+44 (0)208 123 8702
Contact Us Search our World
Search Our Trips
Get Our Brochure
Got a Question?

Sun Bear Volunteer

Malaysia Flag
Borneo, Malaysia
Sun Bear Volunteer Project
Choose your currency
Trip Code: MYSVSB1
Duration: 14 Days - 14 Days
From £895 for 14 Days
  • Trip Details
  • Trip Summary
  • Extra Info
  • Destination
  • Included
  • Getting There
  • Next Steps
  • FAQ
  • Gallery
  • Travel Shop
  • Book Now
Sun Bear Volunteer Sun Bear VolunteerSun Bear Volunteer

Play an active role in the protection and rehabilitation of the world’s smallest bear, the sun bear, at the Bornean Sun Bear Rehabilitation Centre. You will work alongside local bear keepers to promote the welfare and rehabilitation of sun bears that have been rescued from a cruel life of captivity and with the aim of releasing them back into the wild.

Sun Bears in Malaysia 
The sun bear is the smallest bear species in the world. Although once found throughout India, Vietnam, China and Borneo their numbers are worryingly low, having decreased so much so that they are now the second rarest bear species after the Giant Panda. The total sun bear population has sadly declined by at least 30% in the last 30 years, meaning that they are now at high risk of extinction in the wild. This is due to a number of detrimental factors including deforestation, commercial hunting and the exotic pet trade. 

Being the smallest bear, they are also often considered the cutest, resulting in a high demand to keep them illegally as pets. Sadly this often results in removing sun bear cubs from their mothers where they are kept in small cages with inadequate care. 

The mission of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is to rescue these sun bears and promote their conservation, with an end goal of returning sun bears to the forest to live the life that they are entitled to. Standards of animal centres in Malaysia, and much of Asia are noticeably behind internationally acceptable levels,due mostly to economic and political factors. Much time and effort is being focused on improving the conditions of these animal centres, and bring them up to an internationally acceptable level and the ongoing support of conservation volunteers is vital to this process. Thanks to the ongoing support of volunteers, the BSBCC has higher standards than most centres in Malaysia.

Your Sun Bear Volunteer Project
Your project will be based at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre where you will have a significant impact on the important conservation efforts of this vulnerable species of bear. The aim is to promote sun bear conservation through holistic methods involving animal welfare, rehabilitation, education and research. By working alongside the keepers at the centre you will play a key role in the day to day care of sun bear husbandry and welfare at the centre. 

The centre currently has two bear houses, accommodating 35 bears, as well as 1.44 hectares of natural forest enclosure where the bears can roam freely throughout the day and night. During this project you will learn all about this fascinating animal and their need for enrichment, as well as develop a greater understanding of the rehabilitation process. Working with the sun bears on a daily basis you will gain a unique insight into their characteristics, learning all about the different personalities of the bears and their role in the wider context of Malaysian wildlife. 

Your Sun Bear Volunteer Role
Your will have a hands on and proactive role on this project as you assist local keepers with their daily jobs at the centre which includes cleaning compounds, feeding the bears and preparing enrichment activities for them. Working alongside the keepers, you will gain a unique insight into their daily lives and what life is like working at the conservation centre. 

We thoroughly advise researching sun bears and their behaviour in the wild before starting this project so that you can bring new enrichment ideas to the centre. The centre really appreciates volunteers suggesting new ideas, however please note that this will need to be approved by the programme coordinator before being implemented. 

Whilst you will be in close proximity to the bears for much of the project please remember that however cute they look, they are still wild animals and so direct contact with the bears is forbidden. The rescued bears are undergoing a process of rehabilitation with the view to being released into the wild and thus a high level of human interaction could prove detrimental to this process. 

The specific activities of your placement will be split into the following key areas: (See Extra Info tab for more information) 
• Husbandry 
• Enrichment
• Construction
• Education

• Provide a safe haven for rescued sun bears, ultimately supporting their rehabilitation and release into the wild.
• Improve conditions of sun bears in captivity through creating environmental and food enrichment. 
• Work with local bear keepers to raise the standard of conditions at the rehabilitation centre by supporting positive and productive modifications.
• Use the knowledge you have learnt to raise awareness on responsible travel among tourists, the local community and students.
• Gain a thorough understanding of the threat to sun bear habitats in the wild and the positive effects of rehabilitation programmes. 

Download the Malaysia Country Info Brochure - Click Here!

