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Endangered Turtle Conservation and Research in Thailand

Take part in crucial conservation efforts by getting involved with turtle research in Phang Nga.

Program Code: THAL0800P

Program Information

Travel to Thailand to support endangered green turtle conservation and research along with a team of international volunteers. Contribute to a range of other conservation initiatives during your time on the project, advancing United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, UN SDGs, #14 and #15, Life Below Water and Life on Land, and get taste of what a career in conservation is really like. In your free time, island hop around the South coast of Thailand, go snorkeling among the many reefs, or visit sacred Buddhist sites.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals


Six of the seven species of sea turtles are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN Red List as threatened or endangered. The green sea turtle, specifically, is classified as endangered.

This volunteer program in Thailand gives you a chance to contribute to conserving green sea turtles, as well as contributing to other ongoing conservation initiatives while living and working with GVI staff and other participants from around the world.

In partnership with the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre, CFRDC, and the Phang Nga Navy Base, we work to increase numbers of the endangered green sea turtle. As beaches used by mother sea turtles for nesting are still in recovery, hatchlings are raised in sea turtle conservation and research centres. At these local head-start centres, turtles are reared from hatchlings to a size where they will face less risk of predation upon release.

Here volunteers, assist by cleaning turtle tanks and turtles with scrubbing brushes, treating any wounds that turtles may have with antibacterial and antifungal medical ointments, assisting with collecting morphological data and conducting studies of which resources keep turtles engaged and learning, encouraging cognitive and social development, and, if they are lucky enough to be on the program during a release date, assist with releasing hundreds of young turtles back into the ocean.


  • Work toward conserving the endangered green sea turtle.

  • Visit the ever-popular beaches of Phuket in your free time.

  • Experience the truly awe-inspiring islands, beaches, and underwater worlds of Southern Thailand.

  • Stand the chance of contributing to several seasonal conservation efforts, including d tropical island biodiversity surveys and coral surveys while snorkeling.

  • Live and work with GVI staff and other participants from around the world.

  • Contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal #14 and #15, Life Below Water and Land and Life.

Program Details

Further program details

This program allows international visitors the opportunity to volunteer with animals hands-on in way that is ethically sound, tied into conservation objectives and a project with documented conservation success.  

In addition to our sea turtle conservation volunteer program, volunteers also get the chance to work on a range of other conservation initiatives. This might include biodiversity surveys and camera trapping on local islands, bird and butterfly surveys, beach cleans, and environmental conservation programs in with schools, hotels, as well as dive and tour operators. During the Thai dry season, November to April, you can also get involved in coral reef survey research. You may also get the opportunity to take part in special events with our partners, like mangrove planting or summer camps at the schools. Before participating on any conservation program all volunteers will first undergo training offered by experienced GVI staff.

Thailand’s is home to many unique marine and wildlife species found only in this region of the world. The preservation of these species, is important for global biodiversity. Thailand natural environment, wildlife, and marine species also attract many international visitors to the region every year. The local economy is supported by tourism efforts. Therefore, protecting Thailand’s natural resources is important not only because it furthers the goals of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, UN SDGs, #14, Life Below Water, and #15 Life on Land, but also UN SDG #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

This conservation volunteering program in Thailand allows volunteers to gain a holistic understanding of Thailand’s diverse natural environments, including coral reefs, beaches, mangrove wetlands, and forests, learn about the threats to preserving Thailand’s habitats and species, find out what is being done locally to move conservation efforts forward, and contribute to these efforts. Special attention will be given to learning about the importance of local community involvement in conservation efforts. Volunteers will learn about the social and economic pressures that affect conservation in Thailand and around the world, what can be done to combat these trends, and participate in facilitating change.

All project work will be conducted on weekdays and there will be opportunities in the evenings and on the weekend to explore the province of Phang Nga and nearby regions like Krabi. The landscape is known for fine, pearly sanded beaches and dramatic limestone cliffs draped in lush green foliage all surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters, heated to body temperature by the typically tropical sunny climate. A day trip to one of the many nearby islands, several of which are protected marine and wildlife areas, offer not only gorgeous scenery but a diverse range of vibrant species to spot both above and below water.

Select a Start Date

  • 2020
  • 2021

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Life On Base

Known internationally as the gateway to the Himalayas, the tallest mountain range in the world, the city of Pokhara is well-loved by hikers, paragliders, and kayakers and other adventure enthusiasts. Built around the picturesque Phewa Lake, surrounded by snowy mountain peaks, the city offers a unique mix of natural beauty and urban convenience. Our GVI base in Pokhara is situated in the lakeside district, lined with great eateries serving local Nepali cuisine and international fare as well as tiny stalls selling local crafts unique to the region, such as intricately patterned pashmina shawls and vibrantly coloured Buddhist thangka paintings. On a clear day spot the Annapurna range from our accommodation.

Accommodation Tour


Our base in Pokhara is a homestay-style accommodation that gives participants the opportunity to gain first-hand insight into Nepali culture. You will be living in the homestay with participants from all over the world, allowing you to learn about their individual cultures as well. Most rooms are shared, with ensuite bathrooms.


The host family prepares breakfast and dinner. Evening meals include the traditional Nepali dish of dhal bhat, a lentil curry served with rice. More western dishes such as pasta are also sometimes available. Lunch is a local snack. Most food is vegan or vegetarian due to Nepal’s majority Hindu and Buddhist populations.


Most participants use the internet cafes located nearby to keep in touch, as wifi is not available at the homestay.


Some project work sites are located a short walk from our accommodation. For others, transport is provided.


Nepal’s autumn season is considered to be the best time to visit the country and is the most popular among international visitors. Autumn runs from September until December and occurs just after the rainy season. During Autumn, the skies are clear but the region’s abundant plant life is lush after the plentiful rainfall occurring from June to September. If you are looking to see the famous rhododendron forests in bloom then Spring, February to April is the best time to visit. Summer in Nepal, from April to June, can be incredibly hot, with temperatures in the high 30s °C or high 90s °F, while the coolest season, winter, occurs between December and February.

Accommodation Tour

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.

Accommodation Tour


Rooms are shared with a maximum of 6 participants per room. Each room has a bathroom with showers and flushing toilets.


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.


