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Volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Rai that allows these majestic creatures to live freely in a natural habitat! This project takes place at a refuge in Thailand for rescued elephants. The refuge prides itself on its ethical values; there is no riding, bathing with, performing with or abusing of the elephants in any way, shape or form. 

Program Highlights: 
  • Contribute to creating a sustainable habitat for elephants which have been rescued from tourism and logging industries
  • Observe the elephants in a natural habitat
  • Use any skills that you currently possess (plumbers, electricians, carpenters etc) to help build a refuge for elephants and speed up the building of the infrastructure at the sanctuary
  • Enjoy delicious Thai cuisine daily!

Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum one-week commitment): 

Arrival Day, Sunday: Arrive at Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI). You will be picked up at the airport and transferred to the volunteer house in Chiang Rai. Spend the day settling into your new home and get to know the layout of the sanctuary.

Day 1, Monday: Orientation day: learn about the project and get to know the elephants and the environment. 

Days 2-5, Tuesday-Friday: Spend half of the day with the elephants – observing them in their natural habitat in the forest, participating in their daily routine and helping to feed them their daily supplements. The other half of the day may be spent developing the support structure that surrounds the elephants, such as cutting grass and maintaining the sites infrastructure and helping behind the scenes with elephant feeding and food production.

Day 6, Saturday: Departure day for volunteers staying only one week. Free day for volunteers extending.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow a similar schedule of volunteering Monday-Friday and having Saturday and Sunday free. Spend your days off experiencing the warmth of the Thai locals, or go on a hike up Lion Hill and enjoy a beach day after your trek. Departures are on a Saturday.

Location of the Project:  Chiang Rai, Thailand
Project length:  Min 1 week - Max 8 weeks
Arrival Airport:  Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI)
Volunteer Work:  Observation, research, meal preparation, light farming
Age:  18 and above. (Age Exception: Volunteers under the age of 18 may participate if accompanied by an adult.) This program is great to families even with young babies and kids - some babysitting hours are also available upon request.
Number of Volunteers:  Up to 16 international volunteers
Important Note:  The project schedule is subject to change based on the project’s current needs.

What's Included

Accommodations:  Shared rooms in a dorm-style accommodation
Food:  3 meals per day are provided
Airport Transfers:  Airport transfers are provided on both arrival and departure days
Orientation:  Orientation and training are provided upon arrival
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
This project takes place in Thailand’s northernmost city of Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai was founded in 1262 and was the capital of the Mangrai Dynasty before becoming a Thai province in 933. The province has a population of around 200,000 people and borders Laos to the east and Myanmar to the west. 

The accommodations for this project are located just 15 km outside of Chiang Rai, so volunteers can easily get into the city during their free time. There is a popular night bazaar in Chiang Rai, consisting of restaurants and bars, that springs to life once evening arrives. There are several temples located around the city as well, waiting to be visited. 
This haven is unique in that the elephants have 40 acres of bamboo groves, forest, swamp and grasslands in which they roam and live as free animals. There are currently five elephants at the refuge.

As a volunteer on this project you will be volunteering at an ethical elephant refuge whose main goal is to allow rescued elephants the opportunity to live in their natural habitat and live as free animals. Work will consist of tasks that are solely for the benefit of the elephants and their home. Volunteers will be planting fruit trees, maintaining the refuge and feeding the elephants. Volunteers will only engage with the elephants in ethical ways. This is a great learning experience. During these checkups, you will be assisting in gathering and documenting data about the elephants general health, size, weight, condition of their feet, diet etc. As the weeks go on you will be learning more and be able to be involved more in-depth in the vet checks.

Some of your tasks may include:
  • Observing elephant behavior in their natural habitat
  • Cutting elephant grass, fruit and banana trees
  • Feeding the elephants
  • Planting elephant grass, sugar cane, pineapple, corn and banana trees
  • Assisting in weekly vet checks and habit research (for those staying for a minimum duration of 2 weeks)
  • Light construction work such as planting seedlings and maintaining pathways

A typical day: A typical day begins at 7:00 AM with breakfast served in the outdoor dining room. After breakfast, around 8:00 AM, volunteers will either observe the elephants or engage in some volunteer work. A delicious buffet lunch is served daily and the lunch breaks are long with plenty of time to relax. Following lunch, volunteers either go out to observe the elephants or partake in more hands-on work, depending on the schedule. The evenings are free for relaxation or personal travel. Dinner is always a highlight with delicious local dishes and beer & soda for sale. 

Please note: The project schedule is subject to change based on the project’s current needs.
Internet:  Internet is available for use at the accommodations.
Laundry:  Laundry facilities are available for use at the accommodations.
Accommodations:  Volunteers will be staying onsite, in the middle of the sanctuary so elephants can be viewed and heard from the rooms. Volunteers will be in shared, dorm-style accommodations with shared bathrooms. Same-gender rooms can be made available upon request. There are communal areas at the accommodations with table tennis.
Food:  Three meals per day are provided. Meals tend to be a mix between Asian and Western-style food. Breakfast can include eggs and toast, while the lunch and dinner buffets can consist of meat, fish and vegetable dishes served with rice. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets can be easily accommodated.
Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Basic level of English
  • Motivation to work with animals
Evenings at this project are free time for volunteers, and while there are communal areas at the accommodations with pool tables and tennis courts, there are also opportunities to explore the exciting city of Chiang Rai. Here are a few examples:

Wat Rong Khun
Also known as the White Temple, the Wat Rong Khun is an art exhibit with the design of a Buddhist Temple.

Lion Hill
Lion Hill is a Buddha cave that hikers can explore. The north end of the cave has an exit to the Mae Kok River, which is a popular place for beach-lovers during the summer.

Night Bazaar
The night bazaar market is a popular tourist destination with a wide array of choice restaurants and bars.
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