Phang Nga province is located on the Andaman Sea and is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, numerous national parks and stunning scenery with a wide range of attractions. Phang Nga is made up of white sandy beaches, tropical islands, amazing limestone rock formations and a rich culture. Our project base gives volunteers the opportunity to be immersed in the local culture with chances to explore local attractions on your project downtime.
Get involved in regular beach cleans and conduct environmental education workshops at local schools and within the wider local community, aiming to promote effective plastic waste disposal practices in Phang Nga, Thailand.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Contribute specifically to these United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Travel to Thailand’s Phang Nga Province, known for its scenic natural beauty and an abundance of endemic wildlife and marine species. Plastic pollution is one of several environmental threats facing this region.
On this program you will contribute locally to the conservation of this area in Thailand and globally to Sustainable Development Goals #14 Life Below Water, and #15, Life On Land, set by the United Nations.
The main focus of this program will be minimising the effects of plastic pollution through conducting and promoting regular beach cleans, collecting and analysing data on coastal and marine debris, as well as promoting plastic pollution awareness and environmentally friendly behaviours in the local community and among international visitors.
In addition you will also be contributing to other conservation initiatives along with GVI staff and other participants from around the world. This might include working at turtle research and conservation centers and conducting biodiversity surveys of nearby islands, including bird surveys, regular beach cleans and teaching environmental education classes, for which full training will be provided. From November to March you might also get involved in coral reef health and fish abundance and species surveys while snorkeling on the coast of Phang Nga.
Throughout the project, get to know fellow international participants, and gain in-depth insight into what life is like in southern Thailand, from traveling by Songthaew, a local shared taxi service, to exploring Thai cuisine with every meal. During your free time, visit the popular tourism destination of Phuket or go island hopping around Phang Nga. You could also travel further either before or after your GVI program to Bangkok or Chiang Mai.
Assist directly with minimising the impact of marine litter in Thailand,
Build the capacity of local people to operate their own long-term sustainable development projects,
Promote environmental awareness by working with local students,
Work on conserving the endangered green turtle and learn about threats to sea turtle populations,
Contribute to biodiversity research to aid in the conservation of formally protected areas,
During November to March to gain coral reef monitoring and fish Identification skills,
Explore the beauty of Thailand’s southern region, including its idyllic islands and numerous National Parks.
Cancel anytime and receive a full refund minus your deposit.
Life On Base
Our GVI base is located in the small fishing village of Ban Nam Khem, about one and half hours from Phuket airport, and about half an hour from the tourism resort town of Khao Lak. The village offers participants the chance to experience living in a real Thai community, tucked away from the usual busy hotspots. The base is only a ten minute walk from the beach and a fifteen minute walk from the centre of the village where you can find little markets and street food vendors. Our participants share the home, including a space to learn or relax, with GVI staff and other participants from all around the world. On the weekends you can explore the numerous stunning beaches, islands, caves, and national forests for which the Phang Nga region is well-known.
24-hour in-country support
Meals while on project
Rooms are shared with a maximum of 6 participants per room. Each room has a bathroom with showers and flushing toilets.
We will provide transportation to your project location, ensuring you arrive promptly to take part in your project work.
Wifi is available on base but bear in mind it might not be as reliable as you might be use to back home.
This program gives participants the opportunity to experience authentic Southern Thai cuisine, while still having the chance to share some of their own favourite meals from back home. Breakfasts might include toast, cereal, and, of course, a wide arrange of Thailand’s tropical fruit. On some days participants can prepare eggs and pancakes. From Sunday to Thursday night lunches and dinners are prepared by local chefs, and on the weekends, participants can prepare their own meals.
Thailand has a famously tropical climate, the perfect weather in which to enjoy Thailand’s many beaches. There are two main seasons, the dry and the wet season, although it is warm and humid most days of the year. The dry season runs from November to April, which is why Thailand is a great place to visit for December, and the wet season from May to October.
CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE DRESS AND BEHAVIOUR
When on project and in the local town participants will be expected to wear modest clothing and behave in ways in keeping with Thai customs.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.
Health and Hygiene
For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.