Quick Facts

Trip Name
Sun Bear Volunteer
Trip Code
Sandakan Airport (SDK)
Minimum Duration
14 Days
Minimum Age
Trip Type
Wildlife & Conservation
From £895 for 14 Days
£ 195.00
Preferred Duration
This is a 14 day project only
You do not need any specific experience to take part in this programme, however a passion and interest in wildlife and animal welfare is required. It is also essential that you have a good work ethic and enthusiastic attitude towards the programme. It would be beneficial to do some research into sun bears and their behaviour in the wild before arrival as the centre really appreciates volunteers coming up with new enrichment ideas.
Ideal for
Gap Year and Career Break Volunteering in Malaysia; Wildlife Conservation in Malaysia; Sun Bear Conservation; Wildlife Volunteering Overseas; Animal Conservation
• • •

Arrival Dates

Arrival / Start dates are on the 5th of every month. Please contact our Travel Team to check availability.

Note: Arrivals should be on the 5th, please aim to arrive early in the day as you will receive a welcome dinner and project briefing on the evening of the 5th. You should aim to book your departure or onward travel on the 14th day of the programme (18th of the month)

British nationals visiting Malaysia do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days. To read more about your visa requirements you can click here. 
• • •


Project Activities
All conservation activities and equipment will be provided, so that you can make a direct contribution to the volunteer projects.
Accommodation is provided throught the project in a basic but comfortable shared volunteer residence. You will share a twin room with another volunteer. The room has bunk beds and netted windows for mosquito protection, with shared toilets and bathrooms outside of the bedrooms. There is a common room at the accommodation for socialising and equipped kitchen fridge and gas stove where volunteers can prepare meals.
You will be provided with a meal allowance to cover your working days on the project. You will have the option to cook meals at your self-catered accommodation with the other volunteers, or purchasing meals at the local restaurants or food stalls. Meals at local food stalls around Sepilok are cheap and you can have a full meal for RM6 - RM15 - excluding drinks.
Welcome Dinner
Welcome dinner will be provided on arrival day in Sepilok.
Airport Transfers
Arrival transfer from Sandakan airport to your project accommodation and return transfer to the airport at the end of the project are included.
Bilingual Coordinator
An English speaking programme coordinator will be on hand to support you throughout the project.
Project related transport is provided, including the transfer to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.
A comprehensive induction and orientation will be provided by our team at the start of your trip, including safety, orientation of the centre and project briefing
All pre departure advice and support will provided, as well as 24 hour support from our dedicated teams in Malaysia and in the UK.
Equipment and Discounts
Changing Worlds customers will receive 10% off Travel Equipment, Medical Supplies and Vaccinations from Nomad Travel Store
A small donation is made to help support the continued conservation work of the project.
• • •

Not Included

Flights; Travel Insurance; Visas; Vaccinations; Camera Fees; Spending money; In country travel; Laundry service; Soft drinks, alcohol and snacks; Extra activities not on itinerary, Meals and accommodation when travelling independently or on non project days.
• • •

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre - Sepilok
The centre was established in 2008 by Siew Te Wong, who was the first Malaysian biologist to research Sun Bears, and has since been working on the ecological conservation of this amazing animal for the last 13 years! The centre currently employs a small number of dedicated local staff but relies heavily on support from local and international volunteers for the continual improvement of Sun Bear conservation. 

Based approximately 19km from Sandakan town, and located next to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the centre is linked by many existing forest trails and boardwalks making this a fantastic base to discover Borneos diverse and captivating wildlife. 

The centre is currently home to 35 bears. The bears have 2 houses and 1.44 hectares of natural forest enclosures where they can roam freely during the day and night. There is also an observation platform where visitors can spend time learning more about the bears through observation and discussions with the local staff. 

Programme Activities 
Husbandry – This activity involves the feeding of animals and the cleaning of cages. You will rotate working with different sun bears depending on the needs of the bears, keepers and the centre. Cleaning is vital for the control of hygiene and the prevention of disease in the centre. (Please be aware this can be a smelly job and you must be willing to clean up animal faeces!)

You may also have the chance to get involved in daily maintenance work at the centre, such as painting, weeding to avoid short circuits, and maintenance of electric fences). 

Enrichment – The main idea behind the enrichment activities in the centre is to provide stimulation to the animals, by mimicking their natural environment and improving their living conditions and welfare. Activities may include:
• Encourage foraging by hiding food around the animal cages.
• Provide the bears with special fruit and foodstuff to give a more varied diet.
• Provide the bears with leaves to encourage bedding and nesting.
• Observe behaviour after introducing different new food and branches.

