GVI: Internships in Thailand

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About

This is an opportunity to gain practical experience in wildlife and marine conservation, community development, and experiential education in health and teaching. Get ahead in your chosen career, with improved knowledge, enhanced skills, and the CV to show for it.

Your contributions support sustainable development objectives that are measured against the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. GVI ensures that ethical best practices are in place for all communities, partners, and participants involved.

Thailand is a Southeast Asian country with a Southern coastline of beaches, traditional temples, islands, and mountain terrain. In the North you’ll find forested landscape, a diversity of hill tribe cultures and an array of Buddhist temples.

Highlights
  • Improve your CV with professional skill development in a variety of conservation and community projects.
  • Experience Thailand in a cultural, environmental, and social context.
  • Contribute to ethically run programs and their UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Meet people from around the world and connect with local communities.
  • Take traditional Thai cooking lessons, go island hopping in your free time, relax on a nearby beach, or start to learn a new language.

GVI has a Community Development Internship in Thailand!


This is an opportunity to learn more about Chiang Mai's local Karen hill tribe culture, gaining intercultural communication skills and valuable teaching experience.

Popular Programs

Interns working with sea turtles in Thailand

This is a short term internship in Thailand where you'll support the conservation and protection of the endangered sea turtle. You will visit nearby islands to conduct biodiversity surveys, learn camera trapping, and collect data. This is an opportunity to gain an ILM leadership qualification and develop your skills in marine conservation to further enhance your career opportunities.

Two elephants in Thailand

This is a conservation internship with a range of focuses and skill development opportunities. You will teach English to local communities, learn about Chiang Mai’s biodiversity by surveying and identifying species in the area, and assist local caretakers provide needed health checks for the forest dwelling elephants.

Interns diving with a sea turtle in Thailand

Gain hands on field work experience and improve your research skills in conservation. Alongside GVI staff and other international volunteers you’ll learn how to conduct biodiversity surveys, engage in plastic pollution clean-ups, and contribute to environmental education in the local community.

Intern working with a student in Thailand

Based in Phang Nga, assist in WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) workshops for local schools, and communities. Other topics could include nutrition and exercise, sport activities, and education on the prevention of transferable diseases. Improve your own professional development by gaining skills in these areas while also contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health And Wellbeing, among others.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

98%
based on 23 reviews
  • Growth 9.6
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 15 of 23
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Melanie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI coastal marine conservation internship

I have always loved animals and marine life and wanted to give back in some way so after a lot of thought I decided that the marine conservation internship in Phang Nga was the best option for me. I was nervous before leaving Scotland on what to expect from Thailand and GVI but I was made to feel welcome straight from the arrivals at the airport.

Thailand is an incredible country with so much to offer and the program gave me so much to think about and take back home with me, from using marine litter as an art installation, being able to name approximately 30 different bird species to asking how much something is in Thai.

I undertook the 3 month internship which also gave me a qualification that I can use to better my CV and job prospects in the future. I came out here looking to find what I wanted to do as a career and after working closely with the sea turtles I have decided that veterinary nursing is what I would like to pursue, I am so thankful to Thailand and GVI for helping me make this decision.

With regards to the staff and the people that you will meet they have all been great people and some friends for life made. Living on base can be difficult at times but it’s easy to get past this, as it’s clean and comfortable. The food is also really lovely and cooked fresh everyday.

Of all the activities that I have taken part in during my time here I would say that the bird surveys and beach cleans were my favourite, the bird surveys are really interesting and you get to see some lovely places and the beach cleans are hard work but you can see in a short time how much of a difference you can make. Snorkelling was also a highlight for me as I had never done it before coming out to Thailand, getting to see some beautiful fish and sea life. Learning to survey the reefs was also really interesting, it’s such an eye opening experience since you never really know the scale of coral reef bleaching until you see it with your own eyes.

To anyone thinking about coming out to do some conversation work I would highly recommend this program as it’s so diverse and you will learn a lot from it and make a huge difference in the world. Not only this you will also meet some incredible people and learn a lot about yourself.

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Hector
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Inspiring internship with GVI in the costal conservation program

I did the three months ILM intership for costal conservation just after getting my graduate degree to get experience in a different field. I was blown away not only by the resources at our disposal, but also by the quality of the formation I recieved. You have a plethora of different activities which keep you working and entertained throughout the whole experience. This is due to the amazing staff team that organized every moment with discipline and passion. Futhermore, you are supported in every step during your internship, and you can feel that the staff team have confidence in you for any project you want to carry out. Therefore, you are able to develop social, practical, and organisation skills in a short period of time while enjoying every minute of it.

