Northern Thailand Fact File
Location of the Elephant Sanctuary
The project is located just outside Chiang Rai city, a little under 200km northeast of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s cultural capital and near the border with Laos and Myanmar. Despite being the northern most province in Thailand, Chiang Rai is easily accessible with an international airport with frequent connections to Bangkok.
Chiang Rai province is mountainous and beautiful and has a diversity of natural attractions. Chiang Rai city itself has almost every amenity you might need, whilst retaining the northern Thai charm that makes it unique.
The centre, on the outskirts of Chiang Rai town, is surrounded by fields and forests, and feels a world away from the action in the town center. It is a remarkably peaceful place with many birds, flowers and butterflies, and is easy to get round for people of most abilities and levels of fitness.
In just 15 minutes you can be in this serene forest habitat with elephants for the day, and then have your evenings and weekends to explore and enjoy the bars, restaurants, temples and museums in Chiang Rai.
This project offers two types of accommodation to suit volunteers with different budgets and different needs.
Our dorm accommodation is in a very funky, friendly, brand new hostel in a safe and central part of town just round the corner from the project's office and pick-up/drop off point for your daily transportation to the project. It is excellent value for money and makes this project really affordable for most volunteers.
Our second accommodation option is private rooms in a very comfortable and recently refurbished hotel which is even closer to the project office than the hostel!
It boasts a large restaurant, bar and lounge and a great sized pool with sun terraces for cooling off and chilling out after a day at the project. Rooms are very spacious, elegantly furnished (including flat screen TV) and have a modern ensuite with toilet and shower.
Inter-connecting rooms are also available for families travelling together. This is great option if you want a few more creature comforts at the end of a hard day's work with the elephants!
When you are on site at the sanctuary, you will find communal areas for eating lunch which is provided each day by local cooks. Vegetarians, vegans and those with food allergies can be accommodated.
Getting to the project
The nearest airport to this project is in Chiang Rai, Thailand (Airport code CEI) which is about half an hour from the project and about 15 minutes' drive from our accommodation
Finding flights that suit your schedule, fares that suit your budget and insurance that covers you for all the exciting activities you'll be undertaking on your trip can be challenging and time-consuming. To help you out, Globalteer has partnered with
a reputable company who will tailor-make your travel and insurance arrangements according to all your specific requirements. Once you have your place secured we will put you in touch with them so you can disucss your specfiic arrangements with them directly. They can also organise any trip extensions you make like to add on to your volunteering trip too.
However, don’t forget that it’s up to you to make sure your travel arrangements are right for you and your project.
Visas for Thailand
Most nationalities receive a free 30 day visa on arrival in Thailand. A passport with at least 6 months validity is required. For longer stays you will most likely need to arrange a visa from your home country with the Thai Consulate or travel agency. Note: As visa requirements can change and are different for nationalities, it is the volunteer’s responsibility to arrange entry visas.
You only need a tourist visa, as volunteer work does not require a business visa. It is better not to confuse immigration officers by telling them you are working, as volunteer work does not require a special visa, just state you are visiting Thailand for tourism. Once your visa expires you must leave Thailand and re-enter to get another visa.
Got a question about volunteering with elephants in Thailand? Try our Northern Thailand Elephant Sanctuary Frequently Asked Questions
Climate in Northern ThailandThailand is sub tropical and has three seasons.
1. March to June, hot and dry.
2. July to October, hot and wet.
3. November to February, cool and dry.
The hot season rarely reaches above 37C and the cool season may go as low as 25C. The monsoon can mean 1 to 2 hours of rain in the afternoon making them easy to plan around, and with long periods of no rain.
Local ExpensesThe official currency is the Thai Baht.
Tuk-tuk ~ less than 50 Baht for short trips
Taxi ~ 15 minute fare approximately 150 to 250 Baht
Meal at market ~ Less than 90 Baht
Meal in restaurant ~ 300 Baht
Keeping in touch:
Telephone calls ~ approximately 6 Baht per minute to most Western countries. If you are spending a long time in Thailand then many people bring their own mobile cellular phone and purchase a sim card locally for around 200 Baht, making text messages a very affordable and versatile option for communicating.
There are plenty of ATMs available in Chiang Rai along with money changers.
Laundry services are available at the hostel and hotel.
Health and SafetyThe project has a basic first aid kit for minor injuries.
Emergency services – Chiang Rai has all major emergency services including police, tourist police, and both private and public hospitals, and modern pharmacies, including Boots.
Bangkok, Thailand has international standard hospitals.
Embassies - All international embassies are located in the capital of Bangkok.
Daily schedule at the Elephant SanctuaryVolunteers work closely with the local staff and elephant mahouts 5 days a week. The working day starts early and can be long but there are many breaks throughout the day to relax or hang out with the elephants.
Here is an example of some of the work you will do with the elephants:
• Cleaning the elephants’ night areas each morning and evening.
• Watching the elephants bathe in the river or roll in the mud.
• Collecting the elephants’ dung and food waste for composting.
• Collecting fruits for their big appetites, and harvesting banana trees, sugar cane, pineapple or corn for fodder.
• Learning all about these gentle giants, and performing basic daily health checks on the elephants.
These are only examples of what your daily activities may be. The elephant sanctuary is continually evolving and the needs of the elephants may change before or during your stay. Rest assured we are very flexible with volunteers’ personal needs, but we do require the same flexibility in return as the elephants are the top priority.
Please be aware that harvesting pineapple plants, banana trees and corn for fodder is essential and regular work for volunteers. This involves chopping and dragging plants and trees over rough ground. Some heavy lifting is involved, which can be quite tiring work in the heat. It is essential that you wear appropriate clothing (sun hat, gloves long sleeves and trousers) and sturdy footwear for this task, pace yourself, and drink plenty of water.
Extra ActivitiesDays off can be spent at any of the numerous attractions around Chiang Rai. From the famous and modern White Temple, to the historic Wat Chedi Luang, to the local night markets, to trekking – there is a diverse array to activity to enjoy in and around Chiang Rai Province. The famed Golden Triangle, the meeting point of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, is only a 30 minute drive Chiang Rai.
Though in a mountainous region, the city of Chiang Rai is fairly flat and is a great place to cycle around on your time off. Each weeknight you can enjoy the Night Bazaar and food court for a local experience. On Saturdays and Sundays, be sure to visit the Walking Markets where you can find incredible handiwork from surrounding indigenous tribes and sample a variety of amazing local foods.
General facts about ThailandCountry name: Kingdom of Thailand (formerly Siam)
Area: 517,000 sq km
Terrain: mostly low, flat plains; mountains in the north
Population: 65 million
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22%, 15-64 years: 70%, 65 years and over: 8%
Life expectancy at birth: 69 years
Ethnic groups: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%
Religions: Theravada Buddhist 95%, Muslim 5%
Literacy: 93% of population
Capital: Bangkok (pop 8.5 million)
Government type: Democratic constitutional monarchy
International airports: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, & Phuket
Currency : Thai Baht