Construction – As a volunteer at the centre you may be asked to design and work on small construction based projects to help improve the night dens or enclosures. Construction projects can include building new exhibits and extensions to improve the facilities, or improving existing exhibits by adding furniture or painting. 

Education – As a volunteer working in the centre, you will have the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the sun bears throughout your placement and also at the education centre and library. As part of your programme you may be tasked with preparing displays and information about the animals, as well as speaking with school children and visitors at the visitor centre about the bears. Volunteers may also be tasked with updating the blog and data entry of the Bear Behaviour Record and the Weekly Record. 

Day 1 (5th of the month): Arrival and Welcome 
You will be met at Sandakan airport by our friendly driver who will take you back to your twin share accommodation to settle in for the night. In the evening you will meet for a welcome dinner and briefing for the programme. 

Welcome dinner and briefing is usually at 18.00 but please check with reception for latest times on arrival. 

Dinner included 

Day 2: Orientation
You will meet with the other volunteers for breakfast in the morning after which there is a visit into the town for some shopping for cooking supplies. After lunch you will receive a transfer to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre where you will receive a orientation from the programme coordinator, including a health and safety talk and tour of the centre. You will then start work after lunch. 

Breakfast and meal allowance

Day 3 - 13: Project Days 
Working hours on the project are between 0800 hours - 1700 hours

A total of two days off will be allocated throughout the programme, which may not necessarily fall on the weekend. Days off are subject to change according to the centre’s requirements at the time of your visit.

On your days off you may choose to explore further afield in Sandakan at your own expense or stay and chill out at the volunteer accommodation. Either way your in country team will be on hand to advise you. 

Meal Allowance

Day 14: Departure 
Today is your final day, where you will check out of the centre and receive your transfer back to Sandakan airport. 

Accommodation is based in a basic but comfortable shared volunteer residence. You will share a twin room with another volunteer. The room has bunk beds and netted windows, with shared toilets and bathrooms. There is a common room at the accommodation for socialising and equipped kitchen fridge and gas stove where volunteers can prepare meals. 

Malaysia Map

Like two countries rolled into one, Malaysia is divided into two stunning areas, the western peninsular and Borneo in the east! The peninsular, flaunting a concoction of Malay, Indian and Chinese cultural influences, and the third largest island in the world Borneo, home to seemingly never ending jungles that are teeming with life, remote tribal groups and some of the most unique landscapes in the world!

From the dazzling highrise buildings of the capital Kuala Lumpur, to the beautiful rural villages made up of traditional longhouses across Borneo's magical regions. Malaysia is world renowned for the vast array of wildlife that has blessed this diverse nation, with the great Orang-utans commanding the treetops of Sarawak, to some of the worlds best diving spots off the East coast of Sabah, be prepared for a truly unique and captivating Malaysian experience!

Quick Facts
South East Asia
Bordering Countries
Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand
Capital City
Kuala Lumpur
Federal constitutional monarchy
approx. 30 million
Bahasa Malaysia (Malay), English
Malaysian Ringgit (RM) (MYR)
Main Exports
Refined Petroleum, Petroleum Gas, Palm Oil, Integrated Circuits, and Computers.
The climate of Malaysia is driven by its equatorial position, extensive coastlines on tropical seas and monsoonal winds. Malaysia has uniformly high temperatures throughout the year, alomng with high himudity and high ranifall.
Time Zone
UTC +8
Malaysia Flag

Fun Facts
• Malaysia has it's own Loch Ness Monster. The Jakun Orang Asli people believe their is a dragon that inhabits Tasik Chini lake called the Naga Seri Gumum.
• Malaysia has 9 different royal families, all reigning at one time, the highest number in the world.
• Malaysia is home ot he largest citrus friut in the world, the Pomelo. It can reach the size of a football and can weigh between 1-3 kg.

Travel Highlights
• Visit the stunning Perhertian Islands of the coast of peninsular Malaysia; voted some of the most beautiful islands in the world!
• Lose yourself (not literally) in the epic rainforests of Borneo, and discover amazing wildlife along the way, such as the majestic Orang-utan.
• Scale all 4000m+ of the Malaysia's highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu, located in the stunning Sabah region of Borneo.
• Take a river cruise through the Kinabatangan Rainforest and try to spot the mysterious Pygmy Elephant.
• Shop till you drop in the lively metropolis of Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur. 

