Sea Turtle Conservation And Cultural Immersion Teen Volunteering In Thailand

Volunteer with sea turtles and renovate schools with other teens, while you explore Southern Thailand.

Durations:  2 weeks

Program information

Join an international group of like-minded teens to learn about and contribute to the United Nations Development Goals, UN SDGs, #4, Quality Education, #14, Life Below Water, and #15, Life on Land. You will have the opportunity to spend time volunteering at a sea turtle conservation center, collecting plastic pollution from beaches, and renovating classrooms at local schools. Afterwards, hike through tropical jungles to view spectacular waterfalls, kayak through mangrove forests, and visit on some of Thailand’s most beautiful temples and beaches.

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undefined 31 May 2022
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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

Emily Hayden

26 Nov, 2019
When I signed up for the GVI Under 18 Service Project in Phang Nga, Thailand, it felt so daunting to me that I would be arriving travelling alone for the first time! Yet as soon as I landed, I was greeted instantly by the warm GVI staff and instantly felt at home. Everyone on the trip was so friendly, and I truly felt like I was part of a family within the first few days. The staff went above and beyond for everyone in our group during the trip, making sure we were safe, comfortable and happy, having a good time and learning whilst doing so! The trip was split into two weeks- the first week being a service-based experience where we volunteered in a variety of places, from a sea turtle conservation base, to painting a fence at a local school to cleaning up beaches of plastic! During that first week, I truly learnt so much, not only in terms of learning about the effect of tourism and humans on the local culture and ecosystems, but I also learnt so much about working in a team, giving back to others and persevering to make a difference to the world. The second week was a cultural immersion and adventure-based week where we had an amazing time touring southern Thailand as a group and enjoying a variety of different activities. My favourite location that we stayed was in a water bungalow in Khao Sok National Park as it was the most beautiful place I have ever seen, and we all went swimming in the lake in the morning surrounded by the rainforest! We also visited stunning temples, explored caves, slept in treehouses, camped under the stars, watched beautiful sunsets, swam underneath waterfalls and so much more! I would recommend GVI to anyone who is looking to have an amazing experience meeting new people, experiencing a brand-new country whilst also working to make positive change in the world. It has taught me so much about myself and the impact that we have on our planet and has inspired me to make small changes in my own life that will make a big difference! The company itself and staff were incredible, and I cannot wait to return on another trip with GVI very soon.

Sam Jeffrey

11 Oct, 2018
I travelled to Phang Nga in Thailand with GVI in summer 2017. Before I arrived, I had no idea what to expect. I did not know what I would be doing, where I would be doing it or who I would be doing it with. However, upon arrival at Phuket airport, it quickly became clear to me that I was about to embark on the experience of a lifetime. The staff who took us on the program were incredibly friendly, engaging, knowledgeable and funny. They looked after us all very well and at the same time were relaxed and let us have our own freedom. In the first week, we were involved with a number of volunteering activities. We did plenty of construction work at the CDC Centre in Ban Nam Khem for Burmese refugees. We broke down walls and moved plants from one end of the playground to another in order to create an outdoor classroom. I especially remember being passed bricks out of the side of the samlor (motorcycle + sidecar) by two Burmese boys of around 16. In that moment, with sweat dripping down my face and the sun beating down in my back, I felt as though I was doing something genuinely useful to benefit the lives of the community. We also helped out at a sea turtle sanctuary located on a navy base. There, we helped clean out the tanks as well as the turtles themselves. Basically, we gently cleaned them with sponges to wipe off dirt before using a purple dye to fight any infection which may be on their bodies. The turtles themselves are very small, usually no more than 6 months old, after which point they are released into the wild. Looking after the turtles from birth drastically raises their chances of survival from less than 1% in the wild to over 40% after being cared for at the sanctuary. In the second week, we embarked on an 'adventure tour' which included many incredible experiences such as kayaking through mangroves, bamboo rafting, visiting Buddhist temples, exploring vast caves, seeing the famous 'James Bond Island' and my personal favourite, an overnight stay in a beautiful boathouse located in the stunning Khao Sok National Park on Cheow Lan Lake. In short, the GVI under 18s experience in Thailand is a unique and incredible chance to experience some of the best sights Thailand has to offer, as well as providing people with the opportunity to truly benefit the local communities and wildlife.

Stephanie Owen

11 Oct, 2018
I have just spent the last two weeks in Thailand and what an experience I have had. For the first week me and a group of 7 other girls were taking apart in various community projects and conservation task. This varied from teaching English to a local Moken community, to treating fungus on turtle hatchlings. We also had presentations every night, which allowed us to learn more about what and why we were doing it. W e stayed in a lovely hotel all week with amazing GVI staff making it entertaining from the minute we woke up and until we went to bed. The second week was also amazing. This was known as the adventure week. We had a fantastic guide all week that had planned our adventure tour wonderfully. The things I saw and learnt on that week are things I will not forget and will treasure those memories forever. I want to say a massive thank you to GVI for making my time in Thailand the best it can be and I hope to return to GVI in the over 18 programme.

