Volunteer with Elephants in Surin, Thailand

Surin, Thailand

48 People are researching this program

Volunteering Solutions

(52 Reviews)
  • From $1000 USD for 1 Week

  • 1 - 4 Weeks

  • Select Start Dates

  • 18 And Older



Visiting Thailand is a common experience for many world travelers who like to see new places and explore the world. But the elephant project in Surin isn't for travelers who love being waited on hand and foot, and it’s certainly not for the unadventurous. This volunteer travel opportunity will put you face to face with the revered creatures of Thailand’s Elephant Capital and is a great volunteer and travel opportunity if you love to explore, love animals, and want a chance to get to know the real Thailand, rather than just the popular tourist destinations and hangouts. This project will give you plenty of chances to explore all the common tourist attractions, but it will also give you a taste of what it’s like to live in a rural village in Thailand, and get you up close and personal with some of the world’s largest and most fascinating creatures.

For the volunteer portion of your trip to Surin, you'll be staying in Tha-Tum, which has a human population of 250 and an elephant population of 30. Between Monday and Thursday, you'll stay in the village and spend three nights of the week living with the village elder and his family. In this time, you'll become familiar with the daily routines of the community, join in the day to day activities of the village, help to cook the meals and eat your three daily meals with the other villagers and volunteers. Typically, your schedule will include breakfast between 7 and 9 a.m., work placement from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. with a lunch break starting around 11:30 a.m., followed by dinner around 7 p.m. However, this schedule can change depending on your placement and the work requirements each day.

On weekends, you'll be free to explore Surin, where there are local bars, restaurants, shops, and even a night food market, as well as ancient Khmer temples, and the nearby Khao Yai National Park or Koh Samet Island. Moreover, the border is about an hour from Surin by bus, so you can book a weekend excursion to Cambodia if you're so inclined. You can book these trips as part of planned weekend tours (go to My Account and book under Add-On Tours), or your local coordinator can help you with bookings when you arrive in Thailand.

Arrival and Orientation

Your trip will begin with your arrival in Bangkok on a Friday, and you'll be picked up at Suvarnabhumi Airport and driven to your accommodation. You'll then have Friday evening to settle in, meet your fellow volunteers, and head out to explore the city. On Saturday, there will be an orientation that will teach you about important information and cover pertinent topics, including:

· The language and culture of Thailand

· Safety

· Places to see in Surin

· Thai food and where to go for the best meals

· Appropriate behavior

· Proper greetings

· Transportation and getting around

· Respecting the local community and cultural practices

Following orientation, there will be a tour of Bangkok, and then on Sunday, you'll depart for Surin via an air-conditioned train.


For the first nights of your trip, you'll stay in a guesthouse or hotel in Bangkok for Friday and Saturday nights. For the following three days, you'll spend your nights in the home of the village elder in Tha-Tum. The house is simple, and the accommodations include shared rooms with fans for comfort, mattresses on the floor, simple bedding, and cold-water showers. There's also no Wi-Fi in the village, which will give you an opportunity to unplug and truly experience the delights of rural living in Thailand.

On Thursday, you'll be driven from the village to Surin, where you'll stay at one of the three volunteer houses. The houses are clean, comfortable, have shared bathroom and living areas, and are close to ATMs, shopping, and delicious food options. Meals are included in Tha-Tum but not in Bangkok or Surin, and you're encouraged to try the local restaurants that serve tasty foods like simple meat dishes, rice, complex curries, and even fried insects.

Field Conditions

Thailand has a tropical climate, so you can expect the weather to be hot and humid. For your time in Tha-Tum, you'll want to wear lightweight old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, such as jeans, t-shirts, and old running shoes or sneakers. For the rest of the time, you'll want lightweight but modest clothes, like t-shirts, summer pants and shorts, and sandals. During November and February, the evenings can get cool, so you'll also want to bring light sweaters and jackets.

In terms of safety, Surin is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand, and the crime rates are quite low. However, it’s still recommended that you be mindful of your surroundings (especially at night), that you don’t carry valuables with you, and that you follow all safety guidelines provided by your local coordinators.