Orang-utan Kinatabangan Rainforest Volunteer in Maslaysia

Where is Malaysia?
Malaysia is a stunning nation located in the travel hot-spot of South East Asia. To the north of Malaysia you will find Thailand, to the south you will find Singapore and Indonesia, and to the east is the Phillipines. The Malaysian nation consists of some 13 states, 11 of which can be found on the main Malay Peninsular (known widely as West Malaysia), and the other 2 will be found dividing East Malaysia on the magical island of Borneo.

This enchanting nation is split in two by the South China Sea, stretching for over 400 miles (640 km) between East and West Malaysia. Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, is found in the heart of the West Malay peninsular. 

What is the climate like in Malaysia?
Malaysia is situated in the heart of the equatorial region, and therefore is blessed with a tropical climate, combining high temperatures, high humidity and high rainfall throughout the year. There is a reason why Malaysia has some of the highest density of rainforest in the world, and quite simply it is the rain!

Being hot and humid throughout the year means that there is not really a best time to visit, it is just best to avoid the Monsoon which affects the Eastern regions in Borneo. Between October and March the eastern climate is cast into heavy rainy periods, and due to the rough weather during these months it is advised to avoid travel to Borneo during this period.

The average temperature in Malaysia throughout the year is 35 °C (95 °F), and the average rainfall throughout the year is high at 250 cm (98in) per year.

What languages are spoken in Malaysia?
The main language spoken throughout Malaysia is Malay (Bahasa Malaysia), however English is also widely spoken in most developed areas, and where English is not spoken our team will provide you with a bilingual guide (so don't worry!). Some of the other languages spoken throughout Malaysia are Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil, Hindi, and wide range of local tribal dialects.

Who are the People of Malaysia?
The largest ethnic group in Malaysia are the domestic group of people known as the Malay. The Malay account for more than half of Malaysia's total population, and are a mainly Muslin, meaning that all people visiting Malaysia are expected to abide by Muslim law and be respectful of the local customs. The other key ethnic groups in Malaysia consist of the Chinese and Indians, who have been emigrating to Malaysia since the 15th century, and who's religious beliefs tend to be Christian, Buddhist (Chinese) and Hindu (Indian).

Malaysia also have a wide range of tribal groups within the country, including some of the world's most notorious groups including The Iban, who became known for practising head-hunting of other tribesmen in their native Sarawak river regions. They are generous and placid peoples, however are sticklers for etiquette, and abide by many rules that govern their communities. Tip: Never enter an Iban longhouse without being invited in! 

The Kadazun Dusun are the largest ethnic group found in the region of Sabah, Borneo. They are an ancient group of people who believe that everything has life, including rocks, trees and rivers, however in recent times some of this group have been converted to Christianity or Islam.

Finally, the Orang Sungai (meaning River People) are a group of indigenous people native to the rivers in Sabah, Borneo. They make their homes along the rives and benefit from the corridor of life that the rivers bring, making their livings from fishing and generally follow the Islam religion.

Wildlife in Malaysia
The wildlife in Malaysia are among some of the most diverse in the world. As Malaysia is a tropical nation, with the majority covered by dense rainforest, which plays host to an incredibly diverse array of flora and fauna. With over 210 recognised species of mammal, over 620 species of bird, upwards of 250 species of reptile and a staggering 150+ species of frog found in Malaysia, it is not shock that Malaysia attracts a huge range of wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists each year. 

Malaysia's Borneo regions are renowned for its array of rainforest wildlife, including the Orang-utans (meaning People of the Trees), Pygmy Elephants, the worlds smallest bear – the Sun Bear, and so much more! As well as the rainforest, Malaysia's marine life does not disappoint, with the country's coastal regions comprising an area that is known as the Coral Triangle, which is known widely for it's vast array of marine and coral species.

Gap Year and Career Break Travel in Malaysia
There is simply no better destination for those who are looking to get away from the beaten backpacker routes and explore a country that will take you back to the roots of travel. The relaxed and welcoming nature of Malaysia's people will make any gap year or career break visit to this spectacular country well worth the time. Experience the beauty of Malaysia's stunning islands, such as the Perhertian Islands and the Langkawi Islands off the coast of peninsular Malaysia, or delve deep into the exotic rainforests and discover am whole new world of incredible wild-life and indigenous people!

