Sea Turtle Conservation And Cultural Immersion Teen Volunteering In Thailand

Travel to the "Land of Smiles" and assist on valuable community based construction projects specifically designed for Under 18 volunteers

Program Information

Experience a side of Thailand that tourists can’t when you join an international team of under 18 volunteers in stunning and secluded Phang Nga. Help transform the local non-formal education center into a key place of learning by assisting with construction projects and make a real impact, while living alongside a traditional Thai community and exploring the stunning tropical jungles and turquoise oceans that surround you.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals


This project has been specially designed for those looking to volunteer, but are aged between 15 and 17 years old. Throughout this project, our younger volunteers will have greater supervision, training, and world-class leaders in the field who have been chosen for their mix of relevant experience and ability to mentor and inspire young people.

The project

Travel to the travellers delight of Thailand, and volunteer on community renovation projects in the Phang Nga province of southern Thailand. This volunteer trip provides you with a truly unique view of Thailand that most tourists miss out on, a region that is rich in stunning beaches, crystal clear water, and adventure and surprise at every turn.

Your efforts and resources will be focused on the local Non-Formal Education Centre to make improvements to transform the center into a key place of learning and community. Depending on the requirements of the community, you may also have the opportunity to work on projects in surrounding schools.

This volunteer project can be hard work, but this area is a beautiful example of a traditional Thai community, and you will be rewarded when you can enjoy a 4-day trip of beaches and islands, pristine locations just ready to be explored.

Please note that this program offers durations of 2 to 3 weeks. Please speak to your Country Expert for further information.

Highlights include...

Make a difference even over the short term; work to renovate a key functioning community center; assist in the improvement of surrounding schools; experience local Thai culture working alongside students and community members; explore the stunning surrounding areas via boat, snorkel or kayak; overall, make a genuine difference with this volunteer trip in Thailand.

Program Details

Program Type:
Location: Asia - Thailand - Phang Nga

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Project Life


Phang Nga is a pocket of paradise in southern Thailand known for its amazing limestone rock formations, pristine beaches and rich culture.

Upon arrival at our project base, you will be given time to relax and settle into your new home. The next day will include a welcome presentation and introductions, the history and background of the projects and a health and safety debriefing. After lunch, you will be given a guided tour and orientation around the local area, learning more about the local culture and Thai language.

The Work Begins…

With orientation out of the way, it’s time to get to work at one of our local partners! Once we have arrived at the project site, volunteers will be organised into task groups and given their goals to achieve over the next two weeks. The exact work will depend on the needs of our partners at the time, but typically it may involve improving the infrastructure and learning environment at a local school or center, basic maintenance and renovation work, or painting and brightening up the space with murals or other artwork.

With tight deadlines over the next one or two weeks, expect to work as a team to overcome any obstacles or challenges that might prevent you from completing the task on time. On your last day of construction, you will be putting the final touches to your project and getting ready to present your lasting contribution to our partners and the children.

Adventure Side Trip and Cultural Weekend

With the hard work out of the way, it is now time to sit back and relax as we embark on a visually stimulating cultural weekend around the local area. We journey forth into Khao Sok National Park, an amazing place, home to the world’s oldest evergreen rainforest, huge limestone mountains and the stunning Cheow Larn Lake. The next day will see us arriving at the popular Khao Lak, famous for its seemingly endless white sandy beaches and laid back atmosphere. This is the perfect place to languish on the beach, explore the nearby area and soak up that Pacific sun as we prepare to ramp up for an exciting final week in Thailand.

An Island Hopping Adventure Awaits!

Our adventure begins on the southern islands of Thailand, renowned for their breath-taking beauty. We will start off by getting the adrenaline pumping with a myriad of activities as we island hop. Prepare yourself for sea kayaking in Ao Thalane, paddling through spectacular karst rock formations, exploring caves and discovering Krabi’s coastal treasures.

The next few days will see us embarking on a “4 island tour”. Our first stop will be the Ko Phi-Phi speedboat tour, where we will travel to Bamboo Island (near Phi Phi), then onto Viking Cave (known for its swallow population), and lastly, finishing off the day at Maya Bay, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches and the location of The Beach, starring Leonardo Di Caprio. The final day, will take us to Railay, where we will have some time to rewind and relax, soaking up rays on the stunning Hat Phra Nang beach. Before we make our way back to the project, there will also be time to experience an authentic traditional Thai massage, grab a few snaps with mischievous monkeys or introduce your taste buds to some local cuisine from the boats that pull up onto the beach.

We return to Phang Nga for your final day in Thailand, where you will have the chance to say your goodbyes, meet some of the other GVI volunteers, review your experience and reflect upon the impact of your trip. This will also present an opportunity for you to learn about the projects others have been working on as well as how your work has contributed to the overall mission and objectives of GVI in Thailand. After some last minute shopping and a farewell dinner, your group will make their way to the airport, heading home with new friends, fond memories and the knowledge that you have made a sustainable impact on the lives of others.

Project Details

This project focuses on bringing together groups of volunteers, skilled and unskilled, with local community members and local craftsmen.

