Elephant Experience in Surin, Thailand


If you are looking for a travel experience with a difference, and have a real passion for working with animals, then spending time with elephants in Thailand is the perfect way for you to offer your support while experiencing the very best of Thailand.

Our elephant programme is all about learning about these amazing animals and working ‘for’ the elephants instead of the elephants working for you.

This incredible opportunity will see you feeding them, washing them and even playing with them throughout your time on the project.

Check prices, availability and book your place:

Elephant Experience in Surin, Thailand

From £642

SKU: SUR 001 Category:


Many of the elephants that you will meet will have been previously used for begging on the streets or would have been if it wasn’t for your support. By volunteering on this project you are preventing this kind of behaviour and providing the elephants with a much better quality of life, free from slavery and misfortune.

During your time on our elephant project you will gain important insights into how elephants have been used in poorer societies to help with daily tasks, such as farming, to provide a livelihood. You may also learn about some of the ways in which elephants are commonly mistreated or neglected, sometimes simply because their owners have been unable to feed their families and have no other choice.

By working with elephants in Thailand you will not only be providing hands-on support to the elephants and their keepers but you will also be ensuring that the elephants are well looked after. This means that on some days you may have the chance to cut down bamboo or sugar cane to provide food for the elephants.


Located in Surin, our elephant project will have you surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, miles away from the crowds of tourists and bustling cities. Out here it will just be you, your team, and your family of elephants.

There are around 35 elephants living in the elephant village, just 1 hour from the Cambodian border which makes it ideal to take a short break to Cambodia on your free days. And your experience doesn’t stop there; take a Thai cooking class and a basic Thai language lesson as part of your experience to really get the most of out your trip. And if you are an adventurer at heart then you will be very pleased to know that you will also have the chance to kayak on the Mun river, which is part of the famous Mekong.

Working with elephants is not only a dream come true for animal lovers but it is also a truly worthwhile cause.

Whether you are travelling on a gap year, a career break or as part of your holiday, our elephant project is the perfect way to give back and have an amazing time abroad.



Fly into Bangkok airport on day one and your friendly guide will be there to meet you. You will then take a short drive (depending on traffic of course) to your guesthouse on the famous Khao San road.

Khao San road is a great first stop for any Thailand tour as you will get to experience the sights and smells that Thailand is best known for. One of the first things you may notice will be the delicious smell of Thai food coming from the many street food stalls scattered along the road.

In the evening you will meet up with the other travellers in your group and will all head out to get to know each other more.


One of the highlights of your trip will be the guided tour of some of Bangkok’s best sights. Our Bangkok tour takes you on a journey through some of the city’s best attractions where you’ll get to see the reclining Buddha, the Temple of Dawn, the Grand Palace, take a ride on a long boat and much more.


Take a rustic train ride to Surin through Thailand’s largest national park, Khao Yai. In the western world we see are used to modern trains but in Thailand the trains are much more rustic and fun! The train itself is an experience, with old style carriages that have their own special kind of unique character. Bring your camera for this because people back home will want to see just what we are talking about.

When you arrive in Surin you will be taken to your shared accommodation in our shared house. You and your group will stay together and share clean but basic rooms. Remember though that you are in Thailand and that there are some differences that take some getting used to – accommodation is basic and might not come with some home comforts that you are used to. If you come with an open mind, a sense of adventure and a love of trying new things then you will have a great time in your new home. Our travellers have told us many times that living in the shared house together has actually helped them to make friends and feel closer as a group.


Dear diary: Jackpot!  If you are an elephant lover (and we’ll take a guess and say that you might be) then this will be the best part of your trip. You and your group will work together to make sure all of the elephants in the village are comfortable and well taken care of.

During your time in the elephant village you will help feed and wash the elephants, play with them, plant crops and create vegetable gardens to create a sustainable source of food and more.

Lunch and dinner is included whilst at the elephant village.


