A volunteer program in Asia is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet like-minded people from around the world, support communities and help protect endangered species like elephants, gibbons and sea turtles.
Asia is calling, and it’s time to answer! With its breathtaking natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage and endless opportunities for adventure, this continent is a dream come true for anyone seeking an exhilarating volunteering experience. From hiking through lush forests and swimming in pristine waters to exploring historic temples and vibrant markets, Asia boasts a diverse range of unique and rewarding experiences for everyone, whether you are on a gap year, a summer volunteer holiday or on a career break.
With GVI, you can make a real difference in the world with one of our conservation programs – from working with elephants and conducting research on endangered white-handed gibbons, to sea turtle rehabilitation and coastal conservation.
From our two bases in Thailand we offer a variety of volunteer, internship, research fellowship and professional apprenticeship programs, including:
Our volunteer programs in Thailand are a chance to gain hands-on experience in conservation while directly contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) , specifically UN SDG 5: Life on Land and UN SDG 14: Life Below Water.
You’ll work alongside local communities and organisations dedicated to preserving marine, coastal and island ecosystems. If you’re passionate about marine biology or simply want to give back while travelling, this is your chance to make a difference and create unforgettable memories.
In Chiang Mai, we work in partnership with the local elephant-keeping community. Here we work towards reintegrating elephants from tourist camps back into their natural habitat. Our program partners with local mahouts, who are expert elephant handlers with generational knowledge of these animals. As a participant, you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside the mahouts, tracking and observing elephants while collecting valuable data on their behaviour and health.
At our coastal base in Phang Nga, we work in partnership with the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre, the Royal Thai Navy and the Sea Turtle Conservation Centre to assist in the conservation of endangered green turtles.
When you join a volunteer conservation program in Thailand, you’ll be contributing to critical conservation efforts. Work with elephants or conduct research on gibbons and birds in Chiang Mai, or support marine conservation efforts in Phang Nga by monitoring coral reefs and sea turtle populations. We offer a range of programs suitable for different time schedules, catering to those with a week of annual summer leave, planning a gap year, or seeking a long-term volunteer and travel experience:
Joining an international internship is a fantastic way to gain experience working in conservation and explore potential career paths. You’ll have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of conservation programs and initiatives, work hands-on with our local partners, contribute to important conservation research and develop leadership skills, including participating in interactive training sessions. An internship is the perfect opportunity to develop specific and transferable skills that will give you an edge in the workplace and make you stand out to potential employers.
GVI offers internships in Thailand with a focus on endangered sea turtles, gibbons and conservation initiatives:
Jumpstart your career with a six-month professional apprenticeship. Along with a job placement and practical experience working with a conservation partner for three months, you’ll receive career-readiness training, four recognised qualifications and a LinkedIn reference.
We offer two professional apprenticeship programs in Thailand:
This apprenticeship program takes place in Thailand’s Chiang Mai region and provides opportunities to gain skills and experience in community development, biodiversity and elephant conservation. During the three-month program, you’ll assist with biodiversity studies and monitor the reintegration of elephants into the forest. The program includes a three-month work placement with either GVI or a local partner organisation, as well as a targeted career-readiness program to develop leadership and career skills.
Our six-month conservation professional apprenticeship internship in Phang Nga, Thailand offers valuable fieldwork experience and research skills while contributing to UN SDGs. After a three-month training period, you’ll spend three months working with local conservation organisations on projects related to sea turtles, tropical birds, butterflies, island conservation, camera trapping and marine plastic pollution.
Take your academic profile to the next level with a research fellowship. You’ll have the opportunity to author or co-author a scientific paper and get published, while accessing unique data sets and receiving guidance from our team of experienced scientists and researchers. With decades of experience in facilitating nature conservation research, GVI has a legacy of published scientific research cited on Google Scholar over 1,000 times.