The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
Follow GVI Phang-Nga's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
Please note that the above images were taken pre COVID-19. All airport pick-ups and program operations now run with enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.
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Meet the team - Senior Field Management
Deputy Director of Programs
Meet GVI’s Jill,also known by her rap name, Rainmaker, or her spiritual name, Field Whisperer. Her journey with GVI began back in 2007 as Thailand's Country Director, where she helped set up GVI’s first TEFL program!
Now she is based in Chaing Rai, Thailand. Jill's role involves providing support for all of our programs around the world. Working closing with each base, she looks to identify and manage any issues that occur so GVI are able to offer the best programs possible.
This is Vanessa. Vanessa is originally from the UK and joined GVI back in 2017, when she was completing an Education program in India. Since this volunteering expedition she has worked more closely with GVI and is now the Program Manager at our base in Phang Nga, Thailand.
Meet the team - In-Country Staff
Introducing Gay, who is our Community Liaison out in Phang Nga. Gay studied Business Management as a Master Degree before working with tefl interns and now with GVI!
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. Then, once on base you’ll learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Please note: Both conservation- and community-focused programs are offered at this location.
The environmental issues Thailand facing are many and varied. These include poor water, air and soil quality as well as biodiversity loss. Poaching, kidnapping of wild animals, deforestation, and unsustainable tourism threaten Thailand’s land and marine habitats and wildlife. The Thai government is constantly updating and improving environmental legislation and practices, and local and international non-governmental organisations and community groups can assist with achieving these conservation outcomes.
Sea Turtle Conservation
A large part of the environmental aspect of our project involves working alongside our partners at the Royal Thai Navy Sea Turtle Conservation Centre and the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre. These are head-start centres, where turtle hatchlings are reared until they are between 6 and 9 months old before being released back into the wild. Turtle populations the world over are threatened, and it is estimated that only around 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive to reach adulthood naturally. These statistics are exacerbated by beach erosion as a result of tourism development. Head-start programs aim to increase the survival rate by protecting the hatchlings until they reach a size where they will face much less risk of predation. The work our participants carry out includes scrubbing the tanks to ensure that the turtles have a clean environment to live in, washing the turtles with an antibacterial solution to reduce levels of infection, and also applying antifungal and antibacterial treatments to any wounds the turtles have. We also conduct research at the centre, collecting data on turtle morphology and infection rates, as well as some behavioural research to monitor the effects of enclosure enrichment. We hope to use this data to gain further understanding of the best methods of turtle husbandry. This project runs year round and if you are lucky enough to be on the project during a release date, you will assist in releasing hundreds of young turtles into the ocean
We also conduct biodiversity research on nearby islands year round. We conduct surveys and run camera trapping research on the islands to build up a picture of the biodiversity there and we hope that this research will contribute to the islands falling under formal protection. We have already confirmed the presence of some critically endangered species on the islands so we know that they are of conservation value, and we hope through our continued and expanding research, we can learn more about the ecology of the islands and their importance in the region. Other activities include conducting research on mangroves and conducting further research on these plants.
*Please note that we only travel to the islands once a month, so participants who only visit for two weeks might not get the opportunity to conduct island surveys.
Another element to our projects is carrying out bird surveys in and around the local area year round. Birds are an important part of healthy ecosystems and as such, building species lists and monitoring populations and patterns of migration is a valuable way to build a picture of how well nature is doing in an area. Participants are provided with training on how to identify birds in the field. Currently our data is submitted to a citizen science project, e-Bird, we are also looking at developing this project to commence our own research plan.
Plastic Pollution Cleanups
Year round we carry out beach cleans in our local area in Phang Nga. Marine litter is one of the greatest environmental challenges conservationists are facing today. Through regular clean ups we hope to make a difference by removing litter, we also engage with the local community to participate alongside us. As well as our local community, we join forces with our partner Trash Hero to maximise the impact of the beach cleans.
