Contribute to coral reef conservation research in Southern Thailand AND get career training from Conservation Careers!
Join staff and other international volunteers in Thailand to conduct coral reef conservation research in the warm waters of the Andaman Sea, making a contribution toward United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, UN SDG, #14, Life Below Water. Volunteers also spend time assisting with sea turtle conservation, beach plastic pollution cleanups, bird and butterfly surveys, island conservation, and environmental education.
Coral reefs are an important underwater ecosystem, offering a means of filtering excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, a protection against the effects of tropical storms, and a means for fish populations to regenerate after fishing. The corals in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand are affected by overfishing, and, like most of the world’s corals, by regular coral bleaching events which are the result of climate change and the warming of waters around the world.
Each year, during Thailand’s dry season, November to April, staff, interns, and volunteers don flippers, mask, and snorkel to conduct coral conservation research in the Andaman Sea. By joining this coral conservation research volunteer project you will assist research teams with conducting surveys of the coral reef, recording the health of the corals and the abundance of marine life. This data is submitted to local partners, such as Greenfins, to assist with citizen science research and mapping of the quantity and quality of the global reef network.
- Contribute to coral reef conservation.
- Work toward United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water.
- Snorkel in the crystal clear, turquoise blue, tropical waters of Thailand’s Andaman Sea.
- Experience the vibrant underwater world of Southern Thailand, spotting sea turtles, octopuses, and anemones.
- Explore the region in your free time, going on recreational dives, island hopping around the bay, or visiting some of the many National Parks.
Our Award-winning Partner
Conservation Careers has teamed up with an award-winning, mission-driven organisation with a team of passionate experts across the globe who will make your experience a truly unforgettable one.
Founded in 1998, they run programs in 21 locations, in 13 countries around the world, each aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as the objectives of local partners. They welcome participants from all around the world and help facilitate their development into global citizens. This is how they achieve their mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Their commitment to running high-quality sustainable development and experiential education programs has earned them recognition from numerous organizations such as Panthera, the Seychelles Parks & Gardens Authority, as well as Stanford, NYU, Duke, and Ohio State.
If you register your interest below, you’ll put you in touch with our partner to take the booking and to plan your trip!
To see all our Conservation Careers Internship opportunities, please click here.
Life On Base
The 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 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 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 accommodation with a maximum of six occupants per room. Each room has a bathroom with a cold water shower and a flushing toilet. There are communal spaces for training, project planning and socialising with your new friends. We also have a homemade ping-pong table, a small barbecue area, and deck chairs to relax in after a rewarding day of project work. The study area has a great variety of fiction and non-fiction books. Our resource room is filled with helpful research and training materials, as well as many interesting books on conservation.
If you prefer more privacy, or require a faster Wi-Fi connection for remote work, you can opt for an accommodation upgrade at an additional cost. There are two options between the base and the beach, which are about a five-minute walk away. The first option is wooden bungalows situated next to beautiful lily ponds, which offer great views to watch the sunset and spot birds and butterflies. The bungalows have a double bed and a private bathroom with a hot water shower, a flushing toilet and small kitchen area with a fridge. The second option is a newly built two-story hotel. The large tiled rooms have good air conditioning, a big bathroom, and a kettle in each room. You will still make use of all the facilities at the base and join the normal schedule of activities and meals that take place there.
On the morning of your program start date, a transfer will be provided from Phuket Airport Place to the base. A five-minute walk from the airport exit, the Phuket Airport Place hotel is our recommended pre-program accommodation. They also offer a free airport pickup if you request it at the time of booking your room. The journey from Phuket airport to the base takes between 1.5 and 2 hours. Some project sites are within walking distance of the base, and we provide transportation to the project locations that are further away, ensuring you arrive promptly to take part in your project work. You can easily get around the village on foot. Travelling further around the region in your free time is also quite easy to do with cheap and reliable buses between all major towns.
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 us, we recommend opting for the accommodation upgrade, as the connection at the bungalows and hotel is a lot better. You can bring a network-unlocked mobile phone with you, or even purchase an affordable phone in Thailand. You can purchase an inexpensive local SIM card, making it easy to stay in touch when outside of the Wi-Fi range. You can buy top-up phone credit for reasonably priced calls, and phone shops are plentiful in the nearby tourist areas.
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’ll make your own breakfast from a choice of items which might include toast, cereal, oats, eggs, and a variety of tropical fruit commonly available in Thailand. From Sunday to Thursday, lunches and dinners are prepared by local cooks. These usually consist of Thai and Burmese cuisine. Thai food can be quite spicy, but our cooks adjust the spice level to suit you. On Friday and Saturday you can prepare your own meals from food provided on base – or choose to eat out (at your own expense).
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) throughout the year. There are two main seasons – the dry and the wet season, although it is hot and humid on most days of the year. The dry season runs from November to April and the wet season from May to October.
Culturally appropriate dress and behavior
When on project and in the local town participants will be expected to wear modest clothing and behave in ways in keeping with Thai customs.
This 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, 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.
FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS | ORIENTATION
Orientation: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.
Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals
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.
Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact
Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.
FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS AT PHANG NGA
Community: Human Empowerment
Learn about our empowerment principles.
Conservation: Survey Techniques and Logistics
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.
Conservation: Biodiversity & Target Species Identification
Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.
Marine Conservation: Pollution and Plastics
Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.
