Surin Project Weekly Volunteer

The Surin Project originated from a cooperation with the Surin Provincial Administrative Organization which approached us asking us to help them create a world-class

elephant sanctuary to provide free ranging opportunities for the 180+ elephants that were present in the Surin Elephant Study Center.



The Surin Project is a unique and innovative concept aimed at improving the living conditions of captive Asian elephants by providing economic sustainability for their owners through responsible volunteer tourism. We work alongside the Gwi community in the government run Surin Elephant Study Centre located in the village of Ban Tha Klang in the Surin Province in North East Thailand.

The Surin Project´s main focus is to get some of the elephants in the study centre out into more natural surroundings where volunteers can walk alongside them and observe these magnificent creatures acting like elephants should be.


Located in the small village of Baan Tha Klang in Surin province, the Elephant Study Center now subsidises nearly 200 mahouts and their elephants to live in the center and thus stay off the streets of Bangkok. The living conditions of the elephants in the center are far from perfect, with most elephants shackled all day long with little or nothing more to do than to stand in the sun.

It is the role and responsibility of the Surin Project to help improve these living conditions and give these elephants the opportunity to roam free and behave naturally. Bringing volunteers to the project for a week or more at a time allows us to work with the mahouts, helping them plant grass, sugarcane and bamboos and build shelters for the elephants all while their elephants are off their chains and interacting together.


It is our hope that by showing the local mahouts that people are willing to come and help them and see elephants in a natural setting, they will be provided with the tools to adapt their husbandry methods to be more considerate of the elephants’ welfare -

How to get here

Departures from Bangkok - Be at the meeting point Bangkok Morchit Bus Terminal 3rd Floor by Dunkin Donuts stall not the shop 07.30 on Mondays - The representative will meets you & escorts you to the coach, operated by NCA (Nahonchai Air) - the journey takes 7 hours. On arrival at Surin you are transferred to the project by company transport. Flight available by Nok Air and Air Asia from Donmuang airport (DMK) to Buriram (BFV) transfer time 45 minutes. Guests who travel by air are to look out for the representative who will be waiting in the arrival hall with a notice board displaying their name


You will be living on site in basic but comfortable same gender home-stay shared accommodation. Volunteers will eat together for every meal. The food is healthy and varied, with a buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner with many different dishes to choose from. Vegetarian and vegan food are always available. All dietary restrictionsare catered for.

Other Accommodation :- If guests wish to have air conditioning & resort facilities they can be accommodated about 200 meters away, subject to a supplement and availability details provided on request

What to Expect

Volunteers coming to the Surin Project should expect to be immersed in the local Gwi culture in the remote village of Ban Tha Klang. Working alongside the mahouts and the local community they will learn more about this unique culture and their relationship with elephants. Most importantly volunteers will get a chance to go out on daily walks to observe the Surin Project Elephants interacting with each other in a more natural setting.

During their stay in the village volunteers can expect an attack on their senses and will see some of the realities of how captive elephants can be used in the area. The Surin Project is not an elephant sanctuary its an Elephant Nature Park, with some considerable differences:

What to Bring

Essential items: Flashlight, Earplugs, Alarm clock/watch, Basic First Aid kit, personal medication, Towel, personal toiletries, sunscreen, Insect repellant, flip flops, closed shoes, long sleeved shirts and trousers, extra socks. Seasonal gear: (poncho/ waterproofs (Rainy season: June - October), warm clothing, long sleeves, sweat pants, jumper (Cold season: November - February; can get quite cold in the evenings).

Recommended but not essential: reading material, travel games, camera, small daypack, gardening gloves, wide brimmed hat- we can provide gloves and hats on site if you do not have these items. Important Note about clothing: Please remember to pack clothes that are respectful to the local culture - t-shirts that cover your shoulders, shorts that come down to your knees - No bikini´s, string vest tops or hot pants allowed. You will be asked to change if you are wearing any of these items.

Tour Points

  • 7 Days Caring and Working with Elephant on the Surin Project
  • Homestay Experience
  • Full Activity each day with the Elephants
  • Assisting local children to learn the English language
  • Age Suitability: Adult and children over 16 years old if accompanied by an adult
  • What is Included: Transport from Buriram bus station accommodation, to project and back, Clean, convenient accommodation on site, Three delicious meals per day, A practical education on the challenges facing elephant conservation, free t-shirt and reusable water bottle.
  • Why not extend your stay in Thailand pre or post your Volunteer Project - Check out our accommodation and other tours
  • If you need more information please call 01689 87 33 44 or send an enquiry form

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