Located on the outskirts of Surin province lies the community of Tha-Tum. This community is home to approximately 250 people and over 30 elephants. Through many years of collaboration and volunteering effort, we were able to support this village and ensure that the mahouts no longer need to take to the streets and go begging with their elephants. Instead, the community focusses on giving visitors the opportunity to learn about elephants in Thailand, spend time with them and also experience living in the local community. Volunteers spend three nights each week living in the home of the village elder and his family. This is a unique opportunity to see how life operates on a day-to-day basis. During the village stay, three meals each day are included. There is a small shop in the village where you can purchase snacks. Volunteers are expected to help cook meals and join in with day to day activities in the village. It is important that throughout your time in the village (and indeed wherever you are in Thailand) that all volunteers respect the local community, their culture, and way of doing things. Our local team member based in the village will, of course, help you with this.
Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the time of joining the project. All participants need to have an open mind and flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment. The volunteers should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference and have a keen interest in working with wildlife. You should be fit and healthy and willing to work outdoors in the project. Participants should have no criminal convictions and should provide a clean criminal background check report.
Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities
Our volunteers have a very hands-on experience on this project. Volunteers spend three nights each week living in the home of the village elder and his family. This is a unique opportunity to see how life operates on a day-to-day basis. The tasks of volunteers vary around the requirement for elephants each day. A generic set of tasks for volunteers working at elephant village includes;
- Learn to interact with the elephants;
- Walk with them, washing and feeding them.
- Work alongside the mahouts planting and harvesting crops
- Make elephant dung paper
- Explore the local community
- Learn to cook like a Thai and fish as a Thai
- Work on the farms and kayak in the local river
- Interact with the locals whilst all the time knowing you’re supporting the elephants of the community and ensuring their well-being for years to come.
Volunteer Work Schedule
Working in the elephant village in Thailand, Surin is an extraordinary travel experience. Volunteers live in the village with the community of mahouts and experience the typical Thai village living. A typical schedule under the elephant volunteer program is as follows;
- Friday: Arrival in Bangkok
- Saturday: Orientation + Bangkok 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 Surin.
- Sunday: Transfer to Surin through an air-conditioned train
- Mon to Thursday: Volunteer work
- Breakfast - 07:00 am to 09:00 am
- Working hours at the placement - 08:00 am to 03:00 pm
- Lunch - 11:30 am onwards
- Dinner - 07:00 pm onwards (To be managed by volunteers on their own outside)
Volunteers must understand that the schedule may vary as per the work requirement each day.
The same volunteer work schedule continues for the coming weeks
Weekends: Free to explore the city. Alternatively, volunteers can visit Cambodia over the weekends as well, or head off to Khao Yai National Park.?
Note: Please note, the schedule may vary depending on the particular project the volunteer is participating in.
As a VolSol volunteer you are provided with best of living standards available in Thailand. Our dedicated coordinator and staff will assist you with your airport pick up, stay, meals and even weekend sightseeing and travel. Arrive in peace and have the best time of your life.
Volunteers are picked up from the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok by the local coordinator or representative on the program start date. Please note that airport pickup is only provided between 6am – 10pm at night. Those participants who are already in Bangkok will need to make their own way to the hotel/guest house accommodation details of which shall be provided.
All volunteers are provided with an orientation and 2 days city tour before starting their project work. The Orientation session covers areas like, local Thai culture, greetings, locations, transportation etc. Volunteers are also given a city Tour of Bangkok.
Volunteers are provided accommodation in a Guesthouse/ hotel for two nights in Khao San Road area in Bangkok on arrival. While in Surin, lodging will be provided in one of the volunteer houses where accommodation is shared with other volunteers in dorm style rooms. The houses are centrally located and close to shopping, ATM’s, restaurants and more.
Daily transportation to and from the project placement to the volunteer house is provided to the volunteers.All intercity transfers are included in the program fee.
No meals are provided to the participants staying in Surin. Please allow $10 per day for meals. There are plenty of eating options and volunteers love to eat out and explore the taste of Authentic Thai food. While at the Elephant Village all meals are provided to the participants.
During your Free Time
In Surin there are many local bars, shops and restaurants in the town plus a night food market. The city is an extremely safe place to stay. Surin province once belonged to the Khmer empire (now Cambodia) so you’ll find scattered ancient temples from the same period as the temples of Angkor in Cambodia. The land border crossing in to Cambodia is located just an hour from Surin and is easily accessible from the town’s bus station. This accessibility allow volunteers to travel to Cambodia during weekends
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 £149 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 $259 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)
What are you Paying for?
- 24 hrs Assistance and support from Staff
- Comprehensive Pre- Departure Information
- Airport Pickup in Bangkok
- Two night hotel stay in Bangkok with guided city tour
- Accommodation in Surin
- Daily transfers to and from the placement
- Travel & Medical Insurance (Available at an extra cost)
- Certificate Of Completion (Upon Request)
What's NOT included?
