Travel to Thailand’s Southern province of Phang Nga, to contribute to UN SDG, #3, Health and Wellbeing. Assist by conducting nutrition and hygiene workshops in the local community, and organising and managing sports and physical fitness classes at local schools. Explore the picturesque coastline of southern Thailand in your free time.
Volunteers on this global health volunteer program in Thailand, can assist teachers with conducting educational classes for children and young adults. This might include arts and crafts classes to support fine motor functions, sports lessons to support gross motor functions, and sensory sessions to support cognitive development. You might also assist with facilitating games to support social development and English language lessons to assist with furthering vocational opportunities.
Our GVI base is located in the heart of a small fishing village named Ban Nam Khem, which is about one and half hours from Phuket airport, and about half an hour from the popular resort town of Khao Lak. Situated within the Phang Nga province, this region was the worst affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It’s estimated that almost half of Ban Nam Khem’s residents lost their lives in the tsunami, and today there is a famous memorial dedicated to them. Though steeped in tragedy, the people of the village refuse to be defined by their loss. The community has rebuilt itself and grown substantially since then.
Participating in this GVI program in Phang Nga offers you the chance to slow down and experience living and working in a traditional Thai community, tucked away from the usual busy tourist hotspots. The base is a short ten-minute walk from the beach and a fifteen-minute walk from the centre of the village – where you’ll find little markets, shops and street food vendors that are open daily. When you’re out and about, you’ll often be joined by Tiger, the friendly village dog who lives across the road. He loves to tag along on adventures and visit the base. You will share a house that includes communal spaces – here you can learn and relax with our 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 that the Phang Nga region is renowned for.
Our house is situated within Ban Nam Khem village. There is a lovely coffee shop on one side and a beautiful jungle on the other. You will stay in mixed-gender, dorm-style accom...
On the morning of your program start date, a transfer will be provided from Phuket Airport Place to the GVI base. A five-minute walk from the airport exit, the Phuket Airport Pl...
Wi-Fi is available at the base, but bear in mind it might not be as reliable as you might be used to back home. If you plan on working remotely while completing a program with u...
This program gives you the opportunity to experience authentic Southern Thai cuisine, while still having the chance to share some of your own favourite meals from back home. You...
Thailand has a famously tropical climate, the perfect weather in which to enjoy Thailand’s many beaches. The temperature ranges from 22°C – 34°C (72°F – 93°C) throug...
When doing project work and spending time in the local town, you will be expected to wear modest clothing, and behave in ways that are in accordance with Thai customs. Loose-fit...
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.
The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.
Reef Conservation UK 13th Annual Meeting, Zoological Society of London
Reef Conservation UK 13th Annual Meeting, Zoological Society of London
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.
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.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Conservation starts with education. Throughout the year, we conduct environmental awareness workshops at local schools, hotels, tour and dive operations, and elsewhere in the local community when an opportunity presents itself. We run an after-hours conservation club at our partner schools. These workshops aim to educate students on the importance of protecting the mangroves, ocean and wildlife, as well as reducing plastic use and pollution of the environment.
Ban Nam Khem, meaning “Place of Salty Water”, became the epicentre of a tin mining boom in the 1950s. At its peak, the population grew from a few families to approximately 5,000 people. When all the tin was extracted from the surrounding mines, the mining bubble burst. All that remains of the industry are lakes dotted around the village, marking where mines were dug and never filled. Today most people earn a living from fishing, but many seek alternative livelihoods in the nearby tourist hub of Khao Lak.
Thailand, like many countries in Southeast Asia, suffered greatly in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26th December 2004. Phang Nga, the province in which Ban Nam Khem is located, was one of the most severely affected in the country. Many villagers lost their homes, relatives, and friends. Although much progress has been made, there is still a need for community redevelopment and regeneration.
The GVI Phang Nga base was established in September 2012 with the aim of supporting the continued redevelopment of Ban Nam Khem and increasing access to employment opportunities through capacity-building initiatives. A large development planned for Khao Lak will make it an even more popular tourist destination in the years to come. Three-, four- and five-star hotels are currently being developed, which will likely significantly impact the landscape of the surrounding communities in the future, including Ban Nam Khem.