What would you improve about this program?
The trip to Koh Pra Tong island is amazing and i think we should get more time there.
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience!

Interning with GVI was the best decision I have ever made. Before I left I was extremely scared to get out of my comfort zone, but after 8 weeks in Thailand I had grown so much as a person. Immersing myself in a completely different culture opened my eyes and showed me a beautiful world outside of my own.
I always wanted to make a difference in the world, but didn’t have any opportunities to do so in my hometown. Being an intern for GVI finally allowed me to do work that would actually make a difference for animals.
Volunteers, interns, and staff members were absolutely amazing. It was so fulfilling to be surrounded by people who care for animals and the environment as much as I did.
Overall, it was an incredible experience that I would recommend to anyone. I can honestly say that it changed my life in the best way possible.

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn’t improve much, but maybe more conservation on surrounding mammals.
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Ally
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The most amazing experience

Volunteering with the elephants in Thailand was the most amazing experience. Everything in Huay Pakoot was perfect. You get to witness how beautiful the elephants are up close (at a safe distance of course) and help take data on them to see how they’re improving! The staff was out of this world and they went out of their way to make sure you enjoyed your time there. The relationship you make with the villagers and other volunteers while there, is amazing! It’s such a great thing to be able to experience another culture and have the village welcome you with open arms! I definitely feel like this program has made me into a better person and helped me become the best version of myself! I can’t wait to return to the project! I would highly recommend this program to anyone and everyone!!

What would you improve about this program?
I can’t think of anything to improve!! 10/10 experience
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Ellie Rose
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best 6 months of my life

I was an intern at GVI Chiang Mai from June to December 2019. It was the best 6 months of my life, it is the most enriching experience! I went to GVI Chiang Mai for the elephants but while I was there learnt so much about the people and the culture. You get to hike in to the forest every day and watch the elephants in there natural habitat interacting with one another. Don’t get me wrong the elephants were incredible and definitely my favorite aspect of the trip, but it is so incredible getting to know the locals and teaching the children in the school. You get some lessons in the local language and would really recommend trying to pick it up, it enhances your experience massively when you are confident communicating. I also learnt so much from the other volunteers on my trip, I met such a range of people from all walks of life. I would recommended GVI Chiang Mai to anyone of any age!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
As soon as you arrive it will feel like home, just get stuck in and push yourself. Try and learn the language and communicate with the locals, it's amazing to learn about their culture.
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Indiana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Absolutely amazing

During my time in Huay Pakoot I got to part-take in a volleyball tournament against surrounding villages and watch the football tournament and the atmosphere was amazing. I got to teach Grade 1, Anuban (Pre-school) and help out at the nursery.
Hiking with the elephants and having the experience of seeing them in the forest was just breathtaking each day. Learning their backgrounds and their personalities was just incredible. My favorite is an ele named Sah Jah, she is just so smart and so strong it's inspiring.
Not only is the village community amazing to be apart of, but the community of staff and volunteers is also amazing. During my time there I have definitely made friends for life and a family away from home.
This was an experience I will never forget!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I learned that there's a snake that can glide through the air like it's flying
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Georgina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Loved it, best summer of my life!

I am currently a university student studying Environmental Science (hence the relevance to my amazing summer). I went to Thailand, Phang Nga base for a total of 6 weeks and did the short term internship, earning myself a leadership qualification out there. This was my first summer solo travelling, having not taken a gap year and it was everything I had dreamed of and more! I went on this trip alone and it was the best thing I could have done, it benefitted me in ways I didn’t even imagine – cringe but ‘I found myself’. I gained more self-confidence and developed my people skills; communication to people of all ages – from teaching school children to making friends with the older volunteers.

