Thailand Coastal Conservation Expedition

Assist in the conservation of Thailand’s natural environment on this all-encompassing expedition.

Durations:  1 - 12 weeks

Program information

Contribute to conserving Thailand’s unique species and habitats while living and working with other international volunteers in one of the most naturally splendid regions in the world, Thailand’s province of Phang Nga. Assist with turtle conservation, plastic pollution prevention, bird and butterfly surveys, island biodiversity monitoring, and environmental awareness education, in an effort to work toward United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, UN SDGs, #14 and #15, Life Below Water and Life on Land.


undefined 31 May 2022

Included in your program

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

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

Connect with our alumni
Want to connect with some of our past participants about their adventures? Get in touch with hundreds of friendly ambassadors all over the world who would be more than happy to answer any questions.
Testimonial bg

Billie-Jo Dearden

14 Jan, 2020
In summer 2018 I joined the Phang Nga conservation project in Thailand having been involved in a GVI project the year before. The staff at the Phang Nga base were really friendly and supportive, the training we received was helpful and information, preparing us for the tasks required on project. The project varied from day to day which made each day interesting. During some days we would go to the Navy base to work with the turtles where we cleaned the tanks and turtles as well as conducting research. The research included weighing, measuring and observing the turtles. We also conducted beach cleans, collecting litter and plastic that had washed up. There were also opportunities to teach a conservation class at the Primary School. I really enjoyed this project and learnt a lot about turtles and their habitat. It made me reflect more on how I can be more eco-friendly during my day to day life by reducing the amount of plastic I use. This is something that I will be taking into the school I teach in at home, to try and teach children how to look after the environment.

Emma King

06 Mar, 2019
It's no exaggeration to say that the weeks I've spent with GVI in Phang Nga, Thailand, are amongst the best of my life. At the ripe old age of 40 I'm taking a belated gap year, doing the travelling I didn't do when I was younger before returning to University to retrain next Autumn. Having never been to South-East Asia, and having never travelled alone before, I was a little nervous about my first trip of the year, but I couldn't have been more warmly welcomed, or better looked after, than I was by GVI. During my stay I had the opportunity to participate in many things which simply aren't available to "regular" tourists, from helping out at a sea turtle conservation centre to teaching in a local school. Having done some other travelling in the area since, the regular tourist haunts seem artificial and superficial compared to my experience with GVI, where I got to experience and be part of the "real" Thailand in a way that is difficult as a tourist. It was also wonderful to be part of something which is making a genuine contribution to significant global issues. Even though I was only with GVI for a few short weeks, I was helping and working alongside dedicated staff and long-term interns on projects which work with the local community towards UN Sustainable Development goals, making a genuine difference in the area. It is a very fulfilling way to see the world. If all that weren't enough, it has also been a tremendous amount of fun, living and working in a beautiful part of the world, alongside some of the nicest and most inspiring people I have ever met, who work hard and play hard too. I'm already looking at booking more GVI travel elsewhere in the world for later in the year, and couldn't recommend it more highly!

Rowan Chesters

11 Oct, 2018
My name is Rowan Chesters, I am from a small town in Shropshire England and I go to university in Liverpool studying marketing. I had just finished my first year when I came to this Conservation project in Phang Nga Thailand. I decided to go on this trip as I wanted to do conservation so much and after going through so many different options on the internet I saw this as the best option as the whole project looked amazing. Living on base here was such a good experience. On the first few days of project we received training on everything we needed to know on PowerPoints and having Rachel speak about it all to us which was very helpful. We would do project work Monday – Thursday, including going to the navy base to look after the turtles, do beach cleans, go on bird walks, teach a local class and many other different little projects that were all so much fun. Every other Friday we did a project as a whole group which was so fun, while I was there we went to a hotel and did a teaching camp with lots of children which was wonderful. In the mornings we usually got up very early to go and spent most of our day away from base doing work. In the evenings we would have dinner together, cooked by someone who lived in the village and It was always delicious and different every day. After this we would have debrief and then all sit together and chat, play games, go to the beach or do the weekly Wednesday quiz! We had the weekends of. On the shorter weekend we just relaxed, went to the beach and just chatted together, on the longer weekends we had we did group trips which for me included Khao Sok and Railay beach which was so much fun! The staff on the project were amazing. I spent most of my time with Rachel and Luis as they were on the conservation project and they are so lovely and friendly and so involved with the projects, seeing their passion and love for the work we were doing was inspiring! The other staff who worked there were also lovely, made you feel so comfortable and at home and could have a lot of fun with them to (especially on quiz night). I feel this project has benefitted me in many ways, I feel more confident and comfortable in myself knowing I can do something like this by myself and meet so many amazing people and do such good work for the project. Every part of this project has been memorable and anyone that is thinking about it I would tell them just to go for it and there is nothing to worry about at all. I was so nervous before coming and I keep looking back thinking how unnecessary all that worrying was for as I was good from the moment I arrived. Thank you GVI for this experience.

