GVI: Volunteer in Thailand

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, GVI has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

GVI Chiang Mai
GVI Chiang Mai
GVI Chiang Mai
GVI Chiang Mai
GAI Chiang Mai Karen Wedding
GAI Chiang Mai Karen Wedding
Ele Family
Ele Family
Early morning hikes
Early morning hikes
My first dinner at my homestay
My first dinner at my homestay
View from the volunteer base
View from the volunteer base
So much love for Thong Dee
So much love for Thong Dee

About

GVI offers a variety of programs in Thailand driven by sustainability in a global, social, environmental, and conservationist context. With bases in Chiang Mai and Phang Nga, you could get involved in education, marine and wildlife conservation, volunteering with children, supporting public health, community development, or contributing towards construction based activities.

While you will be actively assisting in GVI’s efforts to reach the UN Sustainable Development objectives of each project, there will also be ample opportunity for you to travel independently in your own time, or with your international volunteering peers. Explore beaches, verdant jungles and woodlands, mountainous terrain or a variety of coastal islets. This is a travel expedition with the purpose to make a meaningful impact.

Highlights
  • Support global sustainable efforts that contribute towards the long-term objectives of a program.
  • Learn about and assist projects in reaching their UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Live and travel in Thailand, connecting with local community and other international volunteers.
  • Become a world citizen as you learn about different cultures, lifestyles, local cuisines, and traditions.
  • Improve your CV by gaining skills in marine and wildlife conservation, teaching, health education, and community development.

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

Two elephants in Thailand

In Northern Thailand, support local communities and elephant caretakers in alleviating elephants from the tourism industry. Learn about these intelligent land animals as they recover in expansive Chiang Mai forest grounds as a semi-wild herd. Live among and gain a better understanding of the culturally diverse Karen communities, while contributing towards the projects UN Sustainable Development Goals and traveling in your own time.

Two students conducting research in Thailand

In Phang Nga, a province with abundant biodiverse land and marine life, contribute towards conservation efforts to protect local species and habitats. Enjoy tropical climates, waters, natural islets, and an experiential educational experience. You could gain skills in conservation, surveying, camera trapping, and coral reef and species identification, to name a few. Travel and meet participants from around the world, all while contributing towards long-term sustainable goals.

Volunteer conducting public health workshop in Thailand

Contribute to health education in Phang Nga. Assist local teachers to encourage positive health practices in children and young adults of the province, and contribute towards the UN Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being. The opportunity to support a variety of educational classes are available in sports education, language, and social developments, with valuable long-term impacts on the community.

Thai students studying

In Chiang Mai you’ll have a diversified experience in cultural immersion while living among the local Karen community. You can learn about traditional cooking, clothes weaving, and jewelry creation. Participate in professional development classes for women in the community, animal education and conservation projects. You’ll also learn about elephants and their caretakers during health checks and forest hikes, and gain a better understanding of gender roles within the community.

Volunteers participating in plastic clean up in Thailand

As plastic pollution continues to threaten the environment, participate in this conservation program to encourage plastic reduction and effective waste practices in the community of Phang Nga. Support efforts to protect the endangered green sea turtle and gain conservation, reef monitoring, and species identification skills. By encouraging environmental awareness through education, the local community is empowered to work together to combat the many environmental threats they face.

Questions & Answers

Hi Diego, Thank you for your interest in a GVI sustainable development program. We offer a variety of volunteer programs in Thailand, and costs are dependent on the type of project you join. You can visit our Volunteer in Thailand page https://www.gvi.co.uk/volunteer-in-thailand/ to check out the cost of your chosen program. All program costs include the following: pre-departure support and...

For the homestay in Thailand you have your own space/room at the locals house. You get up early and are out with the Elephants and other volunteers all day. Some nights you have dinner with the alone and try and learn each others languages.

Reviews

9.67 Rating
based on 83 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.6
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 83
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Michael (Mikey)
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A truly like changing experience

Prior to my trip, I didn’t have any experience travelling, and though the program had amazing reviews and I’d never be truly alone, I was away from my family for the first time. Hell I was terrified, I didn’t know what to think. I quickly got to know the rest of the volunteers, who felt the same way, about it. It’s a scary step. The program was brilliant, I got to learn the karen language, Pakinyaw quite well which turned out to be a very rewarding venture, as talking to the villagers was so interesting! Day to day activities consist of the morning hike (either elephant hikes or other bio hikes, which are like caves and cool shit) lunch at base, theres always school going on in the afternoon, so you can wander up to teach English to the locals village kids, (who are all to fun and crazy) theres truly a lot to do! It was about 3 weeks that I realized that though the elephants were incredible, the people were truly the magic to this program. You’ll realize by the end of your stay your not leaving a group a strangers you met by circumstance, you’re leaving a family, a GVI family.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Say Yes! Make every moment count. You’ll love it.
Default avatar
kat
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Experience

