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Volunteer Temple Retreat

Surrounded by trees and hidden from general society, the beautiful Wat Nuen Pananao is a classic Buddhist temple. The focus at this temple is upon meditation and spiritual enlightenment, and volunteers will be expected to abide by the rules the temple has in place. A good guide of how to act the temple is to eat little, speak little, sleep little but practice meditation a lot. Those staying at this wat will spend the vast majority of their time there alone and in silence, practising various forms of solitary meditation for the day.

For those with a real interest in Buddhism, a stay at this temple will provide a unique insight into traditional Buddhism and Buddhist practice. Anyone looking to stay here should have a solid understanding of meditation and be aware that it is likely to be a challenging experience. It is important you do not go into this unprepared or unsure of what to expect. Leaving early from your stay disturbs relations with the temple and therefore should definitely be avoided.

Volunteers need to be aware that this can be a highly challenging experience, both physically and mentally. You should make your coordinator in Thailand aware of any physical health problems you have or any medication you are on. You should take into account the strict eating times the temple has.

During your stay at the wat you will have little communication with anyone else, and will spend the vast majority of your stay practising solitary meditation. This can place mental strain on a person and can lead to mental stress. If you suffer from any mental illness you should ensure you have thoroughly researched what a retreat stay such as this entails and how this may affect any mental health problems you may have. You can discuss any issues with your volunteer coordinator.

The purpose of your stay at the temple will be to undertake meditation throughout the day. Your lifestyle will mirror that of the monks and nuns that live at the temple.

Prices are available for any period between 2 weeks and 6 months.

Show prices in:
2 Weeks 4 Weeks 8 Weeks 12 Weeks 24 Weeks Extra Weeks
$891 $1028 $1302 $1576 $2233 $55

Read how your fees are spent or compare our prices with other volunteer organisations.

View our prices in other volunteer locations's or combine your stay in with stays in other locations as part of a combination stay.

What you receive
  • "T2T Welcoming kit" containing: T-shirts, Thai language book, Info booklets on Teaching, on T2T and on Thai culture
  • A two day orientation upon arrival
  • Thai Language and cooking lessons
  • 24 hour support from T2T (Thai and western) staff living in the same town
  • Accommodation in T2T dorms according to specifications in your "Placement information"
  • Regular follow-up meetings
  • Transportation between projects
  • At some teaching placements you join the school for lunch.
Apart from our fees, you must pay for:
  • Your ticket to Nongkhai
  • Vaccinations
  • Travel and health insurance
  • Visa to Thailand
  • Food (about 2 €/day) and other personal expenses

Our application process typically takes two or three weeks, but can be speeded up if there is a need for that. When we receive the initial application from you, we will send you our full application form.

(1) Complete the Initial Application Form:
The first stage of the application process is to fill out the brief initial application form. Upon receiving this we will send you the full application form.

(2) Complete the Full Application Form:
Fill out the application form. After receiving this we will assess your suitability and place you on one of our programs.

(3) Placement info:
We will return detailed placement information and an invoice. If you accept the placement you should clikc the link to say so. The fee can be paid with credit card through PayPal or by bank transfer.

(4) Communication:
Once you have made your traveling arrangements you should mail your time of arrival and the means of transportation and we will confirm pickup.

You can join us for any amount of time, from a week to six months. We do recommend a trip of three to six months since it offers the best value. Regardless of the length of your stay, you will be able to learn some Thai and you will have time to get to know a new culture, come to know its people, and form relationships that will outlast the duration of your stay.

Dates of arrival: All teaching will start on the Monday after the introduction.


Dates for the Year 2014:
September: Sat 13, Sat 27
October: Sat 11, Sat 25
November: Sat 8, Sat 22
December: Sat 6, Sat 20
Dates for the Year 2015:
January: Sat 3, Sat 17, Sat 31
February: Sat 14, Sat 28
March: Sat 14, Sat 28
April: Sat 11, Sat 25
May: Sat 9, Sat 23
June: Sat 6, Sat 20
July: Sat 4, Sat 18
August: Sat 1, Sat 15, Sat 29
September: Sat 12, Sat 26
October: Sat 10, Sat 24
November: Sat 7, Sat 21
December: Sat 5, Sat 19

You will stay in a basic room which has an adjoining bathroom and toilet. The room will be similar to that used by monks who stay at the temple. You will sleep on a thin blanket placed over a wooden bed and will be required to avoid killing any insect or animal.

The vast majority of the stay at the temple will be taken up doing various types of solitary meditation. It is important for you to have previous experience with meditation as well as to have an understanding of how to meditate and the challenge that will be faced by such extensive meditation.

You will receive advice on meditation from monks who stay live at the temple and you can bring literature about meditation or Buddhism.

Food will be brought to your room by a monk. Meals are eaten at around 7.00 a.m. and 10.30 a.m., with no food to be consumed after midday. The food at the temple is basic but satisfactory, and the amounts provided are substantial. Volunteers can drink soya milk, flavoured teas, coffee or water in the afternoon to help ease any hunger.