Wifi is available on base but bear in mind it might not be as reliable as you might be use to back home.


We will provide transportation to your project location, ensuring you arrive promptly to take part in your project work.


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.


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.

*Thailand has a lovely tropical climate which can make physical exertion tiring for those from cooler regions who are not yet use to the Thai climate. While on the project be sure to pace yourself for the first few days while you acclimate to tropical living.
Live with other participants from around the world in the ancient city of Luang Prabang, among Buddhist temples, rolling hills, and the mighty Mekong river. The GVI base is situated at a quaint guesthouse, with an outdoor space where participants can relax and take in the tranquil atmosphere of the capital of Laos. Project work continues from Monday to Friday at local educational centers around town and meals are available at restaurants on base. In your free time learn more about the many cultures of Laos, by taking additional language lessons, exploring nearby temples, or visiting a rice farm. Bond with new friends while visiting the beautiful Si Kuang falls or taking a river cruise down to the historic Pak Ou Caves, filled with thousands of images of the Buddha.

Accommodation Tour


Participants live in a guesthouse and typically share a room with one other volunteer. Bathrooms are also shared and feature hot water showers and Western-style toilets.


Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at one of two local restaurants on base. Cuisine includes both traditional Laos dishes and Western meals. Eggs, pancakes, toast with butter and jam, and a range of southeast Asian fruits are common for breakfast, and or lunch and dinner, participants can choose from a range of dishes.


Wifi is available at the accommodation and at our GVI offices.

Participants can easily walk to project from their accommodation.


Bear in mind that Laos is a rather conservative country. You will need to dress modestly and behave in a way that shows respect to local novice monks and those who have taken their full monastic vows. Upon arrival in the country, GVI staff will teach you about all these practices so as to know how to act in an appropriate manner.


Like the many other Southeast Asian destinations surrounding it, Laos has a tropical climate. Temperatures reach their height from March to April at 35 °C or 95 °F on average. The coolest time is during November to February when the temperature can drop to 14 °C or 57 °F. The Laos rainy season starts in May and ends in October. During this time temperatures remain rather warm however, ranging from the high 20s or 30 degrees °C or high 60s to low 90s °F.

Our base in Chiang Mai is surrounded by breathtaking mountainous scenery. Set in northern Thailand, the project work itself takes place in the Mae Chaem District, a 5-hour journey into the mountains, where the famous Karen elephant-keeping communities reside and have shared a unique and sacred relationship with elephants for hundreds of years.

Accommodation Tour


GVI Chiang Mai allows you to experience life like a local, as each volunteer has their own homestay with a local family allowing them to become immersed in the Karen culture and warmth of its people. Homestays are usually with their own rooms or single hut, and are located all around the village, usually a quick walk from the GVI base. This allows you the perfect opportunity to enjoy the fresh morning air and the sites of the village. There is cold running water available for showers, bottled water available for drinking, shared bathroom facilities and shared base duties, including cleaning and other chores (this is all part of the GVI experience)!


Breakfast is available at base before the morning hikes, and lunch and dinner are typically home cooked meals provided by your individual homestays. Food is simple but nutritious, and is primarily vegetarian with optional fish or meat available once or twice a week. During the first week, a staff member typically eats with each participant at their homestay, to help integrate them into the family.


You will have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the program, so make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. WiFi is usually available at Root’s coffee shop in the village, but be aware that power cuts and storms can make this unreliable. Mobile phone reception is possible and quite reliable on site, and SIM cards can be purchased to use with your unlocked cell phone.


From November to February, Chiang Mai enjoys its cooler months, when the temperature is mild and mostly dry. The weather is hot and humid between March to June, but as we are based in a mountain community, the temperature usually drops at night, giving you a pleasant reprieve from the heat of the day. Monsoon rains are heaviest from August to September, but if you bring some rain gear and a sunny outlook you might see the elephants enjoying a muddy wallow after the rains.

GVI Cambodia is centrally located in Siem Reap at a guesthouse, allowing you easy access to all that the city has to offer. Experience Cambodian life first hand, as you watch the goings on from the guesthouse or the various cafes around the city. In the evening you can relax at the GVI base and hang out with other like minded GVI volunteers, interns, and staff members, or explore the vibrant night markets, restaurants, shops and riverside stalls of Siem Reap.

Accommodation Tour

Accommodation is in shared rooms with shared bathroom facilities. There is running water for showers and flush toilet facilities are available. There is a laundry service at the guesthouse and each room will also have a fan available.

Both western and Khmer food is available at our guesthouse restaurant, where vegetarians can also be accommodated. For breakfast, you can expect a choice of eggs, bread, fruit and cereal. For lunch and dinner khmer dishes consisting of noodles, rice, and curries are available as well as western dishes such as sandwiches, burgers and pasta. There are many cafes and restaurants in the local area which you are free to visit for additional meals at your own expense.

You will have access to long distance communications whilst on the program, but make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. Participants will have access to WIFI at the guesthouse and a local sim card can be purchased to be used with your unlocked cell phone.

The common method of transport to project is by tuk tuk. Traveling by tuk tuk might be a bit different to what you’re used to, but it’s very pleasant, with a breeze through your hair and the feeling of traveling like a local Cambodian. Alternatively, you may also cycle together to project sites by renting a bicycle and purchasing a helmet, which GVI staff will assist you with.

Medical facilities are located close by to the guesthouse, and there are many pharmacies in Siem Reap, so over the counter medicine is also accessible, if ever required. We have a team of trained staff who are always on hand to assist with medical issues, should they arise.

It is important to note that volunteers working with monks will have to adhere to a semiformal dress code. This is in respect for the local culture, where men and women should keep their shoulders and knees covered. Any shoes are ok to wear, as many classrooms require you to remove them before entering.

On a whole Siem Reap enjoys warm balmy weather year round, perfect for an evening stroll through the town, though the temperature can drop slightly in December and January. The monsoon season is between May and October when temperatures remain high but there can be heavy rainfall once or twice a day. This will give you the opportunity to sit back and listen to the sound of falling rain while looking out over the beautiful landscape of Siem Reap. For swimming, the sea in Cambodia is warm throughout the year.

What's It like?

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.

Live Updates

Follow GVI Volunteer-In-Siem-Reap'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.