With GVI I was able to travel to a remote village and be involved learning about elephant conservation programs in Chiang Mai in Thailand. In such a small amount of time I was able to see how the staff GVI take data and health checks on the elephants as well as encouraging volunteers to become immersed with the Karen Tribe culture by teaching us the native language, have us practice this by staying in homes of the local villagers. This was a fantastic opportunity to meet other like minded people from all over the globe of different ages, back grounds, life experience together to make a difference for good of this community.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay on longer and complete an internship.
Default avatar
Jamie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Elephant love

I chose this trip as my first experience with GVI because I am fascinated by elephants and loved the idea of traveling and learning about them. I loved how GVI was there every step of the way, during booking and questions from slight confusion when landing to the best way to find a taxi at the airport, I always had support. The experience of staying in the village was absolutely amazing. My home-stay family was friendly, accommodating and nice. I got the opportunity to learn some of their language and to interact with the local children at the school teaching English and playing games. All the volunteers were super friendly and I met people from all over the globe. I loved following the elephants through the forest and learning about their behavior and history. These beautiful gentle giants were adorable and showed their individual personalities the longer you watched them. It was truly an inspiring adventure.

What was your funniest moment?
When Charlie a small male elephant wanted food and thought one of our staff members had some he just kept coming up to him opening his mouth and waiting.
Default avatar
Elizabeth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A guaranteed great experience

My time in GVI Phang Nga, Thailand was amazing. The staff are all incredibly supportive and so dedicated to the cause, and were always open new ideas, allowing for the constant evolution and growing success of all the projects. The fact that GVI are so well respected within the local community just goes to show the extent of the impact that GVI are creating, and it was amazing to be a part of the positive work going on through GVI. I would not fail to hesitate to recommend GVI and hope I can return soon to the Thailand base to continue to support the amazing work being done by GVI there.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The more you put in the more you get out, so put in lots of effort and commitment and you are guaranteed a great and rewarding experience!
Default avatar
Simone
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Inspiration

I spent two weeks with GVI in Thailand Phang Nga. I learned a lot about nature and about the marine life.

We went to a sea turtle sanctuary twice a week, cleaned the tanks and tended the turtles and checked their health.

Super organized, very great staff. Still very inspiring for travelers alone to meet new people from all over the world.
And to learn about the environment and marine life at the same time.

Twice a week we were cleaning the beach once with the military and a school class that helped us a lot. We collected over 300kg of rubbish

What was your funniest moment?
We took care of turtles and the turtle hit their fins wildly and made another volunteer wet
Default avatar
Liam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Once in a lifetime experience

A real once in a lifetime experience I doubt I can do justice to. Being able to observe these elephants in their natural habitat up close is incredible and it’s something you do everyday on this program. I was there 4 weeks and in that time you’re able to recognise each individual elephant and their own personalities. You get to see first hand how different they behave to captive elephants and the progress they’ve made since being released form their camps. I was even lucky enough to see Lah Lah, a 9 month old baby who was born in the forest and is essentially a giant puppy!
The only thing I was apprehensive about before going was the home stay, I was nervous about staying in someone else’s house who didn’t speak the same language as me. I stayed at Old Chief’s house and it became obvious very early in my nerves were misplaced, although it’s an unusual experience for me it isn’t for them as they’re very used to having westerners staying with them. GVI give Pakinyaw lessons so you’re able to communicate in a basic way and this really helped. Being vegan I was also worried how my home stay would cope but Faw, who did all the cooking, was great. The food was amazing and I certainly never went hungry with the portion sizes she served. They made me feel very welcome and I was very sad to say goodbye when my time was up.
Twice a week we teach at the local school and some evenings we go to teach English to other villagers. This really helped you feel a part of the community and even in my short time I was able to build good relationships there especially at mahout football (where I put in a couple of wonderful performances)
All in all I can’t recommend this place enough, as soon as I left I began planning my return and I’m counting down the days until I can come back to Huoy Pakoot and see all my friends again.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I could change one thing I would go longer! 4 weeks disappears too quickly and next time I’ll go for 6 months
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Tiffany
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

I would highly recommend this programme. I met so many amazing people and had so many great experiences that were unlike any that I’ve ever had before. I was able to develop my skills and learn lots about marine conservation through hands on experience. GVI made the whole thing enjoyable and informative and the members of staff were extremely passionate which just made the whole thing even better! I would recommend this programme to everyone who wishes to gain experience in marine conservation.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The amount of wildlife and amazing creatures that I’d never seen before.
Default avatar
Connor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Completely Unique Experience

GVI is a fantastic company to volunteer for with so many great projects around the world. After I visited GVI Chiang Mai base it changed my thinking and my career plans. The impact that the project has is astounding. The relationship between GVI and the local community is completely unique. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly and the villagers take you into their homes and cook for you. Spending time walking with the elephants in the forest is a special experience and I would thoroughly recommended enrolling on this project.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The villagers catch their own fish in a nearby river and my homestay used to cook me river fish from that day.