During the dry season, November to April, we carry out one to two snorkelling surveys a week on nearby coral reefs. We monitor the health of the coral, and we also look at the variety and abundance of fish species present. Coral reefs are incredibly important ecosystems which are vital to the health of our oceans, which in turn means that they are vital to humans as well. Globally coral reefs are being affected by overfishing, climate change and irresponsible tourism. We aim to monitor the reefs close to where we are based to look at how well they are doing and to establish if there are any actions that could be taken to improve or protect them further. We carry out our surveys in partnership with Green Fins Thailand and REEF, which are both organisations using citizen science to provide research and monitoring of the world’s coral reefs.
*Please note that you will not be doing any diving, while conducting these surveys, only snorkeling.
Conservation starts with education. Throughout the year, we conduct environmental awareness workshops at local schools, hotels, tour or dive operators, and anywhere in the local community when an opportunity presents itself. We also conduct conservation after school club at our partner schools.
Ban Nam Khem, meaning ‘Place of Salty Water’, became the epicentre of a tin mining boom in the 1950s. The population grew from a few families to approximately 5000 people at its height. However, when all the tin was eventually extracted from the surrounding mines, the mining bubble burst, so that all remains of the industry today are lakes dotted around the village, marking where mines were dug out yet never filled back in. Today most people here earn a living from fishing, but many look for new income in the nearby tourist hub of Khao Lak.
Thailand, like many countries in South East Asia, suffered greatly in the wake of the Indian Ocean Tsunami on 26th December 2004. Phang Nga, the province in which Ban Nam Khem is located, was one of the most severely affected in the country. Many villagers lost their homes, relatives, and friends. The need for community redevelopment and regeneration is still present.
The GVI Phang Nga hub was initiated in September 2012 with the aim of supporting the continued redevelopment of Ban Nam Khem and increased access to employment opportunities through capacity-building initiatives. The local community’s efforts to diversify employment markets remains central to its well-being. Ban Nam Khem is well located to take advantage of the tourism boom in the area, but the population needs a good level of conversational English to enable them access to the corresponding employment opportunities. Furthermore English language skills can assist students in the Thai workplace and in the international economy.
Ban Nam Khem boasts its own primary school with an enrolment of around 250 children and a Community Development Centre which offers free education during the day for around 150 children who live in the village, and free after-school classes open to everyone.
English Education Program
Throughout the year we assist local teachers with running classes to improve conversational and written English. This might include everything from leading English classes, training local teachers, assisting with lesson development and providing one-on-one tutoring sessions for learners requiring additional support. We also conduct English lessons for adult learners from the community.
We also assist educational or community centers around Ban Nam Khem with infrastructure development, depending on if and when they have requested the support. We assist by conducting basic maintenance and renovation work like painting, maintaining fences or building school gardens, making desks and improving the overall learning environment.
Our Partners In Phang Nga
GVI Phang Nga Long-term Objectives:
1. To provide equal, quality education to children of all backgrounds.
2. To promote good health and wellbeing through education to all children.
3. Increase skills for local people to gain access to equal employment opportunities in our communities within Takuapa and Ban Nam Khem.
4. Increase awareness of local populations to environmental issues and facilitate change towards sustainability through scientific studies.
5. Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training.
6. To assist and develop local coastal conservation efforts through providing practical support to project partners, research, awareness raising and habitat restoration.
The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.
‘GVI: Education, Conseration and Community Development in Ao Luk.’
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
Our 10 Ethical Commitments
Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
Working Against Dependency
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
Responsible Exit Strategies
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
Clear Roles & Specialized Training
We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
Respect for all
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
Transitioning from the Orphanage Model
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
Child and Vulnerable adult policies
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
NO ENTERTAINMENT-BASED ACTIVITIES
We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos
NO ORPHANED ANIMAL SANCTUARIES
We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases
GUIDELINES FOR TOUCHING OR MOVEMENT RESTRICTION
When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
ANIMAL WELFARE GUIDELINES
We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.
LOCAL COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT
We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.
Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
For All GVI Participants
Orientation: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.
Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals
Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.
Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
For All Participants at Phang Nga
Community: Human Empowerment
Learn about our empowerment principles.
Conservation: Survey Techniques and Logistics
An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.
Conservation: Biodiversity & Target Species Identification
Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.
Marine Conservation: Pollution and Plastics
Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.
