Volunteering

Coastal Conservation Expedition in Thailand

Assist in the conservation of endangered sea turtles and dugongs on this coastal conservation expedition.

GVI Hub: a home-from-home
Durations: 2 - 12 weeks
Fieldwork hours25 hrs of fieldwork per week
Participant ratio1:6 participant to staff ratio
GVI experiencesIncludes GVI Experiences

Program information

Join us in Ao Nang, Thailand where you’ll work to protect endangered sea turtles and dugongs while living in one of the most naturally beautiful regions in the world. Our goal is to develop science-based strategies to ensure these amazing creatures thrive in their natural environments. You’ll conduct wildlife and ecosystem surveys, take part in snorkel surveys and coastal restoration projects.

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Travel flexibility. Transfer for free up to 45 days before travel. Because life happens. Terms and conditions apply.
Overview
Dates & Prices
Itinerary
What's Included
Life On Base
Experiences
New
Free time
Cultural Immersion
Speak to alumni
MEET THE TEAM
Parent Info
Arrivals
Flights
Your Impact
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Qualifications & Training Options
Support & Safety

Program overview

Its natural beauty and unique terrestrial and marine life are two of the main reasons thousands of tourists visit Thailand each year. 

However, Thailand’s natural environment, specifically its coastal regions, beaches and islands are at risk, directly due to human actions. Plastic pollution threatens many important wildlife species, including sea turtles, dugongs and whales. Unsustainable coastal development damages beach ecosystems. Destructive fishing practices’ and climate change threaten coral reefs. Deforestation for agriculture removes key habitats, and poaching puts many critically endangered species at risk. 

On this coastal conservation expedition, you’ll take part in activities to preserve and restore the local environment. Based at our research station in Ban Chong Pli, Ao Nang, you’ll have the opportunity to explore diverse ecosystems teeming with life. Keep an eye out for species like turtles, dugongs, whale sharks, and an array of fascinating creatures such as hornbills, sunbirds, kingfishers, gibbons, monitor lizards and tropical fish.

You’ll gather data and conduct wildlife surveys to understand population dynamics, and get hands-on with geospatial mapping using drones to track climate change impacts. Join in restoration efforts across forests, mangroves, seagrasses and corals. All activities support UN SDGs, including Goal 14: Life below Water and Goal 15: Life on Land. This is your chance to make a real impact and be part of positive change!

This program is ideal if you’re all about marine conservation but not into diving. Activities include carrying out surveys while snorkelling and analysing data. You can also assist with coral restoration when the tide is low. If you’re keen on joining underwater activities, you can take scuba-diving courses at an extra cost and become a certified diver.

During your free time check out iconic spots like Railay Beach or Koh Lanta, and try your hand at scuba-diving or rock climbing, all conveniently close by. Krabi offers stunning beaches, cliffs and forests for adventures like kayaking and island hopping. You can also visit national parks like Khao Phanom Bencha and Than Bok Khorani for hiking and wildlife watching.

Highlights

Support coastal conservation

Contribute to the conservation and restoration of the Andaman coastal ecosystems through training, monitoring and research.

Find the pulse of paradise

Live in Krabi Province on the southwestern coast of Thailand, an area known for its natural beauty, limestone cliffs and stunning beaches.

Activities

Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.

Wildlife surveys

Survey turtle, dugong, bird and monkey habitats to collect data on population changes and how ecosystems work.

Species identification

Learn how to identify key species in Krabi’s land-to-sea ecosystems. Contribute to data collection for species inventory.

Ecosystem surveys

Join surveys and assessments to document ecosystem health indicators in rainforest, mangrove, seagrass and coral reefs.

Geospatial mapping

Help map coastal areas with drones, photographing seagrass meadows and habitats for georeferencing. Assess seasonal changes due to climate change.

Ecosystem restoration

Learn restoration ecology basics and assist in forest, mangrove, seagrass or coral restoration, including baseline assessments and nursery work.

Waste management initiatives

Learn about permaculture and sustainable living. Help develop a local permaculture centre and learn about waste management and recycling.

Community development

Engage in ecosystem restoration and training, support community forest management, run awareness campaigns and contribute to sustainable practices.

Skills

  • Data collection
  • Data entry
  • Marine conservation
  • Population ecology
  • Species identification
  • Survey research

Partners

Some of the partners we work with on base.