Ask a local about the weather in Nongkhai and they will tell you there are three seasons, hot and wet, hot and dry and just plain hot. In reality the temperature can drop to as low as 10°C between November and February and the brief monsoon rains and Mekong river breeze throughout the summer months provide a welcome respite to the heat.

Nongkhai Weather Chart
Volunteer Temple Retreat Weather Image

Trains
There are 3 trains a day from Hualamphong train station in central Bangkok, departing at around 18.30, 20:00 and 20.45. We recommend the night trains since they are quicker and usually more convenient as most long distance flights tend to arrive in Bangkok in the afternoon.

The night train costs around 700 baht and most people manage to sleep reasonably well on them in comparison to the buses.

General information on trains can be found at http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm#Train times or
http://traveller2000.com.

Buses
There are several buses from different companies daily from Bangkok to Nongkhai. Most buses leave in the evening and arrive in Nongkhai early in the morning. Although we recommend the trains as they are more comfortable if you do decide to go by bus then there are buses that depart from Kao San Road at around 19:00. These go directly to Nongkhai (and on to Vientiane in Laos) and are relatively easy to find. Its costs around 400-450 baht and you can buy tickets from any travel agency on Kao San Road. There are also buses from the airport that depart in the morning and evening. There is a free shuttle bus from the airport that takes you to where the bus leaves from. We recommend the VIP bus that leaves at 20.30 and costs 700 baht. There are also regular buses from Bangkok's northern Mawchit Bus Station although this is extremely large and chaotic, and probably best avoided if you've only just arrived in Thailand for the first time.

Flights
Three airlines fly daily from Bangkok to Udon Thani, Thai Airways and the budget airlines Air Asia and Nok Air. Nok Air also fly from Chiang Mai to Udon 3 times a week. There is a "limousine" (actually minibus) service from the airport to Nongkhai after each flight.

Jim

Jim graduated from Khon Kaen University's tourism program in 2007 and initially completed a 3 month internship with Travel to Teach before joining us permanently. After working with us in Chiang Mai for 2 years Jim now helps manage our programs in Nongkhai. She is responsible for contact with schools and organising English camps and looks after our volunteers giving Thai language lessons and cooking classes.

Contact Jim: jim@travel-to-teach.org

Nana

Nana is 30 years old and was born in Mae Sot, Thailand. She is ethnically Karen and has an exam as public health instructor.


There are many options for your visa depending on the length of your stay.

One month tourist visa (free)
This is valid for 30 days and is granted free on arrival in Thailand by air. If you arrive at a land border you will currently only be given a 15 day visa. Please note you can only have three free one month visa stamps in any six month period.

Two/Three month single entry tourist visa (1,200 Baht - approx. 24€)
This is valid for two/three months after your arrival in Thailand. If you leave the country during this time your visa will become invalid. This can be arranged in advance at any Thai Consulate/Embassy. For a list of Thai Embassy's around the world see www.thaiembassy.org.

If you are staying in Thailand for more than a month and do not have time to arrange a 2 month visa, you can simply get your free stamp on arrival and then cross over into Laos after 30 days and apply for it there.

It's quite a simple process:
To revalidate your visa you will have to come to Nongkhai. Simply catch a tuk-tuk to the friendship bridge where you will be able to get a bus across to Laos. On the far side of the friendship bridge you will get your Laos visa (approx $35).

Once in Laos you have two options, you can either return directly to Thailand receiving a 15 day visa extension or if you want a two month visa you will need to visit the Thai Embassy in Vientiane and spend one night in the city. Please note that for your Laos visa and for a two month Thai visa you will need passport photos and a photocopy of your passport. Vietiane is a 30 minute bus or taxi ride from the border.

You can also use your time in Laos to explore the country further and there are regular buses running from Vientiane to most of Laos including Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang.

If you are planning to work in Cambodia then you will need to obtain a police records background check before starting your placement. For details on the application procedure in your home country please take a look at: www.travel-to-teach.org/CRB-information.php

At all other locations you will be required to abide by the Travel to Teach Child Protection Policy.

You should tell your doctor that you are likely to go on a jungle trip in Northern Thailand and that you will live in village outside Chiang Mai. Keep in mind, Chiang Mai is an urban area and one need not worry about malaria pills for staying exclusively in there.

Also visit the WHO's (World Health Organisation) Travelers health information

One of the conditions of entry onto our programs is that volunteers have travel insurance. Most importantly the insurance needs to include medical treatment and repatriation in case of unforeseen accidents or illnesses. Volunteers should purchase insurance independently and bring a copy of their insurance certificate with them for their local co-ordinator to check before starting their program. Read our terms and conditions.

You will get a Travel to Teach certificate stating the time and place you have been teaching.

All volunteers are required to read and agree to our terms and conditions before being accepted onto one our programs.
Read our Terms & Conditions
Download our Teach Terms and Conditions as a PDF File

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