Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary
First of all, when it comes to animal rights, we thank you a lot for doing your careful part and for being a conscientious traveler! Second, you’ve just come to the right place to read honest thoughts about every Chiang Mai elephant sanctuary!
With this guide, our goal is to point you as best we can towards an ethical experience of elephants in Thailand and Chiang Mai!
Elephant tourism is anything but white and black.
As the elephant tourism ethics issue grows, so will that map. So please share with anyone who thinks you need to know more about this very important subject.
We have put together the info we have heard the first person during the past years, going to great lengths in this article, to get first-hand information.
Talking in the past with the owners of elephant sanctuaries, as well as some of Asia’s most respected elephant conservation experts.
We are very proud when we can present a guide like this one.
We can detail an overview of the actual status of the elephant tourism, as it stands in 2020, recommending several fantastic elephant sanctuaries that lead the way in the welfare and treatment of these amazing creatures, caring for their safety (often forgotten in the animal rights race).
We will discuss the past of elephants in Thailand in this article, and why elephant tourism persists. Tourism for the elephants is so controversial.
We can actually discuss here some of the most frequently asked questions, all regarding elephant tourism, and receive feedback from some of Asia’s most respected elephant conservation experts on each of these issues.
The elephant animals had been trained and worked in the lumber industry and on public works in the past.
In the Chiang Mai region’s elephant sanctuaries, those elephants and their descendants are retired and given a better life. Still, some tours offer elephant riding, however.
Some parks have turned into real tourist factories, large operations serving the numerous tourists who visit each day.
The bottom line is the respect the beasts are treated with.
No one rides the elephants at a real elephant sanctuary, and the elephants are not made to do anything by force
They can enjoy the freedom to move around and they can enjoy space to do so. When they develop a health problem the elephants are cared for and receive adequate medical treatment. There is, of course, no prodding, using hooks, or hitting the elephants.
Keep in mind: In the wild, elephants roam the forests and jungles in search of food and water nearly 20 kilometers a day. That keeps them moving and the exercise keeps them lean and healthy. We are unable to maintain the same level of exercise in captivity which leads to obesity, joint pain, and depression. Elephants in the wild live nearly 70 years on average but this can be reduced by up to half in captivity.
The mahout in Thailand is the traditional elephant keeper and trainer: mahout means elephant’ rider’ or’ keeper,’ but the meaning of’ caretaker’ is more appropriate in sanctuaries.
Hug elephant sanctuary
Hug Elephant Sanctuary was founded by a group of locals when they were aiming to improve the quality of their elephants’ life significantly as they have rescued elephants from all over Thailand.
For many reasons, a tour to the Hug elephant sanctuary can be a truly memorable tour, focusing on the safe and sustainable practice of interacting without riding the elephants.
The entire family can enjoy this tour
Looking forward to personal experience as you spend the day learning about the unique story of each elephant in the beautiful jungle, and then feeding and playing with them.
A great experience in the scenic countryside of Chiang Mai
After a typical drive through the scenic countryside of Chiang Mai, you will take a short walk through the local forest into a village of the Karen hill tribe and meet with a local English speaking guide.
He will talk briefly about the general history of the elephants in Thailand and then provide you with traditional Karen clothes to wear over your outfit.
Each elephant will be introduced into small, private groups. When you feed them with their afternoon banana and sugarcane treats, the guide will share stories about each elephant.
As you can get to know them much better, you will begin to notice their various personalities. Some are relaxed, shy, and others playful and curious!
The afternoon starts by reuniting with your elephant buddies near the local river after dining on a great Thai lunch and taking a short break while viewing the scenic hillside.
With the help of water pails and large scrub brushes, you can help wash the elephants before having an elephant mud spa to assist them.
Rinse off upstream before the tour comes to a close and change back into dry clothes. Until heading back to your Chiang Mai home, don’t forget to get those last few pictures of the elephants.
Chiang Mai elephant home
We worked on a humane and ecological eco-tourism initiative at Chiang Mai Elephant Shelter. We want to save elephants in a lousy environment like a circus or riding camp from their hard work or a career.
We don’t want to see elephants witch dance or get badly treated. We want to present our experience and knowledge of the elephants for care, love, and respect.
Here they are! In a small village surrounded by mountains, near a national park.
All visitors at Chiang Mai Elephant Home can observe or participate in nature with the elephants. Perhaps better, you can walk, drink, bathe and play close-up with them.
