Have an awesome elephant experience in stunning rural Thailand
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Group Size: Varies
Trip code: THEE
Duration: 9-16 days
Stay in an incredible, ethical elephant village, deep in rural Thailand.You’ll really get to know these majestic animals, feeding them and walking them down to the river for their bath every day. You’ll stay in the heart of the community, in the village elder’s home, helping with daily tasks such as cooking traditional Thai food. Enjoy some amazing cultural experiences like learning to make paper out of elephant poo (yes, really!) and meeting the local school children and spend your weekends in sunny Surin, or hop across the border into Cambodia. It’s a truly immersive cultural experience where you’ll see a side of Thailand that most travellers don’t as well as having tons of hands-on experience with the elephants.
- Take a tour of Bangkok’s best bits, including Wat Pho, Wat Arun and the mighty Chao Phraya River
- Really connect with the elephants that the project supports, feeding and bathing them every day
- Enjoy a true cultural exchange, staying in the home of the village elder in a rural community
- Get hands-on with village activities, from harvesting food for the elephants and cleaning their shelters, to cooking authentic Thai meals for the group
- Use your free time to swim in the river, go kayaking, explore Surin town and hop over the border into Cambodia
Day 1: Bangkok. Arrive in Bangkok and make your way to our starting hotel. Take a dip in the hotel pool before an orientation meeting with the group at 2pm. This evening, head to neon-lit Khao San for a Singha beer or two.
Day 2: Bangkok. Take a tour of Bangkok’s best bits today, including Wat Pho, home of the longest reclining Buddha in the country, and Wat Arun. This evening, head out as a group for a welcome meal, then hit Khao San for a few after-dinner drinks.
Day 3: Surin transfer.Watch exotic landscapes whizz past as we head deep into Eastern Thailand today by train (bus at certain times of year). Arrive in Surin in the afternoon and freshen up ahead of a group dinner, including delicious ‘Isan’ food.
Day 4: Surin to the Elephant Project. Arrive at the elephant project and share lunch with the locals, before harvesting food for the elephants, feeding them, and walking with them to a local river for their daily bath! This evening, cook dinner together and enjoy an evening with the community.
Day 5: Elephant activities & kayaking. Clean out the shelter before harvesting more food for the elephants. Feed the eles before cooking a delicious lunch, then take the elephants down to the river for their bath, before exploring the river on kayaks.
Day 6: Elephant poo paper & village school. Today we’ll enjoy a different kind of elephant activity – learning how to make paper from their poo! This afternoon, visit the local village school and play some games with the children before heading back to feed the elephants (they never stop eating!)
Day 7: Elephant activities. You’ll be an elephant care expert by now! Start the day cleaning the elephants’ shelter, before harvesting some more food and feeding them. This evening, enjoy cooking and eating another meal together with the community.
Day 8: Back to Surin. If you’re on the 9-day programme, it’s time to say your goodbyes to the eles. If you’re here for 16 days, you’ll see them again in a few. Transfer back to Surin town, with a stop en route at a silk weaving community. Enjoy one last group dinner and drinks in town.
Day 9: Farewells / explore Surin. If you’re on the 9-day programme, it’s time to pack your bags. If you’re on the 16-day programme, you’ve got today and tomorrow to enjoy Surin town at your own pace.
Day 10: Free day in Surin (16-day option only). Get to know Surin a bit better, take a day trip to Cambodia by bus, or visit the stunning Khao Yai National Park. This evening, grab a bite to eat and check out some of the live music venues with the gang.
Days 11 - 14: Elephant activities (16-day option only). Days 11 – 15 repeat the activities of days 4 – 8, as we head back to the elephant village for another round of fun with the villagers and the elephants.
Day 15: Transfer back to Surin (16-day option only). Transfer back to Surin town and check into the hotel before sharing a final group meal and fun night out on the town with your new friends.
Day 16: Trip end (16-day option only). Say your goodbyes to your guide and the rest of the group and check out by 11am. Your guide can help you arrange onward travel. See you again soon!
Please note that we only support ethical elephant experiences and you will not be allowed to ride elephants at this project.
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Your experience begins on day 1 in Bangkok. The nearest airport is Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK). We recommend you arrive in Bangkok in the morning as we’ve scheduled an orientation meeting with your guide and group at 2pm. On arrival, you’ll need to make your own way to the starting accommodation.
You can depart from Surin (where the elephant project is located) at any time on your end date, although hotel checkout is at 11am. A return transfer back to Bangkok is not included but the local team can help you arrange this. As the journey from Surin to Bangkok takes around 7 hours we strongly recommend you spend an extra night in Bangkok after your programme and fly home the day after your programme ends. Our coordinators in-country can help you book an extra night in Bangkok.
All accommodation is included during your stay in Thailand.
Bangkok guest house
You will spend your first two nights (Friday and Saturday) in a central guest house in Bangkok. Located by the river, only a short walk from the bars, street-stalls,and shops of backpacker Mecca, Khao San Road, it’s a great place to kick off your trip. Rooms are twin share, with en suite facilities and Wi-Fi. There’s also a small pool for cooling off after a day on Bangkok’s steamy streets, and a poolside restaurant which is perfect for picking up snacks and drinks without having to leave the comfort of the hotel.
Elephant project homestay
You’ll spend four nights a week at the elephant village (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), living as a local villager. You’ll stay in the house of the village elder and his family, with the rest of your group and the project coordinator. Accommodation is very basic but is comfortable, clean, and welcoming, and your host family will take wonderful care of you during your stay with them. You’ll be expected to help out with duties such as cleaning and cooking as well. It's a true cultural immersion!
You’ll be sleeping in shared rooms, with up to five per room, on mattresses on the floor. The rooms are clean and there are fans, and mosquito nets at the windows. There is a shared living space with floor cushions and a large kitchen where you can help the family prepare traditional Thai meals. The shared bathrooms have warm water and western toilets. You’ll also have WiFi.
You’ll spend the nights you’re not working on the elephant project, in a simple hotel in Surintown (Nights 3 and 8 for 9-day experience and 9, 10 and 15 for 16-day experience). Rooms are twin-share with en suite, air-con, and Wi-Fi and each room has a balcony. There’s also a small restaurant in the hotel where you’ll enjoy breakfast and can pick up snacks throughout the day.
Three meals a day are included on the days in the week that you are at the elephant village. The rest of the time you’ll have to buy your meals yourself. On your first Monday, Breakfast in Surin is not included, but you’ll arrive in the elephant village in time for an inclusive lunch. On Fridays, breakfast and lunch are included before you leave and transfer back to Surin.
Minimum age to participate in this programme is 18.
Without a visa, British nationals arriving by land or air can remain in Thailand for a maximum of 30 days. If you wish to stay for longer, you will need to apply for a 60-day tourist visa in advance of travel. You’ll need to have at least 6 months’ validity remaining on your passport from your date of entry into Thailand.
Please note: It’s your responsibility to obtain the necessary visas for your time away. Visa rules are subject to change without prior notice, so please do check visa requirements at the time of your trip.
This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:
Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.
Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.
Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.
Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.
Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.
Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.
Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.
24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.
It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.