Thailand conjures up many feelings and ideas. One of the most prominent is that of one of the world’s largest land animals: elephants. In Chiang Mai, visits to ethical elephant sanctuaries are some of the most highly sought after activities for travellers. However, a little bit of research is advised to ensure a great experience for both you and the elephants.
Given ethical concerns and the numerous options available, it’s difficult to choose where to go. So we’ve done some of the hard work for you. Below we’ve selected three experiences taking into account many important considerations in regards to this, specifically previous guest reviews.
FROM: £46/per person
If you are fascinated by elephants and simply want to spend time with them, then you’ll enjoy this tour. Before getting too close to the rescued elephants that inhabit this retirement park, an experienced guide will teach you everything you need to know. From this point, there is no set itinerary; you’ll do what the elephants want to do that day. Typically this will mean hanging about with them as they eat, bath and play in mud.
From £106/ per person
This full-day experience combines half a day looking after and learning about elephants at a private elephant estate, with half a day exploring Chiang Mai’s surrounding mountains. Kick-off your day at the estate, where you’ll learn about the Asian Elephants’ fascinating history, cook them healthy herbal treats and walk them through the forests where you’ll leave them to bathe in the river. After a morning looking after the elephants, you’ll enjoy an authentic Thai lunch before visiting the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. Situated on the top of a mountain, here you’ll discover the incredible vistas of the surrounding luscious green landscapes.
From £74/ per person
The family-owned Elephant Pride Sanctuary welcomes guests to their grounds, where they’ll teach you about the elephants and how to care for them in the jungle. A small organisation, it has rescued elephants that previously worked on logging crews cutting down forests. Here, you’ll spend a full day seeing how the elephants’ lives have now changed. This experience caters to small groups of nine people and includes an authentic Thai lunch.