The sanctuary is working to give the elephants a better life.
By supplying them with a clean, caring, and secure environment to roam freely in their natural setting.
Moreover, by showing love, respect, and care differently, we build trust and love between elephants and humans.
The sanctuary is providing them with enough food each day. Including planting banana, cotton, hay, etc. we do purchase our agricultural products from the local community.
The camp is working hard to strike a natural balance that offers our visitors a worthy experience. And sharing our love for elephants, caretakers of elephants, the environment, and community.
The half-day bareback elephant riding tour is the ideal choice if you are not eligible for a full-day ride, or if you want a brief yet unforgettable elephant riding experience when visiting Thailand.
This tour is available either in the morning (6:30 am hotel pick-up) or in the afternoon (1:30 pm hotel pick-up) and has a length of about five hours. Keep in mind that these pick-up times are approximate and depend on the number of people in your tour group who require pick-up services.
A typical half-day tour begins directly north of Chiang Mai City with a scenic drive into the mountains.
Your party will pause at a local market along the way to grab food for the elephants, and then you’ll get a quick Thai breakfast on arrival at the Thai Elephant Home.
To prepare yourself, you will be given a traditional elephant trainer (mahout) uniform to wear over your clothes.
Then a brief but informative talk about the history of Asian elephants will be provided.
A local English-speaking mahout will teach you the right way to approach an elephant safely, give you the commands that will be used during the ride, and show you the right way to sit on an elephant so that you and the elephant are both at ease.
The more exciting part comes next! You will be given fresh fruit to feed and win over the elephants before taking them for a ride through several scenic fields.
Take a break from riding and allow the elephants to refuel on bamboo and grass (they eat A LOT) before proceeding to the river for a bath. Do not forget to bring a waterproof camera!
Elephant village sanctuary Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai province is also home for another ”small family in a rural village of Dok Ko Ki”, surrounded by hundreds of hills and valleys in the Rose of the East.
Here in Dok Ko Ki is where the Elephant Village Sanctuary’s journey commenced. They create a fantastic place for travelers to have an unforgettable experience with the elephant, together with a herd of 3 elephants.
Chiang Mai City is about 90 minutes drive to Mae Win district.
The village is to be found on the hill surrounded by rice terraces. Living here are the farmers who plant vegetables such as rice, corn, bananas, and raise livestock. Ken and his family, inherited from the previous generation, decided to invite people to interact with the elephants that his family has cared for for for many decades.
They offer an ethical experience in this elephant sanctuary and do not allow elephant riding.
The Karen family treats and feeds the elephant well.
The elephant interaction they give involves washing an elephant, mud wash, creating the elephant’s medicinal balls, and feeding them with it.
The Elephant Village Sanctuary introduces a new member to the family during our Mid-2019 visit. Now the baby elephant is becoming the center of attention, and many travelers enjoy it.
The Sanctuary also has a small trekking route to the waterfall, where you can enjoy swimming and play with the slider of natural water.
They now offer elephant experience both full-day and half-day, so you can enjoy the activity whenever you wish.
To take part in this elephant care tour, you should be confident in your fitness.
The experience can be classified as a rough adventure. Next, the conveyance will be on a boat.
During the tour, there are several hikes and quite a long walk to the waterfall. Rock can be slippery around the waterfall. Bringing footwear that can get wet and dirty with mud, is recommended.
A typical day begins with a picturesque drive through the countryside of Thailand towards Mae Wang, a district about one and a half hours southwest of Chiang Mai City.
The order of the day’s activities will be adjusted accordingly, depending on your group’s time of arrival and its size.
You will encounter your local hill tribe guide once you arrive at the Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary, who will educate you about the past of Thai elephants and how these gentle giants came to be in the Sanctuary.
Pull-on your mahout (elephant trainer) clothes afterward, because it is time to meet the elephants!
Elephants want to get muddy, so the first stuff you’re trying to do with them is offering them a mud spa. Nice, smooth slather mud on their massive bodies because it helps protect their skin from the sun and insects.
First, follow such amazing animals to a woodland area where they will graze on the leaves of grass and bamboo. It’s time to take them to a local river where you’ll give them a soak and have a cooling dip once the elephants have had their meal.
Afterward, say goodbye to the elephants and sit down in the jungle for a satisfying Thai lunch.
