Thailand – Elephant Forest Refuge


Volunteer at an elephant sanctuary south of Bangkok that allows these majestic creatures to live chain-free in natural surroundings! This project takes place at a refuge in Thailand for rescued and injured elephants.


Program Highlights: 

  • Volunteer and care for rescued elephants on an ethical program
  • Observe the majestic elephants in a near natural jungle habitat
  • Live and work with volunteers from around the world
  • Visit Thailand’s largest national park and the beaches of Cha-Am and Hua-Hin on your time off


Your Schedule at a Glance: 

Arrival Day, Sunday: Arrival at Bangkok Airport (BKK) or Don Mueang Airport (DMK). A private or shared volunteer taxi will transfer you to the program (around 3 hours from BKK Airport). Upon arrival, you will be greeted by the volunteer coordinators, shown to your room and receive an on-site orientation.

Elephant Volunteer week (Sun – Sun): Meaningful volunteer work with the Elephants. Scroll down to “Volunteer Work” for more details.

Departure day is on a Sunday morning: Farewells and transfer to Hua Hin or Bangkok (extra fee) to continue your trip or depart for home.


Location icon Location of the Project: Phetchaburi

Project length Project length: 2 – 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Bangkok Airport (BKK) or Don Mueang Airport (DMK)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Preparing food and feeding, observations, maintenance and walking with the elephants to forage

Age Age: Min age of 18

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 60 international volunteers. Please note that this sanctuary has many employees and long-term volunteers whom you will be assisting.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: shared rooms in a dorm-style accommodation

Food Food: Three meals per day

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Airport pickup and transfer to program in shared or private taxi.

Orientation Orientation: Orientation and training upon arrival to the volunteer program

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, personal expenses, return airport transfer (around 2,200 Baht)

The Elephant Refuge is located 1 hour north of Hua Hin, 160 km southwest of Bangkok in Phetchaburi. The location is quite rural and near Thailand’s largest national park and the beaches of Cha-Am.

As a volunteer on this project, you will assist an ethical refuge that provides rescued and injured elephants the opportunity to live chain-free. A renown local non-profit organization created this impressive sanctuary for elephants to retire after a strenuous life in the tourism industry. Forested land around the rescue center allows elephants the chance to roam around in near natural surroundings. The largest elephant enclosure is 20 hectares with natural trees, lakes, and grazing areas. This gives them space to move around and socialise with other elephants.

Volunteers will spend their time with the mahouts (elephant handlers), following a daily schedule of elephant care. Some of your tasks may include:

  • Cleaning and maintaining enclosures, pools and mud baths
  • Creating enrichments to stimulate our elephants
  • Observing elephant behavior in a natural habitat
  • Harvesting plant matter, including banana trees and grasses to feed to our elephants
  • Feeding the elephants
  • Washing the elephants
  • Walking the elephants to the forest to allow them to forage on natural foods
  • Caring for the dogs that live on site

Please be aware the Rescue Center is strictly hands off. Volunteers will have no physical interaction with animals but will provide the essential daily and long-term needs of the animals.

Work Schedule:
Your day starts at 6:30 at the Elephant Kitchen and ends around 17:00 with several breaks, including breakfast and lunch. Volunteers work 6 days a week with one day off. The work can be physically demanding, yet is well worth it. The volunteer co-coordinators will assign you each day to work-groups and tasks. Each participant can work at their own pace, according to their strengths and abilities. Volunteer coordinators will be around to answer questions, and monitor and support each group throughout the day.

Care for the animals is required 365 days a year. However, there is time off during and after work, and volunteers also get a day off each week (subject to change). We encourage you to get out and experience local sites!


Internet icon Internet: Wi-Fi is available in a communal area

Laundry icon Laundry: Laundry service is available for 7 BHT per item

Accommodations icon Accommodations: During the volunteer week, you will stay in European style, concrete and brick bungalows. Rooms are single gender with 2-5 volunteers per room. All rooms have either en-suite or shared bathrooms with a western style toilet and a cold shower. A few Hot showers are available in the communal area. You will also get a pillow, blanket and bedsheets during your stay. They do not provide towels.

Food icon Food: The Thai staff prepares 3 meals a day. Breakfast includes various items such as bread, jams and butter, eggs, seasonal fruit, pancakes, milk, tea, coffee. Lunch and dinner are usually local Thai cuisine. Vegan and vegetarian options are available as well. We cannot guarantee that the food will be completely free from nuts, seafood or be gluten free.


Entry requirements for Thailand:

Please click on this link to see the updated requirements for entering Thailand:


Program requirements

  • Basic level of English
  • Motivation to work with animals
  • Able to do physical work under tropical heat
  • Doctor’s written statement of health is required to join the program
  • Must be up to date on the DTP routine vaccinations (Diphtheria/Tetanus/Polio)
  • Durations 9 weeks or more: Volunteers must have a non-immigrant Type-O Visa to join the program for 9 weeks or more. Our team can assist with the necessary documentation, however volunteers must apply with at least 1 month’s advance notice to allow for time to process the visa.

After volunteer hours, there are many locations at the centre for you to relax, hang out with other volunteers, or get in touch with home. There is a temple close by that you are welcome to visit, and even a river to swim in. Most weeks we have a group activity night for volunteers and staff,including educational talks, soccer matches or trivia nights!

In the local village, there are markets, restaurants and small shops for you to explore. There is also a night market mid-week in the nearby town of Cha-am (30 minute by taxi, around 400 Baht each way). A wider choice of shopping, larger night markets and restaurants are in the city of Hua-Hin (45 minute taxi ride, around 700 baht each way). When available, the volunteer coordinators can help organize taxis upon request.

On days off, you can visit the beaches of Cha-am or Hua-Hin and explore the cities. Some volunteers visit the temples in Phetchaburi or go nature trekking in one of the nearby national parks. When possible, we can help organise trips to Kaeng Krachan National Park and Kui Buri National Park.


Volunteer Experiences

Want to join this program?