Help with conservation and alternative tourism in Pulau Bidan (Bidan island), Kedah, Malaysia




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 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks

  • Description


    On the unpopulated island of Pulau Bidan, an hour boat journey from the Sungai Udang, Yan Kedah, we have been building a small community to run conservation efforts and protect the island from irresponsible use.

    We build mostly from scratch, using materials found around and also brought in from the mainland, making use of available natural resources, and growing our own food to sustain ourselves. Permaculture ethics and principles guide our development process.

    Boats come in weekly to transfer people and food items. On the weekends, we get tourist groups coming in to camp and fish. Here, too, we are trying to raise awareness by creating a sustainable, low-impact, tourism model.

    Life in Pulau Bidan is an experience itself. On your own, isolated from society, you are fully responsible for your own well-being as well as the place you are living in.

    This requires being mindful of your surrounding and your own behaviour, as every action has a consequence, and in a small, close-knit, self-sustaining community surrounded by wild nature, your actions can have a direct impact. It also demands your effort to learn about the work required to sustain the community, from general maintenance to basic construction to caring for the gardens and the animals.

    We make an effort to be mindful and compassionate towards local culture, as this is an important factor to the success of any community project. As such, visitors, especially volunteers, are expected to be understanding and sensitive towards local culture and values. We also believe that this is a part of low-impact tourism, and a good skill to learn on your travels.


    As a volunteer, you will be supporting our permaculture project on Pulau Bidan Island. This is an initiative to protect and conserve a remote local island through permaculture, sustainable living, and collaboration with the community.

    We are Padil and Predo, and have been running this project for 4 years. Beforehand, we used to camp on Pulau Bidan just for fun. After spending some time here, we fell in love with the island and decided to develop a project that would help protect it from growing environmental threats. We’ve since very much enjoyed deeping our knowledge of permaculture, developing the project on the island, and connecting with many like-minded volunteers who help keep our work alive!

    We’ve also looked to expand the global community by hosting an annual permaculture course, the first one successfully graduating 25 students! Write us to learn more about the upcoming course, in November of 2019.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    General Maintenance
    Cooking / shopping
    Help with Eco project
    Helping with Tourists
    Charity work
    Art project

  • UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainablity goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Travellers coming here have a opportunity to immerse themselves in rural Malay culture. The Malays are a shy, gentle and welcoming people with a laid-back approach towards life. They are Muslims and spirituality plays an important part in their life.

    By spending time with the locals, they can learn their values and outlook on life, as well as their traditional cooking, architecture, fishing and rice farming. There will be opportunity to mingle with local folks when there is a wedding in the village, where authentic traditional Malay cuisine is guaranteed.

  • Help


    General maintenance and cleanliness, community living, construction work, farm work, garden and animal care. Sometimes help teaching at the charity education center. Experience and skills are highly appreciated.

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    Malay, English

  • Accommodation


    Camping, dormitory, shared accommodation. Separate male and female accommodation available.

  • What else ...

    What else ...


    Pulau Bidan is a tiny, unpopulated island off the coast of Tanjung Dawai, Kedah, in the North of Malaysia. It is about one hour boat ride from our village.

    The island is a Forest Reserve and most of it is covered in rainforest with tall trees. There is plenty of space and beauty to enjoy. There are trails going into the forest and out to the other side of the island where visitors can view the sunset.

    Volunteers will be living in a survival-like setting, close to wild nature. Being isolated from society and in such closeness with nature, it is a good place for reflection and contemplation as well as picking up experience and skills.

    We are looking for people with love for nature and people, who can appreciate a good conversation and also silence.


    The accomodation in both project bases is shared dormitory style. Separate male and female accomodation is available.

    We provide mattresses and mosquito nets, but bring your own mosquito repellent. Camping is also an option.

    Internet access is available on mobile devices, but we do not have wifi, so you will need to purchase internet before you come. Maxis (Hotlink) and Celcom is what we recommend. However, we urge you to stay disconnected during this time, and connect with nature and people instead.


    Go to the nearest town,GURUN, kedah It can be reached by bus or train.

    From there take a cab (MYR20 -25) or by GRAB (MYR 15-20) to the Sungai Udang, Yan, Kedah where we will come to pick you up by boat.

    The boat goes to the island weekly to transfer people and resources. The cost to get to the island and back is MYR80 per person.


    As we are working on an isolated island and move by boat, our operation costs are significantly higher. We are yet to make a sustainable income to cover our costs, and your contribution really helps. For the moment we request a daily fee of MYR20 (USD5) to cover the living cost. Three meals (vegetarian/fish) a day provided.


    You’re a great fit if…
    You are interested in learning about permaculture and passionate about environmental sustainability
    You’re happy to disconnect from the rest of the world for a few weeks
    You’re positive, easy going, a team player, and the type of person who rolls up their sleeves and helps out wherever needed
    You enjoy learning about other lifestyles and perspectives and immersing yourself in another culture
    You have skills or experience in environmental conservation, permaculture, farming, or general maintenance (Not required, just a plus! :))


    The rural Malays are a shy, gentle and welcoming people with a laid-back approach towards life. They are Muslims and spirituality and culture plays an important part in their life.

    They dress and behave modestly. Loose shirt and long pants are the most appropriate in this culture and climate. T-shirts and knee-length shorts are acceptable. Inappropriate clothing makes the locals feel uncomfortable, attracts unwanted attention and creates tension. Also, it affects the image of the project from the eyes of surrounding communities.

    They normally sit on the floor in a circle around the food when eating. This circle is sacred. Make space for people, and care not walk over any food or drink as this is very offensive to them. Walk outside the circle if possible, and not break into it and walking in front of people sitting to eat. If you have to pass in front of people sitting, you can bow down when walking across them to show respect.

    There are social boundaries between men and women. Please refrain from hugging a local person of the opposite sex. A hello and a smile is enough.

    It is important for volunteers to understand that respecting local values and sensitivities is an integral part to the success of any community project. If we are here to help the locals, the least thing we could do is make them feel comfortable and respected. In return, they will respect and welcome you as family.


    This is an incredible opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and get back in touch with nature, while learning about the local culture and environment, reducing your environmental footprint, and doing without many of the unnecessary products we are used to consuming in our day to day lives.

    Our project is a work in progress and we have a long way to go, but with each volunteer contributing their knowledge, skills, and positive energy, we are constantly moving closer to our goal.

    Daily tasks might include cleaning common spaces, the kitchen, and bathrooms, preparing daily meals, watering/planting/picking plants, feeding chickens, and cleaning up the beach.

    Special projects might include building a new water filter, developing new, creative ways to utilize garbage we’ve collected, building or refurbishing various parts of the camp, and anything else you come up with!

    Otherwise, expect to take a random dip in the ocean, a bath by the jungle well, learn to pick a coconut from the tree, look for some bioluminescent plankton, observe the beautiful wildlife, hang with the animals, chill with the team, play cards, and enjoy the island life!

    We look forward to working with you!

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

  • ...

    This host charges a fee

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    US$5 / day

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Host ref number: 178271811292

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