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Meet the team - Senior Field Management

Cheryl Martin

Regional Director for Nepal and India
Introducing you to Cheryl. Cheryl is the Regional Director of GVI Nepal and India. Her journey with GVI began in 2011. Before this Cheryl had a history of teaching, although she fancied a change, which lead her to volunteer with GVI in Cape Town. After this she became a staff member and subsequently she stayed in Cape Town for the next four years.

Another role came up as Program Manager for Pokara, Nepal, which Cheryl took on before finally getting to where she is now.

Cherly has always possessed a love for travel. She has backpacked across Europe, working as a nanny. Her main highlight however has to be Peru. In fact it was her experience here that inspired her to volunteer in the first place.

Hannah Westcott

Program Manager

This is Hannah, the Program Manager at GVI’s base in Pokhara, Nepal. She has been visiting Nepal for several years now, mostly working in Kathmandu. When she heard about the opportunity with GVI she was very excited, acknowledging that GVI is a purpose-driven organisation, which she respects and values.

Hannah believes that the small things are what have a large impact on communities. The projects she has been working with include teaching, women's empowerment and more. Hannah can observe the positive change the work brings to the communities. On top of this, she also sees the change that the work can have on the volunteers and how it develops them in their journeys.

Jill Walker

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.

Katherine Ippolito

Program Manager
Meet Katie, a 26-year-old from the US! She is another one of our Field Staff in Laos. It was originally a trip to India which inspired her journey to where she is now. The time spent reflecting on this trip made her realise making a real difference is what she wanted to do and is why she is where she is now.

Liane Fulford

Program Manager

Meet Liane! Liane is known on base as “Base Mum” and is originally from England. Her journey with GVI began in March 2018 after she had finished working in Malawi for six months. Liane has also worked in both China and Australia, where she was a teacher. In her spare time Liane enjoys making the most of what Thailand has to offer, hiking mountains and scuba diving!

Paul Whitehouse

Program Manager
Say hi to Paul, the Program Manager at GVI’s Kerala hub in India. Paul is from the UK and came over to India last year. He originally came on a service learning program, however has since become the Program Manager. Paul has a background in experiential education and has previously managed operations of community development programs. They have been in a variety of countries, including: Nepal, Ghana and the UK. Paul’s passion lies with engaging with people in service learning activities so that they are able to get the most out of a experience while also giving back to a community. Lastly Paul is a freelance trainer. He enjoys capacity building and working with people from all walks of life. He is really excited to apply everything he has learnt to his time in India.

Tom Mitchell

Senior Field Staff & Marketing Coordinator
This is Tom! He is our Senior Field Staff And Marketing Coordinator at GVI’s base in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Tom is from the UK and before his arrival in the jungles of Chiang Mai, Tom had no experience within conservation. In fact Tom had never been outside the UK. Quite the jump, to say the least!

Vanessa Rees

Program Manager

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

Billy Hepton

Community Coordinator
This is Billy, our community coordinator at the GVI base in Phang Nga, Thailand. He joined the program back in 2016 as one of our TEFL interns. Needless to say that he extended his stay with us and became a valuable member of staff. Since then, he has grown and developed his skillset to become the fantastic Community Coordinator he is today.

Chigusa Keller

Elephant Science Coordinator
This is Chigusa, our Elephant Science Coordinator here at our Chiang Mai base in Thailand.
She has grown up in Switzerland where she studied environmental science and now plays a huge role in data collection and analysis at the base, allowing us to record and further understand the behaviour of the elephants.


Community Liaison

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!

George Williamson

Education Coordinator

Introducing you to George, who is 27 and from England. Geoge first found GVI in 2015, when he volunteered in Laos as part of a career break. After completing his program, he realised this is what he wanted to do with his life and decided to return to Laos as a six month intern. After this he got a job with GVI working with the interns in a village north of Luang Prabang.

Soon after this he earned the position of Field Staff, before being promoted to Education Coordinator, which is his current role. As part of this job he is responsible for: creating curriculums, mentoring, lesson planning and resourcing.

Jonathan Berry

Field Staff
This is Jonathan, a member of the GVI Field Staff at our Chaing Mai base in Thailand. He has joined us from Liverpool in the UK and has visited this base as a volunteer on seven previous occasions, making him the perfect person to support our volunteers.

Jutten George

Program Coordinator

Meet Jutten. Heis originally from Kerala in India, where he currently works as a Program Coordinator at GVI’s hub there.

Jutten has been with GVI since 2010. He started his career as a translator and a Community Liaison. He really enjoys the work that he is involved in, as it helps him to empower and help the people in his community.


Women's Empowerment Coordinator

This is Lyly. She first found GVI after her brothers and sister came to study English with GVI. Now Lyly is proud to say that she is GVI’s first Lao female member of staff!

Myles Davis

Assistant Program Manager

Introducing you to Myles, also referred to as Coach. Coach is from Brooklyn, New York and has been the Assistant Base Manager for over a year now. Other experience includes working with cobras in Thailand, monkeys in Zanzibar and crocodiles in Florida. On top all this, Myle has 127 dreadlocks!

Oliver Barnes

Conservation Coordinator
Meet Ollie,
He is our Conservation Coordinator at the GVI Phang Nga base in Thailand. He first worked with GVI as a volunteer and has since traveled to multiple GVI bases as an intern and then a member of staff. It's great to have him on the team!

Rhythm Gautam

Teaching Coordinator
This is Rhythm! He is 22 years old and was born and raised in Pokhara, Nepal. He was originally a trekking guide, then the opportunity to become a Teaching Coordinator popped up and he got involved. At the moment he teaches both Englishs and Math to partner schools for grades one to five.

Sita Thapa

Project Coordinator

Meet Sita. Sita is one of the Project Coordinator for the Women's Empowerment project in Pokhara, Nepal.

She has been with GVI for a year now, and it has since become family for her. As part of her role she works with community members and leads volunteers. She finds inspiration working with volunteers and is grateful to do the work she does, empowering women in different ways.

Toby Craze

Community Coordinator
Meet Toby, who is originally from Cornwall in the UK. Toby came to GVI Chiang Mai, Thailand, in September of 2018 as an intern, fresh out of university. He has since become one of our Field Staff. Fun fact, once upon a time Toby was urinated on by a lion!

