A Comparison of Chiang Mai Elephant Tours

by Roisin McAuley, Paul Joseph  |  Updated August 3, 2023

In the Thai city of Chiang Mai, visits to ethical elephant sanctuaries are some of the most highly sought-after experiences for travellers.

(Photo: Elephant Retirement Park Chiang Mai / Courtesy GetYourGuide)

Given the number of options available, not to mention how important it is to find a sanctuary that plays by the rules when it comes to animal care, finding a Chiang Mai elephant tour that ticks all the right boxes can be a challenging task. So we’ve done the research for you and compared three  Chiang Mai Elephant Tours, each providing a distinct experience and – crucially – one that puts the well-being of its majestic protagonists at centre stage.

Elephant Care at Elephant Retirement Park

If you are fascinated by elephants and want to spend time with them in a professional but relaxed environment, then this tour ticks all the boxes. Before getting too close to the rescued elephants that inhabit this well-established retirement park, an experienced guide will teach you everything you need to know about the animals and how to treat and interact with them, as well as the park’s broader mission. After your tutorial, there is no set itinerary, and you’ll be able to enjoy free time with the elephants as you please. Typically this will mean nothing more complex than hanging about with them as they eat, bathe and play in the mud. From $49 per person.

Book at GetYourGuide

Doi Suthep Temple & Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Day Trip

(Photo: Pon Tours / Courtesy GetYourGuide)

This full-day experience at a private elephant estate combines half a day looking after and learning about elephants and the second half exploring Chiang Mai’s surrounding mountains. The day kicks off at the estate, where your guides will tell you all about the Asian Elephants’ fascinating history. Next, you’ll get to cook the animals healthy herbal treats and walk them through the forests where you’ll leave them to bathe in the river. After a full 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 $52 per person.

Book at GetYourGuide

Care Pride Elephants: Full Day

(Photo: Elephant Pride Sanctuary / Courtesy Viator)

The family-owned Elephant Pride Sanctuary welcomes guests to their expansive grounds, where the experienced team will teach you all about the elephants and how to care for them in the jungle. A small organisation, the sanctuary rescues elephants that previously worked on logging crews cutting down forests. The idea is to show visitors how the elephants’ lives have now changed at their new, more ethnically-minded home. This experience caters to small groups of up to nine people and includes a tasty Thai lunch. From $89 per person.

Book at Viator