- Visa Fee
- Return Trip to Airport
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 strongly recommended to apply for the program and reserve your spot. You can book your spot in the program by filling an online form and pay the application fee.
Once you complete your application, your individual 'My Account' will be active in which you will receive your placement confirmation after which you can pay the program fees.
You can pay the program fees later as well in installments, but 45 days before the program starts.
The minimum age requirement for taking part in the Thailand Adventure Volunteer Program is 17 years.
The other requirements are as follows:
Criminal background check for children’s project
You need to be a medical professional/ student and have a medical background to participate in the medical programs
You will need to submit your CV/ resume along with your photo and statement of motivation. For Medical volunteers, you will need to submit a letter of recommendation as well.
However, we can also accept volunteers who are seriously considering a healthcare career. In this case, however, you will only be observing and shadowing the doctors and nurses rather than directly being involved in hands-on work with patients.
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 facilitated volunteer programs for college groups, university groups, high school groups, group of families, group of couples as well as groups of colleagues.
Surin is one of our popular destination among student groups and is highly recommended for family volunteering as well.
Please note: We offer the airport pickup service between 06:00 AM to 10:00 PM only. Volunteers who are already in Bangkok can come directly to the hotel accommodation in Bangkok on the arrival day and meet the team there. You will be provided with the directions to the hotel as well.
The accommodation in Bangkok is on Khao San Road (the hub of all ‘travellers’ ) and is easy to get to. The two nights stay in Bangkok is provided to all the volunteers.
On Saturday, an 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 Surin followed by the Bangkok City Tour. On Sunday, you will be transferred to Surin (by train or coach) and settle in your project accommodation.
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 Thailand.
Flights and Visa
We can help you attain 90 days Non-Immigrant Visa as well. However, this takes a 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 15 days.
Health and Safety
Surin is one of the most popular destinations in Thailand and offers the travelers a traditional South Eastern culture and hospitality. Crime rates are very low, however, it is always advised to take care late at night and not have items of high value with you. We strongly recommend all the volunteers to follow the safety rules and guidelines provided by the in-country coordinator.
Accommodation and Living
The houses are in a great location with numerous food options within less than 5 minutes walk.
Wi-fi connections are not great in Surin. The system usually works well but please don’t expect to be online 24/7.
Although the toilets in Thailand are of Western style, you need to pour water with a bucket as there’s no flush system to save water.
For those in the elephant project, you will stay in a homestay in the elephant village from Monday – Wednesday evening. The accommodation in the village is simple and gives you a great experience of real rural life. The home has shared rooms with fans and simple bedding (mattresses on the floor), basic cold water showers and no wifi at all. However, you’ll soon find that the experience of staying in the village far outweighs any lack of comforts.
Meals are not included in the programs other than, whilst you are at the elephant village, where simple but delicious food is provided. However, half the fun of your time in Thailand is experiencing the huge range of different foods on offer and Surin is a great place to do this.
From simple meat dishes with rice to complex curries and even fried insects – tuck in and enjoy ‘real’ Thai food.
For Medical / Health, Teaching and Childcare programs, you should make sure you pack some smart/casual clothes – ie trousers, polo shirt, skirt – as a ‘smart’ appearance is important in Thailand (don’t worry – you don’t need formal office wear!).
At the elephant project, you need to get old clothes – jeans/t-shirts / shorts – in which you don’t mind getting dirty / torn and an old pair of trainers/sneakers is also recommended.
For your free time in Thailand, we recommend plenty of t-shirts, lightweight ‘trousers’, jeans and shorts.
Please note: Thailand is a conservative country, it is recommended to be decently dressed at all times.
Don’t forget ‘flip flops’ / sandals – much cooler on your feet in the evenings.
For those traveling between November and February, please note that the evenings can get quite cool so a sweater/light jacket will be required.
Internet connections can be patchy in Thailand. Although the houses do have wi-fi, this service is slow and interrupted. Please don’t expect to be online for 24/7.
When you are ?in your project, you will not have access to the internet unless you use a data roaming package from home (very expensive) or buy a local package.
You should carry around $100 per week for your basic personal expenses, such as food, water, local transport, phone etc.
Throughout Thailand, there an ATM machines and it’s easy to withdraw money from your bank account at home. However, please note that if you are going to the elephant village you need to take cash with you for snacks, evening drinks etc.
We recommend that when you travel to Thailand you bring a small amount of initial cash – to change on arrival – and then use your ATM card from home. Please note: Travelers' cheques are not recommended as they take a long time to change (you need to go to a bank during office hours, not easy when you are in your project).
Connect with Past Volunteers
To read alumni interviews, visit ?the Meet a Volunteer section on our website.