Alison Brooks

11 Oct, 2018
So far, I have been lucky enough to volunteer twice with GVI. The first time was in Phang Nga, Thailand, in April 2015, the second time only this June/July in Karongwe, South Africa. Before I get into my two testimonials, I have to mention that I had booked Phang Nga for a month, but I had to leave after two weeks as I broke my foot one evening. Therefore, I spent two weeks volunteering in each project. My main focus was always conservation, in Thailand more specifically marine conservation and in South Africa wildlife conservation. My time in Phang Nga was my first volunteering experience and I made one crucial mistake with it. I booked with STA travel Switzerland and my advisor suggested the more expensive private room option with airconditioning and a proper bathroom. Even though that was obviously quite agreeable, it made it difficult to bond with everyone as that room was a bit away from base and I had to leave by some point at night. If that option is still available, I definitely would not recommend it. After I had broken my foot a bit less than two weeks into the project, I moved to the base for a couple of days and I got along very well with the basic conditions. There are no flushing toilets or and cold showers, but with the heat that is perfectly fine. As there is no airconditioning, I would not recommend going at the hottest time of the year, but there are fans you can snatch to sleep and that is just fine. Dinner is provided for by a Thai cook from the village and is delicious. Moreover, GVI volunteers and staff are an amazing crowd of open-minded people and great fun to be with. As the base is located in an authentic Thai village, we were taught some basic Thai to interact with the community. Naturally, you have to adjust the way you dress and respect their rules in order to fit in. That done, the Thai people are amazingly welcoming and always happy to see volunteers around the village which gives the project a great vibe. Project work involved biodiversity surveys in the jungle and on an island close to the village. Even though that was great fun, I felt that those surveys were lacking strategy and thus professionality and I was not sure how useful they could ever be for research. Additionally, we went to sea turtle centres once a week to clean the turtles and their pools which I enjoyed the most. Furthermore, we did beach cleans, collected seaweed for the sea turtles and were responsible for data entry collected by divers on sharks and rays. Moreover, we taught about conservation and natural phenomena at the local school. Needless to say, I enjoyed every single task on the programme. We also had two and a half days off at the weekend, which made travelling the region as a group of volunteers an amazing experience. Overall, I had a great time despite my broken foot and I would love to go back to Phang Nga one day and see what has become of the project since I later found out that it was fairly new when I volunteered there. South Africa absolutely stole my heart. The GVI base is located within a game reserve making it a unique experience to live with wildlife at your doorstep and in an ecological way which restricted power use. There is solar power so naturally, more light was available if there were clear skies during the day. GVI base has their own water source which even makes it possible to drink the tap water and renders hot water. However, Elephants are smart and sneaky. One night they travelled though our garden and we could watch them tear down trees next to our volleyball pit. They also drank our water resources that night which meant scarce water the next day for us and some time without hot showers. That experience was absolutely amazing as you learn to live with nature in an exceptional way. Otherwise, the base is more luxurious than I would have imagined, there are bathrooms with real toilets and showers and the kitchen offers everything you need. As there is no airconditioning, I would definitely recommend going in the dry season (which is actually fairly cold as it is South African winter). Additionally, there are not mosquitos during that time which makes life a lot easier. The GVI staff are amazing and very well trained and my fellow volunteers and interns were the most amazing international crowd. Project work usually consists of general research drives which go out at least twice a day to find the cheetahs and other species. Moreover, some drives go out for transecting which means counting prey species in a certain area of the reserve. There are also hippo count drives, fence line patrols to collect litter and on a voluntary basis community work such as teaching in local schools. Once a week, there is the opportunity to go to town and Sunday is usually the only day off and tours to Kruger or the Panorama route are offered by GVI. Each person is regularly on base duty which means that two people per day stay in base to do their fair share of cooking and cleaning, but also to sleep in. This is the case as the daily routine for drives involves leaving promptly at 5.30 am, then coming back for an extended lunch break and leaving again at 3 pm for the second drive. That makes it normal for everyone to go to bed right after dinner around 8 or 9 pm. Generally, the rule appears to be the later a drive returns the more exciting things they are seeing. I have had the luck to come very close to the Big Five as well as to Karongwe’s cheetahs Khwezi and the three boys as well as many other amazing animals, but I have not nearly had enough and I am already planning on returning to that magical place next year.

