If there is one thing that Thailand is known for apart from its scintillating beaches, it is definitely the Elephants. Elephants are immensely popular in Thailand and are highly revered as well. The love and affection for these giant mammals in Thailand is pretty evident, and that is exactly what the elephant camp volunteering is all about.
Gap year travelers who are wildlife enthusiasts and looking for volunteer opportunities for wildlife conservation and welfare can join this program in Chiang Mai. They will be staying at these elephant camps that are located 45 minutes outside mainland Chiang Mai. The Camp is a beautiful setup, located amidst lush green forests and surrounded by tall mountains from all sides. Every little bit helps in the development of the camp. Late in the afternoon/early evening, volunteers will be able to spend more time with the elephants and elephant trainers. This is when volunteers will really begin to bond with these lovely creatures and learn how to best care for them. This program is best suited for wildlife enthusiasts and those who are willing to do some outdoor hard work.
Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the time of joining the project. Participants should have an open mind and flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment. Volunteers need to be flexible, open-minded and have a passion for working with elephants. You should also be proactive, have the ability to take initiative and willing to work outdoors. Participants should have no criminal convictions and should provide a clean criminal background check report.
Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities
Volunteers joining the elephant camp program in Thailand, Chiang Mai will be living at the camps itself. Their routine work starts from early morning 06:30 am or 07:00 am with taking the elephants for a walk followed by a bath. The rest of the day goes by in doing some of the other caretaking work for elephants at the camp. A generic routine duty that volunteers need to execute during their volunteer work at the elephant camp program includes;
- Taking elephants for a walk followed by a bath in the morning.
- Prepare and feed breakfast to the elephants.
- Help with direction and safety procedures with day tourists upon their arrival.
- Work with the elephants and learn how to be an elephant trainer.
- taking care of one of the baby elephants
- Moving equipment at the camp.
This program is highly recommended for animal lovers and for those who are looking to work outdoors.
Volunteer Work Schedule
From the time the volunteers get up in the morning (which is quite early) there are a number of activities they do the entire day, which are generally not time bound. However, a generic daily schedule for volunteers for the entire program goes like;
- Friday: Arrival in Chiang Mai
- Saturday: Orientation + neighborhood familiarization tour. The orientation session will
- be conducted by the local coordinator, covering topic areas; such as safety, culture, language, places to visit, behavior, food, and other suggestion over things to do in Chiang Mai.
- Sunday: City tour of Chiang Mai + Language classes
- Mon to Fri: Volunteer work
- Early morning volunteer work - 06:30 am to 08:00 (take elephants for bath and feed them breakfast)
- Breakfast - 08:00 am
- Working hours at the placement - 06:30 am to 05:00 pm
- Lunch - 12:00 pm onwards
- Dinner - 06:00 pm onwards
The same volunteer work schedule continues for the coming weeks
Weekends: Explore the city
Note: Please note, the schedule may vary depending on the particular project the volunteer is participating in.
Volunteering Solutions provides end to end services as far as living arrangements of the volunteers are concerned. VolSol volunteers just have to land at the placement destination and the rest is on us to arrange it for you.
Volunteers are picked up from the Chiang Mai International Airport in Chiang Mai by the coordinator or representative. Volunteers who’d be present already in Chiang Mai will be met by the staff at a designated meeting point decided beforehand. Please note that volunteers are provided pickup from the airport between 8am and 8pm only.
All volunteers are provided with a two day orientation before starting their project work. The Orientation session covers areas like, local Thai culture, greetings, locations, transportation etc. Volunteers are also given a half day city tour of Chiang Mai and are given a cultural welcome dinner to make them feel immersed in the local culture.
Participants in the Elephant Camp Project spend their Mondays to Fridays in the volunteer accommodation at the camp. On the weekends, volunteers return to Chiang Mai where they stay with fellow volunteers at the volunteer house. The accommodation at the camp is rustic and off beat.
Accommodation at the Elephant Camp is quaint, but very basic. The rooms are not equipped with air conditioning, but the area of the Camp (because of being in the mountains) gets rather cool at night. Electrical lines do not reach the nursery, therefore electrical appliances are run off solar cells. The energy derived from the solar cells are enough to charge a cell phone, keep a couple light bulbs lit, and that’s about it. All the rooms have an attached, shared bathroom with a hot water shower. In most cases volunteers with have private accommodation, unless traveling with a companion.
