Welcome to Chiang Mai, the hub of traditional Thai culture. Meander along the leafy streets dotted with ornate Buddhist temples, bustling local markets and saffron-clad monks giving their daily alms. Just outside the city sits a lush valley that is home to one of the area’s leading elephant sanctuaries. Spend several days immersed in rural life venturing out alongside the mahouts, or elephant caretakers, to learn exactly what it takes to care for an elephant. From morning walks through the forest to bathing elephants in a nearby river, we’ll directly contribute to the well-being of these amazing creatures.
We’ll also soak in the sights and sounds of Chiang Mai and travel into the mountains to a distant hill tribe village. Experience centuries-old traditions, meet with village elders and discover a community lost in time. Meet with a women’s empowerment project and raft down the calm Mae Tang River. Visit a hospital for sick and injured elephants to see how these majestic creatures are rehabilitated. Then see how another social enterprise is creating decorated elephant statues and placing them around the world to raise awareness of elephant conservation.
A Hands-on Elephant Volunteer Experience
If you’re looking to get your hands dirty caring for elephants and living amongst a local village community, you’ve found your trip. Explore Thailand’s surreal cultural mecca of Chiang Mai & see why it is known as the “Land of Smiles”.
Like many creatures, elephants are under threat from a variety of forces, including deforestation and the modernization of Thailand. This inspired a Thai family to come together and create a place where elephants can thrive in their natural habitat. Tucked in the lush green mountains of Northern Thailand lies this village.
Support the elephants of Northern Thailand by volunteering at this sanctuary for rescued elephants. Learn from expert mahouts, or caretakers, as you walk, feed, and bathe the elephants, as well as collect grass for their meals and help clean their enclosures. Get a completely unique perspective on these beautiful, intelligent creatures, and gain a deeper respect and appreciation for their relationship with humans.
Where You’ll Stay
Over the course of the journey across Northern Thailand, stay in two unique locations. The first five nights will be spent in a delightful boutique hotel in Chiang Mai. Relax by the hotel’s tropical pool or take the short walk into town to explore the markets and small shops that line the streets. Head into the hills surrounding Chiang Mai to the elephant sanctuary for the next three nights. Spend the evenings in a basic lodge at the sanctuary and enjoy the fresh mountain air of the valley floor. Descend back into the city for the last night at the same villas we stayed at the beginning of the journey.
Arrive in Chiang Mai and take a walking tour of the city’s markets and temples. Learn how to cook Thai food from a local chef before venturing to a local elephant hospital and non-profit to learn about their efforts to protect these creatures. Visit the countryside outside Chaing Mai including the famous Wat Doi Suthep mountaintop temple.
Enjoy an afternoon visit to a local market before traveling to the Thai Elephant Home for three days of complete immersion into elephant caretaking. Meet the elephants and assist the mahouts with daily tasks.
Your Expert Local Guide
Discover Corps’ expert family of guides around the world are by your side throughout the journey. Please note that the actual guide may vary from date-to-date.
Discover Corps’ Mai Yongkhum is a lifelong Chiang Mai resident – born and raised in this easy-going Northern city. Mai has been guiding in Thailand since 2004, and holds a degree in tourism and hotel management from Chiang Mai University. She is a licensed tour guide and loves showing visitors her lovely city & culture. Mai looks forward to meeting you in Thailand!
Optional post-trip extensions
Discover Corps’ post-trip extensions allow you to extend your experience beyond the core itinerary and explore unique corners of the destination.
Angkor Wat (3 Days/2 Nights)
Venture to majestic the Angkor Wat Temples deep in the Cambodian jungle and relax in a gorgeous 4-star hotel & spa.
Phuket & Koh Phi Phi (4 Days/3 Nights)
Travel to Thailand’s tropical southern beaches and relax amongst the swaying palms and turquoise waters.
Bangkok (3 Days/2 Nights)
Visit the must-see sights of Thailand’s bustling capital city. Enjoy an evening cruise, tuk-tuk rides and the city’s impressive floating markets.
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Rating: 5/5 stars
Dates and Prices
Our trips are inclusive of all activities, lodging, transport and most meals to make your experience hassle-free.
- Double Occupancy Price. Children’s pricing applies to travelers 16 years old and younger sharing a room with an adult
- Single Room Supplement = $695
- All activities: Visit to a Karen Hill tribe village, guided tours and more.
- All meals included: 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners
- 6 nights lodging at a hotel in Chiang Mai
- 3 nights lodging at the Thai elephant home
- Volunteer project at the elephant conservancy for approximately 16 volunteer hours
- Bilingual guides
- Airport transfers from Chiang Mai airport and all ground transportation
- 24-hour Discover Corps emergency hotline & turnkey service
What’s Not Included:
- Tips for Discover Corps guide and driver
- International airfare
- Alcoholic beverages
Our intimate, small-group departures consist of like-minded travelers. Don’t see a date that works? Want to make it private? Schedule a personal travel consultation and we’ll make it happen.
February 5-14, 2023 (full)
February 19-28, 2023 (limited)
April 30-May 9, 2023
May 28-June 6, 2023
June 11-20, 2023
June 25-July 4, 2023
July 9-18, 2023
July 23-August 1, 2023
August 6-15, 2023
October 1-10, 2023
November 19-28, 2023
December 17-26, 2023
February 4-13, 2024
Feb 18-27, 2024 (limited)
April 28-May 7, 2024
May 26-June 4, 2024
June 9-18, 2024
June 23-July 2, 2024
July 7-16, 2024
July 21-30, 2024
August 4-13, 2024
August 18-27, 2024
September 29-October 8, 2024
November 17-26, 2024
December 17-26, 2023