• Thailand

Program Details

Apr 27, 2021
Dec 21, 2022
42 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

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.

Video and Photos

Program 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.

Popular Programs

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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

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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.

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 30 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Growth 4.9
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.9
  • Housing 4.9
  • Safety 4.85
Showing 1 - 8 of 30 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

When I signed up for GVI I was expecting the ordinary volunteer program and let me express there is nothing ordinary about GVI. It all starts before departure, where your Support Coordinator goes above and beyond making sure that all the enquiries, in case they are any left, are answered. Guiding you through every single step of the way, with the smallest factor that you can imagine. E.G. I was helped and guided through the whole visa process on how to fill my application.

I never felt left behind through my time before, during and after. At my arrival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which is where I did my program, my suitcase did not make it and the program coordinator made sure to take care of the situation as soon as he was aware. Figured a way out to have my suitcase with me within the week, when we were 4-5 hours out from the airport. Everyone was so devoted to what we were doing in the community and the fact that the sense of family and belonging was very dominant. The village was very welcoming and learning from each other made of everyday a beautiful journey. The time wasn’t enough I could have stayed there for months, gracefully. Joy sparks everywhere you look in the community its people and the staff.

Seeing how GVI has taken on responsibly to help this community is beautiful to witness. Respecting literally surrounding them, the culture, the village, nature and all its people. My experience was so great that I booked my next trip while in Thailand, because I could not get enough of it and I was ready to take on another adventure as soon as possible.

11 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hi Esther,

Thank you so much for this fabulous review. I am so pleased to hear you felt supported every step of the way, even when your suitcase didn't arrive when it should have! I'm also thrilled to hear you appreciated the sense of family within the community and this program. Thank you for your efforts and the impact you made with us in Thailand. We so look forward to having you on another GVI program in the near future!

All the best,
Amanda (GVI Outreach Team)

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing life experience and career-builder

I spent twelve weeks in GVI's Chiang Mai base. For the first eight I was a career intern, then I became staff in my final month. I spent my internship hiking into the forest daily and carrying out observational biodiversity surveys on the forest's inhabiting elephants. In addition to this, I took part in courses and seminars relating to local biodiversity and global conservation concepts. I took classes to learn the local dialect, Pakinyaw, and also taught English to some of the villagers. I fell in love with the community and staff alike. To say it was a life-changing experience would be an understatement!

24 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Leigh,

Thanks for your review!

I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and explored all that the program had to offer. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon! Keep sharing your love for conservation.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI online wildlife conservation internship

In the spring of 2021 I did an online internship for wildlife conservation with GVI. I helped organize camera trap data on pangolins in Thailand. After completing the online internship with GVI, I decided to pursue a career in wildlife conservation. I cannot thank GVI enough for giving me the incredible opportunity. I am also excited to say that I am saving up money to volunteer in person. Volunteering with elephants has always been a dream of mine and now it is a goal. If you are looking to make a difference in the world, GVI is the place to do so.

What was your funniest moment?
I worked on a project involving pangolins in Thailand. While observing camera trap data we saw a baby pangolin hanging onto his mom and it was the cutest picture ever. We then learned that baby pangolins are called pangopups XD.
44 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hi Jessica! Thanks for your review. I'm thrilled to hear you enjoyed this program! It certainly sounds like you made the most of it. We'd love to see you registered for some of our other courses in the future and are looking forward to seeing you on base!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