Jackie Null

11 Oct, 2018
I just wanted to send a quick note to tell you how much fun Evan had on her Thailand trip! The program was outstanding and life changing for her. She couldn’t have been more happy with everything and Leanne was "amazing" (her words). Thanks for all you do to make these trips so beneficial for our kids. You should spread the word to our schools here in the States. You are a hidden gem that most don’t know about. Luckily we just happened upon GVI last spring with Evan’s quest to find a Thailand service trip on the beach :)

Sarika Pabari

11 Oct, 2018
Personally, I would like to say even words cannot describe how incredible this unique experience has been for me. The project that GVI gave me has surprisingly changed my perspective of the whole globe in a positive way. When I met the beautiful children of the Camilian Centre, I instantly knew that they were so happy despite the fact that the odds are stacked against them because whenever you look around, all you see is huge smiles. However, what touched me the most was feeling the unbreakable, strong bond between these children. Every one of them cared so much for each other, more than a mother can give her own child! I have not seen anything like this in my life. The relationship between the children has taught me that family is really important. The people at the Camilian Centre are a family. It’s amazing to see how close they are with one another. On the last day, I was so upset that I could not see the reaction of the finished room. However, the photos of their insanely happy faces made up for it.

Louis Van Der Lande

11 Oct, 2018
The spirit. There seemed to be some intangible bond between the kids and the GVI staff. The under 18s loved the kids but their faces came to life when people they have known for a while enter. The running okes of ‘Aaaaaammmmmmy’ in a deep voice or just the interaction between Ploi. It was a joy to see that a group of highly dedicated, hard working people spend their life pursuing happiness for all, even those with disadvantages such as disabilities. I have never had the pleasure or honour to meet such a collective until now and will all the sincerity I can muster, I want to thank each and every one of your for your decision to do this. Saving the wildlife, teaching English, educating children of all ages, but most importantly, cleaning turtles. Don’t stop. Keep giving and it’s so noticeable that the love you give is received. You cannot see the full extent your endeavours have caused. Don’t let the spirit fade.

Sam Bullard

11 Oct, 2018
I thought that the whole experience has been inspirational and eye opening though for me it was the special people who have touched my heart. Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly and our group of volunteers has basically become a little family. As well as us, the people at the Camilian Centre are so amazing too. Like Somchai who does an incredible thing by offering the centre free of charge. Personally, I found the children themselves to be life changing as none of them have easy lives but they are always smiling and I will never forget them, especially Off’s huge smile and Mann’s eccentric outlook.

Morgan Lee

11 Oct, 2018
I had been looking for volunteering opportunities abroad for under 18s for a while. When I found GVI on the internet and read about the Thailand under 18s project, I immediately knew I would be going. Three months later, I arrived at Phuket airport to be welcomed by the sweetest and friendliest mentors. Everyone on the project was so lovely – we were like a big family. We were constantly laughing and smiling. Our task for the week was to rennovate the physiotherapty room in the Camillian Centre. The Camilian Centre helps children with disabilities and looks after them. I loved painting the walls and working all together. It brought us closer as a family. I would recommend GVI to any young person looking to broaden their horizons. My experience wtih GVI Thailand has not only stretched and fulfilled my heart, but my whole world.

Gemma Bullard

11 Oct, 2018
My experience as a whole on GVI Thailand was phenomenal. There’s just something about a group of people coming together and selflessly helping people who aren’t as well off as themselves which is really inspirational. I think that the programme itself was wonderful. We were actually doing something meaningful rather than hiking through a mountain for 3 weeks and calling it world challenge. Personally, what astounded me the most was the friends which I made. I mean, I know that we were told we’d make friends for life, but I’m always sceptical. Clearly this experience has proved me wrong because I’ve made several new friends, which I will be very sad to leave. Still, Thailand has provided me with unforgettable memories which I will cherish for the rest of my life. So I’d just like to thank GVI and all the staff who were involved with our project for organising it for us.

