Location
  • Thailand
Length
1 to 24 weeks

Program Details

Timeframe
Short Term Spring Break Summer Winter
Housing
Host Family

Pricing

Starting Price
500
Price Details
The practice of elephant street begging significantly reduces the life expectancy of this endangered species, diminishes their high cultural importance, and places individuals in inhumane living conditions. We are creating a new future for the species, and bringing new hope to elephants with tragic pasts. Volunteers provide basic care and see that the elephants' social needs are met. This program is tied in with a larger government effort to rescue up to 300 elephants from city streets.
What's Included
Accommodation Some Activities Airport Transfers Some Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance Visa
Jul 13, 2020
Aug 12, 2022
132 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

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.

Video and Photos

Program 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.

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.

Program Reviews

4.93 Rating
based on 88 reviews
  • 5 rating 93.18%
  • 4 rating 6.82%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.85
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.9
  • Value 4.75
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 88 reviews
Default avatar
Tamsin
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Thailand has been the best experience of my life.

I travelled to Phang Nga Thailand on the u set 18s course over July/August 2022. To volunteer in the Community and with Turtles and a week of adventure. Every single day was full of new food, places, experiences, we learnt so much and seeing the lifestyles of this country was extremely eye opening. I didn’t full appreciate what we had in the Uk that is just taken for granted. The GVI staff were so friendly, supportive and kind the trip would not have been the same. We explored local communities and visited lots of markets and a Primary school which was incredible. My favourite part was working in the Royal Thai Navy base centre for the conservation of Green Sea Turtles. Been up close to the amazing animals, was so special as they are endangered I felt so lucky. Eve was also so cool to work for, all of us were truly inspired by her and aspire to have the same job as her. During adventure week we explored mangroves, jungles, waterfalls, temples it was non stop! The team spotted many species of wildlife for us to see. Every night we travelled to new accommodation, as my group was quite small we all became close friends pretty quickly and each night we’d be playing card games with our GVI staff ( Jen, Kiz, Gay, George and Kyra) and then sit out on our balcony chatting before bed. Now that I’ve had to come home I miss all my new friends so much! I’d completely recommend this trip to anyone wanting to try something new and make new friends as it was a really great 2 weeks. Travelling alone at 16 was a bit scary at first but I met some other volunteers at Heathrow and the journey was completely fine we were just so excited to land in Thailand and get started. I’d do anything to relive my experience there I loved it so much.

Pros
  • Get to work with endangered species
  • Making friends from around the world
  • Exploring a brand new country
Cons
  • Get bitten by bugs a lot
5 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Tamsin,

Thanks for your beautiful review!

Amazing news to hear that you had such an unforgettable, action-packed, and soul-enriching time with us at GVI. 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.

We look forward to welcoming you back on base with open arms.

Default avatar
Osian
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience of my life

I would recommend volunteer at GVI. I volunteered at GVI Thailand Chiang Mai for two weeks and it's one of the best experiences I've ever had. The staff, the villagers and the other volunteers and interns were very nice and friendly people and you can have lots of laughs with them. The experience here would change you and you wouldn't want to leave the place while being there because everyone else makes this place feel like home to you. There's a lot of good things to do there like elephant hikes and rice picking and I've learned a lot of new stuff and skills while being there. I'll definitely come back again and I've missed so many of my new friends. I would definitely want to volunteer at other GVI programs to learn more about the animals and other new stuff. It was also good to learn about the elephants in GVI Thailand Chiang Mai.

Pros
  • Everyone is nice and friendly
  • Lots of activities and opportunities for everyone
  • Lots of elephants
Cons
  • Lots of mosquitoes
  • Lots of insect bites
  • Lots of leeches
6 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hi Osian,

Thanks for your review!

