Thailand Community and Elephant Volunteers

From £799, 2 weeks, Thailand Trip code: THCE

  • Adventure 2 out of 5
  • Relaxation 2 out of 5
  • Culture 3 out of 5
Thailand Community and Elephant VolunteersThailand Community and Elephant VolunteersThailand Community and Elephant Volunteers

Trip Highlights

  • Make friends with the largest living land animal in Asia
  • Take a stroll and a bath with one of the beautiful elephants you'll live alongside
  • Work on projects that help safeguard the elephants' futures
  • Be more than just a tourist, live with Thai villagers and learn about their culture
  • Learn to cook Thai-style

Trip Summary

See full itinerary

This programme offers you the opportunity to become part of the local Thai community and gain a true understanding of the Surin province and its people. The rewarding hands-on work at this elephant village in Thailand will involve helping maintain and plant crops to feed the local elephants, giving them a wash down at the river and offering support to the local communities. As a volunteer abroad in Thailand you’ll really get under the skin of local life and see Surin from the inside.


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What will I be doing?

  • The project (2 or 4 weeks)

  • Volunteer Role (2 or 4 weeks)

  • Typical itinerary (2 or 4 weeks)

The project: 2 or 4 weeks

Next Leg

Destination info

Thailand is just a beautiful country – outstanding natural gorgeousness, impressive architecture, eye-catching temples, lovely, friendly people and just the best Thai food you ever ate and a lot cheaper than over here.

 

Tha Thum is the most northern district of Surin Province on the border with Roi Et Province. It is Surin’s ‘District of Elephants’. There are believed to be approx 250 elephants living in Tha Thum. The village where your homestay is located has about 50 houses along a main street. There is a school, two small shops and a river close by. This village is very typical of rural Thailand - you will be experiencing true Thai life first hand! Expect big smiles from the local people and an amazing experience with your elephant and homestay family.

  • Location: Surin, NE Thailand

Historically elephants worked in 'logging' (removing trees from forests) creating an income for their owners. As logging has now been banned for many years in Thailand, domesticated elephants are now unemployed.

 

In an attempt to reduce the expense of caring for domesticated elephants, many of them are sent to the bigger cities and used for tourism. This is bad for two reasons; firstly many elephants are involved in traffic accidents while working in the cities and secondly elephants are grazers and need to be constantly eating to maintain their weight and health which is obviously not possible while living in the cities.

 

The aim of this project is to generate income for the families ensuring the elephants can remain in the rural areas. The elephants are well treated in this region and their handlers are proud of their standard of care. 

Volunteer Role: 2 or 4 weeks

Next Leg

Destination info

Thailand is just a beautiful country – outstanding natural gorgeousness, impressive architecture, eye-catching temples, lovely, friendly people and just the best Thai food you ever ate and a lot cheaper than over here.

 

Tha Thum is the most northern district of Surin Province on the border with Roi Et Province. It is Surin’s ‘District of Elephants’. There are believed to be approx 250 elephants living in Tha Thum. The village where your homestay is located has about 50 houses along a main street. There is a school, two small shops and a river close by. This village is very typical of rural Thailand - you will be experiencing true Thai life first hand! Expect big smiles from the local people and an amazing experience with your elephant and homestay family.

  • Location: Surin, NE Thailand

You can actively get involved by helping the communities that look after the elephants in Tha Thum. Your duties may include; planting bamboo, wild grass and other crops to help feed the elephants during the dry season. Adult elephants can eat an incredible 250kgs of food in one day, so you can understand the importance of providing enough food for them. The project work also extends to supporting the local community with a number of development projects planned every year. These include helping local schools, poor families and planting and harvesting crops amongst others. You may also have the opportunity to learn traditional Thai fishing methods and kayak on the local river.

 

Most days you will volunteer in the mornings and into the afternoons, giving you the opportunity to learn a huge amount about these magnificent creatures (and the local community) under the supervision of the elephant's handler (also known as a mahout). Some afternoons you will be able to take an elephant down to the river for a swim - something they love to do as they cool off and wash! This will be an amazing experience - one which we are sure you are unlikely to forget! On each Thursday afternoon you'll return to Surin city (well, more of a town!) giving you the opportunity to explore the local area or even venture further afield.

