Ethical Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuaries in Thailand
Planning a dream trip to Thailand? Check out our list of the best elephant and wildlife sanctuaries where you will learn more about the animals, get close to elephants, meet inspiring staff and do something incredible by volunteering. Our guide features sanctuaries in places like Chiang Mai and Surin who offer half day, day and longer visits where you can ethically interact with elephants and other animals without doing any harm.
Best Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand:
If you are planning your Thailand trip consider adding the following sanctuaries to your itinerary.
The Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary is a Non-Profit Foundation who are dedicated to giving their elephants the best life possible with the help of visitors and volunteers. Their aim is to bring elephants home to the forest by working with the local communities to not only provide a haven for our elephants, but also provide an alternative livelihood for their mahouts and owners. Their elephants have been taken from a life of inadequate health care, poor diet, exhaustion and entertaining tourists, they were unable to just be elephants. They brought these wonderful creatures back to their natural environment where they are living in semi-wild conditions, free to roam as much as possible and live their lives how they choose – interacting and foraging. Over the coming years they also plan to bring more elephants of all ages and sizes to the forest.
- Kindred Spirit offer 2/3 day package visits, a volunteer program, an elephant research internship and also a hill-tribe teaching placement.
- Address: 259 Moo.9 Soi.6 Hangdong district, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50230
Located in Thailand, BLES is devoted to creating a safe and natural environment for elephants. BLES puts the well-being of elephants first, there are no performances — just elephants being elephants. You will get to see elephants roaming free and also learn about the inspirations efforts of founder Katherine Connor in trying to secure a positive eco tourism future for these creates away from the foced tourist rides. If you would like to volunteer helping elephants this is one of the best places to go.
- Address: 304 Mu 5, Baan Na Ton Jan, Tambon Baan Tuek, Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai, Thailand 64130
The Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center in Northern Thailand where you can visit or spend time volunteering. You will also find dogs, cats and other animals being cared for here. By visiting the ENP you will get to learn about elephants and efforts being done to protect these creatures. There are not many places in Thailand which allow elephants to roam free without being forced into riding tourists around on their backs. Day trips and longer experiences are available. You might like to read this experience; 'Alternatives to Riding Elephants in Thailand' of volunteering at ENP.
- Address: 209/2 Sridom Chai Road, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
The Wildlife Friends Foundation (WFFT) located in Phetchaburi is a wildlife sanctuary which rescues and cares for sick and abandoned animals. They aim to help wildlife, educate people, prevent hunting and promote conservation. You have the option to visit the centre or spend time volunteering where you can work direct with elephants, bears, gibbons, monkeys and other animals.
- Address: Moo 6,Tambon Thamairuak, Amphoe Thayang, 76130 Petchaburi, Thailand
Located close to the Cambodian border northwest of Surin city, The Surin Project is a not-for-profit organisation focused on helping improve living conditions for elephants in Thailand and providing economic assistance to local communities. The Surin Project is not an elephant sanctuary, they work with a government run facility to improve animal welfare standards for elephants and they which is important to help prevent the suffering of elephants usually found working in the tourism trade. You can volunteer at the Surin Project helping to plant, maintain and harvest elephant food and care for the 13 resident elephants.
Other Top Rated Animal Sanctuaries in Thailand:
The Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket rescues and cares for thousands of dogs every year. You can help a special needs dog and your sponsorship will enable us to keep our promise to all the animals in our care of always providing a safe place to live and the necessary medical care they need and deserve. Soi Dog treats all animals in our care equally whether sponsored or not and your gift is used to help all the dogs including the one you have chosen to sponsor.
Volunteers are needed to help with walking, socialising, bathing of dogs and cats. Feeding orphaned puppies etc. No assistance with expenses can be provided. We have negotiated special rates for accommodation at beach locations and provide transport to and from the shelter.
On the spectacular island of Koh Lanta you can visit or volunteer with Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW) who are a non-profit organization which rescue and help dogs and other animals. You can sponsor an animal, make a donation, adopt and also if you would like do something rewarding they are always in need of volunteers all year round.
Tips How to Be a Responsible Tourist & Not Harm Wildlife in Thailand
- Avoid travel and tour operators which offer elephant rides and treks
- Do not visit places like the Tiger Temple or animals circuses
- Avoid paying to/having pictures with exotic animals on the streets of places like Bangkok and Phuket, this fuels the illegal wildlife trade
- Always ask yourself is this normal/ethical for example selfies and pictures with animals
- Don't accidently buy ivory, if you have any doubts always ask questions
- Don't be afraid to speak up if you see harm being done and contact local authorities
Did we miss any sanctuaries or places off our list? Contact us. You might also like to check out all of our featured volunteer programs in Thailand or if you would like to discover more of the country search Thailand tours. Or more species check out more ethical animal volunteer programs abroad.