Volunteer in Thailand

Be a part of impactful conservation work.

Whether you’re breathing in the lush jungle mist while exploring the forests of the north, or coming up for a lung-full of fresh sea-scented air after diving off the southern coast, paradise is never far away in Thailand. Here you will have the chance to work and live in some of the most biodiverse habitats in the world – both above and below water. 

Overview

When you join a volunteer program in Thailand, you’ll get to explore its northern and southern regions surrounded by jungle-covered mountains, golden beaches, artfully detailed temples and experience a diversity of cultures. 

Contribute to elephant conservation initiatives in the mountains of Chiang Mai, conduct marine conservation research on the island of Phang Nga or assist with wildlife rehabilitation initiatives in lush rainforests. Working alongside our partners on the ground, you’ll gain hands-on experience in conservation and get to work on projects with sustainable long-term goals. Whether you’re passionate about marine biology, wildlife conservation or simply want to give back while travelling, GVI’s volunteer opportunities in Thailand provide an opportunity to make a difference and create unforgettable memories.

All of our volunteer programs in Thailand directly contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), specifically UN SDG 5: Life on Land and UN SDG 14: Life Below Water. Here we collaborate with local communities and organisations dedicated to the preservation of the region’s marine, coastal and island habitats and species. When you volunteer in Thailand, you can support the protection of the region’s threatened sea turtles, elephants rescued from the tourism industry, endangered gibbons, or join projects that support public health and education.

When you volunteer in Thailand you can choose from a variety of projects focused on: 

In Phang Nga we also offer a range of community-focused programs, including:

Our programs

Volunteering
Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand
Under 18
Sea Turtle Conservation and Adventure Teen Volunteering in Thailand
Volunteering
Thailand Coastal Conservation Expedition
Volunteering
Gibbon Conservation Volunteering in Thailand
Volunteering
Endangered Turtle Conservation and Research in Thailand
Research Fellowship
Coastal conservation research fellowship in Thailand
Internship
Elephant Conservation Internship in Thailand
Internship
Sea Turtle Conservation Internship in Thailand
Internship
Coastal Conservation Internship in Thailand
Volunteering
Elephant and Endangered Sea Turtle Coastal Conservation in Thailand
Internship
Gibbon Conservation Internship in Thailand
Research Fellowship
Wildlife conservation research fellowship in Thailand
Volunteering
Plastic Pollution and Conservation In Thailand
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in Oceania and the Thai Islands
Volunteering
Marine, Island and Coastal Conservation Exploration in Fiji and Thailand
Volunteering
Citizen science bird conservation in Thailand
Volunteering
Coral Reef Conservation in Thailand
Professional Apprenticeship
Coastal Conservation Apprenticeship in Thailand
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in the Indian Ocean
Professional Apprenticeship
Elephant and Wildlife Conservation Apprenticeship in Thailand
Included in your program, at no extra cost

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Learn to make traditional Thai and Burmese food
Learn to make traditional Thai and Burmese food
Visit the Buddhist temples of Ban Nam Khem
Visit the Buddhist temples of Ban Nam Khem
Practice traditional Thai yoga massage
Practice traditional Thai yoga massage
Master Muay Thai self-defence techniques
Master Muay Thai self-defence techniques
Raft along the Sok River
Raft along the Sok River
Hike to hidden waterfalls
Hike to hidden waterfalls
Visit an untouched mangrove island
Visit an untouched mangrove island
Sleep in a floating river bungalow
Sleep in a floating river bungalow
Types of programs

Volunteering programs in Thailand

Volunteer with elephants

On this program you’ll work with elephants in Thailand who have a complex history of working in the country’s tourism industry. Based in a local Karen cultural village, about an hour’s journey from Chiang Mai, you’ll assist GVI staff and local community members with reintegrating elephants into more natural settings. Alongside local mahouts, you will have the opportunity to volunteer with elephants in the area’s expansive forest grounds. To maintain the health and safety of these cognitively advanced land animals, elephants in Thailand’s Chiang Mai province receive health checks and live in secluded forest territories. 

