For the experience of a lifetime, become an elephant sanctuary volunteer with like-minded people from around the globe.
The focus of this project is to rescue elephants from street begging so that they can return to their owner’s village to live a more natural life – where they can roam free, take mud baths, and socialize with the herd. Volunteers stay with the mahout’s families in a traditional homestay where they help rehabilitate the elephants, take part in Buddhist ceremonies, and learn about the Kuy culture (also known as Guay or Suy). Elephant Homestay Khun Chai Thong is a unique concept aimed at improving the living conditions of elephants in Surin by providing economic sustainability for their owners through responsible volunteering.
Volunteers joining this project provide a valuable service by directly supporting the local community and caring for the elephants. Activities may include planting and harvesting grass and other plants, building ponds, teaching English at a local school, and joining traditional ceremonies. One of the highlights is going on daily walks with the elephants and watching them interact naturally.
During your time as a volunteer, you will also gain insights into Kuy traditions and their centuries-old relationship with elephants. A qualified English speaking guide will be on hand to provide information about the elephant’s histories as well as the local culture.
It is hoped that with the continued participation of eco-conscious volunteers, the mahouts and local community will realize that people want to see elephants living more naturally, where their well-being is given priority. As more people visit this project it will be possible for a greater number of elephants to be taken off the streets and returned to more natural surroundings.
Join like-minded volunteers to help rehabilitate elephants rescued from street begging and enjoy a cultural exchange under the warm hospitality of the mahout’s family in a traditional homestay
Volunteer Project Details
Number of Guests: 30
Number of Elephants: About 20
Tour Type: One Week Volunteer (maximum stay of 2 weeks)
Fitness Level: Moderate
Age Suitability: Adults 16+
Volunteer Project Price
Adults 16+: 15,000 Baht per week
About Your Volunteer Program
Start: Monday – 2:00pm pickup from Buriram Bus Terminal – MAP – where you will join with volunteers coming from Bangkok and travel together to the project by air-con minivan.
Traveling from Bangkok: Our guide will meet you at the Northern Mo Chit Bus Terminal – MAP – at 7:30am on Monday morning, on the 3rd floor in front of Dunkin Donuts (not the booth). You will travel by VIP air-con bus to Buriram for an additional cost of 500 THB.
Traveling from NE Thailand / Cambodia: For volunteers already in NE Thailand or traveling from Cambodia, it can be more convenient to travel to Khun Chai Thong via bus from Surin City Bus Station. Please contact our staff for more details if you wish to make your own travel arrangements as you will need to arrive at the project on Monday no later than 3:00pm.
Travel Time: Around 90 min from Buriram to the project (a safety video and elephant documentary will be shown en route to the project).
Return: Depending on your next destination, you can leave the project on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. Transportation back to Bangkok is available, arriving at about 3:00pm on Sunday. Other ongoing transportation can be arranged while you are at the project.
Duration: One week volunteer with an initial maximum stay of 2 weeks. Volunteer positions start on the Monday. Volunteer stays of more than 2 weeks may be possible depending on availability and suitability.
Accommodation: Volunteers stay in basic but comfortable on-site homestay, same gender, shared accommodation.
Food: Volunteers enjoy a healthy and varied buffet style breakfast, lunch, and dinner with many interesting dishes to choose from – vegetarian and vegan food is always available.
Baggage / Luggage Allowance: One standard check-in sized rucksack / suitcase / bag & one day pack per person.
What to Bring
Essential Items: change of clothes for 7 days, long pants and long-sleeve shirts, sandals/flip flops, walking shoes, socks, towel, personal toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, flashlight, earplugs, alarm clock, basic first aid kit, personal medication.
Seasonal Gear: poncho / rainwear (Rainy Season: June – October), warm clothing, long sleeves, sweat pants, jumper (Cool Season: November – February can get quite cold at night).
Recommended: camera, reading material, travel games, small day pack, gardening gloves, wide brimmed hat – we can provide gloves and hats on site if you do not have these items. If you would like to bring items for the local school students such as pens, coloring pencils, notebooks, games, toys, etc. they will be much appreciated.
Travel Insurance: Volunteers are required to have travel insurance covering medical expenses and emergency repatriation.
Vaccinations: Please contact your doctor or a vaccination center for details on recommended vaccinations.
Operational Months: All year round.
Age Suitability: Adults & teenagers over 16 (participants younger than 18 years of age must be accompanied by a legal guardian).
Fitness Level: Moderate – daily walks through the fields and forest.
Topography: Grasslands, fields, & forest.
Location: Baan Khun Chai Thong, Surin Province, Northeastern Thailand (near the Cambodian border).
Nearest Airport: Buriram (BFV)
Visa Requirements: Thailand currently offers a 30 day visa on arrival for most countries (please check). The 30 days on arrival visa can be extended for an additional 7 days at Thai immigration. If you plan on staying longer than this you should apply for a 60 day Thai tourist visa before entering the country, which can be extended by an additional 30 days at Thai immigration for a fee of 1900 baht. Overstaying your visa in Thailand is taken seriously by immigration and we strongly recommend against this.
Booking Details: Bookings close 3 days before you are due to visit. When booking online a 30% non-refundable deposit is required to secure your booking. The balance can be paid in Thai baht at the project in Khun Chai Thong on Monday afternoon. On arrival at the project you will be required to complete an insurance form and provide a copy of your passport. For this volunteer project we do not offer a pickup from your hotel / guest house. On the reservation form under Name of Hotel / Guesthouse & Hotel Address, please indicate if you would like to join the group in Bangkok, be picked up at Buriram Bus Terminal, or make your own travel arrangements to the project.
Tips on Local Culture