Valee Xiong

Local Partners Coordinator

Meet Valee. Valee lives in the mountains and was a Novice in a temple for 7 years. He has worked for GVI for 4 years and since introduced some of his siblings to GVI programs. His role includes teaching and translating for classes, and organising locations for meetings.

Your Impact

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.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will 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.

We launched our programs in Cambodia in 2018. Here we work in collaboration with our local partners on various community development and educational initiatives, where we aim to assist their existing endeavours. Providing better education empowers students to reach their aspirations and broaden their employment opportunities in the future. Here in Siem Reap, if you are able to speak English you have a much greater opportunity of employment in the tourism sector. Working in this sector can usually provide chances of promotion, a greater income and a chance to change one’s economic background and is, therefore, an aspiration for a lot of the local community.

All these initiatives allow us to offer support to the community and our local partners, and to address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as #1- No poverty, #2 – Zero Hunger, #3- Good health and well-being, #4 – Quality Education, #5- Gender Equality, #8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth and #10 – Reduced Inequalities.

Project Objectives


GVI Siem Reap Long-term Objectives:  

1. To improve the quality of education to the local community of Siem Reap, regardless of age, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic background or any other disadvantageous factors.

2. To strengthen bonds with our current partners and develop new partnerships with local organisations to broaden our areas of work and the communities we work within.

3. To improve the opportunities, aspirations and autonomy of local women and girls and to raise awareness in the local community on the importance of women’s empowerment for their family, the economy and for equality.

4. To improve awareness about health and wellbeing and provide basic tools and knowledge in maintaining hygiene and prevention of NTD (neglected tropical diseases).

5. Improve the awareness and knowledge of important environmental issues and increase community participation in efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle waste.


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.


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

Welcome Presentation

Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.

Health and Safety Training

Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.

Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.

For All Participants at

Introduction to local Hindu and Buddhist Culture

Take a short boat trip to Barahi temple at the center of Phewa Lake, introducing you to Hindu culture. Then visit the Buddhist temple in Hemja, a Tibetian settlement.

Anti-human Trafficking Presentation

SASANE is a local anti-human trafficking organisation. Here participants attend a session educating them about human rights and the stat of human trafficking. Participants also complete a cultural cooking lesson, learning how to make momos, Nepali dumplings, using traditional methods.

Nepali Language and Culture Lessons

Complete two lessons with a local Nepali teacher.

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.

Cultural Orientation

Laos is a mostly Theravada Buddhist country, and before starting on the project you will learn how to dress and behave in way that is respectful to Buddhist practices. You might also have the opportunity walk around the local area and chant in a local temple.

Lao Language Demonstration and Lesson

Learn some key Laos phrases.

Introduction To TEFL

Learn best practices for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Experience an immersive TEFL-inspired lesson, where no English is spoken throughout the entire class. This gives participants the opportunity to walk a mile in their students’ shoes.

Teaching Training

This includes an introduction to the resource room, writing and grammar training, as well as lesson planning.

Additional Lao Lessons (optional additional training)

Enhance your knowledge of the Laos language with further lessons. These lessons are optional for those who would like to learn more.

Buddhism Culture Talk (optional additional training)

Learn more about the history of Theravada Buddhism and its modern day practices. These talks are optional for those who would like to learn more.

Hmong Culture Talk (optional additional training)

Learn about the Hmong cultural group, including their language and specific rituals. These talks are optional for those who would like to learn more.

Pakinyaw Language Lessons

Learn the local language Pakinyaw during your time in Chiang Mai with five basic Pakinyaw lessons with our Community Liaisons, followed by more advanced Pakinyaw lessons in the following weeks, if you choose.

Data Training

Learn how to collect three different kinds of elephant data – behaviour, health check, and activity budget. You will be shown examples of the different types of behaviour and how to use data sheets to record the information.

TEFL Presentation

A one-hour presentation that gives you basic training on how to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), including how to teach vocabulary, and classroom management techniques.

Ethical Elephant Training

Learn about the methods used to train the elephants, how the elephant industry in Thailand works, and how we ensure the elephants in Chaing Mai are treated ethically whilst still being safe to work with and be around.

Biodiversity Training

You will have the opportunity to go on biodiversity hikes, which vary depending on the season. You may learn how to collect birding data, how to set up mammal traps and camera traps, how to identify snakes and reptiles, and more.

Cooking Classes

You will have the opportunity to take part in a traditional Thai cooking class where you will learn how to make some of the local delicacies.

Weaving Class

Learn the practical skill of how to weave baskets from bamboo with the Old Chief of the village.

Tsev Neeg Microenterprise Talk (optional additional training)

Tsev Neeg is a small, family-run business. Learn more about how small businesses like this are founded in Laos, the challenges they face, and why they are important for the future of the Laos economy. These talks are optional for those who would like to learn more.

Your Program Specific Training

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 the methods for conducting surveys and how to identify birds in the field.

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.

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.


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.

Weekend Trips

National Parks

You can access several of Nepal’s most abundant wildlife parks via Pokhara. The Annapurna Conservation Area, is not only home to Annapurna I, the 10th highest peak in the world, but also endangered species like the snow leopard and Himalayan wolf. You can also visit Chitwan National Park which is known for its large population of the vulnerable Indian rhinoceros species. Although more remote, you can also make a weekend trip to Bardia National Park, for a more pristine landscape.

Mountain Bike

This is one of the newly popular activities for international visitors to Nepal. It allows visitors to experience many of the same landscapes as those trekking through the Himalayas while perfecting their mountain biking skills. Rent a bike and gear in Pokhara and choose to either complete a short trail or a two-week tour from Pokhara to Kathmandu.


Explore the river gorges and waterfalls of Nepal through one of the many canyoning tours offered in Pokhara. Bungee jump down cliffs, abseil down waterfalls, raft down fast-moving rapids, or simply kayak or tube gently along the rivers. This is an excellent way to experience Nepal’s breathtaking natural environment first-hand.

Paragliding and Skydiving

Paragliding is incredibly popular in Pokhara and one the best ways to view the spectacular natural landscape. There are many operators working in Pokhara through which you can book a guided tandem paragliding tour starting at around thirty minutes in the air. If you are keen on an even bigger adrenaline kick then why not book one of the many skydiving experiences offered in Pokhara.

