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Island Insight Volunteer Tour

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Price pps land only :

ZAR4 784* GBP299 ex Bangkok
Donation payment
No of days: 12 nights / 13 days
Local payment:
USD100 Payable on Day 1 Countries: Thailand
Single supplement:
GBP30 May not apply to all nights Tour Code: VSII
* Rand price subject to change according to currency fluctuations, please request a Rand quote incl flights

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Head into the hills of northern Thailand for a stay with a hilltribe and a visit to an elephant training centre, as well as an elephant ride through the jungle and a trip down the river on bamboo rafts. Explore the many attractions of Bangkok before travelling south to an idyllic island in beautiful Phang Nga Bay, where you'll join the local fishing community with your fellow international volunteers helping to cast nets for fish and crabs, exploring beautiful desert islands and helping out with day to day village jobs, such as maintaining fishing boats or weighting the nets. You'll gain an insight into a traditional way of life in Thailand most visitors never see.


Maximum Group Size: 12
Arrival Transfer: Not included
Staffing & Participation: Fully escorted by Imaginative Traveller tour leader, services of local staff while on volunteer programme
Transport: Local bus, taxi, pick-up truck, ferry, sleeper train, elephant, bamboo raft
Activities: Hilltribe walking (easy), village homestay, elephant riding, bamboo rafting, optional watersports, mending fishing nets and other community based activities
Accommodation: 4 nights simple hotels or bungalows, 5 nights village homestay, 3 nights overnight train
Meals: As per itinerary. B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner
Local Payment: Must be paid in cash on Day 1 of your tour.


  • Hilltribe trek in northern Thailand
  • Bamboo rafting and elephant back safari
  • Island community volunteer programme
  • Optional visit to see the Bridge on the River Kwai


Day 1, BANGKOK: Arrive in this vibrant city and check in to your hotel.

Day 2, BANGKOK: A full day to explore the city before taking the overnight train to Chiang Mai. (B)

Day 3, CHIANG MAI: Arrive in Chiang Mai and transfer to our guesthouse. The rest of the day is free to explore the town or perhaps visit the hilltop temple of Doi Suthep. (B)

Day 4, CHIANG MAI - TRIBAL MOUNTAIN VILLAGE: Our day starts with a visit to an elephant training camp where we can see how these enormous creatures are trained for working in the jungle. After lunch we continue by pick-up truck to a small tribal village. We then continue on foot through mountainous terrain (easy walking) to a Palong village where we spend the night in a traditional village house. (BLD)

Day 5, ELEPHANT RIDE AND BAMBOO RAFTING: After breakfast we board our elephants for a short ride through the jungle to a small river. We then continue by bamboo raft down the river. Later we return via an orchid garden and butterfly farm to Chiang Mai, where we have free time before boarding the overnight train to Bangkok. (BL)

Day 6, BANGKOK: Arrive in Bangkok and transfer to our hotel. Today you have the option to visit Kanchanaburi and the Bridge on the River Kwai.

Day 7, BANGKOK: A free day before we take the overnight train to Krabi. (B)

Days 8-11, PHANG NGA BAY: We spend the next 4 nights on a tiny island in beautiful Phang Nga Bay. During our time on the island, we will learn about the fascinating way of life of the local fishermen, stay in local homes with friendly families and get involved with some interesting volunteer activities. An amazing opportunity to volunteer in Thailand with cultural exchange experiences! (Day 8 - LD, Days 9-11 - BLD)

