Volunteer with amazing Elephants at the Thailand Elephant Sanctuary
The Thailand Elephant Sanctuary Project Overview
Volunteer with elephants in Thailand at our most popular project and help rescued Elephants. Meet like-minded people from around the world to share in this amazing experience!
Volunteers walk the elephants into the forest to forage and to the lake to bathe. Volunteers at this sanctuary get to wash the elephants and care for them by keeping the sanctuary in good condition and collect food for the elephants.
This volunteer project provides a memorable experience in the beautiful Thailand countryside for volunteers wanting to help Thai elephants rescued from lives of hard work in the tourism and logging industry.
The elephants are allowed to be elephants again without the pressures of hard work. The project, with the help of volunteers, care for these amazing animals and allow them to roam, bathe and do their favourite thing... eat, eat & eat some more!
Meet the Elephants
The project usually has around 10 elephants at any time. The elephants have their own sad histories of overwork and bad treatment. Some have been exploited in the tourism industry or overworked in the logging industry. You can read about the Plight of the Asian Elephant in our article highlighting the issues surrounding the Asian Elephant.
To learn more about some of the elephants, you can Meet the Elephants here.
You can also read the wonderful story of the Rescue of a Mother and Baby Elephant, Princess and Apple.
Volunteer to help elephants on your trip to Thailand for an amazing, once in a lifetime experience!
The Project: The Thailand Elephant Sanctuary gives safe haven to approximately 10 elephants at any time. Without the sanctuary these lovely animals would otherwise be roaming the streets, suffering terrible conditions at working elephant camps or being exploited by the tourist industry.
Volunteers provide hands on assistance to the professional Mahouts (elephant keepers) to ensure these beautiful animals live a life as close as possible to their wild elephant relatives.
Project Location: The project is located 160km south of Bangkok in a national park in the Petchaburi province. The local village has internet access, shops and bars but is small and unaffected by tourism like many places in Thailand, so you will be able to experience authentic Thai culture and lifestyle. You can reach sandy beaches in about 40 minutes by car.
Main Volunteer Activities: Volunteers work closely with the projects professional mahouts on a range of tasks including cleaning the elephants’ paddocks, washing the elephants, walking the elephants to the lake or into the forest to forage. You may also assist in performing basic daily health checks on the elephants.
Hours: Volunteers work six days a week, starting early in the morning before temperatures rise! Days are long but there are many breaks throughout the day to relax or hang out with the elephants.
Duration: Placements are year-round and for 1 to 12 weeks.
Accommodation: The on-site accommodation is in clean but basic shared bungalows which have comfortable beds, fans, western style toilets with a manual flush and cold showers. On site you will also find a communal area for eating, a small bar and a kitchen.
Volunteer Requirements: Volunteers at this project must be aged 18+, have a love of elephants and conservation and be fit enough to undertake physical work in hot and humid conditions.
The Thailand Elephant Sanctuary History
The centre is part of a larger wildlife project incorporating both an elephant & wildlife rescue project and an education centre. The local Buddhist Abbot donated temple land to build the animal sanctuary in 2001. Conservation of nature and wildlife as well as animal welfare, compassion with all living creatures is an important part of Buddhism.
Volunteers have always played a vital role in helping the project to achieve its aims and in increasing awareness about the ill treatment and threats to Thailand's magnificent wildlife.
How the project is helping
The Thailand Elephant Sanctuary has rescued and nurtured back to health many mistreated elephants. The sanctuary is now home to many elephants from all over Thailand who now enjoy a happy life without work. The sanctuary provides veterinary care and a more natural life for previously working and abused elephants.
The Thailand Elephant Sanctuary gives safe haven to elephants who are no longer wanted or who have been rescued from a cruel and often unbearable existence. The number of elephants at the sanctuary can vary based on space available and funds needed to rescue an elephant.