Typical itinerary: 2 or 4 weeks

Destination info

Thailand is just a beautiful country – outstanding natural gorgeousness, impressive architecture, eye-catching temples, lovely, friendly people and just the best Thai food you ever ate and a lot cheaper than over here.

 

Tha Thum is the most northern district of Surin Province on the border with Roi Et Province. It is Surin’s ‘District of Elephants’. There are believed to be approx 250 elephants living in Tha Thum. The village where your homestay is located has about 50 houses along a main street. There is a school, two small shops and a river close by. This village is very typical of rural Thailand - you will be experiencing true Thai life first hand! Expect big smiles from the local people and an amazing experience with your elephant and homestay family.

  • Location: Surin, NE Thailand

Day 1: You'll arrive into Bangkok (airport code BKK)and transfer to the world famous travellers' centre, Khao San Road, to stay overnight in shared accommodation in the heart of the action of Bangkok.

 

Day 2: Today is orientation day and a Bangkok city tour. Visit some of the most famous sites of the city including Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Wat Phra Keaw (the Grand Palace – note, entrance to the Grand Palace is not included and is optional). You’ll get the chance to soak up the sites, sounds and atmosphere of one of the world’s most vibrant cities.

 

Day 3: Today you'll transfer by train to Surin, an experience in itself! Taking around 6 -7 hours the train passes slowly through the suburbs of Bangkok before heading through the edge of Khao Yai National park and into Isaan – the heartland of Thailand. On arrival you’ll transfer to our volunteer houses in Surin city and meet the team.

 

Day 4: Today you'll transfer in the morning to the Elephant village – where the adventure really begins. On arrival you’ll settle into your homestay accommodation in the heart of the village. The accommodation is basic but clean and the host family are incredibly friendly. You'll meet the mahouts who you will be learning from and working with. The transfer to the village takes between 45 and 60 mins. Once you’re settled in you’ll be getting stuck into your project.

 

Days 5 – 7: Project work. During your time at the elephant village you will participate in some of the following activities:

 

Walking and bathing the elephants (and riding if you wish)
Planting and harvesting crops for the elephants (which of course depends on the season)
Making ‘poo’ paper – much more pleasant than it sounds and a great source of income for village
Feeding the elephants
Learning to cook some Thai food
Helping teach some English within the village (optional)
Visiting a nearby Elephant centre (optional)
Kayaking on the River Mon
Fishing (optional) Having the most incredible experience surrounded by beautiful elephants and some of the friendliest people in Thailand (compulsory)

 

During your time at the elephant village, 3 meals a day are included.

 

In the afternoon of Day 7 (Thursday) you will transfer back to Surin City and stay at our Volunteer House. A great opportunity to catch up on emails, see a different side of Surin and socialise with other volunteers.

 

Days 8 – 10: Enjoy some free time to explore the city, surrounding areas or even further afield. You’ll have a bed in our volunteer house throughout this time if you want to relax and stay put. Many volunteers decide to head further afield over the weekend and trips to Khao Yai National Park (3 hours or so by train), Cambodia (1.5 hours by minibus) or even the beach (6 hours +) are common.

 

Days 11 – 14: Return to the elephant village and carry on with the work as per week one.

 

Day 14: If you're staying for two weeks, return to Surin in the afternoon. If you're staying for four weeks the itinerary will follow the same or similar schedule as above.

 

Please note: Itineraries and activities are subject to change. We ask that you are flexible with the itinerary; the more you are, the more you will get out of the programme.

Trip Notes Download

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Trip Notes include a full itinerary, country guides and travel advice on visas, money, insurance and the local weather. By filling in your details you'll also be kept updated on all the latest news, offers and stories on this particular trip. Happy reading!

What's included?

  • Airport meet and greet
  • Arrival airport transfer
  • Accommodation
  • Food whilst in Tha Thum on project

What's not included?

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Food whilst in Surin at the weekends
  • Return transfer from Surin to Bangkok

Additional Information & FAQs

Minimum age

Minimum 17 years, maximum decided on potential participant's health. Please be prepared that you may be working with volunteers of all ages.