The Volunteer Programme - Phang Nga Bay

Volunteer Programme Hosts Phang Nga Bay Fishers' Community and REST
Our volunteer –cultural exchange program is based in a small island in the crystal blue waters of Phang Nga Bay. Here, more than 90% of the population of the local community are small-scale fishers. They go out to sea in small boats, cast their nets, catch fish, and rely on a healthy coastal environment to feed and support themselves and their families. Around 15 years ago, the nearby islands experienced a crisis when large-scale fishing trawlers began entering local fishing grounds with big ‘boom nets’, to catch very large amounts of fish for the commercial fishing industry. Soon, fish stocks in the area were massively depleted, leaving insufficient fish for the local community members to catch, eat and sell.
The Responsible Ecological Social Tours Project (REST) were established in 1994 by a local charity, the Thailand Volunteer Service (TVS). REST help local Thai communities to benefit from rural tourism. REST assist local community members to work together and develop tourism activities (Community based Tourism) as a way to attract guests to learn about their cultures, environments and ways of life. REST have been working with local people in the Phang Nga area for 11 years. Initially, guests were invited to witness the fishermens’ struggle against the trawlers and help lobby for this to stop. As a result, there was an increase in media attention, which helped to successfully push the trawlers out of local fishing grounds. Subsequently, the Community based Tourism Club and REST were awarded the ‘World Legacy Award for Destination Stewardship’ by Conservation International and National Geographic Traveller.
The original program has now evolved and the villagers accommodate guests in local homestays, and organise typical daily activities such as fishing outings for their guests. Whilst this is a volunteer programme and you will be helping out with day-to-day duties, the emphasis during these few days is a balance of cultural exchange and ‘giving something back.’ Not only can the locals learn more about our cultures, we too can learn about their history, as well as other aspects of their local life. Sharing local culture with guests and inspiring future conservation and ‘sustainable natural resource management’ are the main goals of this Community based Tourism programme. All volunteer activities are ‘needs based’ – they have been specifically requested by community members.

The Volunteer Programme
Imaginative Volunteers join the local community in their daily lives assisting with their everyday work. Depending on the month, duties may include planting and harvesting rice, waxing and varnishing the fishing boats as well as ‘weight switching’ the fishing nets, and teaching English at the local school. Volunteers can also join in the traditional competitions of ‘who can lift the most weights’! During the programme, volunteers live with local fishing families in a home-stay environment. There are opportunities to accompany villagers on their daily fishing trips, chill out on the beach or enjoy trekking in the local area.

What does your donation cover?
100% of your donation goes to the local community and REST. This is used to cover your food, accommodation and programme expenses, and includes a donation towards REST’s ongoing work with Thai communities. REST use funds to ensure that the programs are well prepared and coordinated – with full local participation. Ongoing work includes conduct meetings with the community members, funding local guide and homestay host training, providing support to the CBT Club and conservation activities. (See the fundraising section for ideas on how to fundraise for your donation.).

A Typical 5 Days at Phang Nga Bay
Day 1 & 2
Arrive and meet our host families. We explore the island and join in with local activities such as rubber tapping and a fishing trip into Phang Nga bay with our host families (including swimming and an island picnic). We will have language sheets and a guide to help us communicate and get the most from cultural exchange. Take some pictures from home to show your host family!

Day 3
We take time today to visit the local school, and meet the local students. There could be an opportunity to develop English resources for the tourism information center and join with a friendly sports competition.

Day 4
Volunteering! We could be mangrove planting, rice planting, sign making, fixing up boats, beautifying the village or assisting at the local Mangrove nursery…

Day 5
Sharing our experiences and Farewell.

NB: As volunteers it is important to remain flexible and keep in mind that sometimes situations may arise within the village that means your duties could change at short notice. ‘A Cool Heart is a Good Start!’ (Thai Proverb)

The island that we will stay on is Muslim. The people are extremely open and friendly. However, out of respect for their culture, they request that guests dress modestly and do not drink alcohol during their visit to the island.

Day 12, PHANG NGA BAY - KRABI: We return to Krabi, one of the most popular beach resorts in Thailand. (BL)

Day 13, KRABI: Tour ends

meal_key B - breakfast
L - lunch
D - dinner


Starts Bangkok Ends Krabi
Saturday Thursday
05 January 2008 17 January 2008
16 February 2008 28 February 2008
08 March 2008 20 March 2008
19 April 2008 01 May 2008
15 November 2008 27 November 2008
06 December 2008 18 December 2008


As a volunteer you live and work in the community and develop a unique insight into another society - immerse yourself in a culture but still have a holiday.

Group Size: 4 - 12
Private bus, 4WD, train, motorised canoe
Accommodation: Dependent on destination: camping, basic dormitory, home stay (very basic) tourist class hotel on twin share basis
Single Supplements: Not available
Recommended Age: Minimum 18 years
Tour Personnel: Build team, Imaginative Traveller Tour Leader, trek leader/crew, volunteer programme co-ordinator
Included Meals: Breakfasts (except Mongolia) Other meal availability varies with destination
Guaranteed departures: Subject to minimum bookings
Tour Duration: 13 - 15 days [Read more about Imaginative Traveller travel styles]

*All Rand prices have been calculated at 1USD=ZAR8.00 or 1GBP=ZAR16.00 and are subject to change according to currency fluctuations
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