GVI and the programme itself was amazing, they were so accommodating and made me feel at home for my summer, the base felt like home and the staff were friends. It’s not like being at school as you are all on the same level and treated equally, if you have a suggestion whether it be for around base or an activity you would like to do they will always try to accommodate it. GVI Phang Nga hub has 2 other programmes being run from the same hub so there will always be a group of people there, this is great for your weekend travels. While on programme every other weekend is a long weekend (free from Thursday evening to Sunday), this meant there is plenty of time to explore southern Thailand and perhaps even further with your new friends; I visited Khoa Lak, Khoa Sok, Phi Phi islands, Phang Nga Bay, Phuket town and even Patong!
The marine conversation programme has such a variety of activities meaning every week is different, even after being there 6 weeks I was still doing new activities. Every week you visit the turtle conservation centre twice – cleaning tanks, treating their wounds and collecting data for a wider database. Along with the turtle project you do; beach cleans, butterfly surveys, bird walks, working in national parks, teaching conservation/English lessons at local schools in the community, mangrove surveys on canoes, once a month there is a week-long trip off base to stay on 2 islands doing camera trap work and whole hub Friday projects including: village cleans and teaching at English camps. Even in your down time at base there’s still optional extras to do such as cooking classes, weekly Wednesday night quizzes, early morning sun rises and movie nights. Before getting to Thailand I had my doubts and worries about the teaching aspect of the program as this is usually something I would shy away from however it was one of my favourite projects, along with the turtles of course, but the children are so keen and happy to learn and have so much respect for you. You are not forced to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing while on project however there is plenty of opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone, if you’re not already out of it in Thailand!

Food is great, people are fab and the experience was one of a kind. There is something for everyone.

What would you improve about this program?
I was doing the short term internship and was there for 6 weeks (minimum length) however I felt this was far too short a time to complete the amount of work set. I felt the build up of work towards my last week so had to spent long nights up trying to complete the task, which isn't how I wanted to spend my last week. I would recommend going for 8 weeks to complete the short term internship to give yourself plenty of time.
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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

I have just got back from the most life changing six weeks spent at GVI Chiang Mai. I went out to complete my short term internship and gain an insight into conservation and ethical tourism - I have left with unforgettable memories, a new found passion for conservation and life long friends.
GVI Chiang Mai is home to the most amazing elephants - every hike is interesting and it is breathtaking to be able to spend time watching the elephants thrive in their natural environment. The relationship between mahouts and elephants is also so special to watch. I found the community side of the project to be the most rewarding and developing relationships with the local people is such an eye opening experience.
Completing the short term leadership internship made me grow in both professional and personal aspects of my life and has given me the confidence to chase any career I wish to pursue.
My advice to new volunteers and interns would be to grab every opportunity that arises in the village. Fully immerse yourself into the culture and the payback and feeling you get back is insane. This project has given me a whole new perspective on what I want to do career-wise after completing University and has made me into the best version of myself too.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
To fully immerse yourself into the Karen culture. The more you put into your time on the project the more you will get out. Try and learn some Pakinyaw, spend some time with your homestay family, take data on the elephants and fully get involved in the school. If you take part in absolutely everything your time in Huay Pakoot will be absolutely unforgettable.
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Baylee
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The GVI Family

I wasn't sure what to expect before coming to GVI Chiang Mai. I knew I would gain valuable experience and create unforgettable memories but I didn't expect to find people that I would consider to be my family after only six short weeks. Admittedly, the first week was overwhelming and adjusting to life in the village was a bit challenging but after meeting all of the Elephants and having my first village weekend I felt completely at home. Getting to experience the Karen culture by learning a new language and living in a home with the villagers has been an incredibly humbling and inspiring experience. Everyday holds a memory that I never want to forget and I feel so lucky have had this opportunity. I came for the Elephants but it is the people in the community and on project that have made me never want to leave.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Say yes to every opportunity that you can without. You get back what you put in and the results will definitely be worth it.
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Hannah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Mind Over Matter

GVI Chiang Mai has been an eye opening experience. I was unsure of what to expect from the village and could not prepare for the culture shock. I was overwhelmed upon arrival however I knew this was an experience of a lifetime. Six weeks later I have had the most unforgettable experience and made amazing friends. Seeing the elephants in their natural environment has been amazing and being completely immersed in a different culture has been inspiring. I have enjoyed learning a new language and spending time with my homestay family. This experience has changed my perspective of new cultures and throwing myself fully into everything that I do - just because a culture is different does not mean it is wrong.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would advise future travelers to fully throw themselves into this experience. The more you put in the more you will get out.
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Verity
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Excellent

This program is amazing. While in Thailand I met some great people that I will be friends with for the rest of my life and still keep in contact with. Gvi Chiang Mai is amazing for constant fun and entertainment by spending your days either in the forest with the elephants and mahouts or teaching English at the school and to the locals. While in the forest you get to see the natural environment which includes a wide variety of insects. Everyone is so friendly and makes everyone feel welcome. My favourite thing was just to sit and talk with the locals as they have really interesting stories about their history and beliefs.
I will 100% be going back to the village of Huay Pakoot and cannot wait to return to see how the elephants and villagers have changed.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing is how friendly and approachable the locals are. They will constantly try and involve you and always do there best to look after you.
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Amie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Chiang Mai/Mae Cheam GVI Thailand...Don't leave!

