Program Details

  • Program Type: Volunteer
  • Location: Thailand
  • Starting Price: EUR 1,250.00

Combines the best of Thailand – Elephants in Surin, Building in Sangkhlaburi and then KohPhangan for blue seas, beaches and Full Moon Parties!

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Combines the best of Thailand – Elephants in Surin (the north east which is the heartland of the country), Building in Sangkhlaburi (a stunning town surrounded by hills and forest on the Burmese border) and then KohPhangan for blue seas, beaches and Full Moon Parties!

Not only ‘seeing’ some of the best of Thailand but also putting something back through the Building element – renovation of schools/day care centres and the building on a rural educational / dormitory facility.

Volunteering Project Details

Elephant village:

The programme works alongside a traditional ‘elephant village’ in rural Surin – a province famous for being the ‘home’ of the Thai Elephant. Through sharing their lives with visitors, the mahouts are now able to support their elephants and families without ‘begging’ in urban areas – meaning not only a better family / community life for the mahouts but also a much higher quality of life for the elephants. The elephants live very much as part of the family – overnighting under or next to the mahout’s houses and all days are spent either caring for the elephants, bathing them and feeding them. The programme also enables volunteers to work alongside the mahout harvesting / planting (depending on the season) crops for the elephants giving an incredible insight into the lives of the village.

The host village is 45-60 minutes outside Surin town and is a typical rural Thai village. Houses alongside a quiet dusty road, a couple of local stores and all inhabitants either being mahouts or farmers. It’s very warm and friendly, definitely not on the ‘tourist’ trail and a great experience all round

In addition to the work with elephants, all volunteers get the opportunity to:

  • Learn Thai cooking (in the village)
  • Kayak on the local river
  • Make elephant dung paper (another source of income for the village)
  • Go fishing (optional)

Building Element

The building part of the tour takes place in Sangkhlaburi, a small town in Northern Kanchanaburi province around 5-6 hours North West of Bangkok. Set on the banks of a 60km+ long reservoir, surrounded by hills and forest and made up of a great mix of Thai, Karen and Mon people and cultures this is a fascinating town and somewhere that’s a real privilege to spend time.

The building work itself varies (depending on the time of year and progress of a number of on-going projects) but will usually consist of:

  • The building and development of a young people’s educational / dormitory facility around 30 minutes outside the town, helping young people from rural areas gain access to education
  • The renovation of local schools and day care centres
  • The renovation of local community facilities and centres

Most of the building takes place in a 30 minute radius of Sangkhlaburi town itself where communities are very rural and most people are subsistence farmers. There are a large number of displaced / stateless people in the area (Mon, Karen) and life is pretty tough for these communities but they are very welcoming to visitors and volunteers.


NOTE: Parts of this trip are ‘unguided’. Arrival and the elephant village are guided, transfer from Surin to Bangkok is unguided, time in Sangkhlaburi and building is guided, transfer to Bangkok and then to KohPhangan is unguided, however, all customers are able to utilise our 24/7 emergency phone contact and support

  •  Day 1 – airport pick up at BKK (not Don Muang) between 06:00 and 22:00, transfer to accommodation on Khao San road (twin room, air con)
  • Day 2 - orientation followed by walking tour of BKK (including Wat Pho, WatArun, canal boat tour and The Grand Palace – entry is optional and costs 500THB as of May 2014). B’fast included. Overnight in same accommodation on Khao San Road
  • Day 3 – transfer to Surin (around 10am) by train or coach – accompanied by Surin team member. Transfer to volunteer house in Surin Town – shared rooms, fan cooled, shared bathroom, kitchen area, living area. Local orientation.
  • Day 4 – transfer early morning (around 8am) to the elephant village with our elephant village staff member. Elephant activities. Stay in local homestay (basic but clean and safe) in shared rooms with fans. Toilets are Asian style with cold water only showers. Lunch and dinner included.
  • Day 5 – Elephant activities. B’fast, lunch and dinner included
  • Day 6 – Elephant activities. B’fast, lunch and dinner included
  • Day 7 – AM elephant activities. Mid afternoon transfer to Surin Town volunteer house. B’fast and lunch included. Overnight at Surin volunteer house
  • Day 8 – Free day in Surin to rest / explore. Accommodation at the volunteer house
  • Day 9 – transfer to Bangkok (coach or train) arranged by our team (but the travel is unguided). Customers make their own way to accommodation on Khao San Road (accommodation included) and will be met by one of our team members from Sangkhlaburi for the next part of the trip. Overnight in Khao San Road accommodation
  • Day 10 – transfer to Sangkhlaburi by minibus taking between 5-7 hours depending on traffic etc. Check into Sangkhlaburi accommodation – a local gest house with en-suite facilities, air-con and wifi – shared twin rooms. Local orientation on arrival
  • Day 11-15 – building project. Customer picked up each morning around 07:00 and transported to the building ‘site’. All equipment and training is provided and work is supervised and directed by our local team. Days are usually from 07:00 – 12:00 / 13:00 to avoid the worst heat of the day and ensure people don’t ‘over work’
  • Day 16 – unguided transfer back to Bangkok and customers make their own way to Khao San Road accommodation (booked and paid for)
  • Day 17 – Prior to leaving Sangkhlaburi all customers will have been given their tickets for travel to KohPhangan on day 17. After a free day to explore Bangkok, customers take the overnight coach and ferry to KohPhangan (unguided) arriving on the morning of day 18.
  • Day 18 – arrive KohPhangan and transfer to the accommodation (customers will be met by guest house representative). Shared twin rooms, fan, en suite.
  • Days 19-27 – free time to enjoy KohPhangan, the beach and the parties.
  • Day 28 – morning transfer from KohPhangan to Bangkok arriving mid / late evening in BKK. Final night at accommodation on Khao San Road
  • Day 29 – Check out and end

