GVI: Volunteer in Thailand

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We are proud to launch our new GVI Business Internships Abroad!

Business Internships Abroad are a great way to apply your business management and leadership skills, explore the world, experience new cultures, contribute to a sustainable cause and kickstart your career!


Volunteer with GVI in Thailand and discover the land of smiles; a land surrounded by stunning golden beaches, intricate temples and a rich culture. Although Thailand has a thriving tourism industry, there are many poorer communities. Thailand is also home to a variety of fauna and flora that are both unique, diverse and in some cases endangered.

Top Volunteer Projects in Thailand:

  • Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand: Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand: Explore the awe-inspiring mountainous forests of Northern Thailand as you volunteer with traditional communities as they work to protect the Asian elephant population. You will learn a great deal about how the elephants behave as you live as a local in the village.
  • Thailand Coastal Conservation Expedition: As an expedition member, you'll be assisting with climate and conservation issues that the region faces alongside our local partners. Volunteers will be involved in biodiversity research turtle conservation and environmental education.
  • Volunteer Healthcare Project in Thailand: Provide assistance with health and hygiene education in schools, care centers and community centers in Phang Nga. Explore the picturesque island oases of southern Thailand in your free time.
  • Volunteer with Children in Thailand: Help children in Thailand to improve their future opportunities by teaching English in local schools. Experience the traditional Thai culture explore the unspoiled white sand beaches and tropical jungles in your free time.
  • Marine and Wildlife Conservation in Thailand: Travel to the majestic country of Thailand and contribute to long-term sustainable conservation projects. Contribute to solving the climate and conservation issues affecting the various ecosystems as well as the rehabilitation of Asian elephants who have been rescued from tourist camps.
  • Teach English to Monks in Laos and Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand: Travel to two stunning Asian countries and help enhance the education of Buddhist Novice Monks and help reintegrate elephants into their natural habitat from lives in tourist camps.

Questions & Answers

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.


based on 24 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 16 - 24 of 24
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once in a lifetime experience!

Being an intern on this project was amazing, you had the time to be fully submerged in the village, language and cultures. Not only that you got to trek through beautiful forests and had the most amazing views of the land. The elephants were just incredible, they are so beautiful and intelligent and just being around them was a dream. I am so glad I got to be a part of their conservation and am so thankful there are projects like this to help elephants.

How can this program be improved?
Working and education the locals more on the ethical treatment of elephants.
Yes, I recommend this program
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GVI Thailand Elephant Reintroduction

Joining the GVI team in Thailand was the most incredible experience of my life. Upon my arrival to the village of Huay Pakoot I was a little nervous. I had already been greeted and briefed on the project by some staff but now was the time that I got to meet my family. The family I stayed made my stay. We were always having conversations (usually hang motions and little words), laughing, hanging out together, and teaching each other our own native language. Over my first few days I learned my way around the village and acquainted myself with the other staff and volunteers. This was not too hard because the first night I arrived we all had a potluck dinner together where we introduced ourselves. After a while this became part of my normal routine, we had potlucks once a week. During the week days we had elephant hikes, bio-diversity hikes, nursery, school teaching, and an assortment of many other things. Im sure you want to know about the elephants though, it is only reasonable considering they are the reason were all there. Well they are amazing! Each elephant seems so happy being back in the forest where they should be. They also have an obvious love for their Mahouts. There are three herds of elephants on this project all in different areas of the forest. This makes for quite the diversity of hikes. The hikes are the most physically demanding part, hard but doable! They are amazing, the views never get old and there are always new ones to be found. The elephants move around the forest so the hikes with them change as the elephants location changes. After hikes we usually have lunch weather it be in the forest or back in the village. Aside from the elephants and the people the food was probably one of my favorite parts. I mean three regular meals a day, all with rice, and lots of veggies! This all is really just a start to telling how my amazing experience went while I was away. I could type for days about it all while having a ear to ear smile on my face. Going I had several questions, so if you have ANY I would be happy to try and answer!