Kochi City Tour

If history interests you be sure to visit Kochi’s old city, known as Fort Kochi. Here you will find the Chinese fishing nets, which might have existed since the 14th century, St Francis church, the oldest European church on the Indian subcontinent and once the burial site of Vasco de Gama, the beautiful Santa Cruz Basilica, St. George’s Orthodox Christian Syrian Church, and the Paradesi Synagogue, a stronghold for the influential Jewish community of Cochin. You can also choose to simply strong along the beach promenade and by a snack at nearby vendors. There are also plenty of Hindu and Jain temples located nearby if you would like to know more about these traditions.

White Water River Rafting and Kayaking

As a mountainous area abundant in water, white water rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing are popular tourist activities throughout Kerala, and Kochi is no exception. Weekend tours at nearby lake and river spots can be booked in Kochi.


About one hour from central Kochi the waterfall of Areekkal is an ideal weekend spot. Situated in the lush surrounds of a rubber plantation a visit makes for a refreshing afternoon. The much larger Athirappilly waterfall is located two hours from Kochi. It is famed for its scenic beauty and is popular among Bollywood filmmakers. Many wildlife species can also be spotted here. The shallow Vazhachal Falls are located close to Athirappilly. Cheeyappara Falls are also located two hours from Kochi and can be spotted when travelling to Eravikulam National Park via the town of Munnar.

Wildlife Parks

The Sahyadri mountain range, also known as the Western Ghats, stretch along India’s western coast and feature a stunning biodiversity, including numerous endangered species. The large area is home to many National Parks. From Kochi, one of the nearest is Eravikulam, which entails a five hour trip. The park is famous as the location of Anamudi, the highest mountain in the Western Ghats mountain range, named for its similarity to an elephant’s head. The park is famous as a safe haven for a specific threatened Indian deer species. You can also spot other famous Indian species like leopards, lion-tailed macaques, and Indian wild dogs. The nearby town of Munnar is surrounded by famously verdant tea farms hills. A little further from Kochi, about six hours, is Parambikulam Tiger Reserve. The park is known for its leading edge ecotourism activities and for the protection of indigenous peoples living within its borders. Others parks in the area include Periyar National Park and Anamalai Tiger Reserve. Guided safari tours can usually be booked at the park gate.


Kochi is situated on the Malabar Coast, known for its tropical climate and beaches stretching into the warm Arabian sea. Possibly the most famous beach destination in Kochi is Cherai beach. It features thatch umbrellas, walkways, and dolphins are commonly sighted here. Andhakaranazhi beach is also popular. A three hour trip from Kochi, down the western coast of the Indian subcontinent, will take you to Kollam, home to one of the most famously beautiful beaches in India, Mahatma Gandhi beach. Journey South for another hour and reach the beach resort town of Varkala. The area is famous for its red cliffs adjacent to Papanasam Beach. Many tourists love to stroll the beach promenade and shop at the little street food stalls and boutiques. Many also visit the mineral spring and participate in relaxing yoga and meditation sessions close to the beachfront. Further along the coast, about an hour from Varkala, you can also find Kovalam, a town also known for its picturesque beach overlooked by a classic white and red striped lighthouse. Although not traditionally popular surfing, divining, and snorkeling are gaining popularity.

Luxury Houseboat Tours

The Keralan backwaters are the province’s main attraction. They are a series of lagoons, lakes, canals, and other bodies of water along the western coast of Southern India. The area is home to key wetland ecosystems sheltering fragile species such as otters, turtles, and kingfishers. Keralan houseboats are known as kettuvallams, and feature thatched roofs and sometimes walls. They were used to transport grain and other goods, but these days are converted into living areas for tourists. Many have staff on board to assist with cleaning and tidying duties as well as a chef to prepare traditional Keralan food. There are many houseboat tours that leave from and can be booked in Kochi and travel via the lagoons to the popular Keralan backwaters destination of Alappuzha.

Rice farm visit

Learn how rice is made and even participate in the production by visiting one of the many nearby rice farms.


There are plenty of opportunities to kayak down the Mekong or other smaller river.

Mountain Biking

Another way to explore the scenic landscapes of this Southeast Asian gem is on a mountain bike. Rent one in Luang Prabang and choose one of the many trails in the nearby countryside.

Nong Khiaw Hike

Trek up to the top of Nong Khiaw to Phadeng Peak to be rewarded with amazing vistas over the famously spectacular scenery of Laos.

Royal Palace Museum

Visit the sprawling Royal Palace complex to learn more about Laos history or relax in the colonial gardens.  

Buddhist Temples

Visit some of the many beautiful Buddhist temples, or Wats, in Luang Prabang. Some of the most popular include Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Mai.

Pak Ou Caves

Take a Mekong river boat ride the sacred cave site filled with thousands of image of the Buddha.

Kuang Si or Tad Sae Waterfall

The magical cascading turquoise pools of the Kuang Si and Tad Sae falls are not far from Luang Prabang.

Weaving Village

Laos has been known for its silk production, unique dying and weaving patterns since ancient times. Visit the weaving village to learn about how this textile is made the traditional way.

Siem Reap

Explore the history of Cambodia by visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Volunteers can see all the wonders that Cambodia has to offer by spending their weekends visiting national parks, the floating market, waterfalls, taking part in cooking or pottery classes, and seeing what’s on offer in the bustling markets.

Markets of Phnom Penh

Whilst in Phnom Penh you could tour around the sprawling markets including Central Market and Russian Market in which you can buy anything from car parts to fresh fruit.

Phnom Penh

In the capital city of Phnom Penh you can explore the beautiful Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda. Volunteers can visit the bustling riverside promenade, home to restaurants, bars and cafes.

Krabi Province

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.

Island Hopping

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.

Khao Lak

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.

Chiang Mai Visit

Arrange a trip into the Chiang Mai, here you will find plenty to do, from cooking classes, Muay Thai training, and shows, too night bazaars, temples (including Doi Suthep) and the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Thai massage. There is the opportunity to go into Chiang Mai every two weeks, with the staff and volunteers going in for the new volunteer intake. There is no public transport to the village, but staff can assist you in booking transport to various places, and sometimes we organize a group trip to nearby attractions.

