Under 18 Elephant Care & Wildlife RescueThailand

A two week trip for 16-17 year olds to work with rescued elephants, monkeys, bears and other animals in tropical Thailand.

You will support the team in caring the animals at the centre including feeding, cleaning enclosures and providing enrichments. The extra support from volunteers is crucial to ensure that every animal receives the optimum level of care. Volunteers act as ambassadors for the project on their return by spreading the word about the abuse of animals, raising awareness of these issues and what can be done to help them.

You will get to explore Thailand’s vibrant night markets, fascinating temples and bat caves, as well as visit a relaxing spa and a National Park as part of the trip.

Join a group on this supported trip, accompanied by a Pod Volunteer Team Leader.


Key Info

key info
  • Location: 3 hours south of Bangkok
  • Start dates: 2023 - not running, 2024 - TBC
  • Duration: 2 weeks
  • Age requirement: 16-17 years old at the time of travel
  • Availability: Spaces available
  • Cost: £1495 / €1705 / $1990 - see fees table below
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Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

You will be part of the Pod Volunteer Under 18 Team volunteering at an Elephant Care and Wildlife Rescue centre which is a sanctuary to abused, neglected or injured animals. You will be supported by a dedicated leader who will travel out from the UK with the group and accompany you throughout your volunteer placement.

There are currently over 650 rescued animals at the centre including 25 elephants, over 300 primates, 25 bears and a variety of other small mammals, birds and reptiles. The aim is to re-release the animals or ensure that they spend the rest of their lives in a sanctuary as close to their natural environment as possible.

You will volunteer for one week on the Elephant Care role and one week on the Wildlife Rescue role, an amazing opportunity to be involved with all aspects of life at the centre.

The exact nature of the work varies but the main tasks involve:

  • Preparing and distributing food and water for the animals
  • Cleaning the enclosures and grounds
  • Creating enrichments for the animals
  • Harvesting of banana trees (on Elephant Care role)
  • Construction and maintenance of enclosures (if taking place while you are there)

Volunteers may also be allocated other shared duties including cleaning the dining area and caring for the rescued dogs on site.

You will work in small teams with a team leader, learning most things whilst doing them. For your own and others safety, you must be aware of the risks and follow instructions concerning the wildlife and elephants.

“The passion and commitment shown by volunteers allows the centre to run smoothly. Their love for animals allows us to continue to rescue and rehabilitate animals that have been forced into the tourist industry or kept as pets.”
Volunteer Coordinator

Typical day

Volunteers work a 6 day working week from about 6.30am-5pm on a rota basis and a working day typically follows this schedule:

  • 6.30am-8am - Volunteering
  • 8am-9am - Breakfast
  • 9am-12pm - Volunteering
  • 12pm-1pm - Lunch
  • 1pm-5pm - Volunteering
  • 6pm - Dinner & relax!

In the first two days, the group will have a half day induction and tour of the centre, as well as a health & safety briefing.

There are also exciting activities included as part of the trip on the two days off from volunteering. The group will visit a national park, night markets, a bat cave, local Buddhist temple and have a relaxing day at a local pool and spa!

Hands off Policy

The Wildlife Rescue role has a strict ‘hands off’ policy in place for the welfare and safety of both animals and volunteers. The less contact the animals have with humans the more likely they will be able to express normal behaviour and have the potential to be released back into the wild. The Elephant Care role is generally more hands on, however, each elephant has different needs and there are some elephants that you cannot have direct contact with.

Other volunteers

There are usually 10-16 members of the Under 18 group and we will work alongside other volunteers, who are mostly over 18. In total, there are usually around 50-70 volunteers at the centre at this time of year.

Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award

This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.

Local support

You will be supported on your placement by a dedicated leader travelling with the group as well as our partner project staff based in Thailand. The local team at the centre includes several international and Thai co-ordinators who are responsible for managing volunteers and the daily work of the wildlife and elephant teams.


Accommodation is provided in simple shared rooms located in the centre grounds and there are separate shared bathrooms.

Volunteer shared bedroom

There is a large open air communal dining area where volunteers have meals and can relax in the evenings. There is WIFI in the dining area but it can be limited so you may want to consider buying a local SIM card and accessing 3/4G.

Communal dining area


Main meals are included and are prepared by Thai cooks. Here are typical examples of the food you will have:

  • Breakfast – bread, cereals, eggs, yoghurt, spreads and fresh fruit
  • Lunch and dinner – mainly traditional Thai food such curries, stir fries, rice and noodles. There is usually also a ‘pasta night’ once a week  

Every meal includes a vegetarian and vegan option. If you have any allergies or specific dietary requirements please let us know in advance and we will check if these can be catered for.

Drinking water is provided on site from water dispensers where volunteers can fill up their water bottles throughout the day.

Getting there

You will fly into Bangkok (BKK) with the leader and group and then travel by minivan to the rescue centre, which is about 3 hours south of Bangkok.

Location and free time

The centre is on temple grounds and just outside a small village, a fairly remote location and a peaceful and beautiful environment. There is a lake opposite the centre which has a series of small ‘gibbon islands’ used to rehabilitate the gibbons.

In the local village (10 minute walk away) there are cash machines, a couple of small supermarkets selling basic items such as toiletries and snacks and a couple of restaurants. There are two bigger towns, Cha Am and Hua Hin (45 mins-1 hour by taxi). Both these towns are on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand and are popular beach resorts.

At the centre, there are areas for everyone to sit and relax in the evening and volunteers tend to socialise together.