My best and happiest memories are here. <3

Coming here has been one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I am beyond grateful for all of the incredible experiences I've gotten have, wonderful people I've gotten to know and love, and to have had the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream of working with elephants. The only thing that convinced me to go for this in the first place is the fact that I share GVI's ethical and moral values when it comes to working with elephants, and I really do feel like getting to see them in their natural habitat, spending time with their families, and being free to live with as little human interference as possible has been the most gratifying and fulfilling experience I could have asked for.
As for everyone else that I've worked with during my time here: this place seems to attract the best kind of people, and they've truly become like family to me. I can't imagine having to say goodbye to all of them tomorrow, but I know I will see some - hopefully most - of them again (especially the other long-term interns I've spent the last six months with!)
The staff team have been the best group of people I've ever had the opportunity to work with, and their kindness and humor and support make this project what it is. They are as much my friends as anyone else on project and I will miss them all so much.
Each day on the project is never the same as the one before, and you end up being so busy here participating in all the activities/fundraisers/events, that you forget about all of the books you brought with you to pass the time! (Or at least most of them - reading on the balcony under the tropical sun is one of the best feelings out there.)
Everyone who comes through here brings with them such a diverse set of skills, background, and personality, and it's part of what makes this place so special. We're all so different from each other, but our passions and sense of adventure bring us together, and that bond can be a hard to find.
If you're thinking about doing this, I cannot recommend it enough. This place has given me some of my best and happiest memories and I will always be thankful for this place. I guess that's all for now!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would say that if you're coming to this project, throw yourself into everything the project has to offer - activities, events, fundraisers, social gatherings, learning Pakinyaw, teaching English at the school - everything. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and as Mark Twain once said: "You will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.". Fully immersing yourself in the community here and helping out in every way you can will be the most rewarding part of the whole experience!
61 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Adelaide, thanks for your great review! I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us as much as you did. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please do keep on spreading your love for GVI. And obviously, we would love to see you back on base soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Very enjoyable!

My six month internship here was absolutely amazing, I would recommend this to everyone, since it's not just about the conservation but all the other activities through which you learn. You also start to appreciate small things as the environment is so different that what we are used to. In general - a brilliant opportunity to develop as a person. I would also recommend coming here for at least one month to really embrace the whole experience, since anything less just makes you want to cry when leaving.

What would you improve about this program?
- More education on elephants
- Elephants should be unchained at least 8 hours per day
- Better internet (interns can not do their job properly if they don't buy data)
- End goal more determined and clear
56 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Nina, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Chiang Mai Fun

GVI Chiang Mai is one of the most incredible programs that I have ever been apart of. For starters, you live in a remote village, Huay Pakoot, with a Karen hill-tribe who are probably the most hospitable, kind and hard-working people I have ever met. You learn how to live a simple life and to really cherish what you have and the people around you. It is a home away from home where people with the same passion come together and learn from each other and bond. Not only do you become apart of the amazing family on base, but you become immersed in Asian Elephant Reintegration and data collection and grow to love all of the lovely elephants and mahouts. You also gain experience with biodiversity surveying and learn the local language Pakinyaw. I would highly recommend this programme to anyone looking to gain hands-on experience in the field as the staff team is very supportive and you receive a lot of information regarding controversial conservation topics especially if you are an intern. All of these things help you develop strong teamwork and leadership skills in a safe environment that you can then use in future jobs. Overall, amazing program and anyone who comes will have an amazing time.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would suggest doing an internship here as you get to really challenge yourself and learn new things alongside other people that share your passion. The internship also has many different components and you always have work to do!
62 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Shae, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

The GVI Chiang Mai program with the Elephants is by far the best volunteer program I have ever done! Mixing Community and Conservation, this program will make your experience unique and varied. One day we hike to observe the birds, another day we will take care of the children in Garden school and Nursery, the next day we hike to study the elephants, followed by a walk to locate Gibbons the next day ! there is a lot of diversity, and especially à la carte with often 2 possible choices of hike in the morning. Although the morning hike is the important element of the day, the rest is not boring. Several presentation options are available, not mandatory. Ranging from the study of snakes, to training to teach English to foreign children, you can also go through an orientation and presentation of jobs in conservation, or even a presentation about the ethics of elephant camps . On Tuesday and Thursday, you can help to teach in selected class at school. For the social aspect this program is also really interesting. On the Wednesdays you have quiz evening , and on the weekends you have the possibility for a cultural/tourist outings. To conclude, an unforgettable experience in an exceptional atmosphere.

61 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Claire-Marie, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
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.

59 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Melanie, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

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