Volunteers in the elephant camp project are provided with all meals from Monday to Friday afternoon at the camp. When back at Chiang Mai city accommodation for the weekend, participants can have self made breakfast at the house. Lunches and dinners on the weekends are not included and can be eaten at numerous restaurants and cafe’s in Chiang Mai city.
During your Free Time
Volunteers can take part in the Thai Cookery classes or Thai Massage course when you are back in Chiang Mai city on the weekends.During free time at the camp, volunteers usually spend their evenings strolling the grounds of the elephant nursery, helping the cooks prepare dinner and getting a tighter grasp of the local culture and nature.
Please Note: -An application fee of $199 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of £169 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of $299 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment) Please Note: -An application fee of €199 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment)
What are you Paying for?
- 24 hrs Assistance and support from Staff
- Comprehensive Pre- Departure Information
- Airport Pickup
- 2 Day Orientation and half day city tour
- Cultural Dinner and Show
- Food - 2 meals a day
- Travel & Medical Insurance (Available at an extra cost)
- Certificate Of Completion (Upon Request)
What's NOT included?
- Visa Fee
- Return Airport Drop
- Local Transportation
FAQ's Application and Program Details
As we have limited spots available in our programs and we serve on first come first basis, it is recommended that potential volunteers book their programs well in advance to get confirmed placements. You can book your slot by filling the application form online and pay the application fee of $250 You can pay your program fee later and also, in installments. However, the complete payment should be made 45 days prior to the starting date of the program. If you are volunteering in a group, you can also fill a group application form.
After you complete your application, your personalized ‘My Account’ will be activated.You will need to upload your CV/Resume along with your photo in the same. Our backend team and the placement site takes around 10-12 days to review your application. After we review your CV and documents,your booking is confirmed and booking confirmation is updated in your ‘My Account’. Some projects need mandatory criminal background check and the same is mentioned in the project info of your program. Approval of your application depends on your qualification and eligibility criteria for each project.
Volunteers are provided with the airport pick up from the Chiang Mai International Airport by the coordinator or representative. Volunteers already in Chiang Mai will be met by the staff at a designated meeting point decided beforehand.
Please note that volunteers are provided with the airport pickup from the airport between 8 AM and 8 PM only. The volunteers are advised to book their flights accordingly.
If you are planning to come for multiple programs in your trip, you will have to pay the application fees just once. Your application fee is valid for a year's time (from the date of applying). You will not have to pay the application fees again if you come within the mentioned time frame.
For our returning volunteers, $50 discount is provided for the application fee for their next Vol Sol program.
Medical internships are recommended for pre-meds, nursing and healthcare students. These internships are designed to gain experience and insight into global health and also help you gain a mature understanding of the healthcare field. Interns are placed in the various hospital departments and work under professional doctors and nurses.
Medical volunteering, on the other hand, is valid for all practicing doctors and healthcare professionals. 3rd and 4th-year medical students are eligible for both the projects, i.e. medical volunteering as well as internships.
This, however, is destination specific and you must consult the program advisor before booking.
As a medical intern, you will be working under a professional doctor. You will be assisting the doctor in various medical practices, observing the processes and would also be allowed to shadow them in critical surgeries or operations. Some pre-meds will be allowed to handle the procedures, depending on your skill set and knowledge level and confidence of the doctor on you.
Some major benefits include:
Working in a live environment and gaining hands-on medical experience
Being able to work with minimum resources available and help out the ones in need
Being able to work with patients of different cultures and understand cultural dynamics of a new city or country
Being able to travel during weekends and in the evenings to explore your destination
Minimum age requirement to participate in any of the programs in Chiang Mai is 18 years and above.
For medical and healthcare interns:
Age limit is 20 years and above
Statement of motivation is required
Interns have to submit a CV/Resume
Letter of recommendation from medical professional/doctor (you’ve worked with earlier) is also needed
Interns are required to give a list of their preferred departments, where they would like to work in the hospital
For Journalism Internship program, requirements are as follows:
You need to be 18 years and above
You need to provide a Statement of Motivation
Resume/ CV and photo is needed
Interns are required to submit 2 samples of their writings and published work
We encourage our participants to volunteer in a group. We take special care in providing you a placement and also customize your itinerary to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for. Also, we can design special group programs for groups of 5 or more. Our programs are designed to be safe, affordable and offer a great group volunteering experience to the volunteers.
In our experience of more than 12+ years we have enabled and facilitated volunteer program placements for college groups, university groups, high school groups, group of families, group of couples as well as groups of colleagues.