Marine Conservation: Coral Reefs
Learn about what a coral reef is, its importance, how it is formed, how this ecosystem works.
Introduction to Thai Culture
A Thai culture presentation to help you understand more about important cultural details, and to make you feel more comfortable with any cultural differences you may encounter.
Introduction to Thai Language
Learn some basic Thai words and phrases which will help you integrate further into the village community.
The Importance of Responsible Tourism in Thailand
This presentation highlights the environmental issues caused by tourism to Thailand and helps volunteers make responsible decisions when deciding whether or not to engage in a wildlife encounter.
Your Program Specific Training
Marine Litter Awareness Training
Learn about the effects of plastic pollution and other substances on the marine environment and what is being done to tackle the issue.
Marine Turtle Biology and Conservation Training
A practical training involving best practices for handling turtles, applying treatments, and conducting turtle research.
Bird Survey Training
Learn methods for conducting surveys and how to identify birds in the field.
Coral Reef Survey Methods and Fish Species Identification
This program is only available from November to April. If you are on the program during this time period you will learn about how to perform coral reef surveys and identify fish on the reef.
Camera Trapping Workshop
Once a month the GVI Phang Nga team travels to islands Koh Ra and Koh Prathong to install and maintain camera traps on the islands. This helps us assist the local governmental conservation organisation with studying elusive species on the island. If you are on the project at this time, you will learn about how cameras are installed as well as how the data is downloaded, recorded, and analysed.
If you have a passion for wildlife conservation then this course will provide you with the foundational skills and understanding needed to achieve your conservation-related goals. You’ll learn about the various methods of wildlife monitoring, as well as exploring the delicate balance involved in terrestrial ecosystem management. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.
This online course, valued at $395, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.
Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.
Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.
The province is a treasure trove for intrepid travellers, from the crystal clear Emerald Pond to the epic 1,237-step climb up to the Buddha image and stunning views at the Tiger Temple Cave to the enchanted scenery and pools of Than Bok Khorani National Park. Experience the island life on one of the many Andaman islands in the region known for their dazzling marine life as well as their stunning terrestrial beauty.
Phuket Island and City
Phuket is a tourism hotspot, popular as much for its spectacular beaches, diving, and surfing sites, as it is for it’s cafes, boutiques, and hotels. You can also visit The Big Buddha, a massive statue of white marble, nearly 50 metres, depicting the Buddha in a seated position. Trips from Phuket to many of the surrounding islands like Ko Yao Yai, are widely available and popular.
The Similan and Surin Island groups are both protected Marine National Parks. They are home to several diving and snorkelling spots renowned worldwide, but can only be visited during November and March, the Thai dry season. If you are looking for an island to visit year round, why not explore the Phi Phi islands, famous for its Viking Cave, a dramatic limestone cliff formation featuring rock painting of boats.
Explore some of the top beach destinations around the world like Railay beach.
This is a very popular tourist spot close by, with beautiful, seemingly endless beaches, so many dining options you will be spoilt for choice and hundreds of spas offering massages and treatments at reasonable rates. With a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to hostels, Khao Lak offers you the chance to spoil yourself for a few days, whether you are on a budget or looking to splurge a little.
Khao Sok National Park
This National Park is a 740km² rainforest reserve home to elephants, leopards, tigers, deer, monkeys, lizards, birds, and the Rafflesia, the largest flowers in the world. In the middle of the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, at least 160-million-year old, lies Cheow Larn Lake. Here you can trek through the jungle, you could kayak through estuaries cutting through 200 meter foliaged limestone cliffs, mangrove channels and tidal lagoons while keeping your eyes open for local wildlife, or swim in idyllic waterfalls or just relax and see what you can spot. kayak around Cheow Larn lake visiting spectacular limestone caves, choose a day trip, or an overnight stays in one of the jungle tree houses, or even on a floating bungalow.
Phang Nga Bay
You can also explore the warm turquoise waters and limestone cliffs of Phang Nga by speedboat or sea kayak, stopping off at James Bond Island, made famous by the 1974 film ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ before visiting the floating Sea Gypsy village. can also explore the warm turquoise waters and limestone cliffs of Phang Nga by speedboat or sea kayak, stopping off at James Bond Island, made famous by the 1974 film ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ before visiting the floating Sea Gypsy village.