Some people find the concept of paying to volunteer a bit strange. The truth is you don’t actually pay for your volunteer placement. That part is free. Your money goes on all the other benefits around it.
Project Assessment
Before you see a placement on our website, a lot of background work has gone on. We have met with local organisations, vetted in-country staff, conducted rigorous safety assessments and thoroughly evaluated the benefits of the placement, both for you and the community. Only then do you get to see the placement on our website and book your place, safe in the knowledge that it is well-structured and beneficial to the local community.
Help Choosing Your Placement
If you are not sure which placement or country to choose, our hugely informative Travel Advisors are here to help. They are a friendly bunch, have all travelled extensively and can offer lots of advice on choosing the right placement for you. This makes the task of deciding to volunteer in a foreign country much less intimidating, and far more exciting.
Pre-departure Advice
Once you have booked your placement, you will be assigned a dedicated Travel Advisor to offer essential pre-departure advice on vaccinations, visas, kit lists and more. They will also be on call to answer those important last minute questions like “how many pairs of socks do I need?” and “can I take my mobile phone with me?”
Help with Flights and Insurance
We do not include flights and travel insurance in our placement fee. This avoids us having to pass on unnecessary admin charges to you. It also gives you flexibility to plan any further travel before or after your volunteer placement. We do, however, offer lots of help on this through our leading flights and insurance partners, providing you with an easy booking facility and the best prices around.
Airport Pick-Up
Landing in a foreign country for the first time can be daunting. This is why we ensure our in-country staff are there to meet you on arrival. There’s nothing like seeing a friendly face when you walk out of a new airport. And once we have given you a warm welcome, the in-country staff will take you back to your accommodation where you can meet the rest of the team and other volunteers.
Arrival Orientation
We will take you through a local orientation and placement induction on arrival. This will introduce you to any useful amenities and local customs, and it will also show you how to stay safe while volunteering abroad. Our team also have lots of handy travel tips and advice if you are thinking of exploring the country in your spare time.
Accommodation and Food
Accommodation is included in all of our placements. Our volunteer houses, family home-stays and shared residences are comfortable and very sociable places to live while overseas. In some destinations, you may be able to upgrade to alternative accommodation. Just contact us for details. We endeavour to supply food on all of our placements, however in some cases this is not always possible. In many cases you will receive at least 1 meal a day, please see the project summary for further details.  
In-Country Staff
Your safety and enjoyment is extremely important to us. That’s why we have dedicated in-country teams to look after you throughout your placement. Our staff live nearby, can be reached 24-hours a day and will check-in with you throughout your placement to ensure everything is running smoothly, and you are happy in your new environment.
24-Hour Emergency Support
In addition to our in-country staff, you will benefit from our international support network. You will be given emergency contact details before you leave which you can call in the event of a crisis. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Ongoing Project Support
For every volunteer who travels with us, we make a donation to support the work you do in-country. This donation funds future initiatives in the countries and supports the local community, ensuring that those living in disadvantaged communities also have opportunities to develop.
Recruiting More Volunteers
In order to provide a reliable flow of volunteers to our placements overseas, we have to spend a chunk of money on recruiting people like you. Our projects simply wouldn’t survive if we didn’t. It costs to maintain a website, an office, phone lines and a team of dedicated Travel Advisors to answer all your questions!  
Borneo Rainforest Flights Adventure Travel
There are quite a few things to consider and to organise before you travel to your chosen destination to take part in your trip or tour with us.

Flights and Insurance
Flights and insurance are not included on your placement which means you will have to arrange them before you leave. But don't panic, this is simpler than you may think! To make life much easier for you, we offer a free, personal booking service through our chosen flights and insurance partner – StudentUniverse, part of Flight Centre. They will guide you every step of the way.

Please only use this service here and do not go into one of their branches as this can complicate things for us.

Browse or book flights using our search engine. Click here to access it.

Alternatively you can call them on 03300 585032 and mention you are considering or are going away with Changing Worlds and let them do the hard work. They will also be able to provide you with adequate travel insurance.

Travelling after your trip with us? Need a round-the-world ticket? Not a problem... just discuss this with them too.

Why are flights not included?
By not including flights in our trips and tours, it avoids us having to pass on unnecessary admin charges to you. This keeps the cost of your trip lower and also means you have the freedom to search around for the lowest fares and most flexible tickets that fit your travel plans. It also means you can benefit from the expertise of our preferred partner.

What happens when flights and insurance are booked?
When you book any trip with us, you will gain access to our online Travel Centre, personalised for you. In here you will have all the information about your trip and how to plan for it, including the contact details for our in-country team and address you will be staying at.

There are also some forms we need you to complete before you depart, covering areas like your dietary requirements, next-of-kin, medical information, flight arrivals details and more.

