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Thailand Elephant Sanctuary

  • In Brief
  • The Project
  • What to Expect
  • Reviews
  • Gallery
  • Extras
  • Dates & Costs
  • Apply
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Home to several elephants, this refuge is located in Kanchanaburi, approximately 150 kilometres east of Bangkok and offers a sustainable existence to rescued elephants that have been domesticated and previously forced to work on the streets and in the forests. As they are ex-working elephants, they are unable to survive in their natural habitat unassisted, but forests near to the refuge allow them to roam freely from late afternoon until early morning giving them the chance to display natural behaviour and to forage for their own food.

Thailand is home to both wild and domesticated populations of Asian elephants, characterised by their smaller ears in comparison to African elephants. Sadly, wild populations continue to dwindle and finding safe refuges for ex-working elephants can be difficult. You can contribute towards the care of these rescued elephants by taking a hands-on but ethical approach to their care. Tasks can include assisting with feeding times, helping to collect and forage for food, walking with the elephants and guiding them to nearby water sources so that they can swim and also cleaning their enclosure and shelter.




  • Get a comprehensive introduction to Thailand with a Cultural Introduction Week
  • Contribute to the care of ex-working elephants in an ethical, sustainable environment
  • Visit Erawan National Park and admire the spectacular scenery around Kanchanaburi
Airport Pickup Emergency Ground Transport Hotel Meals Terrestrial Wildlife Family
Location Thailand
Activities Assisting during feeding times
Guide elephants to wash in the lake
Shelter & garden maintenance
Working directly with locals
Transport Airport pickup from BKK
Accommodation Shared volunteer house

Before you go Pre-departure support
Travel advice & documentation
Equipment advice
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
In-country Food (3 meals on weekdays, 2 on weekends)
Airport pickup from BKK
Transfer to project site & in-transit accommodation
Local orientation
Project training
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up


Cultural Introduction week:

This placement will ensure you get the most out of your time in Thailand with a wide range of experiences, and you will take away a multitude of lasting memories. Those of you joining the project for more than one week will begin with the Siam Culture Week in Singburi. During this week you will receive culture, language, cooking lessons and more, which will help you to settle and feel more at home, whilst the temple and museum visits will give you a taste of the history of Thailand and the development of its national identity.


According to estimates by the World Wildlife Fund, there are only between 2,000 and 3,000 wild elephants remaining in Thailand, and this number continues to decline. Much of this trend can be attributed to the competition for land between local communities and the elephants, while domesticated elephants continue to roam throughout Thailand with their mahouts and are seen begging for food by performing tricks for tourists and taking them on their back.
Kanchanaburi manages a delicate balance between tradition and tourism. It’s surrounding limestone hills create and unimaginably beautiful landscape enhanced by its numerous bamboo-style buildings, stunning meandering rivers and unique temple caves. Kanchanaburi is truly one of Thailand’s natural gems and the perfect place to indulge in nature and spend time with elephants in our project.

The project takes place in a sanctuary where old, sick, disabled, previously abused or illegally-owned elephants now call home. Here, we work for the elephants, not the other way around. This means there will be no elephant riding in the program. However, you will get the chance to experience and bond with these gentle giants by watching them bath and preparing their food, which typically comes in the form of Bana grass, sugarcane and banana plants. There are set activities for one week, and these will then repeat for subsequent weeks. You will usually be spending time alongside experienced mahouts, who invest their entire lives gaining an understanding of the elephants and how best to care for them.


You will be met at Bangkok airport (BKK) by a friendly a local staff member before being transferred to your accommodation in Singburi, where you will be based for the culture week. You will then make your way to Kanchanburi, where the elephant sanctuary is located. Volunteers are required to make their own way back to Bangkok, with the assistance of local staff.

The project will finish on a Saturday, so you should either book your flight for Saturday evening or Sunday. You will need to organise your own accommodation in Bangkok if you choose to fly out on the Sunday.


Volunteers stay in the shared volunteer house, with usually 2 to 4 people per room. The majority of rooms have an attached western style bathroom with hot water. WiFi is available in public areas of the accommodation and bed linen is provided, though you will need to BYO towel. The rooms are equipped with fans, but no air-conditioning and mosquito protection is provided.


Clean water, tea and coffee are included in your project contribution so bring a water bottle to fill up with fresh water as this reduces the amount of plastic you’re using.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays and brunch and dinner on weekends will be provided by local staff. Meals are typically Thai and vegetarian-friendly. Lunch and dinner, are prepared and served by staff, which is mostly Thai food, with occasional western nights. At all meal times there are meat and vegetarian options. There are storage areas for volunteers who wish to buy their own food.

Thai is one of the world's best known cuisines, and if you're willing to experiment, you'll be richly rewarded. Contrary to popular belief, not all Thai food is fiery hot and there are plenty of tasty dishes suited to the Western palate. This hybrid cuisine has been influenced by soups and noodle dishes from China, curries from India and satays from Indonesia. Most dishes incorporate four elements, sweet, sour, salty and hot flavours, and many of the dishes are rice or noodle based.

I did 4 weeks on the Thailand elephant conservation program. Overall I had a great time. Singburi...

