Thailand Elephant Frequently Asked Questions
You will find below answers to many frequently asked questions. If your question does not appear then please click here to open the 'contact us'
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01. Is Thailand safe?Thailand is a very safe and friendly, as always when travelling you must take the usual precautions to make sure you stay safe. Common sense and knowledge is the key phrase, and on arrival you will have an orientation meeting to advise you of any precautions you need to take. Most visits to Thailand are completely trouble free.
02. What languages do I need?You need to be able to speak English as this will be the common language at the project.
03. What are the living conditions at the project?
The accommodation at the centre is in clean but basic bungalows, rooms are single or more often shared. The bungalows have comfortable beds, fans, western style toilets and cold showers.
At the front of the centre is a communal area and kitchen. Evenings can be spent watching satellite TV or DVD's, relaxing with a book or socializing with fellow volunteers. Volunteer accommodation at the elephant sanctuary
04. What type of food will I be eating?Two main meals are prepared by the cook, Thai and occasionally western meals also catering to vegetarians.
Volunteers have access to free hot drinks, filtered water, bread, jam and other essentials.
In the main towns are a variety of restaurants catering to all tastes and shops selling some home comforts.
05. Will I have time for extra activities?
Yes, in fact we actively encourage it! Thailand is a beautiful country and we wish you to experience it's culture, history and people.
You will go on a night safari into the National Park with other volunteers.
Hua Hin and Cha Am are less than an hour away and have beautiful beaches, bars and restaurants.
Days off can be accumulated so you can venture on a camping trip into the National Park. Extra activities in Thailand at the elephant sanctuary
06. How many hours will I be volunteering?
The animals wake at sunrise so work starts at 6.30am. The last jobs are finished by 5.00pm but you will have free periods during the day where you can relax or catch up on sleep.
The centre is continually growing so the work is varied and you will be assigned duties that suit your skills.
You will work 6 days a week and arrange your day off with the project coordinator.
The atmosphere at the centre is friendly and relaxed, so with consultation with the staff, most requests are possible although the project coordinator must ensure that all duties are fulfilled daily for the benefit of the animals. Daily volunteer schedule at the elephant sanctuary
07. Do I need to be qualified?No, you will be given guidance and training and will initially work with experienced volunteers.
08. How do I get to the project?You will be picked up free of charge from the airport or hotel in Bangkok, or from the nearby towns of Cha Am or Thyang.
If you wish to travel independently, then to get to Cha Am or Thyang you must go to the southern bus terminal in Bangkok and take a bus, approximately 3 hours.
Full information on Thailand, getting around and costs will be supplied in our comprehensive information brochure.
09. Is there access to internet, telephone and post?Internet access is available 5 minutes away in the local town. There is a phone for volunteers to receive incoming calls.
Post can be sent to the centre but you will need to venture into the bigger towns to find a post office to send mail.
10. What vaccinations will I need for Thailand?
We recommend that our volunteers consult a doctor for up to date advise about vaccinations. Do this as soon as possible as some vaccinations take time to be effective.
The centre is in a non malaria affected area but be aware that it may be prudent to bring malaria tablets if you are travelling around Asia.
The centre requires all volunteers to be vaccinated against the following:
- Diphtheria, Tetanus and polio
- Hepatitis A and B
Tell your doctor where you are going and that you will be working with animals and you can then discuss Rabies and Tuberculosis. These vaccinations are optional and have not been seen at the rescue centre.
11. Do I need a visa?Most nationalities receive a free 30 day visa on arrival in Thailand. A passport with at least 6 months validity is required. For longer stays you will most likely need to arrange a visa from your home country with the Thai Consulate or travel agency. Note: As visa requirements can change and are different for nationalities, it is the volunteers responsibility to arrange entry visas.
You only need a tourist visa, as volunteer work does not require a business visa. It is better not to confuse immigration officers by telling them you are working, as volunteer work does not require a special visa, just state you are visiting Thailand for tourism. Once your visa expires you must leave Thailand and re-enter to get another visa.
12. What cultural differences must I consider?Thais are very friendly and a smile will go a long way.
Be respectful to elders. Shouting, or public displays of over emotion are impolite.
Remove shoes before entering a temple or someone's home. Dress respectfully, especially when visiting temples.
Do not point at someone with your finger or naked foot, do not touch people's heads.
Thai's love their royal family so, however you feel about monarchies, do not say bad things about the Thai Royals. This would be seen as a great insult to the Thais and is also illegal. Do not disrespect the image of the king by standing on bank notes.
13. When is the best time to go to Thailand?Thailand's climate is tropical, high both in temperature and humidity, and dominated by monsoons.
April and May are the hottest months of the year. June sees the beginning of the South West Monsoon, and brings with it the rainy season, which continues intermittently until the end of October.
The monsoon season can see weeks without rain, but occasionally a strong storm arrives, raining heavily for an hour in the afternoon.
From November to the end of February the climate is much less trying with a cooling North East breeze and a reduction in the humidity level.
14. Can I drink alcohol and smoke?Of course, but we request that you use common sense, and excessive drinking that puts yourself, other volunteers, or the animals in danger or in discomfort will not be accepted. Alcohol is also not permitted to be drank before 5pm at the centre out of respect of the volunteers still working!
There are designated smoking areas in the volunteers communal area.
The local town and resorts have bars and clubs that close at 1.00am..
15. Is there a dress code?Yes, Thailand is a conservative country and we ask that you respect them by dressing accordingly especially as you will be working on temple grounds.
The basic rule is to cover your knees, shoulders and belly.
T-shirts, sandals and anything that covers the knees and belly are all acceptable.
Woman must wear bras, as doing otherwise could cause offence to the local Thais.
16. Do I receive training and orientation?Yes, on arrival you will receive orientation from our project coordinator, giving local information and advise. Basic training will be given to ensure you achieve the project objectives. You will continually be learning from the professional Mahouts.
17. What is the criteria of a volunteer?Volunteers will be assessed on the information provided during the application process.
18. Do I need travel insurance?Travel insurance is highly recommended for this project.
19. Who usually volunteers at your projects?The majority of volunteers are from the UK, United States, Canada and Australia. We also place volunteers from Holland, Germany, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand although all nationalities are welcome. The majority of volunteers travel alone to the project, although we also accommodate couples and groups. The elephant project is part of a larger wildlife rescue centre which accommodates between 12 and 18 volunteers in total.
20. How do I arrange onward transport at the end of my stay?When volunteers finish their time at the project, they often head to the beach, an airport, go to Bangkok, or continue their travels in Thailand. Volunteers are responsible for the cost of transport to wherever they may be heading after their time at the project. The cost of your onward transport is not included in the volunteer fee.
The project will help book taxis for volunteers to take them to their onward destination. Volunteers can leave the project anytime between 6am and 7pm, but volunteers usually depart the project between 8 and 10am. The journey to Bangkok normally takes three hours, depending upon traffic and what part of the city you are going to. It takes less than one hour to get to Cha Am or Hua Hin where you will find beaches and onward buses and trains.
21. Can I hug and touch the elephants at the sanctuary?It is important that volunteers coming to the sanctuary treat the elephants with respect as they are in retirement from hard lives. The sanctuary allows hand on interaction with the elephants at specific times, but all other times they are hands off. Volunteers can interact with the elephants during feeding (when volunteers may pat the trunk), when taking them for walks, and during bathing (when volunteers scrub them with brushes and booms). Volunteers do not swim with or hug the elephants.