 

Minimum numbers required on this trip

There are no minimum numbers on the trip.

Please note: you may be the only volunteer at your chosen project at any one time. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us

 

Accommodation

During the project you will be staying in basic homestay accommodation with the village elder and his family. You will be staying in a mixed room sharing with all other volunteers. A toilet and shower/ bucket bath will be available for you to use. Please note that if it's really busy, then from time to time other houses in the village will be used.

 

If you are volunteering at the project during the months of June, July and August your accommodation will be a guesthouse close to all the town's amenities. You will be staying in a room, sharing with one other person, and all the rooms have fans and are ensuite with showers and hot water. There is also Wi-Fi and a security desk.The guesthouse is very clean, quiet and safe and is a great place to relax with your fellow volunteers at the end of the day.

 

At the end of your volunteering week you will be taken back to Surin to spend the weekend in the town or you can make travel arrangements to visit other areas. In Surin you will stay in a volunteer house in a twin share room. 

 

Meals

Whilst at the elephant village you will share three meals a day with the mahouts and your fellow volunteers, allowing you to experience real rural Thai food. You are encouraged to help your host family to prepare your meals, a great way to learn the skills of Thai cooking. There are also a couple of small shops in the village where you can buy snacks and drinks.

During the weekend you have the choice of a huge number of food stalls and restaurants in Surin city, serving some of the best food in the country (be warned though, Surin people like their food spicy!). The volunteer house also has a basic kitchen including utensils and amenities if you wish to self-cater.

 

Is this trip for you?

You may be the only volunteer at your chosen project at any one time. However, you will still have the full support of your in-country team and those at the project. If you are looking for a group volunteering experience we have plenty of options for you to consider.

 

Orientation

On arrival into Bangkok your coordinator will help you settle in to your accommodation before going for evening drinks on the famous Khao San Road. The following day you will be taken on a tour of Bangkok and the local area as well having a welcome meal so you can get to know your fellow volunteers. Your guide will also talk you through your volunteer schedule.

 

The following day you will be travelling to Surin city where you will meet the local team who will deliver an orientation about Surin and the project.  You will travel by train to Surin which takes approximately 7 hours.

 

Advice & Safety

Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay.

 

In addition, you will have access to a 24 hour emergency contact number so you can contact one of our UK staff at any time should you need to.

 

FAQ

1. What are the typical group sizes?

Groups sizes vary depending on the time of year, but generally you can expect to be with between 2 and 5 fellow travellers.

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2. How much spending money would you recommend I take?

If you are on a tight budget you can get away with £80 per week. If you want to do some travelling in your free time then you will need a bit more.

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3. What are the average ages of travelers on this trip?

The majority of participants on this program are aged between 18-30, however it is popular with travelers of all ages.

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4. I am a first time traveler, and a bit apprehensive about travelling on my own. Do many people do this by themselves?

The majority of our participants are solo travelers, so you will be one of many in the same position. We e-mail out a buddy list 2-3 weeks before you start, so you can begin to get to know one another beforehand.

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5. Is Thailand safe?

Absolutely, and you have co-ordinators with you at all times to ensure your safety.

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6. Do I need to take a sleeping bag?

All bedding is provided but if you wanted to take one as well then you can.

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7. Do I need to take a mosquito net?

This is up to you, they aren't provided but if you take care of the room and close the windows etc then you shouldn't need to take a net with you.

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8. Will there be a safe/safety deposit box available?

Yes, there will be somewhere for you to keep your valuables.

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DBS

You have booked a programme which requires an enhanced Disclosure Barring Service check to be completed. We can carry this out for you and your travel advisor will explain the charges at the time of booking.

What will I see in Thailand?

16 photos

What other travellers thought

I've done this trip

Write review
Overall rating: (10/10) (7 reviews)
Thailand Community and Elephant Volunteers

Shannon O'hara - August 2014

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Amazing experience, will never forget, wish I could go back

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(9/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(8/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

the highlights where definitely waking up to see elephants in your back garden, and I loved the first two nights in Bangkok, Khao san road was amazing!! The satisfaction of knowing that you are helping the local community who you become close friends with is unforgettable.

