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Volunteering and caring for Elephants in Northern Thailand



Work hands-on with elephants, giving them lots of care. By volunteering with them, you'll also be helping to improve the living conditions of captive elephants in Thailand.

You'll work very hands-on with 8 elephants, but you'll be surrounded by up to 200 elephants. The experience of being in the middle of such a huge number of these majestic creatures is awesome!

The project is based approximately 7 hours drive North-East of Bangkok. This project includes a one-night stay in a hotel in Bangkok on arrival, plus transfers to and from the project.

“I'm gaining hands-on experience that I have never had before of looking after the elephants and their well being. I'm also learning on a daily basis about these wonderful animals." Charlotte Phillips.

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Start Dates Projects start every Sunday, all year round - you choose your start and finish dates.
Duration From 1 week to 8 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
Requirements No qualifications or experience required, but you must have lots of enthusiasm and initiative, and a great love of elephants and their well-being. Minimum age 18 if travelling unaccompanied, but minimum age 16 if accompanied by parent or guardian 
Price Full Price List
What's included Arranging your program,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance
Food (except in Bangkok)

Meeting you at Bangkok Airport
Transfer to a hotel for an overnight stay in Bangkok and transfer to the pick-up point the following day
Transfer to the project location

Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support.
Certificate of Completion
What's not included Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visa, Food whilst in Bangkok, return transfer to the departure airport
Who can do this Project? This project is open to all nationalities and all ages over 18, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in conservation and caring for animals and working with wildlife overseas.
Suitable if you want to learn about nurturing, rescue and rehabilitation of elephants, plus animal care with elephants, voluntary work with elephants, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement or a short break activity.


  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Asia and the Thai culture!

  • The enormous satisfaction of helping to improve the quality of life of elephants by working hands-on with them, and knowing that you made a difference to them.

  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.

  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.

  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!

What is the best thing about your placement so far? "So many to choose from! Feeding baby Teng Mo, bathing the elephants in the river, feeding them!”

Volunteering and caring for Elerphants in Thailand

Video made by Galia Osmo


You'll work with 8 elephants, but you'll be surrounded by up to 200 elephants! The experience of being in the middle of such a huge number of these majestic creatures is awesome ... breath-taking ... there are no words to describe it!

By being there, looking after it, caring for it, bathing it in the river and taking it out on walks, you have an enormous effect on the elephant's daily quality of life. You'll also help plant food for the elephants and work on various other projects that directly help the elephants.

You'll work closely with mahouts, helping to change the practice of using elephants for street begging and circus shows to providing an alternative for their elephants that is more natural, less stressful, and is sustainable.

There are over 200 elephants registered in the province and the vast majority of them are trapped in the unfortunate trade of street begging ... and street begging reduces an elephant’s life expectancy by at least 50%. This project is helping to develop a sustainable elephant center. With your support, the goal is to establish sustainably managed alternatives to both street begging and to other forms of tourism, such as circuses and elephant rides.

Your normal daily routine will start with walking to the work site - which is surrounded by hundreds of elephants! An awesome start to the day. During your work, elephants will be allowed to freely interact socially and you'll participate in basic elephant care.

  • You'll feed the elephants and generally have lots of hands-on work with them. Elephants love people and they love social interaction. They can be very playful.

  • You'll normally help to take the elephants out on walks with the mahouts about twice a day across the local rice fields and forests.

  • The elephants love the water so you will normally take the elephants down to the local reservoir for clean up. This is not only great fun, the elephants love it too!

  • You'll be helping to build a new Elephant Center. There is a lot of diverse work involved in this, including helping to restore the natural habitat that has been destroyed by over-logging. Thus, you'll also help by planting grass and other vegetation that helps to feed the elephants.

  • You'll be asked to take on some community development work, not only to help strengthen ties within the local community but also to learn from them in the process.

  • Other duties could involve helping to cut the grass and preparing other elephant foods, as well as actually feeding the elephants.

During the project you will have plenty of opportunities to learn about the elephants and the local communities and how they are trying to become ever more stainable with local resources, like making paper out of elephant dung!.

Volunteering and caring for Elerphants in Thailand

Volunteering and caring for Elerphants in Thailand

Volunteering and caring for Elerphants in Thailand


You'll live in home-stay accommodation with a local family in a nearby village for a full cultural immersion! All of the families are really welcoming and will make you feel at home. Usually you will be sharing your accommodation with one other volunteer of the same sex. Our accommodation now has a flushing western toilets and showers for you to take advantage of! It is located near to our project, so you don’t have to walk too fat to reach it.

Your bedroom will be basic but comfortable; bed linen is provided and you will have a fan. You may have your own room but this will depend on availability.


Food is included during your stay. The meals will be of typical Thai origin, including plenty of rice dishes. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for.


Got any questions? Please email us: info@travelersworldwide.org


  1. The more volunteers who can help look after the elephants, the more elephants can be taken in and given a decent quality of life.
  2. The funds raised from taking volunteers will also help to expand and develop a structure that can take in more and more of the displaced elephants. 
  3. A few reasons one is for the money to help support the work they are doing and support the elephants and Mahouts.
  4. Having volunteers gives the Mahouts a purpose to their days and an objective - helping the elephants. Volunteers help to engender a positive environment and experience for the Mahouts, which in turn gives them a pride in caring for the elephants and a purpose to their lives
  5. Volunteers help the elephants! Like people, elephants are intelligent and love interaction. It stops them getting bored (and being chained up). Volunteers help to stimulate the elephants mentally and give them an interest, which is vital to the elephants' wellbeing.
  6. The Project's goal is to goal is to establish sustainably managed elephant tourism. It hopes that the more people who see and learn about the importance of what they are doing, the more this will help bring more support to the region, the community and the elephants.