The local community’s efforts to diversify employment markets remain central to its well-being. Ban Nam Khem is well positioned to take advantage of the tourism boom in this region, but the community members need a good level of conversational English to enable them access to the corresponding employment opportunities. English language skills can also assist community members in the Thai workplace and the international economy.
Ban Nam Khem boasts its own primary school with an enrollment of around 250 children, and a Community Development Centre which offers free education during the day for around 150 children who live in the village. There are also free after-school classes that are available to everyone.
English Education Program
Throughout the year we work with a variety of local schools and age groups, from kindergarten to seniors. We assist local teachers with running classes to improve conversational and written English. This might include leading English classes, training local teachers, assisting with lesson development, and providing one-on-one tutoring sessions for learners requiring additional support. We also assist with conversational and professional English lessons for adult learners from the community in order to improve employability and job prospects. We offer both beginner and advanced level classes to adults. During the school holidays, we take part in other community activities and run summer camps – which allows children to continue learning, and provides a safe place for them to go while their parents are at work.
When they require our support, we assist educational and community centers around Ban Nam Khem and further afield with infrastructure development. We conduct basic maintenance and renovation work, like painting, maintaining fences, building school gardens, making desks, and improving the overall physical learning environment.
Public Health Project
Based on their needs, we run regular health workshops at local schools and in the community. These include workshops on dental hygiene, nutrition, general well-being, women’s and men’s health, and anti-smoking campaigns. We also conduct frequent health checks within the community and educate community members on health management. We provide free basic health education around obesity, which is an increasing problem in Thailand. In schools, we focus on hygiene by promoting hand-washing routines from an early age. We also conduct bi-monthly early childhood development testing focused largely on motor and sensory skills.
GVI Phang Nga long-term objectives:
1. Provide equal, quality education to children from all backgrounds.
2. Promote good health and well-being of the local community members through education.
3. Improve the English skills of the local community, allowing them access to equal employment opportunities in the communities of Takuapa and Ban Nam Khem.
4. Increase awareness of environmental issues within the local community and facilitate change towards sustainability through education.
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.
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
We aim to ensure that every participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
23 Apr, 2020
11 Oct, 2018
16 Jan, 2014
Meet Adele our Community Coordinator in Phang Nga, Thailand. She is originally from the United Kingdom, but loves her life in Thailand living next to a beautiful beach, enjoying...
Conservation Program Coordinator
Meet Eve our Conservation Program Coordinator in Phang Nga, Thailand. She was born in the United Kingdom but has since lived and worked in many countries across Europe. She is e...
Senior Program Coordinator
Meet Katie, the Senior Program Coordinator at GVI Phang Nga. She has an undergraduate degree in geography and a master’s degree in sustainability. She is in charge of runn...
Senior Program Manager
This is Vanessa, she is originally from the UK and joined GVI back in 2017 when she was completing a teaching program in India. Since this volunteering expedition ...
Introducing Gay, who is our Community Liaison out in Phang Nga. Gay has studied business management as part of her master’s degree. She started her journey w...
We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos
We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases
When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.
We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.
We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.
We don’t support or allow participants to work in institutional residential care facilities, also known as orphanages. We partner with ReThink Orphanages and Freedom United.
Our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy requires all our staff and participants to complete a criminal background check and to learn why you shouldn’t reveal a child’s identifying factors in photographs. We support the ChildSafe Movement.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.
We don’t offer any programs where our participants work directly with people with disabilities. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country.
In this course, you’ll explore the most common pitfalls of community development initiatives so that you can avoid them. You’ll also learn how to carry out community development work effectively and ethically and how local context impacts program development. After successfully completing the course, which you have the option of doing prior to your in-country program, you’ll receive a certificate from the University of Richmond.
This online course, valued at £295, is included in all volunteering programs. Full course details can be found here.
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.
Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
Learn about our empowerment principles.
An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.
Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.
Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.
Learn about what a coral reef is, its importance, how it is formed, how this ecosystem works.