Yes, I recommend this program
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This program was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.The description of the program on the GVI website is a bit vague. But let me tell you that if you go on this program you will be in for treat. Being on this program you learn a lot about elephants of course, but you also learn about yourself and the world around you. It teaches you to see things in a different way. Life in the village is so different from life in the Western World. The people there are much more appreciative and relaxed. It is the simple things in life that bring the most joy. Be prepared to hike. A LOT. Everyday. It can be hard at times, but it is always worth the physical labor. You record social data and feeding behaviors of the elephants which is super interesting. Watching elephants is like people watching. They are always doing something. The food is so yummy, but still make sure to bring some snacks from home like peanut butter!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Working with Elephants

Overall this two weeks of volunteering was a fantastic experience. Being able to live in a small (300 people) village in the mountains in Northern Thailand was amazing. Although most of the villagers spoke little English, it was very interesting to find out how they lived, and staying in a homestay meant that we were able to experience the food and customs. Working with the elephants was a great privilege: we followed them into the forest, and twice a week did health checks which allowed us to touch the elephants and get close to them. We were assigned one elephant during our stay, and I felt very close to mine by the time I left. The staff on the project were extremely professional, with attention to safety and a thorough training programme. The interactions with the local villagers were always respectful and our impact on the village was always carefully considered. Top memories for me include watching the baby elephants playing with each other, teaching the Mahouts English, talking in a broken mixture of English and the local language to my homestay family, and meeting other wonderful volunteers and staff. The project wasn't too physical, but the village is located on a steep hill, and the hot climate makes activity draining at times. I learned a lot about the plight of the Asian elephant during my stay, and I really felt that I made a difference to the lives of the elephants, and the villagers, by volunteering on this project.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Best month of my life!

The month I spent in Huay Pakoot was by far the best in my life. This program is a truly amazing experience for anyone who like animals or likes experiencing other cultures.

On arrival in Huay Pakoot, a tiny, beautiful village nestled deep in the mountains of Northern Thailand, each volunteer is assigned an elephant with whom they will be working closely with for the time they are there. Each day, volunteers go on hikes with the elephants. Three times a week, these hikes involve collecting data on how the elephants are eating and socialising (to determine whether or not they were adapting to their new life), and the other two days a week hikes finish with a general health check on the elephants. It is during this time that you get to go up close and personal with your elephant, and learn about her personality, behaviour and needs. It was really humbling to be so close to such a magnificent animal, and getting to know your elephant is really cool. I really enjoyed the health checks for this reason.

Watching the elephants foraging in the forest and behaving like elephants should naturally was a really good experience too. Knowing that these elephants have had a tough past (having worked in tourist camps and logging) and then seeing them happy and healthy in their native environment was heartwarming. It was when you could see that this program was making a difference to their lives.

Staff were very safety conscious when we were around the elephants which was comforting, though at times I almost felt like this was taken a little too far and it occasionally limited our hikes or time with the elephants. I also always felt very safe in the village at all times.

Other day-to-day activities included English teaching, running events at the school, participating in anything that was happening in the village, going grass-cutting, Friday night parties, optional weekend trips and much more. I really liked the variety that this program offered - you could participate in as much or as little as you liked. For example, I really enjoyed teaching English to the children and the mahouts, however I know some other volunteers weren't as into this, so it was totally up to them whether they got involved.

The villagers were such beautiful people. It was great getting to know them, especially the mahouts and my homestay family. Each volunteer stays with a homestay family, and I got really close with mine. Saying goodbye to my homestay family was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. The village is a Karen hill tribe village and thus the language (called 'Pakinyoh') is completely separate from Thai, so we were encouraged to try to learn some basic Pakinyoh and try it out on the villagers. They always loved hearing us try to speak it!

Life in the village is very laid-back, we had a lot of free time to sit back and relax if we so chose. Though living conditions were basic (matresses on the floor, squat toilets and cold bucket showers), I felt it was all part of the experience and it didn't make me enjoy my time there any less. Also, the food was absolutely amazing. Every lunch and dinner was prepared by your homestay family, and was always delicious. They also easily cater for vegetarians.

Value for money was very good in that it includes all food and accommodation, so you really don't need much money at all while you are on the project.
GVI were extremely helpful during the application process. They contacted you directly via phone shortly after booking to satisfy any queries and fill you in on project details, and were very thorough with sending checklists of what you needed to prepare for a bring.

The only negative point I really have is that the program is so good that it makes it impossible to leave without crying your eyes out! I still miss the village and the elephants every single day. I would definitely recommend this program to all of my friends, and hope I can go back myself some day!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Huay Pakoot: a village experience

The early morning wakeups, I thought, would be a hassle. Yet with the scenery, and the somewhat vocal roosters, it was a joy to wake up to the beautiful village with a warm breakfast not too far away. After breakfast in the peaceful village, depending on the day; Ele Grass Cutting and other events (e.g. Basket Weaving, English Teaching and base duties), or casually trekking through the forest with 5 wonderful elephants and their mahouts would occur at 8am.