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Happy Asian elephants in a great rescue sanctuary!  | 23 Jul 2014
As an Animal Welfare and Behaviour graduate I was very keen to be able to see elephants in Thaila...

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JUNGLE FUN  | 12 Mar 2014
I had such an amazing 2 weeks away and I'm really glad I chose to participate in the Inductio...

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The project was great and really smoothly run out in Thailand, and because everyone is so laid ba...

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I feel the project was beneficial for me  | 8 Oct 2013
As I currently study Geography at University, I feel the project was beneficial for me as I learn...

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I absolutely loved it!  | 15 Aug 2013
The project was great and really smoothly run out in Thailand. And because everyone is so laid ba...

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I had such an amazing 2 weeks away and really wish I stayed at least another week! Week 1 was gre...

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Really experience Thai culture  | 8 Aug 2013
I had such an amazing 2 weeks away and I'm really glad I chose to participate in the Inductio...

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Immerse yourself into the experience!  | 6 Aug 2012
Excellent help and advice from Frontier.   We were able to change our schedule easil...

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Getting to hang out with the elephant’s everyday was great!  | 26 Sep 2010
This was such a fun project! Getting to hang out with the elephant’s everyday was great! Th...

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Thailand continues to be one of the world’s most tempting destinations for those seeking a combination of enchanting natural surroundings, fascinating culture, and incredible biodiversity. You can learn about Thailand's intricate cultural heritage, steeped in mystical Buddhist history and philosophy while exploring ancient temples, bustling markets and gorging yourself on Thailand’s world famous street food!

Before or after your project you can explore the local area and absorb Thailand's captivating culture. Explore golden temples, with their ancient Buddhist carvings and magical atmosphere. Try some more adventurous activities, such as mountain biking through the stunning landscape, white water rafting, diving, sailing or sea canoeing. Enjoy a Thai massage, which really will give you a new sense of serenity! As you can see, there will be no shortage of ways to occupy your time off.



1 week £ 470

2 weeks £ 685

3 weeks £ 1,099

Longer durations may be available on request


Weekly. You must arrive at BKK on the Saturday to qualify for airport pickup. Otherwise, you will be required to make your own way to a meeting point on the Sunday.

This project is available throughout the Christmas period.


From 1 week!


Before you go

  • Pre-departure support
  • Travel advice & documentation
  • Equipment advice
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt


  • Food (3 meals on weekdays, 2 on weekends)
  • Accommodation
  • Airport pickup from BKK
  • Transfer to project site & in-transit accommodation
  • Local orientation
  • Project training
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up


Nearest airport(s): Bangkok (BKK)



Flights are not included in our project costs. However, Frontier have partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteers find the best flight deals for their trips with Frontier. This travel specialist operates in the tailor-made, long haul multi-stop travel market, arranging complex airfares and transfers for independent travellers. They provide expertise, security and a vast product range along with a Travel Butler service which is a single point of contact and support whilst you are overseas.

We recommend that you obtain a quote using the following contact details rather than book online, as our partner will offer you the most competitive fares. To receive your quote or to seek any advice for your flights, please contact Frontier’s dedicated team of travel experts on 0800 082 9994 (or +44 800 082 9994 outside the UK) or email frontier@flightcentre.co.uk .


For fast, efficient and up-to-date visa advice please contact our recommended visa consultancy partner:

Depending on your destination country and your country of origin, you might require a visa. Please see the appropriate country consular website for details or contact our affiliate visa consultancy service. Please note that your visa will usually start on the date that you enter the destination country regardless of when it was issued. Please check with the relevant embassy or high commission. If you are purchasing your visa or paying entry/exit fees in-country you will probably need to pay in US Dollars. If you have any questions please consult the relevant embassy or high commission. Please check the visa information regularly, as changes often happen without warning.


You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the project. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave the UK to the day you return. It's also best to get your travel insurance at the same time as paying the deposit for your project. Depending on your policy, this will cover you for any unexpected cancellations.

Your insurance should include the following:

  • Medical cover, including medical emergencies and medical evacuations (up to USD$3,000,000 / GBP£2,000,000);
  • Personal liability (up to USD$1,500,000 / GBP£1,000,000);
  • Cancellation and curtailment of your trip (up to the value of your project contribution).

If you are going to be scuba diving you should get coverage for scuba diving up to 30m, including hyperbaric therapy treatment (unlimited). You should consider obtaining insurance to cover you for any additional activities which you plan to do during, before, or after your Frontier project. We recommend that you obtain cover for your baggage and personal effects.

Frontier Partner Projects and Frontier group projects are run in partnership with in-country NGOs, small community based organisations, local research institutes, academic organisations and conservation agencies. Project descriptions and information are supplied directly by our partners or field staff and are accurate at time of publishing.

We aim to keep information up to date and accurate, however, the nature of our projects and in particular the fact that they are constantly evolving and developing in response to changing needs means that project activities, travel schedules, tour itineraries and daily timetables can change overnight and without notice.

To apply for this project, or to register your interest, just click on the orange "Apply Now!" button at the top of the menu. Fill out and submit a short application form and then one of our advisors will give you a call back to answer any questions and to progress your application if you wish to continue.

There is no obligation when making an application, and you do not need to pay anything at this point.