As part of the trip the following excursions are included:

National Park and Hua Hin night market

We will have a day visit to one of the National Parks south of the centre, a great opportunity to explore some of Thailand’s beautiful countryside. On the way back from the National Park, the group will stop for dinner and spend a couple of hours at bustling Hua Hin night market. This is a chance to haggle for souvenirs and experience a popular Thai night market.

Night market in Cha Am

Bat cave and Cha Am night market

One evening during the trip we will visit a local view point in Cha Am. At dusk you will experience the amazing sight of millions of bats flying out from a small cave on the mountainside! The group will then visit Cha Am night market, for snacks and dinner and to enjoy the atmosphere at a local Thai market.

Spa visit

On our second day off, we will have the opportunity to visit a local hotel and spa, a well-deserved opportunity for the group to recharge and relax. The hotel has a small restaurant, swimming pool and spa where you can get massages or treatments if you would like to.

Buddhist temple

Buddhism is the main religion in Thailand and influences much of Thai culture. The centre is based on temple grounds with a temple close by which we will visit during your stay.

Buddhist temple near sanctuary


Thailand has a tropical climate and is generally hot throughout the year. In July-August, temperatures are usually between 25-33˚C and it is the start of the rainy season, so there can be tropical rain showers.

About Thailand

Thailand is often referred to as the ‘land of smiles’ and is a huge attraction for travellers from around the world due to its glorious beaches, tropical climate, great food and fascinating culture. Thailand has something to offer everyone.

For more information on Thailand and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our Thailand country page.



2024: TBC

What's Included


  • Dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist to support you
  • A dedicated group leader - who will travel out (from the UK) with the group and support you throughout the placement
  • Airport pick up (Bangkok) and return transfers
  • Accommodation - a basic shared room
  • Food - all main meals
  • Induction and tour of the centre
  • Day trip to Cha Am - bat cave, night market
  • Day tip to National Park and Hua Hin night market
  • Pod Volunteer T-shirt
  • Support from the local team
  • Support from the Pod Volunteer UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Donation to Pod Environmental Fund supporting solar lights in Ghana
  • Volunteering certificate and reference (on request)

Not included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccinations and medication
  • Living costs - snacks, drinks, laundry
Price table
2 weeks £1495 GB Pounds


  • £50 discount if you have previously volunteered with Pod Volunteer 

Where the money goes - financial transparency

Your fee covers the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK, on a non-profit basis.  For more details and a breakdown of our costs please click here.

Book with confidence - financial protection

All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT). 


Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com

Read volunteer reviews from the Under 18 Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue project


"The best experience of my life! Met so many amazing and like-minded people which will be friends for life. The days are filled with hard work but so worth it after hearing the horrible back stories of the animals as we made such a difference to their lives. The Thai people are so friendly and welcoming and the centre began to feel like a home away from home. The Pod leaders are also extremely supportive and friendly and make sure you make the best of your trip with them! Go for it! It will definitely not be a decision you will regret!"


"I had an amazing time in Thailand and will never forget my experience working with the animals. I loved being wakened up every morning to the sound of gibbons singing. It made me feel at one with nature. Accommodation was better than what I expected. It has everything that you need, after all we are not in our rooms very much, basically only to sleep.

I thoroughly enjoyed cleaning out the wildlife enclosures and feeding them as you know you are helping animals that have had such horrific pasts. Elephant duty was more hands on, it was unreal and incredible to get the opportunity to walk, shower and to feed such an amazing animal, which has always been one of my dreams and one that I never thought I would be able to fulfil. The leaders on our trip were so approachable and caring. They are part of what made the trip special."


"The two weeks i spent volunteering in Thailand were unparalleled. There were so many interesting, likeminded people both in the pod group and volunteering at the centre that made the experience unforgettable. Each day we would rotate to a different group of elephants or a different wildlife species so the work was always varied and we had the opportunity to work with a large mixture of animals. On the days off we got to explore more of thailand and in only 2 days we went to a national park , bat caves, a spa, a temple and two different night markets.

I loved that all the animals have different personalities, backstories and requirements which were so interesting to learn about and its very rewarding to be a part of such important work. I was very conscious of volunteerism and the projects on pod were legitimate."

Claire – Parent 

"Emily had a great time! I hadn't realised that Pod would provide such experienced support - it was reassuring to know that they were being well cared for and there was support if they needed it - but also the space to be treated responsibly! Great updates whilst they were away and good communication! A very well organised trip!"

Fay – Parent 

"Ben had the time of his life - thoroughly enjoyed it, he wanted it to be longer. As parent that is exactly what you want to hear - your child absolutely buzzing about the experience. Thank you. The Pod leaders kept us fully updated with emails and photos which is reassuring for a parent. Also enabled my son some independence without worrying to let us know how he was getting on."

Read more reviews


rescued animals currently at the centre

"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder


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Alex and the Pod UK team are here to help you throughout your trip

Reserve your place and start your volunteering adventure to Thailand!



  • Thailand Under 18 Elephant Care and Wildlife volunteer - Georgia

    "In the future I know that I want to work with animals, this trip helped to confirm this. It was very hard work which was intensified by the heat and humidity; be prepared to get hot, sweaty and dirty but have a lot of fun doing it!"

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Thailand Under 18 Elephant Care and Wildlife volunteer - Kaitie

    “I was just one kid, but I went half way across the world to do something I was that passionate about; and in return found tons of other people coming together to do something amazing.”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Thailand Under 18 Elephant Care and Wildlife volunteer - Steph

    "I can honestly that the Thailand Under 18’s Wildlife Rescue trip was the experience of a lifetime, providing me with incredible memories that I will never forget. I got more out of the trip than I ever expected."

    Read more volunteer reviews


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