Yes, we will provide you with the Certificate after successful completion of your program. The certificate is provided on request.
VolSol volunteers usually work for 5 to 6 hours a day depending on their program type. You will have weekends off so you can go for traveling on weekends. However, in some projects, you will have to work on Saturdays as well.
Flights and Visa
Most volunteers participating in a short-term volunteer travel experience in Thailand can enter the country on a 30 days tourist Visa which is available to a majority of nationalities on arrival at the airport itself. It is also possible to attain a 60 days tourist Visa prior to the arrival in Thailand.
We can help you attain 90 days Non-Immigrant Visa as well. However, this takes longer time to apply for and requires a lot of paperwork. Please contact us for further information on the same.
Please Note: During your time of volunteering, if you leave Thailand (for example: to spend a weekend in Cambodia and Laos), it will be your responsibility to re-enter Thailand and get the relevant Visa at the border.
Also, note that the maximum duration of Visa at the Surin - Cambodia border is for 15 days.
Although all major carriers fly to Thailand, we recommend the following:
Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Tigerair flights, Dragonair flights, Bangkok Airways, AirAsia, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Air China flights, Thai AirAsia, SilkAir.
Health and Safety
Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in the World and attracts liable travelers all around the year. The locals are friendly and helpful as well; however, it is recommended to consult your in-country coordinators before you step out alone or go to any other locations in Chiang Mai. Also, it is recommended to be with your group whenever you venture out or stay out late in the night. It is strongly recommended to follow the safety rules and regulations provided by the in-country coordinator.
Carry general medicines with you, other than that consult your doctor before flying. We recommend these basic vaccinations for your safety:
Hepatitis A and B
Yes, for all volunteers it is mandatory to have a travel medical insurance. To provide the best option to our participants, we offer comprehensive insurance coverage in collaboration with a leading insurance provider.
Accommodation and Living
Your program coordinator will take you to your program location and introduce you to everyone after giving you a basic orientation about the program/city/culture etc. You will also be told about the local transportation and how to get to your project every day from the accommodation.
Lightweight clothing and rainwear is recommended for the day and warmer items of clothing for the evening (light jacket and/or light sweaters). A pair of walking shoes is highly recommended as well.
Sandals or flip flops are comfortable options and will come in handy as well.
For those traveling between November and February, please note, that the evenings can get cool, so a sweater/light jacket will come in very handy.
Medical Interns need to carry their scrub, lab coats and professional clothing as the program requirement. More details will be provided to enrolled participants in their pre-departure booklets.
In Chiang Mai, volunteers are provided accommodation in Volunteer’s house.
Located in a convenient area in the middle of Chiang Mai city, our volunteer houses are only minutes apart from each other and can accommodate up to 35 people in air-conditioned bedrooms. Both the volunteer houses have wireless internet, fully equipped kitchens as well as washing machines for volunteers’ convenience.
Breakfast is self-made and volunteers are provided with all the resources to cook their own breakfast. Lunch is usually at the project site and for dinner, you can go out with other participants and enjoy the Thai cuisine in one of the many restaurants in the city.
Yes – please do ensure that you inform the local team about your food preference and they can help you to try the best food available. Also, please do mention your specific food preference in the application form as well.
Depending on your project, VolSol volunteers are required to put around 5-6 hours of volunteer work for 5 days a week. Evenings and Weekends are free for you to roam around and indulge in your personal work or activity.
We encourage our volunteers to travel. We have designed various weekend tours which can be booked under the Add-on Tours section in your ‘My Account’. Your in-country coordinator will also help you book and organize the tours once you are in Chiang Mai.
Some of the places you can visit include Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai Cabaret show, 3D art Museum, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Catmosphere Cat Cafe Chiang Mai, Wattana Art Gallery, Wat Phra Singh and more.
If you are planning to head out of the city on the weekends, you can go to Pai or Lampang or even head out to Bangkok for a short 2-day trip.
There are ample money exchange counters at the Chiang Mai International Airport. You can change money at any bank or at the airport by showing your passport. There are ATMs located all around the city. You will not face any problems in regards to changing money while in Chiang Mai.
Connect with Past Volunteers
We encourage volunteers to get in touch with former Volunteering Solutions participants and also other program participants joining our projects. You are recommended to join the Volunteering Solutions Facebook Page or Facebook Group to connect with other participants.
To read alumni interviews from past participants, visit ?the Meet a Volunteer section on our website.