Elephant Community Refuge

founded in 2011
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Coordinator | Tracy
Coordinator | Tracy
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Meet our resident, animals and see how your project fee helps Elephants
You’ll meet loads of great people and we know you’ll have lots of fun, but the animals come first.
Undertake activities caring Elephants
Enjoy a working holiday and contribute to these animals who need us.
Enjoy living in Thailand eating beautiful food and meeting the locals.
Walk side by side with a herd of gentle giants as volunteers in Surin Province as we help the elephants be free from work.. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
The Project

The Elephant Community Refuge is based in a small village, situated by the Cambodian Border approximately 7 hours drive (450km) from Bangkok. This is a location that enables the elephants to roam whilst giving volunteers warm and friendly accommodation complete with gorgeous scenery.

Walk side by side with a herd of gentle giants as volunteers in Surin Province as we help the elephants be free from work. Working in conjunction with mahout owners, your contribution will ensure economic sustainability through this tourism initiative, giving the local community and government the necessary tools to allow the elephants to stay at home with their mahouts instead of street begging.. Volunteers will be immersed in Thai culture, offering an experience of a lifetime.

The Location

Thailand is widely considered to be a jewel in the crown of Southeast Asia to be a true tropical paradise. Combining ancient cultural landscapes with modern architecture, this exotic corner of the globe continues to be one of the outstanding tourist hotspots annually. Surin is the capital of Surin Province, a region located a few hours drive northeast of Bangkok. Complete with ancient Buddhist temples, Jasmine Rice Festivals and the stunning Huai Saneng Reservoir, there is plenty to eat, drink, see and explore.

Your tasks as a volunteer

  • Walking the elephants through forest area or releasing them into an enclosure
  • Feed and bathe the elephants
  • General elephant care
  • Harvesting crops
  • Creating mud pits
  • Building fences (both figuratively and literally!)
  • Planting trees
  • Assisting park vets (for student vets and medical specialists only)
  • Cleaning and preparing elephant food
  • Helping local villages through English language education programs
  • Educating incoming volunteers and tourists on the issues facing elephants within Asia and overseas
  • Assisting staff with mahouts while undertaking various educational tasks with park staff
There are numerous challenges facing the elephant conservation effort in Thailand. As the site operates to help remove the animals from an environment of captivity and abuse, there is a confronting reality to their plight. By working with the volunteers, you are making a tangible impact to help break these wonderful creatures from a cruel and unnecessary cycle that is human-made. With anywhere between 150-200 elephants living at the Centre, the greatest challenge facing the project is the capacity to support only up to 12 elephants simultaneously, placing a strain on resources and human capital. Volunteers will be working closely with the elephants.

Your training and support will be varied but ensure that the conservation team will be on hand to give you an on the ground education that cannot be taught from a textbook. From first-hand experience, you will be given the necessary understanding as to the elephant's behaviour, mannerisms and relationship to the local ecosystem within Surin.

Will I be on my own or are there other volunteers at the same project?

The more the merrier we say! You will never be the only volunteer on a project. You will be amongst other like-minded volunteers from all over the world as well as local volunteers.

What should I pack?

Refer to the Travel Resources section for a general packing list. Your Project Information Pack will have specific items that are suggested for your placement.

We recommend you travel as light as physically possible, but take note of the following:

Essential items: Flashlight, Earplugs, Alarm clock/watch, Basic First Aid kit, personal medication, Towel, personal toiletries, sunscreen, Insect repellent, flip flops, closed shoes, long-sleeved shirts and trousers, extra socks.

Seasonal gear: (poncho/ waterproofs (Rainy season: June - October), warm clothing, long sleeves, sweatpants, jumper (Cold season: November - February; can get quite cold at night times).

Recommended but not essential: reading material, travel games, camera, small daypack, gardening gloves, wide-brimmed hat- we can provide gloves and hats on site if you do not have these items.

