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Bamboo

About

Bamboo is the next step in independent volunteering and adventure travel.

We're dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what responsible tourism is all about. Our dedicated team, consisting of the perfect mix of international travellers and passionate locals, know exactly how to ensure that both you, our hearty traveller, and the communities that we're dedicated to support, receive the very best adventure, fun, financial help, support, care, love, hugs and hi-5's! Where we go, we leave footprints.

At Bamboo we align with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', so we work with local community organizations in each country. We believe that local communities are in the best position to determine their needs, and we provide volunteers to help them achieve their goals.

Founded
2000
Headquarters

Bangkok
Bangkok
Thailand

Reviews

Default avatar
Cherokee
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Thailand was fun but in all honesty the elephant experience was why I signed up in the first place. The so called "Sanctuary" was not at all like I had hoped for. Don't get me wrong it was nice to touch an elephant and rub mud on them but the way these animals truly live behind the scenes was unfortunate to see firsthand to say the least. The four elephants residing at Hug "Sanctuary" were all tied to trees most the time when visitors were not on the agenda. Not to mention they ALL had chain collars! Mae Ban even broke off her chain when she was tied to the tree as we were cleaning up around her! Their enclosure was less than an acre when the vicinity itself had over 20 acres of cornfield. We passed more elephant friendly sanctuaries along the same mountain, ones with big open enclosures where the elephants roamed freely without collars. I witnessed the mahouts kicking and slapping our elephants to get them to obey commands. All in all what I expected to be a heart-warming experience turned into a heart-wrenching one. In which it left me wondering why I had bothered to support a place like this in the first place. I guess you truly don't know until you get there because the company makes it look so "Ethical" on the famous World Wide Web. I wrote a comment on BAMBOOs Instagram post on February 14th about my experience and they decided to delete it which I Find even more SHADY. Don't support this elephant experience and do research for REAL SANCTUARIES in Thailand.

What would you improve about this program?
Support more "Ethical" Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand. Ones with BIG enclosures along with collar free vicinities!!
Default avatar
Jean
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I can't tell you how wonderful the experience was for me and at 72 wasa little nervous. I needn't have been as our guides in both countries were exceptional.We saw so much of the elephants feeding washing walking with them. In Cambodia the children were beautiful souls, eager to learn
Included was Angkor Wat such a bonus !!! We went also to Ton le sap lake to the floating village too. Everything was amazing and will live with me forever. I cannot recommend it highly enough. The Elephants very mischievous and grab the bananas. Building for the community meant that gradually all had homes. Angkor Wat was amazing with tuctucs everywhere
Monkeys ran freely around some with their babies
Pub Street I'm Siem Reap is a must. Tonlesap lake is the largest in SE Asia.

What was your funniest moment?
Our American lady preparing for a hurricane. Mattresses up at windows in a storm
We watched the storm but she had upturned her suitcase and held it over her head to protect her from falling walls and debris which never happened...she was certainly prepared for death..We couldn't stop laughing at the preparations she made. We Brits don't have hurricanes so to us it was just a bad storm .!!!
Default avatar
jan
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Bamboo organisation was terrible in Bangkok. The saving factor was the elephant encounter which was amazing and the actual tour guide who was a freelancer. All aspects of hotels, travel and meals provided changed on an hourly basis. First being dumped in a strange country and left to find a hotel with only the name and that was no longer the hotel who's info you had been given. A 2nd day travel departure changing, meet time at 8 pm the first evening informing you that the following day you were not leaving at 6.30 am but 2.30 am (result no sleep)Things just got worse from then on when it came to arrangements. No help from management just a threat of how you could be thrown off the tour if you complained. Elephant encounter made things a lot better because this was EXCELLENT. Left out of pocket having to pay for meals and transport that were suppose to be provided .
Cambodia was a complete contrast, well run and amazing hotel. Odd that this part of the trip has changed after we left and they will not be using these staff and this hotel in future (do not understand why, were they too well run and thus not providing as much profit for the company - purely my interpretation of the reason)

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Would and in fact WILL use a different operator.
Default avatar
Gina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I just returned from an amazing experience with the Young at Heart Turtle conservation tour.
I had no idea what i was signing up for, but everything definitely exceeded anything i could have imagined. The BamFam staff(friends) - Kim, Jorge, Joel(Angel), Abarca and everyone else we met on our journey, are excellent and are always making sure you experience everything. (If you wish or are able to) We had a small and amazing group. Strangers for the most part, but we clicked. (Shout out to Angie, Nicki, Patti, Pam and Denny) Actually, we feel we had excellent karma. Within hours of getting to our first location in San Miguel there were turtle hatchlings in the hatchery, a rare daytime nesting Olive Ridley(turtle) and a mini Arribada at a neighbouring beach. (Plans changed ate, napped and at 2 am(pitch black😀) we got up and was driven to the beach to experience this amazing phenomenon. This journey just went up and up...coffee plantations, cocoa plantations, Antonio Manuel national park, etc. Fooood...omg
So i cant say enough...you need to try it. I highly recommend this option.
Very safe for a solo traveler.
Pura Vida
Gina

Default avatar
Takuto
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It was my first time to go to a foreign country when I went to the Philippines and did my volunteer work. People I met there were very kind, cheerful and lovely. Especially, children were so lovely that I have missed them. I'm Japanese and pronounciation of Japanese was unfamiliar with them. That's why they couldn't say my name perfactlly. So they just called me "Kuya.T." Kuya means elder brother. Whereever I went, children called me Kuya.T and I was surrounded by lovely kids with full smile. This time was unforgettable and precious for me.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5
Bamboo
Vietnam Volunteer Tour
Vietnam
9.14 •7 reviews

The centre located in Ba Vi, Hanoi that is supported by our partner...