Do I really need travel insurance?
We take the safety of our travellers very seriously. You must therefore book adequate travel insurance before you come away with us – you simply won’t be able to participate in your trip or tour if you don’t. Although policies vary, your insurance must include emergency medical expenses, personal accident cover, and repatriation. We also recommend that you book baggage, personal liability and cancellation cover.

Some of the countries where we work will require you to have a visa. We provide guidance for this against the Trip Summary tab so you can check whether your nationality requires it. If a visa is required we will provide a letter of invitation, if the embassy requests this, as well as all the relevant information you will need to complete the visa application process. This information is provided after you book with us. With all visa applications it is important that you have sufficient space available in your passport for the relevant visas required for your travels, and that your passport is valid for at least six months after your planned date of return.

Please note we have no control over the issuing of visas and this is at the embassies discretion. We will help wherever possible though.

At least 6 – 8 weeks before your chosen travel date you should visit your local GP or Nomad Travel Clinic to discuss your vaccination and medication requirements. Your medical professional will be able to advise you of any recommended and required vaccinations for your chosen destination(s).You should inform your doctor of all of your destination countries, and what activities you plan on doing, and in which regions you plan to stay while you are there, as different regions and activities have different health risks in some countries.

Some destination countries will require you to produce a certificate of vaccination in order to enter the country, so be sure that you understand any vaccination requirements for your chosen destination, so that you do not have any issues when passing through customs.

Above all you should make sure you are well prepared for your travels, so that you have the best experience possible whilst overseas!
Speak To Us
If you have any questions or would like some more information, simply contact one of our friendly Travel Advisors. You can give us a call, request a call back or drop us an email and they will be able to answer any questions you might have.

Book Your Place
Once you have decided to travel with us, you can secure your place by paying a small deposit. You will then be able to pay the rest of your placement fee in easy-to-manage instalments.

Welcome Pack
Once we have received your deposit, we will send you a welcome email confirming your booking. This will contain your personal login details for your Travel Centre – an online account full of useful information about your destination, you chosen project and all the things you need to do before you depart.

Personal Information
We will ask you to provide some key information to help us create the best overseas experience for you, such as medical and dietary requirements, any previous language lessons you have done, and what you’re hoping to get out of your time abroad. We may also ask you to complete a police background check.

Flights and Insurance
You will need to book your flights and travel insurance before you leave, and then provide us with these details. We do not include flights and insurance in the project fee (to avoid passing on extra admin costs to you) but our partners will help you find the best options around.

Next you will need to get your visa for your trip. British citizens do not require visas unless they are planning to work before or after the course, in which case a Working Holiday Visa will be required. We will also provide you with lots of information to make obtaining your visa very straightforward.
Final Payment
We will ask you for your final payment 90 days before your scheduled departure date. Once paid, you will be ready to pack your bags, grab your passport and get on the plane!  
1)What is the minimum age restriction?
Minimum age for this project is 18

2) Are meals included in this trip? 
During your orientation at the centre you will be provided with a meal allowance to cover your working days on the project. You will have the option to cook meals at your self-catered accommodation with the other volunteers, or purchasing meals at the local restaurants or food stalls. Meals at local food stalls around Sepilok are cheap and you can have a full meal for RM6 - RM15 - excluding drinks. 

You will need additional money for bottled water, fruit juices and snacks throughout the project. Please note alcoholic drinks are strictly forbidden at the project site. 

3) What accommodation is provided?
Accommodation is based in a basic but comfortable shared volunteer residence. You will share a twin room with another volunteer. The room has bunk beds and netted windows for mosquito protection, with shared toilets and bathrooms outside of the bedrooms. There is a common room at the accommodation for socialising and equipped kitchen fridge and gas stove where volunteers can prepare meals. 

Are there laundry facilities at the accommodation?
There is a washing machine which is available to use. You will need to purchase your own washing detergent. 

Can I book a private room?
There may be the option to book a private room for your Sun Bear Volunteer programme, however this is subject to additional fees and availability at the time of your trip. Contact our travel team for more details.

4) How many hours a day will I be volunteering on the project?
Working hours on the project are between 0800 hours - 1700 hours.

A total of two days off will be allocated throughout the programme, which may not necessarily fall on the weekend. Days off are subject to change according to the centre’s requirements at the time of your visit.

5) What Activities take place throughout the day?
A typical day at the rehabilitation centre will include an 8am start, with the focus of activities being assisting the local bear keepers with their daily tasks. From assisting with the enrichment activities throughout the centre, to cleaning cages and feeding the animals you will gain a thorough understanding on sun bear rehabilitation with a behind the scenes view of daily activities.