How you will make a difference

Elephant village:

Without this programme the mahouts and elephants would need to beg in urban areas (not good for the mahout and terrible for the elephant) – thanks to this programme the village and mahouts receive good income to support and develop their families and create a better future for themselves

In addition, this is a real two way learning experience – the volunteers get the opportunity to really learn about the real life of elephants and communities in Thailand, something that is very difficult to do elsewhere.


Being a part on on-going renovation and construction of community facilities that otherwise would not be developed. All aimed at the rural communities (those most in need) and with a particular emphasis on education and young people.

Passenger Information

Suitable for all 18+ BUT customers do need to be quite independent. There are some transfers that are not guided (although instructions in English and Thai are given and all have access to our 24/7 emergency number) and whilst the transfers are easy, it won’t suit those who are very nervous travellers.

A fantastic way to experience real village life with elephants, make a contribution to very poor communities in the North West of the country and then to see one of SE Asia’s most famous islands. Perfect for anyone wanting this great mix of what Thailand has to offer.

Accommodation Details

  • Bangkok: Shared twin / triple rooms, air con, en suite, b’fast included day 2 and 3. Khao San Raod area giving all an opportunity to experience backpacker Bangkok.
  • SurinTown : Shared rooms of between 3 and 4 people depending on room size. Mixture of single and bunk beds. Fans. Very clean (full time ‘maid’), kitchen area, living area, hot water showers, wi-fi. V close to foodstalls, convenience stores and restaurants / coffee shops etc. Regional team live within 3 minutes walk so always on hand.
  • Elephant village homestay: Thai style houses with ground floor concrete and upstairs wood. Shared rooms (up to 5 in a room depending on size), mattresses on the floor, fans, kitchen and living area, squat toilets and cold water showers. No wi-fi
  • Sangkhlaburi building – shared rooms in a local guest house in Sangkhlaburi town. Air-con, ensuite, hot showers andwi-fi. Close to a variety of restaurants and general stores
  • KohPhangan– shared rooms (twin – quad bed) in a very pleasant resort with swimming pool. Fan rooms, close to the beach and safe and secure. Within 15 mins travel (excluding traffic jams!) of Had Rin for the Full Moon Parties.


Google Map


  • Gemma

    It’s a sad night in Bangkok tonight; it’s the last night of our Thai adventure. I’ve met the best people ever and I’ll treasure all the memories we have together. Good luck to you all and thank you for making the last month amazing.


  • Airport pick up and transfer (BKK 06:00 – 22:00)
  • Accommodation as per the itinerary
  • Food as per the itinerary
  • In-country support and guiding as per the itinerary
  • 24/7 emergency phone contact and support
  • All transfers as listed in the itinerary
  • All materials and equipment at the building project

Not included

  • Travel to and from Thailand
  • Travel insurance
  • Food not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks / Snacks
  • Activities not listed in the itinerary
  • Guides on unguided parts of the trip
  • Return transfer to the airport

Terms and conditions for volunteers

  • Up to date CV/ resume
  • Copy of return flight itinerary 
  • Police clearance
  • Basic level of English; understanding and speaking
  • Acceptance subject to availability of position

Payment and Cancellation

To make a booking you will need to pay a deposit (which includes an administration charge) at the time of booking which is 250€ (or equivalent in other currencies).

You must pay 100% of the costs of your travel arrangements at least 90 days before the start date of your programme(s). If the deposit and/or balance are not paid in time we will cancel your travel arrangements. If the balance is not paid in time, we shall retain your deposit.

You may cancel your booking at any time. Notice of cancellation will be effective upon receipt of your written communication.

As we start to incur costs from the time the contract is confirmed we will retain your deposit and in addition will apply other cancellation charges as shown below. Where written notification of the cancellation is received: - 90 days or more prior to the start date of your programme: loss of deposit plus a charge of 10% of the total value of the programme cost.
- less than 90 days prior to the start date of your programme (or failure to join the programme): 100% of the cost of your travel arrangements


We work with an organisation that supports community-based projects in Asia to maximise improvements to human and environmental issues. The 45 organisation staff has guided almost 3,000 volunteers since its creation in 2002. The aims of its volunteering programme are to change the needs of the communities, provide education and knowledge to the local communities and provide volunteer and financial help in tandem to ensure demonstrable, lasting change. Our local Foundation is dedicated to improving health, safety and hygiene at schools throughout Asia, as well as making it possible for people like you to make a difference. From building projects like demolishing unhygenic toilets and rebuilding clean facilites, brightly coloured school buildings and fun, ongoing community projects such as allotments and farms, the work in Asia that it is able to do is very varied. It can also place volunteers who are keen on teaching english to children or working in an elephant camp in Thailand. Development and sense of community are two areas that it focuses on in its projects, and this is definitely reflected in the success that it has acheived throughout Asia.

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