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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 12 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!


Price: £695 for 1 week
£375 for each additional week.
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
Duration: From 1 week to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements.
Start Dates and Availability: Projects start every Sunday, all year round - you choose your start and finish dates.
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
What's included: Arranging your Programme
Full pre-departure support and assistance
Payment Protection insurance
Food (except on the overnight stay in Bangkok on arrival)
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
Free T-Shirt
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas, Food whilst in Bangkok, return transfer to the departure airport.
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities.
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 overseas volunteering holiday into Asia and the fascinating culture of Thailand.
  • The satisfaction of helping 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 different cultures, 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!


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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.

You'll work with 12 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!

Each day that you are on this project supporting the elephants means that the elephants have a day free of chains - and a brighter future. 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 Surin 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 centre. 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!.


For anyone wanting to be surrounded by elephants this truly couldn't be a better project. You'll live on the site in wooden huts surrounded by elephants. One volunteer said that one of the elephants managed to get her trunk through the window and stole her hand cream (Coconut flavour!)

You'll live in home-stay accommodation within the centre and you'll usually be sharing your accommodation with another volunteer. Shared bathrooms with Western style toilets and Thai style bucket showers, but no hot water.

Volunteers will share 2 to a room or have their own room depending on availability, but each room is equipped with mosquito nets and a fan.

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:


  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 300 elephants registered in the Surin 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 Surin 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. In Surin, 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 Surin 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. Surin has 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 programme (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.

On Your Arrival: 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 Surin. In Surin 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 :-)



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Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to be fun, but also to enable you to learn, and expand your personal and professional development enjoyment ... but mostly for your enjoyment! :-)

Meditation at a Buddhist Retreat in Sri Lanka

Price: £495 for 1 week
includes food and accommodation.

“Sa-wat-dee” - Hello and welcome to Thailand. Travel with us to the Land of Smiles and become immersed in this wonderful culture and magnificent land. This amazing Siam Culture week will give you a taste of why Thai cooking is world renowned and why Thailand is so fascinating, while giving you a glance into the Thai culture and language, often described as addictive.

This is a fun introduction to life in Thailand and the perfect way to prepare for your volunteering project!


Monday: Start your day with a Thai breakfast before discovering the village of Tha Kham and Wat Phikun Thong. In the afternoon you will visit Singburi Town, to buy anything you require, and then off to a local handicraft shop.

Tonight you are the special guests of a welcome party where the local school children will perform a traditional Thai dance for you, but be warned, they will expect you to join in with the dancing!

Tuesday: A day in the Historic City of Ayutthaya (Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya), with its many ancient ruins and works of art that can be seen across the city. The Ayutthaya historical park is the ruins of this former capital of the Kingdom of Siam (Movie: Anna and the King for a look into the past), which is also recognized internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Then onto a special visit of the "Elephant village" followed by a wonderful riverside dinner.

Wednesday: Your day begins with Thai lessons and follows on to a cooking lesson where you'll learn to make your own lunch and understand why Thai cooking is famous.
In the afternoon a trip to town, where you can relax in the swimming pool, check your emails at the many internet cafes or even try out your new Thai language skills with some shopping at the market stalls.
Tonight you experience a Thai Style BBQ restaurant, a unique experience.

Thursday: In the morning, you’ll visit one of the local schools, where you will meet the children and even try your hand at teaching or playing a few games.
*During school holidays (from mid-March till mid-May and the month of October), when the schools are closed we may visit an English camp or the Queens Project located in the many nearby rice fields.
You’ll then journey to some of the beautiful monuments and famous Buddhist temples like Wat Phra Non Jaksi Woravihan (A huge reclining Buddha image) and the Khai Bang Rachan a hero monument.

Friday: Today is an exciting and action packed day of visiting several sightseeing locations within the Saraburi and Lopburi provinces. Some of the highlights are: The famous Phra Narai Ratchaniwet Phra Ram (Monkey temple) and Wat Phra Phutthabat Temple (Buddha's footprint).

Weekends are always free after the Siam Culture program to use as a time of relaxation or to expand your sightseeing within the central province or even a trip to Bangkok city.

*** Note: Thailand is a tropical country with occasional violent storms, heavy rains and floods. During such times, the above schedule may be subject to change.

Laaeo Phohp gan mai - See you later!

Book Now

Meditation at a Buddhist Retreat in Sri Lanka

Price: £495 for 1 week
£895 for 2 weeks
includes food and accommodation. Can be done either before or after your main project.