Mae Chaem visit

It is a two hour drive to the town of Mae Chaem, and travelling around the village is easily done on foot. Here you can also visit the wihan of Wat Pa Daet.

Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park is home to Thailand’s highest peak and is famous for it man waterfalls and stunning viewing spots.

Karen village surrounds

Due to the remoteness, our program is based in and around the village of Huay Pakoot. On weekends you will have the opportunity to explore the surrounding evergreen cloud forests, or why not go bird watching or look out for the smaller mammals such as gibbons and deer.

Huay Pakoot exploration

This quiet rural Karen village will be your home whilst on project, giving you a unique chance to learn about traditional Karen culture. Learn to cook Thai and Karen dishes with community members, and learn about everyday life in this traditional setting.

Further Travels

India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan

While you are in the region, why not take the opportunity to explore some of the other nations bordering Nepal. Visit India’s capital of New Delhi for an insight into modern India or, Rikshikesh, the world’s “yoga capital” to learn more about India’s historic culture. Travel to Bangladesh to visit its famous wildlife reserves known for their tiger populations or learn more about Buddhist culture by visiting the monasteries of Bhutan.


A short flight from Pokhara, Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal and it’s largest city, is known for its historic religious sites. Visit the sacred stupas, domed structures ubiquitous in Buddhist culture, at Swayambhunath or Boudhanath, or the sacred Hindu complex of Pashupatinath temple, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The expansive local markets are also a great opportunity to collect practical souvenirs like blankets and incense for those back home.

Himalayan Treks and Flights

Nepal is perhaps most well-known as the location of Everest, the world’s highest mountain peak. Everest is located in the Himalayan mountain range, which features some of the other highest mountain peaks in the world like Kanchenjunga and Lhotse. There are plenty of trekking tour operators to be found in Pokhara and we even offer inclusive volunteer and adventure packages that include trekking. Most trekking trips take several days to weeks to complete. If you are looking for a less taxing and shorter term option, you can also book a helicopter or small plane flight to get a bird’s eye view of the famous mountain range.

Further Travel

There are plenty of destinations to visit throughout India either before or after your volunteer or intern program. There are, of course, the popular UNESCO protected sites of the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort in Delhi, and the Elephanta Caves in Mumbai. You can also visit the city of Amritsar to view the Golden Temple and learn about the Sikh religion or make the trip to Varanasi or Rishikesh, sites of religious significance to the Hindu community. You can also visit the so-called blue city of Jodhpur and the pink city of Jaipur. India has over 150 National Parks and there are many unique habitats to visit and species to spot along the way.

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.

Southeast Asian Mekong River Cruise

Book a luxurious Mekong river cruise from Laos through to nearby Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Vat Phou

Much like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Vat Phou is an ancient Khmer Hindu temple. Learn more about the ancient Khmer empire by exploring the vast complex.

Vang Vieng

Visit the Vang Vieng, a holiday resort town catering to international visitors to Loas. Tube and kayak on the Nam Song river and hike or climb the local hillsides.

Nam Ha Npa

Experience the biodiversity of Laos by visiting Nam Ha Npa. You could spot rare species like the the Asian elephant, tiger, and the clouded leopard.


Battambang: Take a cycle around Battambang’s ’s city centre and ride the last of the bamboo railroad. Explore the hilltop temple complexes and the stunning scenery of Kamping Puoy.


Take a cycle around Kampot’s city centre, kayak through the jungle’s streams and visit the green pepper farm. A city known for its colonial architecture, this city makes for the perfect weekend trip.


A spectacular village where you can take a boat to view the dolphins amongst the river.


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam border is a 12-hour bus ride or a short flight from Siem Reap. Here you could delve into your travels of South-East Asia further and explore the markets, cathedrals, temples and pagodas the city has in abundance.

The Mondulkiri Province

The province stands in contrast to the rest of Cambodia. Its name literally means ‘Meeting of the Hills’, and it consists of a combination of mountains, hills and rainforests. You can expect some spectacular wildlife sightings here, including elephants, leopards, monkeys and birds.

Cambodia's Southern Islands

These four islands boast some of Asia’s most spectacular beaches and yet are untouched by commercial tourism providing you with pristine coastlines away from the busy sites of Angkor Wat or Phnom Penh.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

Neighbouring Laos

Discover the ancient country of Laos, where the fusion of French and Asian culture and charm make for a wonderful setting to experience a unique culture.

Railay Beach visit

Known for its pristine beach, lush jungle and dramatic rock formations, Railay is not something to miss.

Bangkok visit

The capital city of Thailand, known for its exotic atmosphere and ancient traditions. Pumping with colour, noise, and people, Bangkok is a place you need to see experience first hand if you are visiting Thailand.

Ayuthaya visit

Explore the golden kingdom of Ayuthaya, with its mysterious temple ruins, which were once gilded palaces.

Island hop

Visit Ko Tao and Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, and soak up the sun on these stunning white sand beaches.

Cultural Immersion

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: The Tibetan New Year celebration, Lhosar, is held in February. Buddhist monasteries decorate their temples, known as stupas, and there is music and dancing in Tibetan communities and families exchange gifts.

March: The Nepalese version of India’s Holi celebration, the festival of colours, is celebrated in March. In Nepal this festival is known as Fagu Poornima. This is an incredible visual festival during which crowds throw one another with coloured powders.

May: As the birthplace of the Buddha, Buddha’s birthday is a big event in Nepal. This is known as Jayanti day and is celebrated during May.

September to October: Probably the most popular and well-known festival celebrated in Nepal is Dashain. Taking place over the course of 15 days, it honours the main goddess of Hinduism, Shakti, in all her forms. This is a time when families come together and celebrate. Parades and feasts are common throughout the festival. It corresponds to the Navratri festival held throughout India.

October to November: Tihar is another festival held around the end of October or early November each year and corresponds to Diwali, the festival of lights, popular in India. The festivities extend for five days and each day features a unique celebration.

Yoga and Meditation

Yoga evolved as part of the Hindu tradition. As a country with a large Hindu population, yoga is part of Nepalese culture. Nepal is one of the top yoga retreat destinations in the world. There are plenty of classes you can take during your stay in Pokhara. Mediation is also a central component of both Hinduism and Buddhism. Visit a Hindu tradition meditation class for to learn japa mala meditation or a Buddhist tradition meditation class for a Vipassana meditation class.