A week is not enough! Don not make the same mistake I did...don't leave Chiang Mai!
The staff, the volunteers and even the local villagers are a family with open arms, always. If you are not hiking in the mountains with elephants, you're sitting on the hammocks in base looking into those mountains you hike in! It does not stop there, there is also a great amount of community work in the local village teaching at the nursery or local school. It definitely prepared me for teaching here in the UK!

The volunteering is only one side of the experience! Every weekend we had the opportunity to explore the rest of Thailand, from the Islands in Krabi to Pai and Chiang Mai! You're never lost for things to do and you're always surrounded by great people!
I can't wait to go back!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay on for an internship and stay for at least three months!
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Kaylan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Thailand

This program changed my life in such a positive way. I was only able to spend two weeks there but in those short two weeks I learned so much. Immersing myself in the culture of this village was mind blowing and I was able to see the world in a total different way. One of my favorite aspects was getting to teach both the students of this village but also some of the adults as well. Tutoring English to the native speaking adults was one of the highlights of this adventure for me. I also enjoyed learning the native language myself. Every aspect of this program had a positive effect on me and how I live my life today . Another highlight for me was that after completing my time there, the great outdoors really became "great". My love and appreciation for nature is on a whole other level after seeing not only this beautiful country but the different animals and nature in general within it. Spending time daily with the elephants was very appealing to me, and it is the first reason I had decided to go. I had always wanted to get to know these animals and I was blessed enough to see them almost once a day while I was there. They are fascinating and I immediately became obsessed with them. A part of my heart resides here in Huay Pakoot and I will never forget the affect it has had on my life. I was also able to meet people from across the world that I am still in touch with and hope to reunite with again someday. All in all GVI was a great experience for me and I plan on adding more hubs to my belt as time goes on.

What would you improve about this program?
The only suggestion I would have to improve this program is to incorporate more variety of options to do while there. For example on days we had the option to hike, night hike, bird watch, or stay at base were my favorite days because there were lots to choose from. I just wanted to experience everything and as much as down time was needed sometimes, I only had two weeks to do as much as possible.
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Daniel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Thailand Coastal Conservation Short Term Internship

The GVI Coastal Conservation Short Term Internship in Thailand was such an amazing experience! Due to other commitments I was only able to stay for the minimum internship length of 6 weeks, but I wish I could have stayed so much longer! I really enjoyed all the projects (turtles were amazing!), and enjoying doing my own leadership project (a microplastic assessment of a nearby beach). The GVI staff were so helpful in helping me conduct my leadership project, and I feel after completing my project I have had a big impact on the local community there and GVI Phang Nga. I gained so many skills and experiences from all the projects! And would recommend doing this program to everyone! If you are considering doing around 6 weeks or more of just the coastal conservation volunteer program, I do highly suggest considering doing the internship instead of the volunteer program! You will still get to do everything the normal volunteers do, but also get to gain so many more skills and experience from just a bit more work! Highly recommended!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would change the duration I chose for the program. I chose 6 weeks, but would choose to do more if I did it again. 6 weeks goes too fast!
Antonio
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

6 month Community internship

My experience in Thailand. I was on a 6 month Community internship in Thailand and, I fully expected just to be doing community based activities.
But to my surprise you cant help but be pulled into the biodiversity and the conservation part as well.
The experience for lack of a better word has been incredible and to me, eye opening as well. People keep on asking me if i would go back one day, the the response always will be yes and, if i would recommend it? i can recommend it enough. If anyone has any questions over GVI Chiang Mai don't hesitate to message me. 10/10 Guys Well done!!!!
In a bit more detail on the community part of the project, each Tuesday and Thursday we would go up to the local school and teach the kids some English, but before we do we get a presentation by our base manager about how we should teach English according to the TEFL standards, witch in my case, helped me out a lot and allowed me to teach them better. They also have evening classes for some of the villagers that are interested in learning English. In summary, it is impossible to be bored on this project.