Volunteering Projects in Thailand

You are about to discover a new culture, accomplish something unforgettable, and explore the best Thailand has to offer!


We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:

  • Volunteer in an elephant rehabilitation program; monitoring and researching animal behaviour and well-being.
  • Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 10 years experience in placing 19275 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
  • Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
  • Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $1.8 million to help women and children in need.
  • Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
  • Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.

Just choose a project and apply:


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The Projects

Chiang Mai Elephant Rehabilitation

Chiang Mai Elephant Rehabilitation

Volunteer in the lush mountain forests of Northern Thailand and spend each day in the forest with elephants rescued from a life of servitude to tourists. Thanks to local and volunteer efforts these gentle giants now live natural lives in Chiang Mai Province, an area famous for its traditional elephant keeping communities. Learn about elephant behavior and contribute directly to the elephants’ lives - because by providing an alternative income for the owners, mahouts (elephant keepers) and local villagers, volunteers like you allow the elephants to be rehabilitated and re-discover their natural instincts.

Apply for the Thailand Program now

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About Thailand


Approximately the size of France, Thailand covers an area of 510,000 square kilometres, and its population of 60 million is growing at a rate of 1.5% per year. Thailand shares its border with Myanmar in the west and north, Laos in the northeast, Cambodia in the east and Malaysia in the south.

The program is located in northern Chiang Mai Province.

Volunteer Impact

Most of the animals residing at the sanctuary were maltreated before they arrived here, suffering from abuse, malnutrition, neglect and improper care, rescued from the illegal pet trade, or have previously been exploited for the tourism industry. Many of the animals arrive with permanent disabilities and hence, cannot be returned to the wild. The centre's mission is to give these animals the best quality of life possible in captivity.

What else can I do in Thailand?

Visitors to Thailand will have no problem finding things to do!

Take some time before or after your volunteer placement to explore urban Bangkok, bohemian Chiang Mai and the island of Ko Phi Phi.

During your free time when volunteering you can explore the local towns and their restaurants, markets, spas and hotels.  Or take some time to cool off at the beach with a dip in the sea.



How it works...

If your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.

You will receive a Program Guide which contains a wealth of information. You'll find everything from a broad overview of the country you are going to; project details; life on the project (accommodation, meals, what to wear etc); along with extremely helpful information and advice for preparing for your trip.

GVN provides three different options to pay your program package and secure your placement. These include:

  1. Installments: In this option your program package is broken into monthly installments based on the number of months you have left until your start date.
  2. Deposit: By paying a US$500 deposit you can secure your placement and then you will pay the remaining amount 10 weeks before your start date.
  3. Fundraising: GVN has partnered with an online fundraising platform called StayClassy. You can use this platform to fundraise the costs for your trip.

Program Package – From US $41 a day*

Elephant Rehabilitation project

  • 1 week:  US $1522
  • 2 weeks: US $1692
  • 4 weeks: US $2032
  • 6 weeks: US $2372
  • 8 weeks: US $2712
  • 10 weeks: US $3052
  • 12 weeks: US $3392

* based on 12 weeks.

What You Get – Pre-Trip

  • Support you need from our experienced Program Specialist! This includes unlimited phone and email access!
  • Your Program Guide: your online resource guide that covers topics such as country information, details on your placement, travel links, visa application process and much more!
  • Fundraising Strategies: a fundraising guide full of proven strategies, a letter verifying your place with a registered charity and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
  • Access to Your Own Online Journal: which help you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
  • Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner AirTreks who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.

What You Get: While in Country

  • Accommodation: Volunteer Accommodation.
  • Meals: 3 meals daily.
  • Training: In-country orientation and training.
  • Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
  • Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency line.

What You Get: Post-Trip

  • An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
  • Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN
  • A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service

crossWhat's Not Included:

Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, personal expenses.

We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $30 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, transportation and entertainment.

Apply now for the Thailand Program:

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Program Schedule

Start Date (Elephant Rehabilitation Program): every second Saturday starting Saturday 19 April 2014.

Length:  from 1 week - 12 weeks

Please note: Volunteers who wish to stay longer than 12 weeks may negotiate this with the program director when in Thailand



We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions which we receive at the GVN inbox.  This is a great place to start if you have questions about Global Volunteer Network and our placement process. This information should answer the majority of questions you may have.