Bamboo
Bamboo - Uganda Volunteer Tour
Uganda
9.86 •7 reviews

Bamboo has opportunities aimed at providing Childcare in remote...

Bamboo
Volunteer Abroad Tours in Peru
Peru
8.2 •5 reviews

Bamboo is offering the opportunity to support our Childcare project in...

Bamboo
Bamboo - Everest Base Camp Fundraising Trek
Nepal
9.25 •4 reviews

Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Our Everest Base Camp...

Bamboo
Bamboo - Two Countries VolunTour - Thailand & Cambodia
Multiple Countries
6 •3 reviews

Bamboo's most popular volunteer tour takes you through two of South...

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Beata Holka

Polish architect and interior designer. In love with her life woman who believie that happiness is a choice and everyone is able to live one's dreams. Travelling to south-east Asia actually.

Why did you pick this program?

It is a priority for me to be in line with my values which are: personal growth, fulfillment and altruism. Taking part in "beach and build" program in Thailand goes with all of this! As an architect and interior designer I could use my abilities and the passion to help creating a better place to learn for kids.

I also love learning new skills, having new experiences, finding new friends and having fun. Volunteering is a great way to get it all! Moreover, I wanted to spoil myself by spending time in a tropical place and Koh Samui island is absolutelly gorgeous!!

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Just do it!! You have only one life!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

An advice? Hahaha I am warming you! This decision can change a meaning of your life! Seriously! Giving a helping hand and being a part of this miracle have a huge impact. This is an incredible feeling deep inside your heart. You need to experience it on your own.

What is more, the staff is wonderful and very helpful. I love them all. You are in good hands. So be open-minded and enjoy your adventure! You deserve it!

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Ooh how can I choose only one story? Around the world travel gives you a lot of amazing memories! From exploring stunning places you couldn't imagine they are exist, hanging out with inspiring people from over the world, doing crazy things first time to finally - finding out that you are a badass! Start travelling and you will write a new page (the book!) of a story of your live! When you are abroad, far away from home, family and friends, out of your comfort zone - you truly discover yourself. And then magic happens...

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Kelly Holyoake

Program

What is your role at GVN? What led you to join their team?

I am the Volunteer Specialist at GVN and I do what I can to assist volunteers in preparing themselves for their international volunteer placement in a developing country.

This includes:

  • Managing volunteer expectations.
  • Preparing volunteers for all aspects of life in a developing country.
  • Informing volunteers of all the requirements they will need to meet before they can volunteer.
  • Providing volunteers with the information they need on their specific placement.

I am also the Program Specialist for 2 Programs; the Nepal Young at Heart Program and the Vietnam Youth Volunteer Experience. This role includes setting up, managing and coordinating the program with our in-country partners.

I studied International Relations and have a passion for International Development. The International Development Industry can be hard to get into, requiring people to volunteer to get the experience and skills they need.

I did just this and applied for an unpaid internship with the GVN Foundation, the fundraising branch of the Global Volunteer Network which I did for almost a year. It was an amazing opportunity for me and I grew very committed to GVN and their vision. I was offered a job at the end of my internship which I eagerly accepted.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

The most enjoyable aspect of my role is hearing from both our in-country programs and volunteers alike as to the impact their relationship has had on each other.

Both our programs around the world and our volunteers benefit hugely from their time together, with friendships being formed and lives being transformed through the work of our programs and the volunteers.

You are a program alumnus yourself. What was your favorite moment of the experience?

I have spent time in GVN's Youth Volunteer Experience Program in Vietnam which has hands down been the best experience of my life. My favorite moment would have to have been the interactions I had with the kids in GVN's programs - they just want to learn, have fun and need all the love and care they can get.

Volunteers with this program raise a donation. How is this typically used?

Each year the participants of the Youth Volunteer Experience in Vietnam, are encouraged to raise a minimum of $200 as a donation to the program.

This is a great opportunity for our youth to engage in fundraising and advocacy for the children they are to meet during their volunteer experience.

We take these donations the youth have raise to Vietnam with us where the youth get to assess the needs of the children or the program and decide how their donations can best be used.

Last year we had a participant, Ali Le Carpentier, who went above and beyond with her fundraising. Ali had been to Vietnam with GVN twice before and has a huge love for the children she has worked with in Vietnam.

Using the funds Ali raised along with the donations of the other participants, we were able to purchase a generator for Friendship Village. This was at the request of the dedicated staff members who work at Friendship Village.

There are over 100 children living at Friendship Village and all meals are prepared on site by the staff. In Vietnam each district has scheduled power outages as part of the load shedding system to preserve power, as well as frequent unpredictable power cuts.

For the staff at Friendship this makes cooking and preparing meals for over 100 children really difficult. The generator is used as a back up so when the power goes down, meals can still be prepared resulting in over 100 full tummies and happy faces.

Any tips for a first-time volunteer in Vietnam?

Our volunteers are so well looked after, that the biggest thing any volunteer needs to prepare for is the goodbyes - saying good bye to new family, friends, and a wonderful experience.

More practically speaking however, there will be many difference volunteers will encounter, these include the climate, food, smells, sounds and sights but with an open mind and a good attitude, volunteers will undoubtedly have a fun and meaningful experience.