Important Note about clothing: Please remember to pack clothes that are respectful to the local culture - t-shirts that cover your shoulders, shorts that come down to your knees - No bikini´s, string vest tops or hot pants allowed. You will be asked to change if you are wearing any of these items.

Baggage / Luggage allowance: One Standard Check-in Sized Rucksack/Suit Case/Bag AND one small day pack per person.

Typical day

There is not really such a thing as a “typical day” for the Elephant Community Refuge, but there will be activities that are consistent and overlap with one and other. Following breakfast, staff will link up with fellow volunteers, conservation specialists and the local community members to walk the elephants through the forest or towards a monitored enclosure. This takes up approximately 2-3 hours of your day. 

Amid this up close and personal activity with the elephants, you will be helping with the conservation and maintenance of the park. Planting trees, building and repairing fences, preparing food, harvesting crops and creating mud pits are all part of the excursion and tasks are varied during the week.

The central goal of this project is not just to have boots on the ground for physical assistance, but to be a living advocate for elephant welfare. Combining language lessons for young Thai school children and outreach activities, volunteers will help push the program towards a time where these beautiful creatures spend less time in chains and more in their natural habitat.

Free-time activities

It is very simple to arrange your own activities and travel. If you are staying on after your placement, there is a multitude of options. We recommend waiting until you arrive before trying to arrange trips or activities as there is so much choice and everything will be cheaper than arranging it from home.

Only a flight away from Bangkok, there will be plenty of scope to see the sights and sounds of Thailand’s most glorious city. 

Thailand has rich, biological diversity. However, sadly increasingly, human pressures such as overexploitation, habitat loss and habitat degradation, are pushing many of Thailand creatures to the brink of extinction. In Thailand, as in every country in the world, animals are abused and exploited for profit and human gratification. There are many examples of animal exploitation for the tourist industry, such as animals performing in degrading shows and elephant riding camps. There is also a thriving illegal trade in wild animals for pets.  O2E ask that volunteers do not engage in activities that involve animal exploitation.  

 Please note 

The second instalment of your project fees is due within 1 week after you paid the deposit on Volunteer World. This is a total of $495 AUD and comes off your balance. The balance is due 90 days prior to travel. For all further information about the fees, please scroll down to the section "Program Fees."



In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (fluently)
Required Documents
Proof of travel Insurance docs and Proof of vaccinations
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
*Volunteers must be fluent in English, be willing to work and must be able to take direction staff.

*Ability to type in English and Thai with appropriate computer design and office application skills

*Ability to work well and integrate within a team environment

*A strong initiative, capacity to learn and dynamic personality
*Social network skills a major advantage
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:00 - 05:00

What's Included

Services by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers
  • Pre-departure support
  • Project Information Pack
  • Project Orientation
  • Training
  • Field coordinator
  • Return transport from Buriram to the project
  • International phone calls in case of emergency
  • O2E T-shirt (For Australian volunteer only)
  • Certificate of Participation, if requested
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • 24-hour O2E emergency phone
  • Meals
  • Accommodation
Airport Pickup at Surin
Fly to Bangkok, Thailand. O2E can book your transfer to the project at an additional cost.
Fly to Surin, Thailand. From there we can arrange your complimentary transfer to the sanctuary from your hotel or you can come to our office in Thailand on the morning of your placement. 


You will be living on site in basic but comfortable accommodation. You can have a room to yourself or share with a partner or friend if that is your preference.

Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

Volunteers will eat together or at their homestay. The food is healthy and varied, with a buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner with many different dishes to choose from. and vegetarian food is always available. All dietary restrictions are catered to. Local noodle shops and restaurants are the preference for lunch to help boost the local economy while sourcing some of the world’s best food in the region.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Surin (PXR) in Surin. We assist you to find cheap flights to Thailand.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Thailand provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Thailand you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Thailand.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

Every Monday, every day of the year subject to availability. 

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 - 2 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
2 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$933 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers.

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Elephant Community Refuge

Walk side by side with a herd of gentle giants as volunteers in Surin Province as we help the elephants be free from work..


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