Things to note about your time in Surin and Thailand: There is Wi-Fi available right in Surin, but it’s not always reliable. Also, there are Western-style toilets throughout the country, but there are no water tanks, and you'll have to pour the water from a bucket to flush.

Your Impact

Surin is home to over 400 elephants, whose ancestors were captured in the jungles and brought to the town a few generations ago to help farmers work their land. Eventually, however, the elephant owners, or mahouts, came to realize that full-grown elephants were too expensive to feed, and either sold them or brought them to the cities to beg. Today, however, the village of Tha-Tum on the outskirts of Surin has found a way to live in harmony with the elephants without having to take to the streets and to do this, they rely on volunteers like you, visitors, and tourists who come to the village to learn about the elephants.

Most of your time volunteering in Tha-Tum will be focused on helping the villagers meet the basic requirements of the elephants who live there. Your duties will vary, but they could include learning how to interact with the elephants, feeding and walking the animals, bathing them, and helping to ensure their overall well-being. Other volunteer duties could include learning to make elephant dung paper, working with the mahouts to plant and harvest crops, working on the farms, and learning to fish and cook according to the traditions of this rural Thai village. You'll also have plenty of time to interact with the locals, explore the village, and even kayak in the river.


Surin, Thailand
  • Where you will be volunteering
    Surin, Thailand

    Volunteers will be working with elephants

  • Where you'll be staying
    Surin, Thailand

    Volunteers will be staying in one of three volunteer houses.

  • Nearest Airport
    Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Bangkok


<p>Please note that the cost listed includes an application fee of $250.00.</p>

1 Week
4 Weeks
1 Week

$1000 USD

What’s Included

  • Travel & Medical Insurance (Available at an extra cost)

  • Daily transfers to and from the placement

  • Accommodation in Surin

  • Orientation

  • Two night hotel stay in Bangkok with guided city tour

  • Airport Pickup in Bangkok

  • Comprehensive Pre- Departure Information

  • 24 hrs Assistance and support from Staff

What’s Not Included

  • Meals

  • Return Trip to Airport

  • Vaccinations

  • Visa Fee

  • Airfare

Project Start Dates

Select Fridays year round.


Volunteering Solutions is a highly respected and accredited organization that coordinates volunteer abroad opportunities for high school students, individuals, couples, and even corporate groups. They’ve been running volunteer traveling programs since 2006, and in that time, they’ve helped more than 12,000 volunteers complete trips that have been life changing not only for them but also for the people they’ve helped. Volunteering Solutions operates in 19 countries, and provides over 100 types of volunteering and interning options in areas like child care, medical, education, conservation, community development, and much more. By coordinating volunteer efforts with local social welfare organizations around the world, Volunteering Solutions guarantees that your impact truly benefits the people you're there to help.

To help you get the most out of your journey, and to make the trip as safe and stress-free as possible, Volunteering Solutions takes care of the placement, accommodations, travel, meals, and security for each volunteer. That way, you're free to focus your attention on what's important, like helping the community, helping the people, growing as an individual, and exploring a new country, new cultures, and new practices.

Reviews (52)


Dec 03, 2017

To give a summary, the last five weeks have been the most amazing five weeks of my life.
When arriving at the center you are warmly welcomed and shown around. It is a lot to take in because the center is pretty big and there are a lot of animals ...

Xinyi Yang

Sep 27, 2017

It's a interesting journey. In this journey I tried a lot thing that are first time.

Shuwen Tang

Sep 26, 2017

This volunteer experience for me is very meaningful. I was really enjoy the two weeks I spent in Thailand. I knew many new things, the stuffs are all very responsive and the members in our group are very nice. That was a challenge for me to be a volunteer, with ... +more


Sep 25, 2017

The trip was really awesome. It was my first time to go outside Europe and this project was the ideal thing to do for the first time! It is a good combination between different volunteering projects, travelling, and being with international people. The week in Mr. Lee's elephant village ... +more

1 2 3 ... 13