If you are only travelling with us for one week your adventure will come to an end. But don’t worry because the memories, the photos and the friends will last a lifetime.

If you are travelling for two weeks or more you will have free time on the weekends. Why not spend some time kayaking on the Mun River, take a Thai cooking class or a Thai language class? In your free days you could also just relax and explore Surin or take a short break and head over to Cambodia.

Note that return travel to Bangkok is not included but is easy to arrange.

What’s Included

  • Airport pick-up on arrival
  • Two night guest house accommodation in Bangkok
  • Guided Bangkok Tour
  • Train transfer to Surin
  • Accommodation in Surin shared house
  • Full orientation of project and surrounding areas
  • Daily transfers to and from project location
  • Full ongoing support
  • 24 hour emergency support

What Isn’t

  • Your flights
  • Meals – Please allow around $10USD/day
  • Visa (if required)
  • Travel insurance
  • Any additional activities not mentioned in the itinerary

I’d like to start by saying that my time with in Surin was one of the highlights of my entire 4 month trip of South East Asia. The staff were amazing, I can truly say I’ve made some great friends for life with many of the members. They all did everything they could to help in anyway possible, in work hours and out, and would go out of there way to make sure you had everything you needed. Even to the extent of helping us organise travel arrangements after the volunteering had finished.

I really can’t say enough good things about Starfish, and would highly recommend them to anyone thinking of doing anything similar in the future. I’m even thinking of coming back next year or the year after to carry on volunteering. Thank you for all your help organising our trip, it really took a weight off our minds knowing that there was someone we could talk to with advice, and the fact you knew all the places we wanted to visit helped also.


“My final night in Thailand after an amazing 2 months. I’m not one for emotional statuses but I have met some truly amazing people and experienced some incredible things that I won’t ever forget. Even though 2 months doesn’t seem that long to be away it has put a lot of things in perspective for me and made me realise what sort of person I really am. I’ve learnt so much on so many levels and I am so grateful for everything. Thank you to all the people I have met along the way for making it so unforgettable ????”


“You give a lot to the communities and people you work with, but you receive so much in return! It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, specifically the elephant project! Feeding the ellies, getting to the know the character of the ellies and the mahouts, planting food for them, masheteeing trees for them, walking them to the river to “bath” and play, having fun with the local kids, the food, the weather, the peace, the fun, the whole experience was awesome!! :)”


“Volunteering with starfish volunteers in Thailand was an incredible experience! I worked on the elephant project for two weeks and had the time of my life. The staff were fantastic and went Beyond their job requirements to ensure our stay was safe, including organizing our weekend activities. The village we stayed in was welcoming and gave us a great insight into rural thailand life. Starfish staff were easily contactable both before and during our trip which made the experience run smoothly and safely. I recommend volunteering with starfish, and further encourage people to work on the elephant project as it is an incredible experience, being up and close with elephants every day.”


“The whole trip was absolutely amazing. From the two days in Bangkok to the two weeks spent with the my Thai family and elephants in the elephant village. It is a trip my daughter and I will never forget. The most memorable moments for me must be riding my elephant into the river, washing her and afterwards as she grazed the afternoon away along the sides of the paddy feeds in the huge tropical landscape.”


“I’ve wanted to be in touch for a while to say that our time with Starfish was AMAZING! Both for Alexander and me in so many ways. I’ve done a lot of traveling over the years, but this was honestly the best trip of my life, for many many reasons. I’ve been singing Starfish’ praises and passed your name on to several friends, so you never know. One has already signed up for your mail list.
Also we are hoping to come back again next year some time after Paylin (Mr Lee’s elephant) has her baby, Alexander has been pining for Paylin, and for Poy (they became very sweet close friends despite the age difference!), and in general for all our new friends. Poy was amazing, not just with Alexander but with all of us. In fact, all the staff are really very special and caring – we all felt as if we were getting personal attention, that goes for everyone in our group.”

Ruth Tofler and her 9 year old son, Alex

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How To Book Your Starfish Tour

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