Go on a short trek through the cool forest once you’ve lingered. End the day with a relaxing trip on a handmade bamboo raft down the Mae Wang River before turning into clean, dry clothes and returning to Chiang Mai.
You don’t have to go on the trek or the bamboo rafting ride if you prefer a less strenuous day. Instead, spend more time eating their favorite snacks with the elephants and learn how to make a different elephant herbal medicine for the Karen hill group.
Whatever tour you choose, you’ll experience it incredibly
Maerim elephant sanctuary
Maerim Elephant Sanctuary is an ethical elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, located 40 kilometers north of Chiang Mai. Because of its location near the city, this cozy elephant sanctuary is an excellent choice for families with young children.
Maerim Elephant Sanctuary has five rescued elephants from riding camps, circus work, and illegal logging.
The Maerim Elephant Sanctuary combines the one-of-a-kind experience of getting close to the elephants with the satisfaction of knowing that you support an ethical no-riding sanctuary for the elephants.
This trip is a family-friendly experience but is also the perfect thing to do with a friend or even yourself. Arrive at the Maerim Elephant Sanctuary after a scenic drive into the countryside north of Chiang Mai, follow your tour guide, and shift to typical mahout (elephant trainer) clothing.
Then, it is time to meet with the family of elephants.
Your English speaking guide will teach you the names of the elephants and will tell you how they came to be in the shrine.
You’ll then be given a banana basket so you can become friends with the elephants by feeding them their favorite snacks.
The trip begins with a beautiful stroll along a nature trail through the forest, through a local farm and down to a peaceful lake.
Take a refreshing swim in the river and then bathe in the elephants! Splash and play to your heart’s content with the elephants.
Whether you choose to take part in a full-day or half-day tour at the Maerim Elephant Sanctuary, everyone will have the opportunity to make a traditional Thai noodle soup bowl.
The day wraps up with some time to relax and swim in a pool before returning to your Chiang Mai hotel or guesthouse.
Into the wild elephant camp
Into the Wild offers easy, happy lives for the elephants in a free environment after they withdraw from forestry and tourism.
Elephants are a part of their family members from generations of supportive ancestors in the Mae Sariang district, all with their unique personalities.
There are 4 elephants inside the Wild Elephant Sanctuary.
Two of them were rescued from less ethical elephant tours, in both Thailand and Myanmar, where rides and entertainment had to be provided.
There was also a baby elephant taken from there, saving him from a life like this. Now Piang Dao is a happy youngster living at the camp with a naughty streak.
The bunch youngest is Age Gei, born at Into the Wild and now aged four. Age Gei means Giving Me Love in a dialect of the Karen Hill tribe.
The Into the Wild guides speak English quite well. They are friendly and engaging locals.
Two good friends, Pai and Siwa, started this idea and the camp, with a wealth of wildlife experience.
Pai has worked in their tiger preservation projects for the Thai government for over 15 years, and Siwa is medical wildlife professional.
They began the camp to give the elephants, the local hill-tribe population, and their nation something back. The people’s personal engagement at Into the Wild shows how they approach the visitor experience.
It’s crucial and important to them that visitors from outside Thailand would nowadays understand their country’s elephant history and culture, and how this has evolved over time and is now underpinning their philosophy about what makes an ethical elephant sanctuary.
They are honest about the practical limitations of dealing with such a challenge and are open to engaging visitors in discussions about how and why they do things. Part of what makes them a perfect refuge is that they treat their ethical responsibility to educate the public seriously.
It illustrates how tourists engage in a day at the camp. After the drive from Chiang Mai and after a chat with and by the owner Pai, visitors get a chance to let the elephants get to know them by feeding them bananas.
What happens is a walk into the jungle, with the elephants answering the guides ‘ commands.
The elephants are then left to do what they want, such as eating food from the forest and digging mud in the local stream to throw themselves. Whenever they want the animals to return to the camp and the visitors follow.
After a delicious lunch prepared by camp staff, sometimes accompanied by a mud bath, visitors can take a swim in the refreshing mountain stream next to the camp with the elephants.
Elephant jungle sanctuary
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is one of Chiang Mai’s most beautiful elephant sanctuaries, as our track record of sustainable and ethical treatment speaks for itself.
Chiang Mai elephant reserve has many options for visitors to experience Thailand’s magnificent elephants.
Here there is what we’ve lined up for tourists searching for a half-day Chiang Mai elephant ride. The professional English speaking guides offer tourists the relevant insight into the actions of the elephants and their personal history.