Together with our local partners, we support sustainable human development by promoting volunteering and rural and responsible tourism in southern Thailand. Volunteering on this project gives you an opportunity to give something back to the community during your holiday , but also allows you to experience a new culture by working alongside local community members.

How this project makes a difference

The educational facilities where you will volunteer are at the heart of the local communities, providing an inspiring place for the community to seek knowledge and education and create a warm environment for the community to share their love of language, arts and music.

Phang Nga short, mid, and long-term objectives

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 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 visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Phang Nga: 

1. To provide equal, quality education to children of all backgrounds.

2. To Promote Good Health and Wellbeing through education to all children

3. .Increase skills for local people to assist with equal employment opportunities in our communities within Takuapa and Ban Nham Khem

4. Increase awareness of local populations to environmental issues and facilitate change towards sustainability through scientific studies.

5. Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training

6. To assist and develop local coastal conservation efforts through providing practical support to project partners, data collection, awareness raising and habitat restoration

Our Ethics

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.

Our 10 Ethical Commitments


Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


Respect for all

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.


Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

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.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Adventure and cultural activities
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Dedicated GVI leaders
  • Extensive pre-departure service including packing lists, fundraising advice, advice on travel arrangements, a thorough pre-departure orientationAdventure and cultural activities
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs


Although this trip follows a structured itinerary, don’t think you won’t be seeing and doing some amazing things! You’ll embark on both a cultural weekend and a four day adventure side trip of awesomeness to discover all the amazing sights the region has to offer!

Highlights of these trips include Khao Sok National Park, the stunning Cheow Larn lake and the stunning surrounding rainforest; enjoy a range of activities on several of the islands such as sea kayaking in Ao Thalane to explore Krabi’s coastal treasures, paddling through spectacular karst rock formations, secret caves and mangroves.

The Team

Molly Plexico

Country Director
Meet Molly, our hard working country director for both Thailand and Laos. Over seeing operations in two countries is no easy task but Molly is more than capable.

She started volunteering and travelling at a young age, working  in soup kitchens, with AmeriCorps, at animal shelters, as a Big Sister with Big Brother Big Sisters of America and as a Guardian ad Litem. She studied family development and psychology and loves to dance.

Her goal is to visit one country for every year she is alive. The most unusual place she has travelled to is Uzbekistan, on a trip beginning in Europe and ending in Southeast Asia. This is where she fell in love with Laos which began her journey with GVI. She started working for GVI back in 2012 and she is now based in Thailand. GVI has hubs all around the world and she has been lucky enough to visit the hubs in Nepal, Thailand, Laos and the office in South Africa.

Kathryn Woodroffe

Conservation project coordinator
Meet Katie, our brilliant conservation project coordinator in Phang Nga, Thailand. She is experienced in environmental education, working within zoos and outreach programmes in the UK, teaching a huge range, from pre-school children through to university students.

From a young age she travelled to many unique and culturally diverse places with her family.

During her short term internship with GVI, at Jalova Biological Research Station, she developed and advanced her surveying, research and project development skills whilst working in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. 

Her must bring travel item is her trusty camera; "There is not a day that goes by where I don't encounter a moment that I want to capture, especially when exploring the worlds natural beauty."

Dora Szabados

Base Manager
Meet Dora, our insightful base manager in Phang Nga, Thailand. She has spent much of her life traveling, studying and volunteering all over the world. She grew up in China but felt the need to explore the world. She's lived in many different countries such as Egypt, Japan and the Phillippines,saying that she's not one to stay in one place for very long. She's also explored most of Europe an the west of the USA.

She has a BA in international relations focusing on the continents of Africa and Asia. She's also a certified, open water NAU diver.

Her favourite thing about working for GVI is how every day is different and how meeting so many new people has taught her so much about herself. She's a real life traveller and we're lucky to have her on board.

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Caroline Van Der Does De Willebois

Service Learning Manager Thailand

A conservationist and adventurer at heart with a passion for sustainable development and marine conservation. Caroline has a Master's degree in International Development and past experience working with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, educational marine conservation with the Marine Megafauna Foundation in Mozambique, and dive instructing in Thailand.

Caroline believes that GVI's combination of conservation and community development projects helps us to reach a true and sustainable impact in the field.

Her travels have taken her all over the world, but she is grateful to have returned to Thailand to join the GVI family and support and train others to have the best possible Service Learning experience!

Jill Walker

Assistant Director of Programs
Meet Jill, our Assistant Director of Programs and line manager for Thailand, Laos, India, Nepal, Australia and Kenya programs. ‘Manow’ (lime), as she’s locally known in Thailand where she's based, taught English, environmental education and art in the USA and Thailand before joining us to set up a TEFL and Community Development Expedition. “I haven’t looked back since!”

When Jill isn’t working, she likes reading or doing just about anything energetic. “I devour books, love cooking and enjoy finding some time to get some exercise – yoga, dancing and aerobics are some of my faves.”

What does Jill like most about her job? “It’s great to see volunteers rising above the cultural and language barriers between themselves and the communities. That, and every day is completely different, which is the way I like it- it keeps me from getting bored.” Being ‘allergic’ to being bored has led to Manow doing some pretty amazing things. “I once ended up spending a week living in a cave with some Buddhist monks while I helped them build a small adobe monk hut.”

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  • 2019

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