The program consists of hiking expeditions where you’ll be recording elephant behavioural data, taking note of the elephants’ sensory reactions to their environment, food sources, and other elephants. There will also be opportunities to learn how to identify the biodiversity in the area. While on the program you will be living and working with local community members, giving you an opportunity to connect with them and learn about their culture.

We always adhere to the highest standards of ethical best practice in international sustainable development and our elephant volunteering program in Thailand is no exception. You can learn more about how to ethically volunteer with elephants

Endangered turtle conservation and research

Join GVI in Thailand’s southern province of Phang Nga to participate in endangered sea turtle conservation efforts. GVI partners with Thailand’s Royal Navy to increase sea turtle populations. This is done by helping to raise baby sea turtles up to a size that will allow them to thrive in the wild. 

There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved in other coastal conservation projects – like conducting plastic cleanups, and encouraging effective waste practices and plastic reduction in the local community. Through environmental awareness workshops, you can also support the community in protecting the environment.

Several times during the month, volunteers also travel to two nearby islands and conduct biodiversity surveys and check remote camera traps set up to monitor elusive species. During some parts of the year, volunteers can also get involved in coral reef conservation surveys, which involves snorkelling in the warm waters off Thailand’s coast. You can also get involved in mangrove planting during certain seasons. 

Sea turtle conservation and adventure teen volunteering

GVI’s teen volunteer program in Southern Thailand offers a sustainable way for 15–17 year olds to experience the region’s incredible biodiversity and cultural landmarks. 

After volunteering in projects such as turtle conservation and collecting marine debris, teens can go on guided tours to learn about responsible tourism and Thai culture. With the program’s focus on health and safety, GVI has been compliant with British Standards 8848 since 2012. Joining an international group of like-minded teens, this program is a fantastic opportunity to make new friends, experience Thailand and contribute to a sustainable future.

Thailand coastal conservation expedition

This all-encompassing expedition offers an opportunity to contribute to the conservation of Thailand’s natural environment while living and working with international volunteers. Participants will assist with turtle conservation, plastic pollution prevention, biodiversity monitoring and environmental education. The region’s natural beauty – including limestone cliffs and endangered species – has made it a popular destination for tourists, but plastic pollution, unsustainable practices and climate change pose serious threats.

The negative impacts of these threats not only harm Thailand’s wildlife but also have economic consequences as tourism is a significant source of income for the country. Joining this program offers a chance to make a difference and contribute to a more sustainable future while experiencing the beauty of Thailand’s natural environment.

Gibbon conservation volunteering

Volunteering with endangered gibbons in Chiang Mai offers a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Northern Thailand’s mountains and forests while contributing to the conservation of these fascinating primates. You will assist conservationists in tracking, photographing, and documenting the behaviour of the white-handed gibbon, and learning about their ecology. 

Here you will be assisting with planning and preparing surveys and GPS tracks, setting up camera traps, taking photographs, recording gibbon sounds and observations on data sheets, and entering the data into a central database system. In addition to working with gibbons, you can also participate in morning elephant hikes, collect behavioural data on resident Asian elephants, and interact with local families in the Karen community through various workshops. By volunteering, you’ll be contributing to the conservation of the local gibbon population and assisting scientists in gathering more knowledge about their ecology and conservation status.

Elephant and endangered sea turtle coastal conservation

On this wildlife conservation program you’ll contribute to the preservation of two endangered species the green sea turtle and the Asian elephant. 

The program is divided into two parts. In Phang Nga, you’ll work with conservation professionals to assist local partners, including sea turtle nurseries. In a Karen hill tribe village north of Chiang Mai, you’ll assist with reintroducing Asian elephants to their natural forest habitat.

Along with these conservation efforts, you’ll have free time to explore the stunning landscapes and cultural sites of both regions. Gain valuable conservation experience, immerse yourself in Thai culture, and make a positive impact on the preservation of two endangered species in Thailand. 

Along with the above volunteer programs, GVI also offers the following internship and research fellowship programs in Thailand:

 

By participating in any of these projects, you will be supporting UN SDG 14: Life Below Water and UN SDG 15: Life on Land.

GVI also offers community-based projects in Thailand, where volunteers can work alongside local communities to support education, community development, and public health initiatives.