Lara Munahe

11 Oct, 2018
Hi! My name is Lara. I am 17 years old and I come from Australia. Joining GVI was the best decision I have ever made in my life. I have made new friends, learned valuable life lessons, helped others in need and has opened up more job opportunities for myself!! Its like a win win scenario!! My trip was to Phang Nga in Thailand in the Under 18s Program. I have a great thirst for adventure so when I found out about GVI it was like hitting the jackpot! The days were never long enough and we did a variety or marine conservation, interacting with the local community and construction. One time we played soccer with some Burmese girls which they beat us pretty quickly! Even though we couldn't communicate with each other, it did not stop us from having heaps of fun! At one point it started raining and it was extremely muddy with us kicking a ball into the huge puddles and some of it even ended up in my mouth because I was laughing so much! In Thailand I became immersed in the beautiful culture of the Buddhist religion and also the food. Because we were in a traditional place the food was authentic and probably better quality than they were at home in Australia. The challenge was having rice for literally breakfast lunch and dinner! And battling my cravings for pizza! I learned so much about the religion of Buddhism. In our adventure week we went to see a couple of different temples in which I learned how the religion came to be and who exactly Buddha was. I thought I had a general idea but gosh how I was wrong! The people of Thailand were so friendly and would smile and say hello every time you would see them it was really refreshing from my own traditional homeland. The staff were really nice. They would inform us about all of the places we would go in presentations, they respected us as young adults and would give us our free time to do what we wanted.

Ana Heysquierdo

11 Oct, 2018
For my first time being out of the country, the GVI Thailand Under 18 Program gave me one of the most amazing experiences of my life, it is something I will never forget. Right when I landed at the airport the GVI advisers were one of the first people I saw because they were in the very front of the exit waiting for us to arrive, it was a sense of security that I would not have to stress about finding someone while I am in a foreign country. My advisers, Max and Cristy were without a doubt the best people we could have throughout the experience. There was only 10 of us for that session which was small but we all got very close. When we started the volunteer work, our project for the few days was to move a set of bushes from the front of the Burmese school to the front of the entrance. It was a little more difficult than we anticipated but we worked with some students and made it happen. It was a lot of moving heavy things and it was very humid, but I would not have traded it for anything else, it helped build our character to work with the students and with each other. Our second volunteer experience was at the Turtle Conservation and it was by far the most unique experience. We learned a lot about the turtles, helped clean their infections and clean their tanks. It helped me develop a more gentle characteristic because of how delicate they were, especially the sicker turtles. Our second week into the trip we were moving constantly throughout different parts in Thailand so we stayed in a different place every night. At one of the hotels, I had a little accident because of clumsiness and a little bit of stupidity. As I was running on the porch I misunderstood whether or not the glass door was open, in my defense it was very clean and it seemed open. While I was running towards the room I tripped and ran straight into the door. My whole body smacked into the door. When I had time to examine myself for injuries I realized my lip was bleeding, my eyes were bruised because I injured my nose, my head was pounding and I saw my knees were bruised as well. The next morning at breakfast Cristy came up and saw that I looked like I got hit by a bus and automatically raised concern, which made me feel taken care of and I knew I was in good hands. They kept asking whether or not I wanted to go to the doctor but I refused because no way would I miss out on anything, I asked for ice and they constantly checked on me and took care of me. I will definitely continue with GVI because of the great experience I had and the great volunteer work done. Not only did we do good work but we experienced so much of Thailand and experienced so much of the culture and gained a new respect or foreign culture.

Jack Allison

16 Aug, 2018
I always had the intention, after completing my GCSE examinations, to go abroad and do some voluntary work with a charitable organization such as Global Vision International. One afternoon, I simply typed ‘under 18s voluntary work abroad’ into an online search engine and GVI was one of the first web pages to appear. I began looking through the range of projects offered to under 18 year olds and the program in Thailand instantly attracted me. I requested a call from a GVI member to discuss the project in more depth and within days I had signed up, ready to get involved. The voluntary work we undertook on our project involved painting the classrooms and bathroom of a local Non formal Education Centre. I would wake up at approximately 7:45 in the morning, have some breakfast and board the transport outside our accommodation. Work at project site usually began at around 8:30 in the morning and finished just before lunch. After lunch, we would do an afternoon activity. This ranged from swimming in Tonprai waterfall in the middle of a rain-forest, learning how to cook a Thai dish of your choice to spending a couple of hours playing with children at the orphanage or Camillian Social Centre. I had such an amazing time working with GVI, it’s rather difficult to pick out the best moments as I adored every second! Despite that however, I would say spending time with the local children at both the orphanage and Camillian Social center, cleaning 2 week old baby turtles at the Sea turtle conservation center and learning how to cook an authentic Thai green curry were moments I will cherish for as long as I live. Although it sounds very philosophical, the most interesting discovery for me was in myself. I discovered that I was able to get out of my comfort-zone and challenge myself to be more independent and to do more interesting activities. The work itself was a challenge at times and was difficult due to the warm climate that we were working in. When I were furiously sandpapering the walls, or washing the ceiling with an extendable mop, I began to heavily swelter. Our group took regular breaks so it was not that bad. The GVI staff that I met and the volunteers I worked alongside were incredible individuals and if it was not for them, the project would not have been as enjoyable. I was profoundly uplifted and inspired by the people I crossed paths with whilst on the project, my fellow volunteers in particular. It was the fact that I was with young people like myself that had travelled from all over the world to a small, rural village in Thailand to make a difference to the local community; that was amazing. I accomplished many things during the project which I’m proud of. I’m proud that I managed to travelled to Phuket International Airport from my house independently without my mum holding my hand; I’m proud that my group and I managed to make a difference in the community by giving up our time, either spending time playing or painting; I’m proud that I learnt how to canoe, snorkel, cook and speak basic Thai; I’m proud that I managed to learn how important volunteering is and pleased that I have been inspired to do more charitable work in the future. Before volunteering for GVI I was a student, studying for my GCSEs. Ever since I returned from Thailand, I have been saying the same thing to friends, family and even people within my local community; ‘you should definitely get involved with a GVI project. It’s an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and what you get out of it is really amazing.’ For me personally, a change I would like to see is that volunteers spend more time at the orphanage and Camillian social center than painting. Those two places were incredible and while spending time with the incredible people there, I learn an awful lot and was deeply inspired; less painting, more playing!