Work hands-on with elephants, giving them lots of care, and also be helping to improve the living conditions of captive elephants in Thailand. You'll work with around 12 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!

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.

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, and down to the local reservoir for clean up.
  • Another areas of assistance include helping to restore the natural habitat that has been destroyed by over-logging, planting grass and other vegetation that helps to feed the elephants, plus some community development work that helps strengthen ties within the local community.

Book Now

Cookery Class in the Culture Week in Thailand
Washing elephants on the Elephant Taster Programme in Thailand

Terms and Conditions apply for Add-Ons, please see here.




Through consolidation of 3 small towns located on the bank of The Chao Phraya River north of Ang Thong, these three small towns, Sing Buri, In Buri and Phrom Buri, were then established as a new town on the west of the Chao Phraya River named as Singburi in 1895.

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.


Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.


Care for Elephants at Surin Elephant Centre

I was very pleased with all the information about dress codes. Coming to Thailand I soon discovered that there was a difference in how the locals viewed you depending on if you knew how to dress and how to behave.

Glenn Angus [Travellers Team] was a life-saver when I arrived in Bangkok airport. I honestly don't know what I would have done if he hadn't met me there, it was the first time I travelled alone and I didn't know where to go when I had received my bag at the airport. He took me to the hotel, helped me to check in and offered me his company if I wanted to go into town.

Just before leaving my hotel to go to the airport on my way back, Glenn came without any prior agreement to my hotel and joined me back to the airport. I find this a VERY good service from Travellers and it shows so much consideration.

My volunteer coordinators, Kirsty and Wills, and Pum and Ousha who took care of us at the project, were amazing. They made my three weeks so problem free... I've never met such patient and caring people, no matter whether it was about finding a working ATM because we'd run out of money, or spending half an hour before bedtime to chase a big spider out of my room.

I was really amazed by the mahouts and Pum and Ousha (which was the few Thai people I was lucky enough to get to know) for their kindness and knowledge about the nature and the surroundings. When out in the forest with the elephants the Thai people would randomly stop, pick a leaf from a bush somewhere and tell us to try it, and it would either taste just like some of the food we'd just eaten there, or just taste really terrible.

At one point on the walk there was a bird net a couple of meters off the path. Thai people commonly eat wild birds, but many of these nets are often forgotten and the birds die by dehydration in the hot sun in the middle of the day. Of course, when dead the people doesn't eat them but throw them away. Every time we passed the net Ousha or on of the mahouts stopped the walk and went down, cutting the bird off the net and helping it to get rid of the barbs. One time we found a king fisher in the net and Ousha was deeply concerned because it couldn't fly perfectly after he'd released it.

Care for Elephants at Surin Elephant Centre

Now I've got a few spare minutes I'm able to sit down and get this message out to you. In one word; Fantastic! From the moment we were met by Glenn at the airpot in Bangkok to right now, about half way through our project... we've been very well looked after and have had an amazing time.

Glenn was fantastic, ready and waiting for us, took care of our travel arrangements to get to the hotel, then from the hotel to our meeting point on Monday morning. Not only was he very informative, but really friendly too. Great, great guy!

The hotel we stayed in in Bangkok was just what we needed, huge beds, friendly staff and air conditioning :D

Because there were so many of us making our way from the meeting point to the project, we had our very own private van/bus to take us there. We were blown away, this new shiny vehicle looked mostly like a space ship and was very comfortable and a great way to get to know our fellow volunteers, as we had plenty of time to chat on the long journey.

Upon arriving in Surin, the experience hasn't stopped. From our cute little house up on stilts, with a fridge, fan, mosquito screen and a hammock downstairs. The showers and toilets are pretty basic but they're all we need and you've got no complaints from me.

As for the staff, Pum and Alex, plus the mahouts, we could not have asked for anything more. They are so friendly, full of information, and always up for a laugh or a waterfight :) They are doing amazing work here, and I feel privellaged to be taking part in it.

We've been lucky enough to be in Thailand for their New Year's celebration... so much fun. A three-day-long waterfight, which the elephants have enjoyed as well.

Which brings me to the main event! The elephant work has been hot, sometimes tough, completly unique and dirty. I have loved every minute of it. From just walking out onto our balcony each morning and being surrounded by them, getting up close and personal with a few of the more friendly ones, getting to feed them, walk with them, provide infrastructure for their future and washing them in the river.