Why the project need volunteers
In Thailand, as in many countries in Asia, the Asian elephant has been domesticated and used by humans for many years to work in the logging industry. Following the ban on commercial logging in Thailand in 1988 these working elephants were no longer needed. Suddenly, hundreds of elephants and their owners were left with a very uncertain future, and their owners have been forced to seek alternative methods to use their elephants to make a living. This resulted in unwanted elephants being forced to carry out work they were not suited to including what many people consider to be harmless - being used as taxis for days on end, elephant riding and being forced to perform tricks for tourists. This created a need for ethical elephant sanctuaries to provide safe haven for these creatures so they could be rescued from exploitation.
Volunteers provide hands on assistance to the professional Mahouts (elephant keepers) to ensure these beautiful animals can now live a life as close as possible to their wild relatives.
Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand at this Ethical Sanctuary to make a difference in the lives of these magnificent creatures!
Typical Volunteer Duties
Volunteers work closely with the Mahouts who always accompany the elephants. The working day starts early and can be long but there are many breaks throughout the day to chill or hang out with the elephants. Volunteers work six days a week with one day a week off to relax or take in some of the local sights.
An example of a typical day:
Start your day at 6.30am
Get breakfast from 8-9am
Lunch at noon
Workday ends approximately 5pm
Dinner at 6.30pm
Volunteer tasks at the Thailand Elephant Sanctuary
Volunteers’ exact tasks will depend on the needs of the elephants and the project but the kind of work you will carry out while volunteering with the elephants includes the following:
- Cleaning the elephants’ paddocks each morning and evening.
- Washing the elephants in their paddocks with hoses and brushes.
- Collecting the elephants’ dung and food waste for composting.
- Walking the elephants to the lake or into the forest to forage.
- Collecting fruits for their big appetites.
- Harvesting banana trees, sugar cane, pineapple or corn for fodder.
- Performing basic daily health checks on the elephants.
- Taking care of the domestic animals at the centre, including Sam, the rescued beach pony and the dogs.
- Learning all about these gentle giants.
These are only examples of what your daily activities may be. The Thailand Elephant Sanctuary is continually evolving and the needs of the elephants may change before or during your stay. Rest assured we are very flexible with volunteers’ personal needs, but we do require the same flexibility in return as the elephants are the top priority.
Accommodation at the Thailand Elephant Sanctuary
The accommodation at the centre is in clean, simply furnished shared bungalows and rooms. The bungalows have comfortable beds, fans, western style toilets with a manual flush and cold showers.
On site you will find a communal area for eating, a small bar and kitchen. Volunteers have access to free hot drinks, filtered water, bread, jam and other essentials. Volunteers will eat Thai and occasionally Western food. Vegetarians, vegans and those with food allergies are welcome at this project. Evenings can be spent watching DVD's, relaxing with a book or socializing with fellow volunteers.
Join us to Volunteer to Help Elephants at the Thailand Elephant Sanctuary to care for these amazing creatures and enjoy an special experience with fellow volunteers.
Free Time in Thailand
Thailand is a large, diverse and beautiful country and many volunteers therefore add some touring either at the beginning or the end of their trip. For lots of volunteers, spending time with the elephants is enough to make their trip unforgettable and there is plenty to see near the project on your days off. However, if you do want to travel around Thailand or further afield in Southeast Asia, our team are all very well travelled and can offer advice and help in planning the perfect itinerary for travel before or after your placement. Here are just a few ideas to whet your appetite.
Bangkok is noisy, crowded, hot, buzzing, hot, friendly and did we mention it is hot? Love it or hate it, Bangkok is a city that you should make the effort to visit at least once. Despite all the craziness, Bangkok has great shopping, royal palaces, museums, peaceful temples, top class restaurants, world famous street food and a public transport system that puts many western cities to shame! Take a high tail boat for a private river tour or join the crowds on one of Bangkok's famous water taxis and see the city from its pulsating river and canals. And to top it all there are flights into and out of Bangkok's two international airports to connect you with almost anywhere in the world. Too tempting to miss!
Cha Am & Hua Hin
Cha Am is around 40 minutes from the sanctuary by car, and has a sandy beach, many bars, shops and restaurants. The tourists are mostly Thais who travel from Bangkok to visit their nearest beautiful beach. Volunteers can visit the town on evenings to frequent the restaurants and bars, as well as take shopping trips to the night market. You can make a day tour to the town or for those wanting to spend more time on the beach, accommodation throughout the town is generally cheap.
