We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Angela, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Angela lives in the United States, and submitted the following report about the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thaland. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Thai, English
Reasons to go to Elephant Nature Park
After a week of sightseeing in Cambodia, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai, I set off to Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a volunteer vacation. Elephant Nature Park offers day-long, week-long, and extended stay volunteer opportunities far from the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai city.
I reserved my spot as a weekly volunteer several months in advance, as the programs are in high demand. On a beautiful Monday in January, 50 other weekly volunteers and I arrived at the Elephant Nature Park office, where they shuttled us in air conditioned vans to the project site.
For the next week, many other solo travelers and I bonded over daily chores like washing watermelons, cleaning the park, cutting corn in the fields, and scooping elephant poop – which is not as bad as it sounds!
Each day, we were able to get close to the elephants and learn their stories. In our free time, our Volunteer Coordinators helped us bathe and feed some of the 41 rescued elephants at the project. We were encouraged to walk dogs at the attached dog shelter, and nights were structured with Thai language lessons, wildlife documentaries, and even a traditional Buddhist ceremony to bless the volunteers.
The donation to the volunteer program covered three vegetarian meals a day, served buffet style, and a shared room with other volunteers. Though hot water and a good WiFi signal were nearly non-existent, it did not take away from the overall amazing feeling the project left me with.
I would highly recommend a volunteer vacation to Elephant Nature Park, where you'll learn about the plight of elephants used for tourism and work to make a difference for them. It was a well-organized program with friendly English-speaking staff who genuinely appreciated our help. I made great friends who shared my passion for animal welfare, and came back to the United States having had an experience unlike any other.
Rubbing noses with the incredible Asian elephants didn't hurt, either.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)