We've learned a lot from Alex about the situation we have in front of us here, and why we're taking this method to fix it. I have so much respect for him and his team here, and I'm sure everyone will agree that he's just a top guy all round.

That about covers all the important stuff, so if you've got any questions just let me know.

Care for Elephants at Surin Elephant Centre

Hi Caitlin [Travellers Team]! Our trip was amazing and I can't thank you enough for helping us along the way.

Glen (our Travellers Staff Representative) is a sensational man. Not only was he super friendly and helpful getting us from the airport to our hotel, but he also spent our entire last day with us in Bangkok showing us around. He was kind enough to sit with our heavy bags in the shopping mall while Leigh and I went gallivanting around buying souvenirs. Words cannot explain how grateful we are to him and what a beautiful soul he is.

We had no problems with any of our transfers and the project itself was an unforgettable experience! We lived with the locals and were lucky enough to share in their culture. Thai people are probably one of the friendliest people in the world and we hold them in the highest regards.

Our trip has really opened our eyes to how people live and work and the amount of care the captive elephants required. We are so very appreciative of our lives back home now and would recommend this experience to everyone. It is safe to say that it has changed our lives and we couldn't be happier that we had the opportunity to do it.

Thank you for all your help at Travelers Worldwide. You made us feel incredibly safe and looked after along our entire journey and we are very happy to recommend your company to future travelers.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you. Otherwise, I'm sure you will hear from us again! Thanks again,

Care for Elephants at Surin Elephant Centre

The elephant project was amazing... the basic accommodation made the experience even more special, a bucket shower and living in a wooden hut. The locals were very welcoming and made a great effort with making conversation despite many struggling with English. Each morning we were woken by the sound of elephants and not long after the village came to life as morning work started.

All of the project workers were so helpful and passionate about their work on the project. I learnt so much here about the Asian elephant and Thailand culture.

The walks with the elephants, bathing and feeding them as well as the living amongst the mahouts I'll never forget, but it’s something that cannot be explained, you just have to do it!

Will definitely go back and hopefully raise some money to help build new and replace old shelters for the elephants.

Care for Elephants at Surin Elephant Centre

A few years back, I had decided to go to Sumatra and Borneo. My intention was to watch the orang utans in their original environment and not in the Munich zoo. After this trip, it was my priority to find a project where I could work directly with this wonderful animal. This is how I found Travellers Worldwide. For time-related reasons, I did not apply for the orang utan project but for the elephant project. I was always fascinated by this animal and the years spent being a member of Greenpeace and WWF had induced me in believing that I knew a big deal about our huge friends. Upon arrival in Surin, I quickly found out how wrong I was. I knew nothing about them and the 2 weeks spent on the project have brought new valuable knowledge on a daily basis. Wills, responsible for the project, told me that even after 2 ½ years spent there, he was still learning tremendously.

To say that I have loved being there is just too little and does not reflect correctly what I have experienced there. I have been through various moods: from astonishment to bewilderment up to complete despair and ultimate happiness. I have realised that to alleviate the plight of the elephant, many, many efforts, volunteers are needed. Also an immense patience – which is one of my many weaknesses.

I found it extremely rewarding to be able to just watch, observe, listen. The daily routine is demanding but absolutely feasible; and actually many of us were willing to do a lot more. If I had known that it was possible to spend as many weeks as one wished, I would have stayed much longer. As each one of us, it was very heartbreaking to leave, not knowing what would happen next to the elephants on the project and to all the others living in the village – very often under very hard conditions. Our duty now is to pass on this information so that more and more people are becoming aware of the reality. A small example: after Thailand, I had scheduled to go to India and a ride on an elephant was a part of my program. I was really looking forward to riding on this mighty animal. After having found out what it does to the elephant to carry persons on their back, I cancelled the tour and informed the travel agent of the reason for my decision. Elephant riding is no longer proposed by this travel agent. I was very happy about that. It is only with gestures like this that we can make a difference.

To talk also about the daily life in our project means to talk about the delicious food. An avid eater and cook myself, I immensely enjoyed the daily lunches at the restaurant held by our drivers’ wife. The evening meals never contained less than 8 different dishes – all of them worth a try or 2 or 3!

All in all, it was a lifetime experience which I really wish to repeat.

Regarding Travellers Worldwide's involvement and organization, I can only warmly recommend their professionalism and competence. The information brochures are very complete and detailed; the services provided (pick-up from the airport, transfer, communication, etc…) are outstanding. I am already looking forward to my next adventure with them.