The impact that this project will have for elephant conservation is huge. There are over 200 elephants registered in the province and the vast majority of them are trapped in the unfortunate trade of street begging. This is a terrible life for elephants. They require literally hundreds of kilos of fresh vegetables and clean water daily ... and street begging reduces an elephant’s life expectancy by at least 50%.

The goal is to have families of elephants freely roaming in natural habitat and for their Mahouts (carers) to be provided with a steady income that will replace the income they currently derive from using the elephants for street begging. The Government has already set aside over 2000 acres of land, enough to maintain a breeding population of 300 elephants, which is approximately 10% of the existing population of Asian elephants in captivity in Thailand. Here we have a chance to change history – to save the Asian elephant from extinction and give them a life worth living for generations to come.

Historically, elephants were used to help with labouring work and for nearly 4,000 years the Mahout tribe in Thailand have been responsible looking after and training the King's elephants. However, in the last 40 years the need for elephants has virtually disappeared owing to industrial technology. This meant that many of the Mahouts and elephants were reduced to begging and using elephants for street entertainment.

About 20 years ago, street begging and street entertainment was made illegal. Now there is no income for the Mahouts and no money to feed and shelter the elephants. The Thai government doesn't seem to know what to do with the elephants or the Mahouts other than keeping them in an aimless existence. They created the Elephant Park to accommodate them, but this place can be best described as simply a giant refugee camp for elephants where the Mahouts are given a small amount of money by the Thai government to simply stay alive, but without any direction or purpose to their lives.

The Foundation we work with was created to find a positive solution to this problem. There are over 200 elephants, but at the moment the Foundation only looks after twelve elephants, but that number is slowly increasing as funds are raised to cover the costs of looking after the elephants and the mahouts..

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure!

Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular program (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind.    Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity! 

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country:

When you arrive at Bangkok Airport, you'll be met by our Thailand Organiser and taken to a hotel to stay overnight. The following day he'll pick you up and take you to the bus station for the bus to the Project where you'll be met by the Project Organiser or one of his staff and taken to the project site.

On arrival there you'll be introduced to all the other volunteers and the local project team. Then you get to meet the elephants! Your adventure has begun :-)


Feedback on the Care for Elephants Project in Thailand with Travellers Worldwide

Baby Nopa Gao was born in the beginning of 2011

Updates from the Elephant Centre

Elephants Photo Gallery

Volunteer Photo Gallery

Mem and Imboon bathing
"Mem and Imboon bathing in the new enclosure, which has hugely improved their lives. As you are largely responsible for the construction of this enclosure, I thought you would like to see the fruits of your labor." Eleanor Content

Volunteer being cooled down by an Elephant!

Volunteering and caring for Elerphants in Thailand


While on your placements, you can also book some Optional Add-Ons to make the most of your Travel Experience.

Coming Soon

This project can also be combined with any of our other projects in Thailand or South-East Asia - thus doubling your adventure and enjoyment! Our recommended comindations are Sri Lanka, Malaysia or the Pandas in China!


The Isaan Region of North-Eastern Thailand is known for its‟ spicy and delicious food, farming traditions, and rural culture. Most people of Isaan speak one of several dialects of the Laos language, as well as Standard Thai, and often a local tribal language.

The province was once covered with forests teaming with wild elephants, but deforestation throughout the 20th century has left most of the countryside dry and barren or converted to rice paddies.

Bangkok is not for the faint hearted! This is South East Asia’s largest, most frenetic, over polluted, traffic congested capital city. But don’t let that put you off! This will all become part of the charm.

By day and night, Bangkok is fast paced - this is a city for indulgence and fun, with action at all hours. One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of this country is to live and breathe it:

  • Visit the traditional floating markets on the outskirts of Bangkok, where traders sell their wares from wooden boats, weighed down by kilos of bananas and other exotic fruits as garlands of jasmine hang off the boats stern.

  • Walk through China Town early in the morning and watch stall owners carry boxes of merchandise that tower over them, weighing two or three times their body weight.

  • Snack on some fresh pineapple or watermelon carefully sliced by a roadside vendor as you soak in the sights and smells of the city before the midday heat encourages you inside to air conditioned safety.

  • Watch tuk tuk’s laden with people screech past, weaving in and out of traffic.

  • Enjoy some freshly cooked Pad Thai from a street vendor. This is a mixture of noodles and bean sprouts stir fried with an egg and served with a generous portion of chilli sauce, or for the brave, a heaping of additional dried chilli.

  • Take in sunset from a river cruise and marvel at Bangkok’s diverse skyline, from modern gleaming skyscrapers to the pointed gold roof’s of glittering temples.

  • Visit the Grand Palace, a decadent spectacle which used to be residence to the King of Thailand and now has a temple for the Emerald Buddha.

The grand palace is one of the most striking pieces of art in Thailand, with gargoyles, dragons and warriors incredibly re-constructed in glittering mosaics.

To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country, please click here.

Support & Backup: To read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your program, please click here.

Work at this wonderful Elephant Orphanage which is a sanctuary for rescued, injured or abused elephants. Visitors from all over the world come to see these magnificent animals. Around 80 elephants have found homes at Pinnawala, including some small babies who have been born into the herd.
Some of the children that you'll teach whilst volunteering with Travellers in Thailand TEACH CHILDREN IN A WELL-EQUIPPED SCHOOL IN THAILAND:
Teach in the rural village of Muak Lek in this exotic country. You can also teach some other subjects, if you wish, such as Music and Sports. Their Music and Sports facilities are excellent, as is the school in general. You'll gain excellent experience, plus you're only 3 hours from Bangkok, which you can easily get to for weekends.