Possibly the most well-known Nepalese dish is dal bhat, a lentil stew served with rice. It is a smokey, spicy, wholesome dish which happens to be vegetarian-friendly as well, in keeping with the beliefs of the Hindu religion. Momos, traditionally thought of as a Tibetan food, are popular throughout the Himalayan region, and Nepal is no exception. Momos are a type of steamed dumpling, served with a dipping sauce, and come in a variety of fillings. When you are out and about be sure to stop at a street stall to try a sel roti, a fried, ring-shaped salty snack.

Religion and Spirituality

Most of Nepal’s population subscribes to Hinduism, specifically the Shaivism sect. You will find many Hindu temples throughout Nepal. However, Nepal is also home to one of the main Buddhist sites in the world, Lumbini, the birthplace of the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama and does have a significant Buddhist population as well. You can learn about both these traditions during your stay in Pokhara, by speaking to locals, and visiting the many religious sites in the area. Visit Tal Barahi, a temple located in the centre of lake Pewa, dedicated to the goddess Durga, or the World Peace Pagoda, a Buddhist stupa.


Although Nepali is the official language of Nepal, over 100 languages are spoken within the limits of the country. Throughout your time on the project you will have plenty of opportunities to learn more about the Nepali language while interacting with locals.


Unique to Kerala:

Thiruvathira: This festival is held either during December or January, depending on the movements of the moon and stars. It celebrates the birth of the god Shiva, in the Hindu tradition. The main customs of the festival are observed by women in the community. It features a specific dance known as thiruvathirakali performed only by women, seen as an embodiment of traditional feminine elegance.

Vishu: This festival is celebrated in April and is seen as New Year celebration in the Hindu tradition. A older family member, typically the mother, create shrines of auspicious items, usually yellow and gold items, to allow them to go into the New Year with good expectations. She lights lambs before the sun rises on the first day of the Hindu New Year and then wakes each family member to ensure that their first sight is one of joy and light.

Onam: This is possibly the most famous Keralan festival which is celebrated during August or September. It is a rice harvesting festival and celebrated with much fanfare including massive parades and boat races. In homes and business, Keralans create flower carpets, large, ornate patterns created using a range of fragrant flowers including marigolds, magnolias, jasmin, and hibiscus.

Other Festivals: Kerala is a multicultural city and the region honours many of the celebrations popular in other locations throughout India. Some of the popular Hindu celebrations include Diwali, Holi, and Navratri. With a high Christian population, Easter and Christmas, are also major festivals. Eid is also popular among the significant islamic population of Kerala. Although there are fewer attendees, significant dates in the Judaic, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh calendars are also honoured in their communities.


Kathakali Masks and Figurines: Kathakali is a symbol of Kerala and as such many of the souvenirs on offer are representations of this performance style. You can buy colorful masks and little figurines of the dancers in many locations throughout Kerala.

Coconut Crafts: The Kerala area is abundant in coconuts. Therefore it is no surprise that many of the local crafts are based on this major resource. You can purchase numerous homeware items that are both functional and beautifully made from coconut wood and fibres.

Pulpaya Grass Mats: Although popular throughout Indian, pulpaya grass mats are particularly popular in Kerala. Making them is an ancient tradition and they are possibly the original yoga mats. Grab one at the local market for your morning yoga practice.

Keralan Saree: The Keralan saree is a symbol of traditional elegance in India. Many of its unique features are lost on those who are not familiar with this style of dress. However, the traditional colours and pattern, of crisp white with a bold gold border, are universally recognisable. While in the province, be sure to try out the Keralan Saree.

Yoga and Meditation

In the West, yoga is most commonly associated with a specific physical exercise of holding certain postures. This is, however, a very particular type of yoga activity known as Hatha yoga, falling within the broader umbrella of yoga as a kind of psychological or spiritual practice. The term ‘yoga’ is interpreted in various ways by ancient texts. In general it is seen as the integration of the human body, mind, and spirit and alignment with divine will using discipline and thereby attaining enlightenment. Hatha yoga is practiced throughout India and there are plenty of ashrams, Hindu monasteries, and formal teaching organisations, throughout Kerala, where international visitors can learn Hatha yoga, as well as more about the overarching yoga philosophy. Meditation practices and areyuda medicine are also often taught at these facilities.

Mehndi or ‘Henna Tattoos’

Mehndi, temporary staining of the hands and feet in lace-like patterns, has been popular in South Asia for many centuries. Ancient Vedic texts refer to the use of the leaves of the henna plant and tumeric to create these designs. While it is most commonly applied during weddings, festivals, and other special events, there are many designers available year round to offer this beautifying service to international visitors.

Kathakali Dance

Kathakali dance is one of the eight classical Indian dance forms. Its name derives from Sanskrit and can be loosely translated as ‘story art’ or ‘folktale performance’. It’s designation as a dance form is a bit of a misnomer because it includes not only specific choreography, but unique music, costumes, and acting styles. It is therefore rather a performance style akin to classical opera. Kathakali performances tell stories from Hindu epics, through elaborately dressed and painted male actors, dancers, and singers. More modern Kathakali groups have incorporated women into their performances. The specifics of this artform are detailed and complex ranging from the instruments used to the eye movements of the actors. The Kerala Kathakali Centre is located in Kochi and there will be plenty of opportunities for you to visit one or more of the performances.

Keralan Cuisine

Keralan dishes are typical of South Indian cuisine, featuring lighter, fresher dishes as well as plenty of coconut and seafood. It is also rumoured that southern cooks are more liberal with their use of chillies. A famous Keralan dish is a Sadya, a kind of mini buffet of about two dozen distinct dishes served, with rice, on a plantain leaf. Due to its Hindu heritage many Keralan dishes are vegetarian, and Sadya is no exception. This is however, only popular during celebrations. Everyday Keralan dishes include, dosas, a kind of light crispy pancake filled with vegetable curry, ethakka appam, fried bananas, and, of course, chai, sweet milky tea flavoured with spices. Some ethno-cultural groups like the Jewish and Syrian Christian community have their own specific cuisine. In your free time, feel free to book one of the many Keralan cuisine cooking classes available in the region.


