How to Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand - My Deztination via Elephant Nature Park

Become an Elephant Ambassador

& Help Save Endangered Elephants Globally

Ever dreamed of working with Elephants in a beautiful country but didn't know how to? 

With this step-by-step guide, you can learn how to become an Elephant Nature Park Volunteer, learn the benefits of visiting Elephants in a verified sanctuary & become an Ambassador, working to save Elephants around the globe!

What Does an Elephant Volunteer Do?

There are several programs available at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand to work directly with the Elephants without causing them pain or stress - the most important part of your journey. 

ENP offers all types of volunteer visits, from short half day to 4 week long stays, you have many options available to accommodate your experience. 

Elephant volunteers do everything at the park from:

  • Area Introduction and meeting with the staff and mahouts

  • Experience Elephant Families and how they choose friends

  • Find out about the problems facing elephants in Thailand today

  • Discover how Elephant Nature Park is helping

  • Feed and bathe elephants, Scooping elephant poo, a variety of tasks concerned with elephant care

  • Cleaning and preparing elephant food

  • Construction, maintaining mud pits, helping in local villages, walking with the herds

  • Caring for dogs and more

  • Meet volunteers, visitors and park staff from around the world

  • Pamper a Pachyderm

  • Contribute to Conservation with No Elephant riding

  • Stay at the park & watch Elephants live in Natural Environment

  • Vet Students assist with wound treatment, medications, plans of action, daily exams

  • Walk rescued dogs in the Save Dog Project, feed, socialize & care for them

  • Be a part of new babies being born every day

  • Witness Elephant rescues & help bring them to sanctuary

  • Become an Elephant Ambassador

  • Join the Flight program & bring a dog to their new home


  • Bathing with the elephants - a must for any bucket list!

  • A fascinating insight to the life of the elephant and how these magnificent creatures think, live and react

  • A chance to enjoy the elephants and help future generations have this privilege too

  • Come away with a real understanding of the issues and playing an active part in genuinely making a difference

  • Delicious Thai cuisine served to you on-site; Certainly one of the highlights of the country, the food here is not to be missed!

  • Great social life, from enjoying the bar on site, to exploring the local village to learning more about Thailand in the various presentations, talks and DVD sessions

  • Making friends for life in one of the world´s most beautiful countries

Where Can I Volunteer?

ENP offers programs all over Thailand and Cambodia.

The main Elephant Nature Park is located in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Nearest Airport: Chiang Mai (CNX)

For a list of volunteer programs & locations, click here.

Do I need special qualifications to volunteer?

Not necessarily. With the many programs ENP offers, you don't need any special qualifications to be an Elephant Volunteer or work with the Dog Project.

The Veterinary Volunteer program is reserved for Veterinarians, Students & Technicians. Bring a copy of these documents with you when you arrive. A special application for this process can be found here.

What is provided?

  • Transport from Chiang Mai to Elephant Nature Park and back

  • Clean, convenient accommodation on site

  • Three delicious meals per day, served in buffet style with great amount of choice

  • Internet connection - generally available in the lunch room

  • A practical education on the challenges facing elephant conservation

Baggage / Luggage allowance: One small day pack and one rucksack (limit 75 litres) per person

What Do I Need to Bring?

  • A full passport valid for the duration of your stay

  • Insurance (covering your placement time and any planned independent travel). I used World Nomads & highly recommend them

  • Transport to Chiang Mai city - Taxi service is inexpensive & easily accessible in Chiang Mai

  • Independent travel costs and return to the airport

  • Any additional costs such as trips, snacks, entertainment (allow a few hundred Baht per day depending on lifestyle)

  • A visa is normally not necessary for under 30 days from most western European countries - see visa requirements below

  • No compulsory inoculations are necessary although do check with your doctor to make sure polio, typhoid and Hepatitis A & B vaccines are up to date. Find a complete medical preparation guide here.

  • The park will provide one T-shirt for each week & a water bottle with carrier for your stay. They provide purified water 24/7. Use this water from your bottle to brush your teeth as allowing untreated water to enter your mouth or eyes in Asia is not recommended.

  • Sunscreen

  • Bug repellent

  • Hat/visor

  • Sunglasses

  • Flash light

  • Gardening Gloves to protect your hands when picking corn stalks, etc.

  • Clothes to work outside & get dirty

  • Clothes to bathe Elephants - Bikinis are prohibited

  • Light warm clothes for chilly evenings/mornings

  • Summertime attire for hot days

  • Appropriate pajamas

  • Shower Caddy with all of your shower essentials & toiletries

  • At least one towel & one hand towel

  • Ladies - The water is very hard & untreated at the park & will leave your skin/hair feeling uncomfortably dry; bring moisturizers for this.

  • Closed toed work shoes & flip flops

  • Wifi only works in the meal area; bring a laptop with movies, books, or a diary for downtime entertainment

  • Laundry service is provided at the park and is returned the next day for a fee. Bring enough clothing to last 3 days between washes

  • Phones and cameras are permitted. Have a small back pack, purse or pockets to carry them in so your hands can be free to work with the animals

Visa Requirements:

  • You can apply for a Thai visa from the Royal Thai Consulate in Los Angeles, CA by sending in your passport 30 days prior to your arrival in Thailand (leave additional time if over the Christmas Holidays).

  • If you are a U.S. Citizen, you can apply for the visa upon arrival

  • There are 2 types of Visas 1) Single Entry Tourist Visa - Valid for 90 Days from date of issue. 2) Multiple Entry Tourist Visa - Valid for 180 Days from date of issue.

Note: When applying for a Visa in Thailand they will ask the purpose for your visit. Volunteering in Thailand is not permitted, therefore working at the Elephant Nature Park is considered Eco-Friendly tourism i.e. you're paying for the experience so it isn't considered a typical "volunteer" visit.