Mu Koh Chang National Park
This protected marine park covers an a huge area including over 50 islands. Visit the jungle island of Koh Chang to snorkel or scuba dive off the coast and experience the unique marine life.
Koh Tao Island
Turtle island is an excellent destination for relaxing on the beach, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Khao Yai National Park
Explore the picturesque waterfalls of Khao Yai in central Thailand. Here you can spot unique Thai wildlife like gibbon monkeys.
Explore the many natural sites of Nan, bordering Laos, like Doi Phu Kha National Park and Si Nan National Park. It is the perfect area to experience the dense natural forests Northern Thailand is known for.
Travel to the city complex ruins of Ayuthaya to learn more about Thailand’s heritage. This spectacular, but now abandoned city use to be the medieval capital of Siam.
Set in the verdant mountainsides of Northern Thailand, the golden city of Chiang Mai, is a breathtaking sight to behold. Visit historic temples and hunt for treasures at local markets.
There is a reason why the capital of Thailand is one of the most visited sites in the country. Featuring gorgeous temples, the spectacular grand palace, and many excellent shopping opportunities, including the famous floating market, it is a location you simply have to explore while on your trip to Thailand.
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.
February: Magha Puja is an important Buddhist holiday during which people make offerings at temples around the country.
April to May: Thailand’s New Year, also known as Songkran is on celebrated during April every year. It is a very family-centered holiday, and many travel to their home where they honour older members of their extended families. They also wash statues of the Buddha to represent dismissing the past and stepping freshly cleaned into the new year. Usually in April but also in May Thai people also celebrate Buddha’s birthday.
July to October: In July, many Buddhists celebrate Asalha Puja, which commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon to his disciples. This starts the annual three month retreat of the monks known as Vassa. The retreat ends with a celebration known as Wan Ok Phansa.
November: Loi Krathong, the festival of a thousand lights, is celebrated in November. Thousands of lanterns are set out on rivers and lake around the country. It is a spectacular site that draws many international visitors each year.
Spirituality and Religion
Most of the Thai people subscribe to Theravada Buddhism. There are many local Buddhist sites in the region of Phang Nga that you can visit to learn more about Buddhist customs. Travel to Wat Suwan Khuha to see the reclining Buddha or Wat Rat Upatham to see a massive painted statue of Kuan Yin and that of the Buddha rising out of the lush green countryside.
The fluid movements and opulent gilded costumes of Thai traditional dancing are recognisable worldwide. Learn about the six types of Thai classical dance, watch a performance, or maybe even attend a class where you can learn some traditional movements.
Thai cooking is famous the world over for its fragrant, tangy flavours. Learn how to cook some of these authentic Southern Thai dishes on your stay in Phang Nga.
Phang Nga is a pocket of paradise in southern Thailand known for its amazing limestone rock formations, pristine beaches and rich culture. It’s many beaches and islands offer many opportunities for spotting unique marine and terrestrial species. The community here is also very traditional which means that immersing yourself fully in traditional Thai culture is also possible.
The Thai language is incredibly complex. It is tonal which means and there are 5 tones altogether which means you can say the same word 5 different ways and it may mean 5 different things. Learn more about Thai by mastering some basic conversational phrases and practices with locals throughout Phang Nga.
Thailand is home to many threatened species like the Asian elephant, several species of sea turtle, sunda pangolin, the Asian Black Bear, the Malayan Sun Bear, and gibbon monkeys. Its many coastlines and islands mean that there are plenty of areas for unique coastal and island life to flourish. Underwater, corals thrive and the area is often visited by manta rays and tiger sharks.
The Thai culture is very closely tied to Buddhist beliefs and practices. Respect for others and those in authority are ingrained in Thai culture, as is emotional restraint. Family is at the center of most people’s lives and they are dedicated to practicing family values and compassion. The Thai Royal family are also highly respected in Thailand and a key part of national culture.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Parent Info Pack
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office. Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios. Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page. Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
Support & Safety
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures are in place throughout each GVI program. Learn more.
Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.
Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.