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

1) do not take a suitcase! take a backpack, I took a suitcase and travelling from Bangkok to surin for me was a nightmare, plus I didn't even use half the stuff I took 2) everything out there is so cheap so make the most of eating out and doing trips, In Cambodia we got a tour around all the temples for only $13! 3) don't be shy! talk to everyone, do every trip and you will not regret it.

Would you travel with our company again?

yes

Would you recommend us?

10

Thailand Community and Elephant Volunteers2014-08-06

Freya Hughes-campbell - July 2014

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Wonderful insane emotional incredible unmissable

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Meeting all the leaders in Thailand, they were amazing incredible wonderful people that I will never forget

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Bring lots of insect repellent, don't being nice trainers, remember to stay hydrated!

Would you travel with our company again?

yes

Would you recommend us?

10

Thailand Community and Elephant Volunteers2014-07-25

Emma Watson - December 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Amazing experiences with incredible people in a beautiful country!

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(9/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(7/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(9/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(1/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Living in a beautiful village and meeting the wonderful people there, being with elephants, looking after them and caring for them, meeting other volunteers and making new friends.

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

1. Always travel with an open mind and enthusiasm, you will enjoy it more. 2. Experience everything- make the most of your time away, take up every opportunity. 3. A loo roll comes in very handy in Asia...

Would you travel with our company again?

yes

Would you recommend us?

Yes

Thailand Community and Elephant Volunteers2013-12-09

Carley Johnson - December 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Unforgettable. Amazing people coordinators well organized

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Hands on with elephants, living in the village, the coordinators

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Don't over pack because you can buy anything you need there,

Would you travel with our company again?

yes

Would you recommend us?

Yes

Thailand Community and Elephant Volunteers2013-12-01

Diane Ramsay - November 2013

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(8/10)
Please rate the accuracy of your pre-departure information
(6/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(8/10)
Please rate your airport pickup (where applicable)
(10/10)
Please rate your in-country orientation
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Really getting to meet people in the communities and experiencing the local culture. For example Worn took us to the night market and a small restaurant in town, I was great to be fully immersed!!

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Make sure you read the packing list and bring it Read up a bit before you go- especially about cultural etiquette Travel with an open mind, especially about trying new things

Would you travel with our company again?

yes

Would you recommend us?

Yes

Thailand Community and Elephant Volunteers2013-11-12

Lisa Jones - July 2011

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Unforgetable and unbelievable. I'm clinically depressed now that I'm home.

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(10/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(10/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

The actual voluntary work was amazing. It didn't even feel like work. The elephants were amazing and the kids that we played with and taught a little English to were fantastic. The culture was great and suited me well. Sugar was a highlight in herself. She is an amazing co-ordinator and you are lucky to have her!! Pleasent. Honest. Funny. Perfect!

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

- Do something you have never done before. - It's OK to travel alone, when with an agency. You are never by yourself, and you don't have to worry about pleasing anyone else. You're also forced to interact more = more friends! - Take photos! People back at home won't believe you when you share your expericences.

Would you travel with our company again?

Yes

Would you recommend us?

Yes

Thailand Community and Elephant Volunteers2011-07-04

Laurie Dickson-smith - July 2011

How would you rate your overall experience?
(10/10)
Give us up to 10 words that sum up your experience: for example - "Great experience, made new friends, totally unforgettable!"

Amazing experience, had a phenomenal time, wish it lasted longer!

Please rate the service received from our team before departure
(8/10)
Please rate the service provided by the team in country
(10/10)
Please rate the accommodation during your stay
(7/10)
Please rate the worthwhileness of any volunteering in your trip if applicable.
(10/10)
What were the highlights of your trip?

Riding the elephants and staying with the family in the villiage. Being part of helping out with everyday chores. Getting to know new people especially Sugar our translator!

Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?

Pack lots of toilet roll and tissues. Bring clothes you can leave behind. Bring an extra bag to take lots of presents home as everything is so cheap.

Would you travel with our company again?

Yes

Would you recommend us?

Yes

Thailand Community and Elephant Volunteers2011-07-04

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