This port town has been a centre of global trade for many centuries, known to European explorers since at least the early medieval ages. Its main trade was in spices and the region’s cuisine still reflects this penchant for flavour complexity. Due to it being a merchant hub, the city has known influences from all around the world including China, Middle Eastern territories, Portugal, Holland, and Britain. This has resulted in a very specific ‘kochiite’ culture. Languages and religions common to the city reflect this diversity. The language of Kerala, Malayalam is popularly spoken, but Hindu, a language more common in North central India is also spoken here. Religious traditions include common practices in the South of India such as Hinduism and Jainism, but specific communities also practice Islam, Judaism, Syrian Orthodox Christianity, and Catholicism. Visitors can learn about these historic influences by visiting the old town, but it should also be noted that Kochi is very much a modern Indian city, and is the economic hub of the Keralan province.


Kerala is one of the Southernmost provinces of Indian, known for its luxury houseboat tours through the region’s lush, tropical backwaters where wildlife like the Bengal tiger, leopard, sloth bear, and lion-tailed macaque can be spotted. It’s uniquely delectable cuisine, featuring lots of coconut, which grow abundantly in the region, and seafood, common in a coastal region, is also a major attraction. The region was popularised in the Western mind, by author Arundhati Roy, who grew up here, and set her Booker-Prize -winning novel, The God of Small Things, in Kerala.


The great diversity of the Indian subcontinent, and a perceived contrast to many Western norms, keeps international visitors coming back for more. India’s unique cultural milieu, featuring over 22 languages, seven major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and distinct cooking traditions, make for a life-changing cultural experience, no matter which location in the region you choose to visit. Tourists also flock to its many breathtaking landscapes, including snow-capped mountain ranges, tropical evergreen forests, mangrove swamps, and grasslands, not only to spot endangered species like the Bengal tiger, the snow leopard, the Indian Rhinoceros, and Asiatic lion, but to experience adrenaline-fueled activities like white water rafting, waterfall rappelling, or paragliding.


April: Lao New Year is celebrated in mid-April and is a massive festival in which just about every citizen participates. It represents the lunar new year and during this time homes are cleaned and people visit temples to wash the figures of the Buddha.

May: The Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in May with much fanfare.

August, September, October, and November: The Boat Racing Festival starts in August and continues for six weeks until October. This corresponds to when Buddhist monks complete their three month retreat. The retreat ends with Boun Awk Phansa, a festival of lights and water dragon boats.

Spirituality and Religion

Laos has a mostly Theravada Buddhist population, however there is also a significant portion of the population who still practice their traditional animist customs.

Weaving and Pottery

Silk creation is a centuries old craft in Laos, although it has become less popular due to its time-consuming process. You can learn about how this beautiful textile is hand-produced in a nearby village. Ceramics are also an important part of Laos traditional art and culture. You also learn more about this Laos artform by visiting a village near Luang Prabang.  


Laos cuisine shares many elements with other Southeastern Asian neighbours. Staples include the famous sticky rice and fresh, spicy papaya salad. Its French heritage comes out in the many baguettes still sold by street vendors.


Other than Laos, there are also opportunities to learn some of the other languages native to the country like Hmong and Khmu.

Luang Prabang

Discover Laos’ ancient capital of Luang Prabang, a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has roots dating back more than 8 millennial but first became an official city under the Khmer monarchy. Later the city became a French colonialist outpost forever impacting the cuisine and architecture. Its many temples feature traditional Laos and French colonial elements combined.


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

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.


The Asian Elephant is Thailand’s national symbol, but there are also many other notable species found in Thailand. These include the two species of bear, namely the Asiatic black bear and Malayan sun bear; gibbons and a dhole, also know as an Asiatic wild dog. You might consider doing a night hike while on base to look for snakes, frogs and other nocturnal animals. Otherwise try your hand at identifying unique birds and insects, and surveying the biodiversity in the forests around the village.

Spirituality and Religion

The official religion of the Kingdom of Thailand is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by the majority of the population, who visit monastery temples found throughout the country.


Many visitors to Thailand choose it as a destination because of its amazing food culture. From street food to culinary delights in the finest Thai restaurants, you will never be short of local dishes to try when exploring Thailand. The national dish of Thailand is Pad Thai, which is a popular rice noodle dish combining the flavours of sweet, sour, salty and spicy with stir-fried egg, tofu, sprouts, and other vegetables, served with lime and crushed peanuts. During your stay in the Huay Pakoot village, you will have the unique opportunity to sample traditional Karen food.


There are festivals throughout the year, the most notable being Songkran, the Thai new year and water festival, held in mid-April, and the lantern festival in November.


Thai – This is the official language of Thailand and is spoken by roughly 36 million people across the world. In the project location, their first language is Pakinyaw, which you will learn whilst on-project.


Khmer – This is the official language of Cambodia and is spoken by roughly 16 million people across the world.

Cham – Is another language spoken in Cambodia, by roughly 204,000 people. It is the dialect of the Cham people of Southeast Asia.

Local Handicrafts

Cambodia has a thriving tourist souvenir industry, and make many locally made souvenirs such as a traditional scarf called a Krama, ceramic, lacquer and wood carved items and beautifully decorated bottles of flavoured rice wine.

Cooking and Dancing

There are three main types of dances in Cambodia, namely Khmer classical dance, Cambodia folk dance, and Cambodian social dances. Khmer classical dance was founded in the royal courts of Cambodia and is the dominant dance style in theatre and at ceremonies.

The national dish of Cambodia is Amok, which is a combination of fresh river fish, coconut cream, ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass, steamed in banana leaves and served with a side of rice. A large part of Cambodian cuisine features fish and freshwater seafood, along with the staple grain of rice, though they also offer many meat and vegetarian dishes.


There are festivals throughout the year, the most notable being the Khmer New Year in mid-April, Pchum Ben in mid-September, and the Water Festival in November.

Spirituality and Religion

The official religion of the Kingdom of Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism, which is practised by the majority of the population, who visit monastery temples found throughout the country.

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


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.


Impact Reporting

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov


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.

1 Nov


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.

6 Nov


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.

5 Nov


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.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)