Hua Hin is slightly further but still less than an hour from the sanctuary and is busier and livelier than Cha Am. The town has a sandy beach, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and many shops as well as cheap accommodation for overnight stays. There are many foreign tourists in Hua Hin, and volunteers can find most of their needs catered for here.
Further afield in Thailand
Thailand has something to offer everyone. For history buffs, within easy reach of Bangkok is Kanchanaburi, home of the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai and the very moving Commonwealth War Graves. The Ancient Thai Capital city Attuthaya is closer to Bangkok and is a feast for temple lovers.
Low cost flights from Bangkok's Don Meaung airport make travelling to the north of Thailand cheap and easy. Visit the bustling cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai which are also convenient starting points for trips to Burma and Laos. And of course there are dozens of islands to choose from - from party islands like Ko Phangan to unspoilt idylls such as Ko Yao Noi.
Thanks to Bangkok's status as an airline hub for Southeast Asia, once you check into the city, the world is your oyster - at least most of Asia anyway. All of Thailand's closest neighbours are a short flight away. Undiscovered Burma, Laid back and underrated Laos, and friendly Cambodia with its Angkorian temples, tragic history, lush jungles and a handful of idyllic islands. Regular buses and boats are also popular for many journeys across Thailand's borders.
Included in your volunteering trip is accommodation at the Elephant Sanctuary where you will share an amazing experience with many other volunteers from around the world. Volunteers will receive all meals on site.
Volunteers receive all the necessary project equipment, training, induction and in-country support from experienced English speaking project staff.
Want to enjoy your trip and be stress free before volunteering? Leave the planning to us and let us arrange your travels to the sanctuary from Bangkok!
Globalteer can arrange pickup from the airport or your hotel in Bangkok, Cha-Am or Hua Hin for transfer to the Elephant Sanctuary.
Additions at no extra cost:
√ Thailand orientation guide.
√ Accommodation at the Elephant Sanctuary.
√ All main meals.
√ In-country support from the project staff.
√ Project training by experienced staff.
√ Full information pack about the project.
√ Assistance and advice on travel planning.
√ Project donation.
As a UK registered Charity, Globalteer is completely financially transparent to you, our donors. You can therefore see a full breakdown of where your money goes and our independently audited accounts by clicking below:
To discover why you should consider choosing Globalteer, please visit the following page:
Why do we charge a fee for volunteering?
Globalteer requests a donation from volunteers to allow us to achieve our charitable objectives and support our partner programmes. In return, Globalteer provides volunteers with an amazing, responsible and ethical volunteer experience. Ensuring that your placement is responsible as well as rewarding, safe and enjoyable takes a good deal of work.
A summary of Globalteer’s total expenditure for the last financial year is shown below:
Donations and Grants 60% – This includes a share of volunteer placement fees, grants we have secured for our projects and donations managed by Globalteer that are made by individuals and groups to our projects and partner projects.
Support Costs 29% – This includes volunteer accommodation, volunteer transport, support staff costs, travel costs and some volunteer meals.
Operational Costs 11% – Costs of running Globalteer.
What’s not included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Onward transfer on completion of your placement
What do everyday items cost?
The official currency of Thailand is the Baht, and there are approximately 45 Baht to the pound and 30 Baht to the US dollar. The cost of living in Thailand is low compared to most countries in the developed world. The costs of some typical items are:
- Short ride in a tuk-tuk - 50 Baht
- Taxi ride of about 15 minutes - 150 to 250 Baht
- Meal at a market - around 50 Baht
- Meal in a restaurant - 200 Baht +
Real Reviews of Globalteer on Volunteer's Social Media
"It is hard to put into words...how much of an impact it had on me"
Eva, Designer, USA
Volunteer rated at
(5 / 5)
Average number of volunteers on site
Average age of volunteers
Mostly 18 to 25
But also a lot of volunteers 26 to 60
January to March and June to August