NatureMind-Ed
Coralyfe
Department of Marine and Coastal Resources
Phuket Marine Biological Centre

Program details

Dates and prices

Select a start date:

Hot summer savings.

Book in April to get up to 15% off selected programs!

Secure your spot before spaces fill up.
Payment plans. Flexible payment plans allow you to pay in instalments.

What happens next?

Once you apply, a personal Enrollment Manager will be assigned to walk you through the rest of the process.

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date.

8:00

Enjoy a delicious breakfast together to start the day.

9:00

Take part in hands-on projects such as sea turtle and dugong conservation and mangrove restoration. Enjoy additional wellness activities like rock climbing.

12:00

Take a break for lunch and catch up on the morning's activities with the rest of the team.

13:00

Project work continues, potentially involving forest mapping, seed collection, coral propagation or snorkelling. Participate in a wellness activity such as a Muay Thai class.

19:00

Once project work is finished for the day, you'll head back to your accommodation.

19:30

Prepare a delicious dinner at your accommodation, then take some time to unwind and reflect on the day's adventures.

20:30

The rest of the evening is free for you to enjoy social time with the other participants or relax.

What’s included?

What's included
General
Food
Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
Airport pick up (unless stated)
All project equipment
24-hour in-country support from local staff
24-hour emergency desk
GVI Experiences
Activities
Sustainable project work
Data collection and research
Pre-program training
Pre-departure webinar
Pre-departure training (online)
University of Richmond endorsed specialisation course
Welcome training
GVI welcome presentation
Health & safety
Local culture & environment
UN SDGs
Impact & ethics
Child protection
Certificates
Program certificate
University certificate – specialisation (University of Richmond)
What's excluded
Not included
Flights
International and domestic airport taxes
Medical and travel insurance
Visa costs
Police or background check
Personal items and toiletries
Additional drinks and gratuities

Life On Base

Located in the town of Ban Chong Pli, within the picturesque Krabi Province, our research station offers easy access to the vibrant town of Ao Nang, just a short 15-minute drive away.  

Krabi Province, located on Thailand’s southwest coast, offers a wealth of natural beauty with its stunning beaches, limestone cliffs and lush forests. You can enjoy activities like rock climbing and kayaking, or go for a hike in nearby national parks such as Khao Phanom Bencha and Than Bok Khorani to spot wildlife and take in the scenery. Immerse yourself in the local culture with visits to temples, shopping and nightlife. 

As a volunteer in Thailand, you’ll have the chance to see incredible species like turtles, dugongs, whale sharks, gibbons, woodpeckers and hornbills. Don’t miss out on Krabi’s attractions, including the Emerald Pond and Tiger Temple Cave. And make sure to explore the Andaman islands for their marine life.

Accommodation

You’ll stay in cosy bungalows overlooking stunning caves and mountains. Each spot boasts a private bathroom and a balcony with direct views of th...

Accommodation upgrades

An accommodation upgrade is available at an extra charge, depending on availability.

...

Transportation

When you arrive at Krabi International Airport (KBV), we’ll pick you up and take you to your accommodation. Throughout your stay, we’...

Communication

Stay connected during your stay with Wi-Fi available at your accommodation. Need mobile data on the go? Upon arrival at the airport or in various...

Meals

Breakfast and lunch are provided at your accommodation from Monday to Friday. Breakfast typically features a combination of eggs, toast, fruits a...

Climate

Thailand has a tropical climate, perfect for enjoying its stunning beaches. There are two distinct seasons: dry and wet. Dry season (Nov-Apr): Lo...

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

GVI experiences included in your program, at no extra cost.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!

We want you to make the most of the chance to live in – and contribute towards –  the most diverse and unique wildernesses and communities on earth. Introducing GVI Experiences – immersive adventure, cultural and wellness activities exclusive to GVI that have been specially designed in collaboration with our local partners to support and stimulate sustainable economic development. 

Enhance your impact. Expand your adventure. Explore your world.

Learn to make traditional Thai and Burmese food
A flavour infusion
Visit the Buddhist temples of Ban Nam Khem
Temple tour
Practice traditional Thai yoga massage
Wellness
Master Muay Thai self-defence techniques
Kick, flex and stretch
Raft along the Sok River
Gondola style
Hike to hidden waterfalls
Pathway to tranquility
Visit an untouched mangrove island
Off the beaten track
Sleep in a floating river bungalow
River of dreams

Free time

Joining a GVI program not only allows you 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 over weekends.

