Orangutans, monkeys, bears, gibbons, deer, birds and otters are some of the 700 animals being cared for by volunteers like you at this inspirational wildlife haven. Rescued from cruelty and captivity, these animals need your help to recover and live a life as close to the wild as possible. If you book early, you may be lucky enough to volunteer at the on-site elephant sanctuary too.
Duration: 1 – 12 weeks
Dates: Arrivals throughout the year
Arrival day: Sunday
Return day: Sunday
Eligibility: General level of fitness required. Work can be quite physical and the temperature hot.
- Live surrounded by exotic and fascinating wildlife, seeing amazing animals at every turn
- Wake up to the sound of the monkeys chattering and the birds calling
- See the gibbons swing through the trees – in their past lives, they were caged and captive
- Walk an elephant through the woodland, allowing it to graze like in the wild
- Hit the beach and explore the night markets to soak up some of the best that Thailand has to offer
Thailand is a stunning and culturally rich country which tourists have flocked to in growing numbers over the years. Sadly, as the number of tourists has increased, so has animal abuse through the tourist trade. Each year, many animals are rescued from this fates and brought to the sanctuary, located in dense forestland close to Thailand’s largest national park. Receiving the love, care and attention that they need, these animals are either rehabilitated to the wild, or live out their days in an environment as close to the wild as possible.
Volunteers play an intrinsic role in the continuation of the sanctuary, working closely alongside local workers and never far from the rescued animals. As you carry out your tasks, you will hear the sounds of the monkeys chattering, the bears growling and the birds calling – and to see the animals enjoying their new lives here is a real privilege.
No day will be the same, but you can expect to be getting involved in a variety of the following activities:
- Food preparation for the many hungry stomachs at the sanctuary
- Cleaning enclosures, pools and feeding areas – the animals will be watching as you go!
- Creating and providing enrichments to challenge and stimulate the animals in your care
- Observation of the animals
- Assisting with the inspiring rehabilitation and release programme
- Building and maintaining of enclosures
- The ‘water run’ – making sure that the animals are well watered
- Conservation projects around the sanctuary
Your main role at the Thailand wildlife sanctuary involves work with bears, gibbons, monkeys, orangutans, birds and other wildlife. On-site there is also an elephant refuge, where a limited number of volunteers can help out. We shall endeavour to arrange at least one week of volunteering with the elephants and, if you book early, we can arrange for half of your time to be working with the elephants. Working in both parts of the sanctuary will give you insights into the very diverse conservation and welfare needs all of these animals.
- Shared accommodation in the heart of the sanctuary
- Expect to share a room with 2 – 5 others
- Western toilets and showers with water heated by the sunshine
- The accommodation is comfortable yet basic
- Communal areas are located at the centre of the sanctuary
- Three meals per day provided
- DIY breakfast of cereals, toast, eggs and fresh fruits
- Lunch and dinner are cooked and provided by local cooks
- Food is traditional Thai food with occasional Western options
- Most dietary requirements can be catered for including vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerance and gluten free. Please note, the options will be more limited and you may need to supplement / enhance the meal options, particularly if you are gluten free
Join a 13 day tour that goes from Bangkok to Chiang Mai across into Laos and then on to Vietnam. This budget backpacker tour is the perfect way to round off your volunteering.
Airport: Bangkok (BKK)
Arrival day: Sunday before 14:00. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to the sanctuary
Departure day: Sunday after 12:00
Edwin was born in the Netherlands, and spent the earlier part of his life in the army. Following his army career he worked in Thailand and became increasingly involved in animal welfare. Concerned by some of the practices he saw, he founded the wildlife sanctuary Thailand to provide a home for displaced and abused animals. Edwin has lived in Thailand for almost 30 years, speaks fluent Thai (amongst other languages) and is fully embedded into the Thai culture.
