• Megan Kate

Elephant Nature Park: Volunteering In Chiang Mai | Travel Review

Hello everyone, welcome back to my favourite segment here at Meg's Gap Life- it's a new travel review!

This week I have spoken to the lovely Hollie about her time volunteering at the famous Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. Hollie did 2 lots of their 'overnight stay' volunteer opportunity, to make it a slightly longer stay of 2 nights and 3 days. I've spoken to her in detail about all aspects of researching, booking and carrying out the whole experience and I can guarantee you it is a really great read, so let's start shall we:

The Details

What, when and where was it? I did the Elephant Nature Park "Overnight Stay" in Chiang Mai, for 2 nights and 3 days.

Did you book it in advance? Yeah I booked it three months in advance, but you can book closer to the date if you want. I've just checked the website and the next availability is in two days’ time, so there's no need to be overly prepared. It's super convenient for more freestyle travellers!

How much did it cost? It costs 5800BHT/ £149 per night (So I paid double this because I did it twice).

What did that price include? All meals (buffet style and vegetarian), private accommodation, transportation from Chiang Mai city centre, a tour guide and the actual interaction with the elephants/ other animals such as feeding, watching them and learning about them. Part of the money goes towards saving the animals from torture camps and abusive homes, and looking after them once they arrive at the park, so it's definitely worth the money in my opinion!

Did you need much spending money on top of this? None at all unless you want to purchase ice cream, cans of pop/beer or souvenirs.

Did you go by yourself or with others? I decided to go by myself as a way to work on my personal development and confidence. There were lots of families, couples and other single people there too so it's suitable for anyone! The tour guides are also really friendly so you never feel alone.

Did you need a visa? If so, which one? You don't need a specific visa to do the volunteer work, so you won't need anything other than a standard tourist visa unless you’re staying longer than 90 days. I didn’t need one as I was only in Thailand for three weeks. (UK residents can enter Thailand for up to 30 days, and then extend for another 30 days, with no visa due to the visa exemption programme).

Who did you book through? Were they helpful? I booked directly through the Elephant Nature Park website, it's really simple and straight forward.

How did you go about researching the ethics of the park before booking? I did a lot of research. I looked through plenty of written reviews as well as YouTube vlogs and reviews. This was very important to me as I didn’t want to take part in anything that was unethical! (Elephant Nature Park is the number one location in Thailand for people looking to volunteer with an ethical company, so you can be safe when booking. To find out more about how to choose sustainable travel companies, have a look through this post.)

Did the company live up to your expectations when it comes to ethics and sustainability? Is there anything you wish you'd known about them before going? Yes they definitely lived up to my expectations! They are so caring towards all of the animals and really have saved a lot of lives. There's nothing I wish I'd known before going, all of the details are clearly displayed on their website.

Did you need any specific vaccines? Not mandatory ones, but a few are recommended for Thailand in general. The official guidelines for vaccines when travelling to Thailand can be found here.

How much luggage did you take? One large backpack, I used it for my whole three-week Thailand trip. Elephant Nature Park specifically state 'One Standard Check-in Sized Rucksack/Suit Case/Bag AND one small day pack per person' is permitted during your stay.

The Experience

Describe it in one sentence? A life changing, completely overwhelming and inspiring experience.

Tell us the best bits? My favourite bit was making rice balls and feeding them to the elephants, it was great to see the elephants so happy!

Were there any negatives? The only thing I can think is that there's no air-con in the accommodation (but I’d rather they spend the money on the health and well-being of the animals anyway).

What did a typical day of work at the park consist of? It's mostly learning about the elephants and feeding them/watching them (it's not too much work, more of a learning experience). The website give a very detailed description of what you're itinerary will look like for your stay, read about it here.

How was the food and accommodation? The accommodation was very natural and basic but clean and tidy, and the food was really tasty- there was a huge selection too. (It's all vegetarian).

The Review

Was it worth the money? 100% Yes!

Are you glad you tried it at least once? Definitely, I loved it, I'd do it again if the opportunity came along.

Would you recommend it to family/ close friends? Yes, and I already have done!

Any final thoughts? I think I’ve said everything but I'll say it again: it really was an incredible experience and I’d recommend it to anybody and everybody, you have to give it a go if you’re in Chiang Mai!

And with that, we're done! Did we answer all of your questions? I hope we've managed to at least cover a few queries or put your mind at ease when it comes to making the decision. For more info on things such as WIFI access, language queries and payment, check out the FAQ's on their website here. Thank you again to Hollie for taking the time to answer the questions.

As we've said, taking a big travel leap can be scary, but the scariest part is just deciding to do it! You got this. See you in the next one, Meg x

**All opinions in this post are based on a PERSONAL experience with this specific business, and cannot guarantee that you will have the same feelings. Any negatives are written with the aim of being as honest as possible and again are purely personal opinion based on a specific experience. No offence or slander is intended**