Thailand – The Elephant Experience

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Grassroots Expedition

10 Days / 9 Nights

$3,495 Adult / $3,295 Child

Take a step back in time to a small Northern Thai village where local communities care for majestic elephants.

The Experience

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”.

Our Impact

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.

Itinerary Overview

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.

Mai Yongkhum

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!

Traveler’s Journal

“As an animal lover with elephants being one of my favorites this trip to work at the elephant nursery was a perfect fit. Getting to take care of, feed, bathe and interact with each of the elephants was a once in a lifetime experience, every part of this trip not only lived up to my expectations but blew those expectations out of the park! A “bucket list trip” that I will be comparing all other trips to for a very long time!”

Vicky S.

San Diego, CA

Read More Discover Corps Reviews

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.

$3,495 Adult

$3,295 Child

  • Double Occupancy Price. Children’s pricing applies to travelers 16 years old and younger sharing a room with an adult
  • Single Room Supplement = $695

What’s Included:

  • 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.

2023 Dates

November 19-28, 2023

December 17-26, 2023

2024 Dates

February 4-13, 2024 (limited)

Feb 18-27, 2024

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, 2024

Want to learn more?

Alumni & Family Discounts, Monthly Payment Plans, and More

Repeat travelers and groups are eligible for discounts. Looking for a payment plan to help manage your trip? Learn more here.

Customized Private Trips

Let us create a custom trip for your group. Learn more about custom group travel.