Passively Q-switched thulium doped fiber laser (TDFL) has been successfully demonstrated using gold nanoparticles (GNPs), which were embedded into polyvinyl alcohol as saturable absorber (SA). The stable self-starting Q-switched laser was generated to operate at 1 891 nm when a tiny piece of the prepared film was slot in between two fiber ferrules and incorporated into the laser cavity. The repetition rate can be adjusted from 48.54 kHz to 49.64 kHz while the pulse width decreased from 3.52 µs to 2.38 µs with the increase of 1 550 nm pump power from 840 mW to 930 mW. The corresponding pump power output power linearly increased from 3.62 mW to 6.3 mW with a slope efficiency of 2.53%. The maximum peak power and pulse energy were recorded at about 39 mW and 0.12 µJ, respectively at pump power of 930 mW. The Q-switching operation was caused by the surface plasmon resonance absorption of GNPs.