Cost: $45 USD for 30 days

- All of this information is valid from the Royal Thai Consulate, Los Angeles as of 7/31/16

How Long Can I Volunteer?

Up to Two weeks (initial acceptance), Up to Four Weeks (initially for Student Vets) You must make separate bookings for each week.

Developed by Sangduen "Lek" Chailert this award winning project portrays aspects of culture, fauna and flora impossible to experience elsewhere.

They offer sanctuary to elephants, numerous dogs, cats, birds, buffalo and many other rescued animals.

Your volunteer experience includes six nights of lodging in private and shared rooms and three meals a day.

How Do I Get There?

You can fly, bus or train into Chiang Mai city the day (normally Sunday) before you start your position.

Pick up is Monday morning around 9:00 am from your hotel or you can meet at the Elephant Nature Park office from where you will register. (Make sure you make pick up arrangements ahead of time, & have your hotel taxi as a stand by for back up)

You are then driven to the park with the other volunteers. If you cannot make it on this day then they accept other starting days - but aim for a Monday start day.

Later arrivals will join the other volunteers at the site the following day after a night in Chiang Mai city at their own expense. 


When it comes time to leave, many people will want to stay forever. On Sunday the transport departs the park around 2:00 pm & you will be back to the city by 3:30 pm. 

If you need to leave earlier please contact the volunteer coordinators once at the park to arrange it. 

Does ENP Provide Food & Accommodation?

Yes! During your stay at the Elephant Nature Park you will be offered a buffet style traditional Thai cuisines 3 times a day; 7:00 am, 11:30 am & 6:00 pm.

Vegan & vegetarian food is always available & all dietary restrictions are catered to.


You will be living on site in a comfortable accommodation sharing with at least two other volunteers.

Here you will fall asleep to the sounds of elephants singing. 

What Is The Weather Like in Northern Thailand?

Rainy season is from June - October

Bring warm clothes between November - February

Days are usually always warm!

How Much Does it Cost to Volunteer per Week?

As of 2016, the volunteer contribution per week is 12,000 Thai Baht. This equals roughly $350 USD. You can convert your USD to THB here.

The entire contribution goes to the elephants & the nature park. 

Most people who work at the park are volunteers or paid on a trade for housing/food basis. Everyone involved in the park displayed an undying passion towards the animals, their well being and conservation. 

It is recommended to bring a few hundred baht per day with you depending on lifestyle. Massages are offered daily & the small bar offers wonderfully cold beer after a rewarding days work.

When Can I Start!

The Elephant project at the Elephant Nature Park has become such a popular cause that they are often booked out months in advance. 

Be sure to schedule your stay as soon as you can, if possible at least 2 months in advanced. When I planned my trip to Thailand the Elephant Nature Park was my final destination.

I booked a one way flight to Phuket a month before I was set to start at ENP & made my trek solo from the south the the north of this magnificent country. 

To work with Lek, the elephants & all the other animals at the Elephant Nature Park, Book HERE!

There are many other ways to help the elephants! Here's how you can help!

The Reward

For me there were so many personally rewarding aspects to this volunteer adventure; after hearing Lek share her story & perspective on the history of the Elephant Nature Park & the struggles of elephants in Thailand, I realized I'd found a new purpose.

She showed me & the other volunteers how to connect with the community, treat everyone as a friend & understand tradition. She taught us how to listen, because in the event someone who posses the animal might need help, they are going to be more inclined to go to the person who treated them as a friend rather than an enemy.

She illustrated how to understand the elephants, how to bring compassion & leadership to a vulnerable species. She gave us the resources & knowledge we needed to return to our homes & continue to make a difference.

Why Choose a Verified Sanctuary?

Sadly, not all elephants are treated equally.

The reason the Elephant Nature Park is such a necessary cause is the brutal environment they were rescued from. 

Many of the elephants are part of the illegal logging industry, forced to pull thousands of pounds of logs up mountains, compromising their backs, legs & trunks.

The elephants are beaten, starved & over worked until the point of exhaustion. 

Often the elephants will collapse, step on a landmine or even sudden death.

Those poached from the wild when they are babies are held in trekking camps & put through something called the Phajaan process. 

This process usually lasts around 7 days, & consisting of continuous torture, deprivation & abuse until the baby elephants spirit is broken.

Once broken, the wild animal can be tamed & is now ready to be offered to the public for tourist rides, fancy tricks & selfies.

To find out more about what these animals go through before they are rescued & brought to sanctuary, watch this video - and please prepare yourself, it is a devastating video.

The founder & staff at the elephant nature park work together to rescue these intelligent animals & bring them to sanctuary.

Becoming an Elephant Ambassador

This is where you will really make a difference.

By simply reading this article & deciding there needs to be a change - you are now an Ambassador.

You can use your knowledge to spread the word to your family & friends, letting them know there needs to be a change in using animals for entertainment, tourism or the illegal logging industry.

Social media is a key aspect, you can use it to share blog stories like these & help inspire others to make a difference.

I've had the honor to work with similar projects around the world, volunteered with endangered species & connected people with causes through this world travel & conservation blog

I would love to hear your feedback, consider guest posts & work together to find more like-minded causes! 

cc: Elephant Nature Park*

*All of this information was updated as of July 2016 from the Elephant Nature Park website. Please refer to the link above for any recent changes.

Thank you for reading! 

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This is Khamla, a baby elephant suffering from a form of herpes that is deadly in the Asian Elephant. Because Khamla refused to take his medications orally, the veterinary team & myself administered the antiviral rectally throughout the day & night. 


To show you how to travel the world,
& truly make a difference while doing it.
— Dez

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