What may seem like a barrier to an outsider, the language (Packinyo) proves an excellent tool to get well acquainted to your host family- even if there are a few miss communications every once and a while. This, however, would have been my favourite experience within my time spent on the program. Being at the forefront of learning and developing a handbook to learn a new language is phenomenal, and sharing this experience with a bunch of diverse individuals only inspired us even more!

Not to neglect the elephants, though as they are, of course, wonderful. From your first day feeding your elephant bananas, to health checks every second day, it seems as if there is an instant connection. The beauty of walking with them comes not only from Tong Dees’ ridiculously slow pace, but the time that you then get to spend with the other volunteers and their somewhat distressing Elephant Baby Voices. Hiking, personally, was a breeze. If you are a little unfit, it may be a struggle, however no one (in my time) couldn’t finish a hike. They generally span for 2-3 and half hours, with every second day being data collection. This would involve, observing their behaviour in terms of trunk touching from one Ele to another, eating, defecating (always exciting to prod poo!) and who they spend most of their time with while foraging naturally.

While the Ele’s favourite meal seems to be musah-toh (pounded chili)- from the Mahouts perspective; as a volunteer you start developing an understanding of the plant biology to really double think when that answer is given. Rather, you quickly find that Va Su (Bamboo) and Boo Kay Sah (Corn) is on the menu. Luckily, this information has been offered to be analysed by a behavioural analyst, and along with our own interpretations- we are able to determine whether one Elephant is spending more time alone or with a particular Elephant instead.

In between data collection, there is a lot of free time where you can choose to visit top shop to buy 2 baht cookies and other food, or rather spend time with your host family and help them cook: it’s really up to you!

My time spent in Huay Pakoot was unforgettable, unimaginably rewarding and overall one thing I would definitely tell others to do. It’s easy to leave a footprint on such a recently developed program, are you ready to leave yours?

Yes, I recommend this program
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Life in the mountains

I decided to apply for GVI whilst taking my gap year. It was the best decision I have ever made!

Over my two month stay I really felt like a part of the community. The community, villagers and volunteers alike, were so welcoming and helpful with anything and everything.

A normal day would consist of hiking with the elephants and working in community development, wheather it be teaching or working on gardens etc.

My highlights would be the health checks on the elephants, getting up close and personal with the elephants, and starting to collect plant info through talking to the chief and mahoots as well as going on hikes to get geographical information on where the plants can be found around the village.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Amazing animals, amazing staff, amazing trip

An absolute amazing trip the best experience of my life. The elephants are incredible animals. I loved every aspect of the trip bar the cold water showers, but even then on very hot days and long hikes even they were good. The treks can be difficult as there a few steep hills, but the views and the elephants are more than worth the hard work. The hands on approach with the elephants meant a lot of bonding with your elephants which I loved so much.

The village is little isolated but that there are options to go out for the weekend, whilst i was there we went to May Hon son and a charity based hostel. In the village the weekends are very relaxed which can be nice as the days can be quite long but amazing.

Other than the elephants your time is spent doing other volunteering projects during my time we were setting up a garden for elephants grass and another one for vegetables and herds which was a very fulfilling experience. I was in charge of designing and building a compost heap for the group out of bamboo which was amazing. There is a also a chance to teach English to school children very rewarding.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Caring for Elephants! Incredible.

I had the most amazing experience on this trip! I went to the north of Thailand to help with elephant and wildlife conservation and community projects in the village we stayed in. I went for 3 weeks and it definitely was not enough! It included a home-stay family for you, food, funding for supplies (eg. paper, pens, etc.) for the coordinators and interns, water, food for the elephants and many others. It was very easy to apply and pay for, and I thought it was the best value for money! The village we stay in is small and very community-based, it has no internet or phone service, but it's so refreshing to get away from all that for a while! Every second day we would walk the elephants out to the mountains, record how they interact with each other, eat lunch in the mountains, and walk back so they can have those nights by themselves. The other days we would walk out to find them and bring them back to the village. Weekends we could stay in the village or visit other towns, and there was always spare time! The group would sometimes be split; some would help around the community while others would go out and collect grass for the elephants. It's a little bit challenging, and the mountains can be difficult to climb, but that's what makes it fun; it's different, you're out in nature, you're actually doing something for these amazing animals and the community that surrounds them. It was just the most rewarding and incredible experience and I am going back every year :)

Yes, I recommend this program


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GVI is an award-winning organisation that tackles critical local and global issues by operating education and training programs on sustainable development projects around the world.

Formed in 1997, we have been operating our award-winning...