Tell me more about Thailand?

The Kingdom of Thailand, covering an area of 514,000 square kilometres, lies in the heart of Southeast Asia, roughly equidistant between India and China. It shares borders with Myanmar to the west and north, Lao P.D.R. to the north and northeast, Cambodia to the east and Malaysia to the south. Thailand has a population of about 60 million. Ethnic Thais form the majority, though the area has historically been a migratory crossroads, and thus strains of Mon, Khmer, Burmese, Lao, Malay, Indian and most strongly, Chinese stock produce a degree of ethnic diversity. Integration is such, however, that culturally and socially there is enormous unity. For more information  we suggest you purchase the Lonely Planet’s guide to Thailand.


What is the climate like in Thailand?

In Thailand there are three seasons: hot, rainy, and cool. For the Europeans that arrive in Thailand there seems to be only one season: a hot season. During the night the temperature only drops a few degrees and the humidity during the day and night is over 70%. Luckily, the elephant program is in hill country and generally experiences temperatures about 5 degrees cooler than in cities.


How does GVN choose volunteers for this program?

Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.

After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.


Do I have to be from New Zealand?

No, the program is open to people from all over the world.


What age do you have to be to volunteer?

You must be 18 years old and above. There is no upper limit, you just have to be in good health.


Do I need to speak English to become a volunteer?

Yes, English is the main language used at the project.


Are we able to do any sightseeing while volunteering?

Yes, you can do this on your day off. You are also welcome to travel further around Thailand before or after your placement.


Are there more expenses once I arrive?

The in-country fee covers accommodation and meals. If you arrive early or intend on staying on in Thailand for longer than you are volunteering then you will need to have extra money for this time. Also some money may be required for your days off. Other costs include your flights, visa, shots, travel insurance, departure tax, and any shopping you will do personally.


How safe is it to volunteer in Thailand?

We work very hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering. Thailand is one of the safer countries in Asia and you will find the people very welcoming and kind. Of course any traveller can encounter trouble - especially if you are indiscreet with money or valuables.


Who organizes my visa for my volunteer placement?

You do if it is required. Our program guide has links to Thai Embassies through out the world.


Do I need travel insurance?

All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.

For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/


How do I pay my fees?

Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer.  Please note, your placement is not confirmed (ie secured) until your program fee has been received.  Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2012 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2012 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.


Volunteer Diaries


Friday, March 08th, 2013

About every other day we go to harvest. The elephants eat banana trees and the top of pineapples in addition to fruit, grass, and some supplements if they need to bulk up. The Thai staff chop down the banana trees with machetes and we carry them to the trucks. Each day we chop them up [click here to read more]

Click here to read the full blog entry

Hard Work!

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

It has been one week working and I mean working! Though I have quickly learned that there are no typical days, here is a basic run-down: 6:30am: First feeding and cleaning – The elephants get  banana trees that we cut up with machetes, the leaves of the banana trees, pineapple tops, fruit, and some special [click here to read more]

Click here to read the full blog entry

Arrival & Elephants!

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Arrival After flying 18 hrs, passing through a few days, I’m here at the Wildlife Centre! My driver was waiting right where planned and on the 2 1/2 hr drive we chatted about English accents, Harley Davidson, and the fact that he started out being an electrician (an occupation he loved) but being a driver [click here to read more]

Click here to read the full blog entry

Please visit journals.globalvolunteernetwork.org for more journals and feedback from past volunteers

How to Apply

Program Requirements

As a volunteer you must:

  • be in good physical condition, be able to walk long distances and be able to tolerate heat;
  • be 18 years old or over
  • be able to speak English
  • be able to work without assistance
  • be able to work well with others and adapt to group living
  • obtain a satisfactory police check from your home country prior to volunteering

Volunteer Feedback


News From Thailand

Featured Programs
Downloads / Resources

10 Reasons to Volunteer PDF
Learn about the top 10 benefits of volunteering in this comprehensive report

Ripples of Difference eBook
A collection of unique and inspiring short stories by real volunteers

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