6) Will I be given a responsible role or assist in the activities?
As a volunteer you will be continuously supported by the local staff to ensure that you are always safe during your daily activities at the centre. You will be encouraged to suggest and develop your own enrichment ideas under the guidance of the local team, however these can not be implemented without permission. Direct contact between volunteers and the sun bears is prohibited as coontact with humans can be detrimental to the rehabilitation process, and as these are wild animals, their behaviour can be unpredictable. 

7) What experience do I need?
You do not need any specific experience to take part in this programme, however please be aware that as a guest and a volunteer at the rehabilitation centre you need to be prepared to work hard and in some cases get a bit messy. It would be beneficial to do some research into sun bears and their behaviour in the wild before arrival as the centre really appreciates volunteers coming up with new enrichment ideas. 

Please be aware that the standards of life in Malaysia are not the same as at home, so please be respectful of the Malaysian way of life!

8) What support will I receive in country?
You will receive constant support from your on-site programme coordinator, along with on-going support from the local bear keepers at the centre. As well as hands on support whilst on the project you will also benefit from a 24 hour support network in Malaysia and the UK in case of any emergencies whilst in-country.

9) What can I do in my free time? 
Explore Sandakan town and its surroundings, take a trip down to the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary or visit the numerous other wildlife reserves, visit Kota Kinabalu – the state capital of Sabah or climb Mount Kinabalu – one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia. Catch up with your reading swaying in the hammocks at the lodging or chat with tourists about responsible traveling at the lodge café. Visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and other nearby conservation and cultural highlights.

10) When can I arrive? 
You should aim to arrive into Sandakan airport (SDK) on the 5th of the month. All programmes start on the 5th of the month to assist with the effective management of the programme. 

11) When should I book my Departure?
You should aim to book your departure or onward travel on the 14th day of the programme (18th of the month). You will receive a transfer back to Sandakan airport on this day. Please see the detailed itinerary on the Extra Info tab.

12) Is transport included?
All transport related to your programme is included. Any additional transport for individual travel in Malaysia will have to be budgeted for by the volunteer.

13) Will I need a Visa?
No visa is required for volunteers from the UK and most European and Western countries for a stay in Malaysia of up to 90 days. Please check with your local Malaysian embassy for your specific visa requirements for your country.

14)  Will I need vaccinations?
Please consult your local GP or Travel Nurse approx. 6 - 8 week prior to travel to check your vaccination history. Please be aware that for the placement a letter signed by your doctor will be required to confirm you are free of diseases such as Tuberculosis and Hepatitis. Please send us a copy of the letter prior to your trip start date so that we can forward this to our in-country team. You will also need to take the original copy of the letter with you and show it during your programme induction.

15) What is the climate like in Malaysia?
Malaysia is situated in the heart of the equatorial region, and therefore is blessed with a tropical climate, combining high temperatures, high humidity and high rainfall throughout the year. The average temperature in Malaysia throughout the year is 35 °C (95 °F), and the average rainfall throughout the year is high at 250 cm (98in) per year.  

16) What should I wear for the project?
You will provided with an official BSBCC T-shirt. It is important that you wear long trousers and trainers that completely cover your feet throughout the project. Wellington Boots are a must for this programme. Always wear sun block (min 25 spf) as you will be working outside for all or part of the day. 

Wellington boots are a must while working around the bear centre, they are available at the centre. You can also bring your own boots, or they can be purchased at the local shops for approx. £3 - £4 GBP. however if you have very small feet or feet larger than a 10 we would recommend purchasing them at home and bringing them with you as it may be hard to find the right size in Malaysia.
Nomad Travel Logo

Nomad Travel Store


Nomad Travel has been kitting out travellers for a wide range of trips since 1990. 

Specialising in kit that can take you off the beaten track, Nomad ensure that you leave fully prepared for your trip. With large ranges in-store and online including clothing, rucksacks, footwear and a lot more as well as a team of travel experts to help you select your gear, Nomad are the one stop shop for all your travel needs. 

In addition Nomad have been providing travel health advice to thousands of people to ensure they leave prepared health-wise for their trip. As well as general advice about your destination, vaccinations and information about anti-malaria options, you will also be able to discuss any health issues you might be worried about when travelling abroad.

Changing Worlds have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores to offer great deals on a whole range of equipment and clothing.

By quoting 'CW1000' you will be entitled to a 10% discount on travel gear and vaccinations, both online and in-store.