- Access to your own personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the program and manage your booking
- Dedicated contact time with an experienced destination manager to discuss the project, answer any of your questions and for us to find out more about you
- Help and advice from our UK office before arrival and whilst you are away
- In-country support
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and project advice
- Financial protection: ATOL (if we book your flights); IPP (if we don’t book your flights)
- Thorough orientation on arrival
- Accommodation (see the ‘accommodation’ section above for details)
- Advice on visa requirements
- Oyster plants a tree in Africa with TreeAid to help reduce the impact of global carbon emissions
- Met personally at Bangkok airport and taken to the project
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
- Flights – as an ATOL bonded company, Oyster can book flights for you
- You need a valid passport that meets the requirements of the country you will be travelling to
- Insurance (covering your time with Oyster and any planned independent travel)
- Any costs associated with changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Home country travel costs
- Spending money for additional trips, food and entertainment
- Cost of a hotel in Bangkok if arriving too late for the transfer (before 14:00)
- Return transfer to the airport
“I was amazed by the size of the Thailand wildlife sanctuary and the amount of animals that are constantly being rescued. Highlights for me included working with the bears and seeing the elephants!” Says Anne, Destination Manager
Without enthusiastic and hard-working volunteers, the animal sanctuary Thailand would not be able to run. Volunteers enjoy knowing that they really are making a major contribution to animal welfare in Thailand, and get to see the results of their hard work.
This work is crucial, as it allows for the smooth running of the sanctuary and means that more mistreated animals in distress can be cared for. Without the help of the volunteers to ensure the day to day running of the sanctuary, the full time workers would not be able to build more enclosures, or rescue more animals in need of help. If you love animals, you can learn a great deal about some amazing species and work closely with them to assist their rehabilitation.
There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ day at the wildlife rescue centre, but the structure will be broadly as follows.
Morning tasks: 6:30 – 12:00 with a breakfast break and comfort breaks
Lunch: 12:00 – 13:00
Afternoon tasks: 13:00 – 17:00 with comfort breaks
Many of the animals at the sanctuary have been rescued from exploitation, captivity and cruelty. The sanctuary aims to provide them a home where they can live a life as close to the wild as possible. As such, there is a ‘no hands’ policy here. Whilst you can spend lots of time watching, monitoring and enriching the animals in care, none of them are to be petted.
The exception is the elephants who roam freely and are very sociable creatures. Working closely with the elephants means helping to bathe them, feed them and walk with them daily.
Oyster assesses projects carefully to ensure that they offer high standards of animal welfare and environmental practice. We also check that volunteers understand key points of good practice before working with animals. To find out more, see our animal welfare policy.
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
There is a growing elephant refuge at the sanctuary where volunteers can help with these gentle giants. The spaces here are limited and allocated on a first come first served basis. If you are keen to work with the elephants too, we would really recommend booking early. Where possible we shall always arrange volunteers to work both with the wildlife and with the elephants sides of the project.
We are an approved activity provider for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. You are able to put the time that you spend volunteering abroad on this project towards achieving your Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. We are happy to sign off your completion of this programme to show that you have achieved the Residential section of the Gold Award.
Yes, absolutely. This can be arranged by the project staff once you are at the sanctuary.
We do not include the return transfer to the airport for environmental and financial reasons. As there are departures every Sunday, there are often people wanting to go back to Bangkok / the airport at a similar time. This means that volunteers can share a car and divide the cost of the transfer between them. We prefer to encourage shared transfers as it means that the environmental impact is reduced – and ultimately it might save you money too.
Thailand has a tropical climate and as such you can always expect rain and sunshine – and sometimes within minutes of each other! Typically the wettest season is September and October, so you should make sure to have wet weather gear at this time of year. This being said, the rain is often in short sharp bursts and doesn’t stop you from doing anything on the project. As a guideline, you can expect:
Cold season: November – February. Temperatures approx 15 – 30 celsius.
Hot season: March – June. Temperatures approx 30 – 45 celsius.
Rainy season: July – August. Temperatures approx 25 – 35 celsius.
Wet season: September – October. Temperatures approx 25 – 35 celsius.
We would recommend budgeting approximately £30 a week for food and free time activities.
There is really easy access to cash machines from the centre so you do not need to take all your cash with you.
If you are going for over 4 weeks, you might like to consider getting a cash card. Cash cards are a safe and convenient way to take your money travelling with you – they act just like debit cards but do not have the same fees as you might have to pay on your bank cards from home. Check out our blog for details on how the card works here.
No visa is necessary for under 30 days from UK and most western European countries. We will give advice on longer stays.
You will need to make sure your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months after you arrive in Thailand.
