries also require visas.

Take note that these requirements are for tourist visas. Volunteer visas vary heavily by country, but the situation with tourist visas is a good indicator as to how easy/hard it is to obtain a tourist visa.



You should bear in mind that the following seasons are pegged to the four seasons of Western Europe and North America. Asia has an incredibly diverse array of seasons, with some countries having less than four seasons.


Spring time is the time to head to Southeast Asia if you’re looking for the hottest temperatures. Asian countries along the Pacific, such as the Philippines, also experience hot temperatures but avoid the cyclone seasons.

This is also a perfect time to head to India. South India experiences its hottest month in April and the climate as calm as this is the pre-monsoon season.

Spring in more northerly countries like China have similar climates to Western countries.


The summer time in many countries is actually the worst time to look for volunteering opportunities in Asia. The Pacific coastline enters the cyclone season and India/Southeast Asia experiences its monsoon season, making work and travel in Asia extremely difficult. It’s also where much of the Middle East becomes unbearable.

However, countries like Russia, Mongolia, China, and Russia experience climates similar to the West. Summer is the time to head north in Asia for work and travel in Asia.


Since so many Asian countries lack four seasons, autumn time is actually just a continuation of the summer time. This is especially the case in Southeast Asia.

India sees the first half of autumn continuing with the monsoon season, whereas the second half is the post-monsoon season, which brings cloudless skies.

The northern countries are still pleasant at this time of year. The most attractive season in places like China, Russia, and Japan is autumn, so backpackers may want to continue to stay in the north throughout autumn.


Winter in Asia brings incredibly cold temperatures to the northern part of the continent. This is when many volunteer and paid work opportunities in Asia begin to dry up in the north.

Winter is the time to head to Southeast Asia, India, and the other southern countries. High season brings about far more opportunities for work in Asia. Consider Laos, the southern states of India, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Take note that if you are applying for high season work, you should think about sending in your application many months before. This is vital for two reasons:

First, many countries demand that you already have a position lined up prior to applying for your visa. Second, Asia is perhaps the most popular continent in the world for working both short-term and long-term.


Asia is an exotic mix of countries. Countries like Japan and Thailand have seen so many foreigners in the country that you won’t even be a curiosity. But head to rural China or through to Mongolia and you’ll definitely stand out in a crowd. In terms of work, unless you’re taking a job from a local you’re unlikely to experience any problems when it comes to working there.

If you’re bringing specialist skills or disaster relief, you’ll be appreciated by the locals. Beyond some problem areas, such as the southern area of the Philippines and Afghanistan, foreigners are welcomed.

In the big tourist hotspots, you’ll likely be annoyed by the touts trying to sell tours and trinkets, but most disappear with a firm ‘no’.

How much interest you garner depends entirely on the remoteness of the area you decide to work in. Remember that this is the largest continent in the world so it’s difficult to state exactly how you’ll be treated in every corner of it.

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