Rhiannon Harvey

11 Oct, 2018
I want to work as a marine biologist, so this program was a unique (and fun) way to experience several different methods of marine conservation, like sea turtle husbandry, biodiversity surveys, and cleaning trash off beaches. Since I was working in a large group of sixteen people I also learned leadership, patience, and how to contribute positively to the team, abilities that will all be useful in future employment. But aside from having a positive impact on my future employability, this program left a positive impact on the world around me. Some of these impacts are short-term, like cleaning turtle tanks. Turtle tanks are always going to get dirty again, but in addition to keeping the turtles happy and healthy we were able to ease the workload on the regular staff and give them more time to perform other important duties. Some of our other projects will have longer-lasting impacts. Examples of these are the biodiversity surveys, which will update and maintain databases used to track wild animal populations, and the website we created for the Thai Muang turtle conservancy, which will provide tourists with better information regarding marine ecology and conservation. However, these are only a few examples of the projects we worked on while in Thailand. GVI was very supportive throughout this experience, both before and after we arrived on site. The staff made sure to provide us with good information about our program through PowerPoint presentations and Skype calls before we left for Thailand, and after we arrived we received thorough training so we wouldn’t feel nervous or unsure about what we were doing. We were each assigned a mentor to consult with throughout the eight weeks, and I knew I could always seek help from my mentor if I was having a problem, either with something related to a project or to another team member. The GVI staff made sure we all knew that our safety and wellbeing was a priority, and they never gave us any reason to feel otherwise. This experience has been exciting, formative, challenging, inspirational, daunting, and rewarding, and I would happily go back to the beginning and do it all over again.

Kevin Hwang

11 Oct, 2018
My experience these past two months has been rewarding, educational, and transformative. I’ve had the opportunity to conduct service and have an impact on the surrounding community in both a short term and long term way. I’ve been able to form connections with local villagers and develop lasting relationships over these two months while teaching them skills, mainly English, that they will continue to use and develop after we’ve left. GVI has been integral to my experience here: providing strong leaders, an immersive program, and the opportunity to make a difference. GVI really emphasizes personal reflection and introspection which forced me to put my ideals and values under question from a service perspective. These sessions facilitate lasting personal growth and really gave me an impactful and transformative two months. The staff here has been incredibly supportive and caring; I feel very comfortable going to any staff member with a concern or new idea. The friendliness and inclusiveness they’ve shown to me these past two months has made this summer one to remember.

Jona Avila

11 Oct, 2018
GVI had me mind blown from day one. Being in Phang Nga taught me that the real way to experience a country and a culture is to live there and connect with the local communities. The staff on base were amazing in not only helping you integrate into your program but also understand how your time contributes to the development of the community. They are very knowledgeable of the local culture and anthropological narratives that have shaped the community. Furthermore the friendly familiarity and welcoming nature of the locals demonstrates the strong positive relationship GVI has built with the community. As volunteers walk down the streets of the village the locals would smile and wave, particularly if we were wearing our GVI tops. My GVI program both a rewarding experience and significant lifestyle change. After my time in Thailand, I feel that I understand not only the world a little bit better but also myself. Being in the conservation team taught me how the actions of individuals are interconnected to a larger picture. After returning to continue my double degree in Biotechnology and Business, I have sought opportunities to participate in niche areas of sustainable economic development. To ensure that the skills and knowledge I accumulate from both my studies and GVI are applied in causes that aim to bring a positive impact on the lives of others. GVI is perfect for curious individuals who desire knowledge, a change in the world and have an unsatisfiable wanderlust.

Erica Sufani

11 Oct, 2018
Being a part of the Marine Coastal conservation program was hands down of the most rewarding, exciting experiences I have ever had. Even though I was only part of the program for two weeks, I feel that I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge and experience about conservation projects, volunteer organisations in communities and working with different people from around the world, which makes me more confident about entering the non- governmental organisation workforce. I gained everything that I expected from this program, and was lucky enough to make wonderful friends along the way. The program has truly impacted the way I feel about conservation and environmentalism, and has given me even more drive to continue to make a positive change in the world. Working closely with community members, community partnerships, local schools and environmental organisations meant that as a volunteer I could gain a much clearer understanding of the importance of their goals to help and support the community and reduce humanity’s impact on the environment. The staff and volunteers were truly amazing and inspiring people that provided support and encouragement every step of the way. I would definitely do it all over again!

Hannah McMurray

16 Jan, 2014
One of the best things about this project in Thailand is that you do things and see things that you would never see if you were travelling with friends or alone. You are completely immersed in the culture and you experience the real Thailand, as opposed to experiencing the tourist side of things.