Most of our volunteers are independent travellers and you will become part of a group of people from around the world here. It is fine to travel with friends or as part of a small group too however- more the merrier!
The simple answer to this question is, yes absolutely!
It is important to bear in mind however that this may not be like other holidays that you have taken. Remember that you are volunteering, and this means that you will be put to work! This sort of holiday is a world away from sun loungers and cocktails, with our volunteers often heading home tired but immensely satisfied. If you think that you will need a bit of relaxing time on your trip too, do make sure to factor this in when your time on the project is complete.
You should visit your doctor or travel nurse to find out what vaccinations you will need. You must have your vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Without these you will not be able to work on the project.
It is strongly recommended that you are vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, rabies and tuberculosis. These are entirely optional (at your own risk) as these diseases do occur in Thailand but have not occurred at the centre. Please follow your doctor’s advice.
There are medical facilities approximately 30 minutes from the project site. Larger hospitals can be found within 3 hours drive.
The centre is in a very secure and safe area and a full safety briefing will be given upon arrival. There is a safe on site for storing valuables. You will be sharing on-site accommodation with other volunteers and the coordinators live on site too. This is a hands off project, except with the elephants, and you will be fully trained for all aspects of the role.
The sanctuary is about 20 minutes from the tourist towns of Cha Am and Hua Hin. They are beautiful and used to having tourists frequent them. Please be aware this is a Buddhist country and you should not have too much flesh on show!
There is intermittent access to wifi at the sanctuary, however this is neither reliable nor fast. Many volunteers buy a local SIM card to access data on the move.
There is mobile phone signal at the centre and you can receive incoming emergency calls at the centre too
Thailand is 7 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+7)
In Thailand, a mixture of European plugs and American plugs are used.
- The local village is just a short walk away and has a night market and shops.
- There is an on-site bar which is open until the early evening every day.
- Trips are often organised to Petchaburi, Hua Hin and Cha Am in the evening to see the night markets and explore.
- There is a weekly trip to a local shopping mall, particularly useful for those with specific dietary requirements
- For a night out volunteers can take a taxi to Hua Hin, which has lots of great bars and restaurants and also a night market which sells lots of cheap clothes and souvenirs.
- The Thailand animal sanctuary is located on temple grounds, so it is very easy to visit the temple and experience Thai culture on your days off.
- There are also amazing beaches just 15 miles away and fantastic hiking in the national park.
You will have evenings free and one day per week off.
Some advice from a past volunteer, Alice:
“You will find in Thailand that life is very different to how you might be used to from western places. Life is a lot more laid back, and can come across as not being well organised! When I first arrived I had to be proactive with my questions to find out more about things, rather than being told explicitly about them! They’re not going to hold your hand. If you go in with an open mind and give it a chance, you’ll wind up adjusting very quickly and will thoroughly enjoy your experience there! You stop worrying about the little things after a while and learn to accept them and laugh about them.”
Some advice from a past volunteer, Maxine:
“One should always be open minded when participating on such a project. The accommodations were rustic but that is all part of the charm in my opinion. My advice would be to always keep an open mind and try to take in as much as possible since this is truly a wonderful experience.”
Some advice from a past volunteer, Tessa:
“It was difficult to adjust at first as I had to think on my feet all the time, but this forced me to develop fast learning and quick thinking skills which are absolutely invaluable in life. Be prepared to be thrown in at the deep end, think fast and remember what you are told.”
Supervision will be fairly intensive during the first few days, when you will receive a thorough induction and work-related training. Once you are comfortable with things, you might not always have a supervisor working alongside you, but there will always be staff and other volunteers around to help, and you will always be accompanied for any high risk activities.
Staff at Oyster’s head office and in-country will be responsible for your safety and welfare while you are at the project. This will start from the moment you are picked up from the airport / your hotel until you are due to leave the project on your last day. Before and after these times, you will be outside Oyster’s responsibility and should make sure that you act safely and avoid risk. This is also true if you choose to leave the project during your time off. We will give you plenty of guidance and advice about this.
Oyster has personally hand-picked some of the best volunteering projects out there. With so much amazing choice, it can be hard to make a decision. Our Animal Welfare Destination Manager, Anne, has written a guide to help you to choose the best animal volunteering project for you.