Hill Tribe Community Development in Thailand

Volunteers in Thailand live and work with a local Karen Hill tribe to improve aspects of their environment that benefits their community as well as their elephants.  This project also gives you the opportunity to observe captive elephants living freely in their natural habitat.  You’ll help our partner organization create a better environment for these beautiful creatures and promote their ethical treatment around the globe.  Conservation starts in the community, so that’s where this project begins!

The core focuses of this volunteering program is firstly to assist with much needed projects throughout the community and secondly being given the opportunity to watch elephants living in their forest home.  The elephants roam through through beautiful dense forests surrounding the village as opposed to residing in a contained area.  They’re almost entirely hands-off, with the exception of the mahouts who are their caretakers within their forest home.

The GOAT Volunteers Hill Tribe Community Development & Elephant Conservation project focuses on the many projects that the villagers need assistance with throughout the year, these projects change with the seasons. You could be involved with helping build dams making water more accessible for the elephants and other livestock deeper in the forest, helping create fire breaks to protect the forest from fires in the drier seasons or assisting with planting and harvesting grasses for the elephants or other crops grown in the village.

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Room & Board

Accommodations for the Hill Tribe Community Development in Thailand project are with a host family while in the village and in tents/hammocks while in the forest.

  • Host family house: mattress on the floor with linens and mosquito nets
  • Tent/hammock: camping mats and sleeping bags provided
  • 3 meals per day in the village and in the forest
  • Host family houses may have either Western-style or squat toilets — this is very common in Asia and may take some getting used to for those unaccustomed to these types of facilities
  • WiFi is not available, so volunteers are encouraged to purchase local SIM cards for their unlocked phones.



As with all GOAT Volunteer projects, there are 2 primary fees associated with volunteering: the application fee paid to GOAT and the project fee paid directly to the NGO after they accept your application.  Due to the remote location, there is also a separate transportation fee (details below).

DurationCost (1 person)Cost (2+ people)
1 week£670£450
2 weeks£1340£900
Prices for projects in Thailand are in British pounds; please check the current exchange rate for costs in your local currency (www.xe.com).

Included: 3 meals per day (upon arrival at project) • Homestay in the village • Tents/hammocks in the forest • Professional English-speaking guide • National Park fee • Elephant fund donation

NOT Included: Flights • Vaccinations • Visas • Travel insurance • Local transport • Personal expenses • Bank/wire transfer fees


Single Supplement

Our Thailand project carries a “single supplement” to help cover the costs associated with only hosting one volunteer at a time. That is why you see separate pricing in the table above. The reduced rate is for groups of 2 or more.


Additional Transportation Fee

Our local partners highly recommend using their fully-insured, knowledgeable drivers.  The villages can be difficult to find and relying on a 3rd party driver could result in not finding the village.  As such, all individuals traveling with GOAT Volunteers are required to utilize this service to reach the village.

  • Chiang Mai province (~ 4 hours) is £157 round-trip
  • Mae Sot province (~ 2 hours) is £125 round-trip

The transportation fee is for solo volunteers; it is reduced if there are more than one individual being driven.

All projects incur a $250 application fee.  Please see the The Fine Print page for more information.


Special Considerations | Hill Tribe Community Development in Thailand


For special considerations regarding projects in Thailand, please visit the Thailand page.

Physical Fitness

This project takes place in a remote part of Thailand.  The community projects are likely to require physical labor and may mean spending long hours outdoors exposed to the elements.  Hiking to where the elephants are located can take several hours in rough terrain and variable weather conditions. A medium to high level of fitness is advised.

Elephant Safety

Individuals volunteering with elephants in Thailand must confirm that they understand and accept the risks associated with working with these large, wild animals.  The elephants are captive but still wild at heart as elephants have never been through a domestication process.  Volunteers must abide by all rules and regulations put forth by the local organization while on this project.  Also, basic common sense and situational awareness need to be adhered to at all times.

Elephant Riding

Riding elephants may seem fun, but in actuality it is an activity steeped in abuse and is not supported by GOAT Volunteers and our partners.  Volunteers who ride elephants with any external organization while participating in a GOAT Volunteers project will be removed from the project immediately, no refunds will be issued, and no further support will be provided.