Volunteer with children

Volunteer with local community youth in Phang Nga to assist with improving their English speaking and writing skills. You will also work with them to improve their fine motor skills, the coordination of small muscles including those of the wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes. This is also an opportunity to develop your own professional lesson planning and workshop facilitation skills while supporting UN SDG 4: Quality Education. 

These programs do not allow volunteers to work with children in residential care. We do not support orphanage volunteering and you can learn more by reading our stance on the topic. All our staff and participants are required to complete a police background check before arrival on the program. We regularly review our comprehensive Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection policy and on-site child protection training is provided once volunteers arrive in their host country. We also protect children from cyber and real-world threats by ensuring that our marketing follows child protection best practices. 

This ensures that ethical best practices are upheld to protect all youth involved while empowering local communities.

Global public health

Contribute towards advancing UN SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being when you volunteer in Thailand’s Phang Nga province. Create awareness of preventative health practices through participating in health education initiatives, in the village of Ban Nam Khem. You will assist local teachers to encourage positive health practices in children and young adults of the province. Contribute to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) workshops. Supporting regular hand washing and other habitual hygiene practices can significantly improve the long-term health of youth and adults. 

Community development and sea turtle conservation teen volunteering

Join an international group of teens to contribute to the United Nations Development Goals by volunteering at a sea turtle conservation centre, collecting plastic pollution, and assisting with renovating local schools. Afterwards, explore Southern Thailand’s tropical landscape and stunning temples on a guided tour. GVI’s teen volunteer program welcomes 1517 year olds and prioritises safety, health and responsible tourism. Flight chaperoning services are available upon request

Highlights of the program include protecting endangered green sea turtles and preventing plastic pollution, sampling authentic Thai cuisine, and visiting stunning Buddhist temples. The program also offers opportunities for adventure, such as taking a hike through tropical jungles to view spectacular waterfalls or kayaking through mangrove forests. By participating in this program, you’ll have the chance to live, volunteer, and explore Thailand with other teens from around the world, forging new friendships that will last a lifetime.

Location

Where can I volunteer in Thailand with GVI?

GVI operates in two locations in Thailand.

Phang Nga

Travel to southern Thailand to live and volunteer in Phang Nga, a province along the Andaman Sea. Contribute to conservation projects in a region consisting of mangrove forests, limestone cliffs, white-sand beaches and tropical islets. On the weekend, or after your GVI volunteering project, you can visit Ao Phang Nga National Park to learn about the largest mangrove forest in Thailand.

Along with local community members and conservation organisations, GVI works towards marine conservation, environmental awareness and educational enhancement objectives. 

If you are looking for a Thailand volunteer experience that combines tropical landscapes with meaningful sustainable development, a GVI program in Phang Nga is the province for you. You’ll have the opportunity to assist in preserving sea turtle populations, or gaining experience in teaching or health education. 

Chiang Mai

When you volunteer in Thailand’s northern region you will be surrounded by mountainous scenery. You will be living and working within a traditional Karen village community, a five-hour journey from the city of Chiang Mai into the mountains. Here, you will collaborate with local community members to support wildlife conservation and community development projects. Volunteer with elephants who have previously worked in the tourism industry. You will assist local mahout’s and GVI staff to reintegrate the world’s largest living land animals into vast territories in nearby forests. Get involved in elephant health checks and learn about the habitats, adaptations and behaviours of Thailand’s elephants.

Why Thailand?

Why volunteer in Thailand?

Thailand is one of the most sought-after travel locations in Asia, due to its diversity of cultural traditions, habitats, animals and marine life. By volunteering in Thailand you will be contributing to the preservation of these valuable historic and natural resources. Take a look at some of our main reasons to visit and volunteer in Thailand below.