We offer two research fellowships in Thailand:
Our wildlife conservation fellowship program in Chiang Mai offers a unique opportunity to protect and research the habitats of species like elephants and gibbons. You’ll work on individual research projects focused on topics like biodiversity, birds, amphibians and reptiles, and even co-author a scientific paper. With valuable work experience, mentorship and training from industry experts, this program is the perfect chance to develop your leadership, teamwork and communication skills.
Join our coastal conservation research fellowship in Thailand and work on real conservation projects like beach profiling and biodiversity surveys. You’ll learn how to identify species, collect data on sea turtles and contribute to conservation work. At the end of the program, use your research findings to write a final report for your university dissertation or ongoing research projects. Plus, complete three online courses in leading teams, sustainable development careers and wildlife conservation to boost your qualifications.
We operate from two bases in Thailand, each offering a unique travel and volunteer experience: Chiang Mai and Phang Nga.
Our first base is in Chiang Mai, in the north, where you’ll find mountains and ancient temples. Set in a rural area surrounded by forests, you can take a break from the hustle and bustle and really get immersed in the local lifestyle. You’ll live and work in a traditional Karen village community in the mountains, located five hours away from Chiang Mai. Our programs in Chiang Mai focus on collaborating with local communities and organisations to support wildlife conservation and community development projects
Our second base is in Phang Nga, which is down south on the Andaman coast. If you love the ocean and beaches, then this is the place for you. As a volunteer at our Phang Nga base, you’ll contribute to locally-led sea turtle conservation projects and get involved in various conservation initiatives, including coral monitoring and marine, wildlife, bird and butterfly conservation. When you’re not helping with conservation projects, you can explore nearby national parks, visit the famous James Bond Island, and try some of the best Thai food around.
If you’re interested in joining a program with a community focus, we offer programs with a focus on education, public health, women’s empowerment, construction and volunteering with children in Cambodia and Nepal.
Our base in Cambodia is located in the town of Siem Reap, known as the gateway to Angkor complex where you’ll find the iconic Angkor Wat temple. Here you will be able to take part in teaching, health, women’s empowerment and community development programs. Known officially as the Kingdom of Cambodia, this small country will win the hearts of everyone who travels here. It is known by many for its grand temples and rich historical culture.
In Nepal there is no shortage of adventure, culture and tradition! Our hub is located in Pokhara and is focused around community development projects where participants can get involved in improving the education for local children by teaching English, contributing to sustainable construction projects, helping to improve the general access to basic public health, or volunteering with children.
Thailand’s Phang Nga and Chiang Mai regions boast an incredible range of wildlife species. In Phang Nga, you’ll have the opportunity to work with endangered sea turtles and monitor coral health, and participate in marine, wildlife, bird and butterfly conservation projects.
Meanwhile, in Chiang Mai, volunteers can observe and study endangered white-handed gibbons and Asian elephants, some of which have been relieved from the tourism industry and reintegrated into nearby forests. The region is also home to various bird species, butterflies, bats and mammals such as tigers and bears.
At GVI, we maintain the highest ethical standards across all our projects, guided by our ten ethical commitments and five empowerment principles. We are dedicated to constantly reflecting on and enhancing our policies and practices, as evidenced by our badge of ethics.
All of our conservation programs are designed and executed in partnership with local organisations to establish sustainable solutions that can be maintained without external support, ensuring long-lasting impact.
GVI’s conservation volunteer programs are designed in accordance with the UN SDGs. Every conservation program offered by GVI is linked with at least one of the UN SDGs.
We also have environmental impact and science officers working on-site to guarantee that our projects comply with the most current conservation best practices and the most rigorous scientific standards. GVI is a British Standards 8848 compliant provider.
To maintain ethical and safe operations in our wildlife volunteering programs, we enforce strict policies on animal interaction and follow rigorous health and safety practices. Our experienced staff members oversee all animal conservation volunteering activities to ensure they are impactful, safe and ethical.
At GVI, we prioritise the safety and well-being of our participants by taking necessary precautions, and providing trained support staff available 24/7, to ensure their comfort and security throughout all our programs.
Read more about the work we’ve done with the help of volunteers like you in our Impact and Ethics Report.