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.
Learn some basic Thai words and phrases which will help you integrate further into the village community.
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.
Joining a GVI program not only allows you to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems – but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer over weekends.
Field staff are a great source of advice and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. You can choose to travel before or after your experience with GVI (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships you’ve established on the program. Please note that the below options are not included in the program fee, and would be up to you to arrange at your own expense.
The Similan and Surin Island groups are both protected Marine National Parks. They are home to several world-renowned diving and snorkelling spots, but can only be visited betwe...
This is a very popular tourist spot. It’s filled with seemingly endless beaches, so many dining options you will be spoilt for choice, and hundreds of spas offering massages and...
Said to be more diverse than the Amazon, this 740 square metre rainforest reserve is home to elephants, deer, monkeys, lizards, birds, and the Rafflesia, a giant flowering plant...
Phuket is a tourism hotspot – as popular for its spectacular beaches, diving, and surfing sites, as it is for its cafés, boutiques and hotels. Yo...
This province is a treasure trove for travellers. Enjoy the crystal-clear Emerald Pond, the epic 1,237-step climb to the Buddha statue, the stun...
Thailand boasts some of the top beach destinations in the world, with Railay beach being one of the most popular. A peninsula on the Andaman coas...
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...
This protected marine park covers a huge area, including over 50 islands. Visit the jungle island of Koh Chang, where you can snorkel or scuba-di...
Also known as “‘Turtle Island”’ this is another excellent destination for snorkelling and scuba-diving, or simply relaxing on the beach. The visi...
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 experi...
Explore the picturesque waterfalls of Khao Yai in central Thailand. Here you can spot unique Thai wildlife like gibbon monkeys....
Travel to the city complex ruins of Ayutthaya to learn more about Thailand’s heritage. This spectacular, but now abandoned city used to be the me...
Set in the verdant mountainsides of Northern Thailand, the golden city of Chiang Mai is a breathtaking sight to behold. Visit historic temples an...
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 ...
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.
On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.
February: Magha Puja is an important Buddhist holiday during which people make offerings at temples around the country.
April and May: Thailand’s New Year, also known as ...
Most Thai people subscribe to Theravada Buddhism. There are many local Buddhist sites in the region of Phang Nga that you can visit to learn more about Buddhist customs. Travel ...
The fluid movements and opulent gilded costumes of Thai traditional dancing are recognisable worldwide. Learn about the six types of Thai classic...
Thai food is famous the world over and is known for its fragrant, spicy flavours. All participants receive cooking lessons from our local staff, ...
There are about 71 languages in Thailand with five main families: Austronesian, Hmong-Mien, Thai, Mon-Khmer and Sino-Tibetan. Thai is the nationa...
Known for its amazing limestone rock formations, pristine beaches, and rich culture, Phang Nga is a pocket of paradise in Southern Thailand. Its ...
‘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.’
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.
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place.
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.
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.
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 ju...
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 heal...
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 ...
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 a...
|24-hour emergency desk|
|24-hour in-country support|
|Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)|
|All project equipment|
|Food (except on long-term internship placements|
|Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)|
|Group introductory call|
|Endorsed GVI Specialisation Course|
|Endorsed Leadership Course|
|Sustainable project work|
|Data collection and research|
|Real projects with partners|
|Remote Internship Supervisor|
|Remote Academic Internship Supervisor|
|Remote Career Internship Supervisor|
|Preferential recruitment on GVI positions|
|Job portal access|
|Endorsed Careers Course|
|Career coaching sessions|
Certificates and achievements
|PDF reference - upon request|
|Linkedin reference and skills endorsement|
|Additional drinks and gratuities|
|Extra local excursions|
|International and domestic airport taxes|
|Medical and travel insurance|
|Personal items and toiletries|
|Police or background check|
Learn to make traditional Thai and Burmese food
Visit the Buddhist temples of Ban Nam Khem
Practice traditional Thai yoga massage
Master Muay Thai self-defence techniques
Raft along the Sok River
Hike to hidden waterfalls
Visit an untouched mangrove island
Sleep in a floating river bungalow