Field staff are a great source of advice and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. You can choose to travel before or after your experience with GVI (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships you’ve established on the program. Please note that the below options are not included in the program fee, and would be up to you to arrange at your own expense.

Weekend Trips

Island hopping

The Similan and Surin Islands are both protected Marine National Pa...

Khao Lak

This is a very popular tourist spot. It’s filled with seemingly endless beaches, so many dining options you will be spoilt for choice, and hundreds of spas offering massages and...

Khao Sok National Park

Said to be more diverse than the Amazon, this 740 square metre rainforest reserve is home to elephants, deer, monkeys, lizards, birds, and the Rafflesia, a giant flowering plant...

Further Travels

Phuket Island and city

Phuket is a tourism hotspot – as popular for its spectacular beaches, diving and

Beaches

Thailand boasts some of the top beach destinations in the world, with Railay beach being one of the most popular. A peninsula on the Andaman coast, it consists of three separate...

Phang Nga Bay

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...

Mu Koh Chang National Park

This protected marine park covers a huge area, including over 50 islands. Visit the jungle island of Koh Chang, where you can snorkel or scuba-dive off the coast and experience ...

Koh Tao Island

Also known as “‘Turtle Island”’ this is another excellent destination for snorkelling and scuba-diving, or simply relaxing on the beach. The visi...

Nan Province

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 t...

Khao Yai National Park

Explore the picturesque waterfalls of Khao Yai in central Thailand. Here you can spot unique Thai wildlife like

Ayuthaya

Travel to the city complex ruins of Ayutthaya to learn more about Thailand’s heritage. This spectacular, but now abandoned city used to be the medieval capital of Siam.

...

Chiang Mai

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 ma...

Bangkok

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 shopp...

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, 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 will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during 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 topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.

Festivals

February: Magha Puja is an important Buddhist holiday, celebrated on the new moon of the third lunar month...

Spirituality and religion

Most 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 ...

Dancing

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, o...

Cooking

Thai food is famous the world over and is known for its fragrant, spicy flavours. Participants may be luck...

Languages

There are about 71 languages in Thailand with five main families: Austronesian, Hmong-Mien, Thai, Mon-Khmer and Sino-Tibetan. Thai is the national language of Thailand which is ...

Phang Nga

Known for its amazing limestone rock formations, pristine beaches and

Speak to alumni

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.

Get a first-hand perspective

Meet us

Meet the team

Get acquainted with the GVI Asia, Thailand, Ao Nang family

Eve

Conservation Program Coordinator

Meet Eve our Conservation Program Coordinator in Phang Nga, Thailand. She was born in the United Kingdom but has since lived and worked in many countries across Europe. She is e ...

Parent Info

‘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.

GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.

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.

Arrivals

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.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (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 UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Project objectives

 

GVI Ao Nang Long-term Objectives:

1. Promote sea turtle and dugong conservation.

2. Provide long-term and consistent data to conservation partners.

3. Increase public awareness of environmental issues and importance of environmental protection.

4. Assist with local marine and coastal waste management efforts.

5. Educate and train participants on biodiversity, survey techniques and marine conservation.

Our Ethics

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

01

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.

02

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.

03

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.

04

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.

05

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.

06

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.

07

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.

08

Local Ownership

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.

09

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.

10

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

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.

Program ethics

No orphanage programs

We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.

Learn more
Child and vulnerable adult protection policy

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.

Learn more
No medical volunteering

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.

Learn more
No disability support 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.

Learn more
Aligned to local objectives

Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.

Local employees remain employed

Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.

Local employees remain focused

Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.

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.

Learn more
No veterinary programs

We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.

Learn more

Training

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: 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 Ao Nang

Fieldwork training

Thai lessons

Project objectives and procedures

Intro to coastal conservation

Species identification

Survey techniques and equipment

Data collection and entry

Orientation training

Local area and hub orientation

Hub projects, partners and objectives

UN Sustainable Development Goals 

Role of the volunteer and making an ethical impact

Language and culture

Health and safety, including risk assessments and emergency action plans

Community: human empowerment

Learn about our empowerment principles.

Conservation: survey techniques and logistics