Visit their website to take advantage of this great offer and service here: www.nomadtravel.co.uk 



Make an Enquiry
Female Male






Quick Question

Female Male

  • "The experience of becoming a ski instructor was out of this world. The group bonded and we all met friends for life! The local people were the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever come across."
    Samantha Platt , Sports, Canada
  • "I am extremely passionate about this project and being a professional photographer, meant I could teach a wide range of skills to the kids".
    Remy Whiting , Art & Craft, South Africa
  • "Having the in-country contacts to work on my own photography stories was perfect. Thanks to all involved".
    James Burton , Art & Craft, South Africa
  • "This law internship gave me a unique perspective on law in Africa and has certainly widened my options within the law field".
    Andy Smith , Business & Law, Ghana
  • "Thanks to all the Ghana team for making this law internship happen for me. Such an amazing experience and Ghanaians are sooo friendly."
    Jemma Mansfield , Business & Law, Ghana
  • "It was so interesting working into the law sector in Ghana and getting this experience. Such a great way to spend my summer doing something totally different."
    Mark Fulton , Business & Law, Ghana
  • "Costa Rica is such a wonderful country and being able to help out on the care work project with the children was such a privilege."
    Lara Gillard , Care Work, Costa Rica
  • "The whole team in Costa Rica were awesome and really helped me make the most our of my time there both on the care work project and showing me the adventures of the country."
    Tom Smith , Care Work, Costa Rica
  • "This placement gave me the mix of helping young children and also experiencing a totally different culture. My Spanish has really improved too."
    Kiki Jones , Care Work, Costa Rica
  • "I am studying in animal welfare and this placement was perfect in getting real life experience relevant to my career".
    Gordon Bennell , Wildlife & Conservation, Costa Rica
  • "The whole experience was fantastic from the staff at the rescue centre, to Andy and his family. Thank you for looking after me so well."
    Ruth Eales , Wildlife & Conservation, Costa Rica
  • Fab way to start my week, our guide was awesome and gave us so many tips. Met an amazing group of people and the team in the office really help you sort your time out after you've finished the first week. Would really recommend to solo travellers.
    Emma Lowton , Adventure, New Zealand
  • On arrival, I felt as unprepared as can be, knowing no one, having no plans nor ideas of how to get along in New Zealand really. The in-country team did it all for me. Organise my trip. Booking it. Coming from experienced backpackers you know what's going on and getting to know awesome people from all around the world and maybe even some mates to travel with.
    Sean Neitzel , Adventure, New Zealand
  • Had the best time travelling around New Zealand. The team made it possible and can sort everything out for you with no problem. I would highly recommend them and will definitely be using them for my next adventure.
    Annie Frances Pritchard , Adventure, New Zealand
  • The opportunity to coach and nurture the next generation of sportsmen and women in Costa Rica was an opportunity that I couldn't give up, and I am so glad that I didn't! I had a great time and made some lifelong friends!
    Jack Johnston , Teaching, Costa Rica
  • I had a such an inspiring and life changing experience coaching in Costa Rica. The kids had such an appetite for coaching and their enthusiasm was infectious. My fellow coaches and I worked well as a team and I developed some truly great friends as a result.
    Charlie Blaken , Teaching, Costa Rica
  • What a Blast! I can honestly say that I could not have had a better time in Costa Rica as I did. Everyone was so friendly, helpful and up for a laugh, all making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Would definitely recommend this trip to anyone, and might even come back at some point in the near future!
    Danny McVey , Teaching, Costa Rica
  • I had a really great time in Costa Rica, honing my Spanish linguistic skills, and I really improved over the 2 weeks that I spent out there. I would like to thank all of the in-country staff for all the effort they put in, it was an intense and thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience.
    Lewis Worthington , Languages, Costa Rica
  • This has been by far the most rewarding holiday I have been on. I'll be the first to admit that the idea of an educational holiday didn't at first appeal to me, but the improvements I made in the four weeks I spent out there means that my confidence in my Spanish has improved immensely.
    Charlie Jones , Languages, Costa Rica
  • Costa Rica is not only a truly stunning country with welcoming, hospitable people, but it is also where I conquered my 'phobia' of speaking Spanish, and for this I am incredibly grateful. Such a rewarding and exhilarating experience in a wonderful country.
    Max Foster , Languages, Costa Rica

Brochure Request

Changing Worlds Blog

Special Offers and Deals


Paid Work

Adventure Tours

Courses and Qualifications


Flexi Travel

Back to Top