Lydia Johnson

15 Aug, 2018
From February the 10th till the 19th I was in Phang Nga (Thailand) with GVI. During my time over in Thailand we went on hikes, cleaned beaches, had cooking classes, got to go to two turtle conservation centres, the Similian Islands, participated in a mangrove clean up and visited a primary school in Koh Phra Thong. My favourite activity was our trip too Koh Phra Thong primary school. Anna (one of our GVI leaders) told us our brief and then we all split off into pairs and thought about how we could teach the Thai children English in different ways. Myself and Eden paired up and we were given the topic of ‘the shop’. From this we spoke to our GVI leaders as they had previous experience teaching the children English. We came up with ideas and from this we created our own little shop and shopping lists for each child. We set up the shop with the items on the lists. It took us a two hour car journey, as well as an hour by boat to get to the primary school. On arrival, we were greeted by one of the teachers from primary school and she took us up to the school and showed us around. After lunch, we set up our stalls in the main room with the children. The children were split into age groups. We would get a set age group for 20 minutes and then they would move on and we would get a new group. Although there was a language barrier, both sides tried very hard to prevent this from effecting our time there. Once we finished all of our work on the stalls we split the school children in half. The older children played football outside. The younger children played games inside. I went outside, and after about ten minutes of playing football I noticed that some of the older girls from the school didn't seem to be enjoying the football game. I got a ball and began playing catch and piggy in the middle with them. At first it was hard to explain what piggy in the middle was, as they didn't call it that, so I used one of the other volunteers to help demonstrate it and then the others got it straight away. It was so rewarding seeing all of the children smiling and enjoying themselves, as we taught the children to count from one to ten in English they came running over to us and taught us one to ten in Thai. Doing the volunteer experience with GVI gave us more of an inside view of Thailand. We got to see and speak to people we wouldn't have if we were just tourists. We also got access to places such as the school and the turtle conservation centres, which wouldn't have been accessible if we did it on our own. GVI kept us all safe from harm. If there were any problems we could go to them and talk it through. This whole experience has allowed me to grow and become more confident. After each day we would have reflection time, or circle time as we called it! Anna and Vartan (our GVI leaders) would ask the group a question such as "What did you learn new today?", "How has it changed your view?", "Use one word to describe today?" I found this time beneficial to help think over all the wonderful things we had done each day and what I could do to change or better myself from the things I have learnt. Since returning home I have planned my own session to run at my local Brownies, which will be all about Thailand and what I have learnt, to help educate them on the rich culture of Thailand and also to tell them about my volunteer experience.

Daniel Wellings

02 Feb, 2014
I have spent two weeks here in Phang Nga and they have been some of the best weeks of my life; my time here has been really inspirational and life changing. There have been many many highlights on this trip. To name a few, the Thai culture and people: the Thai culture is so different when compared to what I am used to at home, the people are so friendly and welcoming. For example, we visited a care centre during our trip and before we had even said hello the kids came running and smiling and laughing. Also, the locals around Ban Nam Khem, the place I was staying at, were so friendly, you just met them with a simple "sawatdee-krap" (hello) and they would instantly smile back and do the same. The other thing about this GVI trip was the staff involved; they were extremely accommodating and very friendly, definitely some of the nicest staff members I have ever met. The reason I booked this project was I wanted to experience a new culture and help the community at the same time; GVI has more than fulfilled my expectations. I have learnt about Thai language and culture from GVI staff members and have also lived in a real Thai village and helped at a local Thai school, which I can successfully say had given me more than enough experience. Overall I would definitely recommend a trip like this to anyone interested; as I have said before, it has been a great experience and I have met some great people who I will hopefully stay in contact with through years to come.