It is so amazing to hear that you had such a beautiful experience with us in Chiang Mai. It certainly sounds like you made the most of it and made beautiful connections. Love the photo, elephants can bring a smile to any face. We'd love to see you back on base soon. Please keep sharing your efforts in conservation

Default avatar
Rachel
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Breathtaking experience seeing elephants in the wild

I absolutely fell in love with Huay Pakoot in the two weeks that I spent living in the village. From experiencing elephants in the wild, to living in the homestay of the local family and getting to experience their cultures - I learnt so much. As well as hiking with elephants daily, I also had the opportunity to learn their local language of Pakinyaw, and teach technology skills to one of the villagers from nearby. All of the volunteers were amazing, and I got to meet so many fantastic people that I will continue to see in the future.

I can't wait to take part in more GVI projects in the near future!

Pros
  • Experiencing elephants in the wild
  • Experiencing a different pace of life
  • Meeting new people from different environments
22 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Rachel - thanks for your beautiful review!

Amazing news to hear that you had such an unforgettable, action-packed, and soul-enriching time with us at GVI. 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. We look forward to welcoming you back on base (with open arms) and continuing to make an impact.

Kajsa (UK Outreach)

Default avatar
Holly
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

I never wanted to leave!

My time with GVI Chiang Mai has been one of the best experiences of my life and I'm so sad to have left! I've learnt so much and met so many amazing people... it really is a little family on base. I have a new-found appreciation for the Karen culture as well as wildlife conservation and sustainable living which I'll take with me wherever I go next. If you're thinking of volunteering abroad I'd highly recommend doing it with GVI. It's so much more than volunteering: you learn about why they do what they do and how important this is to the different bases; all the staff I encountered on my GVI journey were amazingly helpful, friendly and truly loved what they do. I'll definitely be volunteering with GVI again, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Pros
  • Staff support
  • Cultural experience
  • Elephants!!
Cons
  • Felt like more money could have gone to the village and the program itself
  • There was a failure on the matter of safeguarding of one vulnerable adult on the GVI recruitment/sales team - this individual should not have been allowed onto base due to his health. The staff team on base, however, were amazing and handled it perfectly.
24 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Holly - thanks for your beautiful review!

Amazing news to hear that you had such an unforgettable, action-packed, and soul-enriching time with us at GVI. 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. We look forward to welcoming you back on base (with open arms) and continuing to make an impact.

Kajsa (UK Outreach)

Default avatar
Genevieve
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Chiang Mai Jan 2022

In January 2022 I was involved in the GVI Chiang Mai project. As part of the project I helped with the collection of health and behavioural data on a group of Elephants in the mountainous village of Huay Pakoot. Each weekday we hiked to where the elephants were eating their breakfast and observed them, recording their behaviour and interactions with other elephants at set intervals. Seeing these creatures in the wild gave me a greater understanding of why it's so important to protect them. I didn't fully comprehend the complexities of the tourism industry surrounding Elephants but speaking to the locals and GVI staff has educated me on the most ethical ways to experience these animals- in their natural habitat! I was lucky enough to be able to complete this project and travel to and around Thailand with my boyfriend. I'd highly recommend having a travelling companion because it's wonderful to share the experiences together and reflect on the trip when back home. However, I wouldn't let a lack of travel buddy stop you from travelling! You meet so many amazing, like-minded people along the way that you soon have a great group of friends to share your time with. Before deciding to volunteer, I had no idea what I wanted to do with the next stage of my life. I thought I'd enjoy doing something that involved helping others and protecting the world around me but I wasn't sure what that looked like. Having this experience has reassured me that I really want to be a part of something important and impactful. If you have the opportunity to volunteer with GVI, take it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Pack a good hoodie because it gets colder than you expect in the evenings
21 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Genevieve - thanks for your beautiful review!

Amazing news to hear that you had such an unforgettable, action-packed, and soul-enriching time with us at GVI. 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. We look forward to welcoming you back on base (with open arms) and continuing to make an impact.

Kajsa (UK Outreach)

Default avatar
Michael (Mikey)
5/5
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.
44 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Mikey, 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
kat
5/5
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.
48 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Kat, thanks for your review! You are always welcome to come back as quickly as you like! We'd love to have your input and passion back on base.

Default avatar
Jamie
5/5
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.
46 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Jamie, thanks for your review! You are always welcome to come back as quickly as you like! We'd love to have your input and passion back on base.

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.