Marine Conservation: Coral Reefs
Learn about what a coral reef is, its importance, how it is formed, how this ecosystem works.
The Importance of Responsible Tourism in Thailand
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.
Introduction to Thai Language
Learn some basic Thai words and phrases which will help you integrate further into the village community.
Introduction to Thai Culture
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.
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.
- 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
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 Songkran, is celebrated during April every year. It is a family-centred holiday, and many travel to their homes where they honour the older members of their extended families. They wash statues of Buddha, which represents good fortune and cleansing of the past before stepping into the new year. In May, Thai people celebrate Buddha’s birthday (also known as Visakha Puja). Community members gather at temples to give donations, listen to sermons, and chant prayers.
July to October: In July, many Buddhists celebrate Asalha Puja, which commemorates Buddha’s first sermon to his disciples. This starts the annual three-month retreat of the monks, known as Vassa. The retreat ends with a celebration called Wan Ok Phansa. This is marked in Northeast Thailand with illuminated boat processions filled with offerings and beautifully decorated with flowers, candles, and lamps.
September/ October: Also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, the Thai Vegetarian Festival takes place in the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, usually in September or October, and lasts for nine days. During this time members of the community abstain from eating meat, drinking alcohol and telling lies, in order to purify the body and mind. In the days leading up to the festival, the island is decorated with yellow Chinese flags. Phuket prepares for the festival by deep cleaning their shrines, setting up stages, hanging elaborate Chinese-inspired decorations and parade accessories. Dozens of vegetarian food stalls are set up and line the streets of Phuket Town. The festival is popular in towns and districts across Thailand, including Takuapa, where we celebrate.
November: Loi Krathong, the festival of a thousand lights, is celebrated in November. People set thousands of lanterns out on rivers and lakes around the country to pay their respects to the goddess of water, Ganga. It is a spectacular site that draws many international visitors each year.
Spirituality and religion
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 to Wat Suwan Khuha to see the reclining Buddha or Wat Rat Uppatham to see a massive painted statue of Kuan Yin and Buddha rising out of the lush green countryside. In our local area you’ll find a mix of Thai, Chinese and Burmese Buddhism, which have their own temples and traditions. We are ideally located to experience all three.
The fluid movements and opulent gilded costumes of Thai traditional dancing are recognisable worldwide. Learn about the six types of Thai classical dance, watch a performance, or maybe even attend a class where you can learn some traditional movements.
Thai food is famous the world over and is known for its fragrant, spicy flavours. All participants receive cooking lessons from our local staff, so during your stay in Phang Nga you’ll have the opportunity to learn how to cook some authentic Southern Thai dishes. There will also be many opportunities to try different types of authentic Thai cuisine while out and about in your free time.
There are about 71 languages in Thailand with five main families: Austronesian, Hmong-Mien, Thai, Mon-Khmer and Sino-Tibetan. Thai is the national language of Thailand which is spoken by approximately 80% of its population. The Thai language is incredibly complex. It is tonal and altogether there are five tones: mid, low, high, rising and falling. This means you can say the same word five different ways, and it will mean five different things! All participants receive Thai lessons and you can learn more about the language by mastering some basic conversational phrases with the local community members. Viewed as a gesture of respect, members of the community love it when visitors make the effort to speak Thai. The members of our community also speak Burmese.
Known for its amazing limestone rock formations, pristine beaches, and rich culture, Phang Nga is a pocket of paradise in Southern Thailand. Its beaches and islands offer many opportunities for spotting unique marine and terrestrial species. The community here is very traditional – making it possible to fully immerse yourself in traditional Thai culture.
BONUS! Conservation Career Kick-Starter online training programme (worth £295)
Do you want to spend your career helping wildlife to flourish, but are feeling a little lost, confused or disillusioned?
Start your career in wildlife conservation with a unique programme of training, support community & jobs from Conservation Careers!
The Conservation Career Kick-Starter is a proven step-by-step system to get clear, get ready, and get hired as a professional conservationist.
Whether you’re at university and planning your next steps, a graduate in the job hunt or working in an unrelated job but interested to switch into conservation, this course is designed to help you.
After going through the course, you’ll have created a personal career plan which will give you confidence in your job hunt and will make everything quicker, simpler and more fun!
All you need to do is register your interest in the project below, and if you choose to make a booking we’ll save a place for you on the Kick-Starter when you get back from your placement.
Included with the Kick-Starter is a year’s full-access to the world’s biggest conservation job board with over 15,000 jobs, plus access to our private online support community, CC Pro.
Duration, Dates & Costs
Duration of fieldwork: 2 – 12 weeks
- 2022 – 26 Nov; 10 Dec; 24 Dec
- 2023 – 07 Jan; 21 Jan; 04 Feb; 18 Feb; 04 Mar; 18 Mar; 01 Apr; 15 Arp; 11 Nov; 25 Nov; 09 Dec; 23 Dec
- 2 weeks – £2,095.00
- 4 weeks – £2,695.00
- 6 weeks – £3,295.00
- 8 weeks – £3,845.00
- 10 weeks – £4,495.00
- 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
- Welcome presentation
- Endorsed Leadership Course
- Sustainable project work
- Leadership responsibilities
- PDF reference – upon request
What’s Not Included
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- COVID-19: Health and Hygiene Fee
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes
- Medical and travel insurance
- Personal items and toiletries
- Police or background check
- Visa costs