  • Tropical climate: If you are looking for a year-round summer, with occasional refreshing rains and seasonal cooling periods, this is the place for you. 
  • Temples: Wherever you decide to volunteer in Thailand you can be sure to come across some of Asia’s most opulent, historic, and intricately detailed temples. Visit the sacred golden Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple in Chiang Mai, or its older counterpart, Wat Chedi Luang temple, built in the early 15th century. Visiting temples in Thailand is a lesson in the cultural heritage of the country.  
  • Cultural diversity: There are a large variety of ethnic and cultural groups living within Thailand. Volunteering is a great way to learn about the traditions of different cultures as you will be living and working with local community members. You can learn about Theravada Buddhism, a belief system practised by 90% of the population. Create a habit out of communal dining and removing your shoes before entering an establishment or home, as these are signs of respect. If you join GVI’s program near Chiang Mai, you might also learn about the various beliefs prominent in Karen culture, including Buddhism, Christianity and Animism – a belief system predicated on the concept that everything including inanimate objects are imbued with a spiritual essence. 
  • Cuisine: If you have not already heard about Pad Thai, the country’s delicious stir-fried noodle dish, you are in for a treat. This dish has a loyal fanbase in numerous countries around the world. In addition, Thai cuisine features an array of dishes for all palates and dietary preferences from traditional noodle soups to Thai red and green curries. When you volunteer in Thailand, you will not only get to taste these dishes first-hand, but you will also have the opportunity to learn how to cook them yourself from local community members. 
  • Wildlife and marine life: Volunteering in Thailand means there will be ample opportunity for you to get involved in assisting with the conservation of land and marine life. Support efforts to protect endangered sea turtles along Thailand’s coast, or assist with the protection of the endangered Asian elephant in its northern forested region. 
  • Landscapes: The country has an impressive diversity of ecosystems, habitats and ever-changing landscapes. Landscapes in the south include limestone cliffs, waterfalls and islands, while green humid forests and mountains make up the northern region.
  • Beaches: There are many reasons for Thailand’s thriving tourism industry, and the diverse, tropical, white-sand and pebbled beaches are definitely one of them! Volunteering in Thailand is an opportunity not only to enjoy peaceful beach scenery, but to also take up recreational diving along the coast, or simply swim and snorkel in the country’s famously warm, clear blue waters. Volunteering in Thailand’s Phang Nga province means you will have the opportunity to support island and coastal conservation efforts, such as getting involved in sea turtle conservation or mangrove forest restoration.

 

Planning your trip to Thailand

Five things to ask before you volunteer in Thailand

Before embarking on your Thailand volunteer journey, there are a few things we would recommend that you ask beforehand.  

Which volunteer program focus am I most interested in?

GVI offers a range of different volunteering programs in Thailand. Choose from programs focused on marine or wildlife conservation, animal care, teaching, volunteering with children, public health, women’s empowerment or community development.

How ethical is the organisation I have selected? What are the ethical best practices involved in the specific volunteering program I have selected? 

For over 25 years, GVI has been committed to the highest level of ethical best practice throughout all levels of our organisation. We live by our 10 ethical principles and five human empowerment principles. Our badge of ethics represents our commitment to ethical best practice in all of our focus areas, including wildlife and marine conservation, and volunteering with children. We are dedicated to continuously improving our policies, with the assistance of our ethics officers and external experts in their respective fields. Specific policies that apply to our work in Thailand include our stance against orphanage volunteering and donation and our stance concerning how to volunteer ethically with animals

Do I want to volunteer in Thailand on a short-term or a long-term basis?

Volunteer durations range from one week to 24 weeks of participation. Whether you are on your gap year, a career break or a volunteering holiday, you can contribute to making a sustainable impact.

Are there any requirements for my chosen program?

No specific qualifications are required for joining a GVI volunteering program in Thailand. To join an adult program, you must be at least 18 years of age. If you are between the ages of 15 and 17, you can join one of our teen volunteering projects. All training specific to the project you have selected is provided on the program itself. All our programs include health and safety, and child and vulnerable adult protection training. 

Where will my accommodation be?

When you volunteer in Thailand’s northern region, you will stay about a five-hour drive away from the city of Chiang Mai, in a remote mountain village. In the southern region, accommodation is located in a small village, Ban Nam Khem, 30 minutes away from the famously scenic Khao Lak.

Who will I be volunteering with?

You will be working with like-minded participants from around the world. Even though you all come from different backgrounds and might be different ages, your passion for making an impact and your many free time adventures will soon have you making friends for life. At each location, our international team of GVI staff are there to guide you throughout your stay. We strongly believe in community ownership so we work closely with local partners – which means you will have the privilege of working closely with local community members. This will give you insight into the local context of the project and allow you to gain experience in intercultural communication.