The elephant mahouts help people realize incredible life experiences like feeding the elephants by hand in Chiang Mai or bathing elephants.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is an ethical sanctuary for elephants near Chiang Mai (only a 1.5-hour drive away).
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary can be visited at two different times during the day. The daily visit is from 6:30 am to 12:30 pm, and the afternoon visit is from 1:30 to 6:30 pm.
The package deal includes two traditional Thai buffet meals, pick up and drop off at your Chiang Mai accommodation (Terms and Conditions apply), drinking water, and even elephant feeding food!
The guides will give you a basic overview of the tour when you arrive at the Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary, some information about the elephants, and then the traditional Karen clothing to wear during the visit.
Because the tour can get messy and wet (in an entertaining way!), we suggest you bring some things with you.
Bring a hat, sunscreen, bath suit, towel, clothing change to our Chiang Mai Elephant Conservation Centre.
You can bring a camera with you as well, but you don’t need to worry if you’re worried about taking photos of the elephants.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary offers, at no extra charge, a photo service. Throughout the day, the photographer will take pictures of you and upload the photos to Dropbox, which can then be accessed via the link on the Facebook page.
This Sanctuary even has other thrilling activities like a’ Full Day Tour,’ a’ One Day Walk with the Elephants’, and a’ 2 Nights and One Night Stay.’
With the’ Complete Day Tour,’ you will spend more time in the mud pool for our elephants, or just spend some time with them.
The plan’ One Day Walk with Elephants ‘ begins with a forest walk in their natural habitat with the elephants, after the hike you can enter half-day afternoon guests for the rest of the program.
The most unique yet comprehensive experience is the’ 2 Days and 1 Night Visit’.
With this program, you will get to experience all facets of Chiang Mai’s elephant reserve as well as other aspects of the area’s Thai culture and some of the nearby natural beauty.
You’ll be feeding, bathing, and even playing with the elephants throughout your visit to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.
It is also crucial for the Sanctuary that the visitor would learn as more as possible about the elephants, and why protecting them is essential.
With the funds that the Sanctuary collects from visits and contributions, they will donate to the well-being of the elephants by saving them, feeding them, and supplying them using veterinary care, as well as land and facilities to stay on.
Happy elephant home
This Sanctuary has a special place in our hearts, as it is the first small elephant sanctuary with which PM Tours operated, just over five years ago. Happy Elephant Home currently has six elephants and admits only 15 visitors a day per group.
Offering half-day and full-day programs, tours at this Sanctuary offer the elephants a mud-bath which protects their skin from the sun?
In the afternoon, you’ll accompany them through a beautiful valley on a trek to the river.
The animals love taking a swim at the river and playing in the water.
Other activities include lessons on the behavior and health of elephants and producing elephant medicine. Medicine, such as tamarind balls containing herbs in them, helps digestion.
You pick sugar cane and maize as well, better known as elephant candy (they love it!).
One of Happy Elephant Home’s benefits is that it’s a beautiful farmhouse that has a swimming pool so you can take a fresher dip when exploring. Happy Elephant Home is also notable for having a real volunteer program. Minimum stay at the Sanctuary to work, or volunteer is five days.
Elephant jungle sanctuary ethical
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is an eco-tourism project based in Thailand which is ethical and sustainable. Founded in July 2014, it started as a joint effort between representatives of Northern Thailand’s Karen hill-tribes and Chiang Mai locals.
All founders were concerned about the welfare of elephants in Thailand.
While elephants have been traditionally used for a variety of tasks such as logging or pulling wagons, they are now used mainly in the tourism sector.
Elephant rides are not the only form of tourist entertainment for elephants, but let’s take it as an example. In Thailand, people for no purpose ride elephants. It is not part or anything of their culture.
Elephant rides exist because there is a demand for it from tourists.
Since elephants live in Thailand, and people are willing to pay for a trip, there are tourist attractions for elephant rides. But it is not only pointless for people to ride them, but it is also harmful. It is physically and emotionally detrimental to elephants, the same as per horses!
The good news is that organizations are set to end this barbaric activity. And they do so by rehabilitating elephants who otherwise would have been forced into that slavery.
One such organization is the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, which has locations in Chiang Mai. In particular, what is pretty cool about this organization is that it provides opportunities for surrounding communities as well.
If you want an “experience” elephant while you’re in Thailand, then the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is a good option. They treat the elephants very well from everything, and they appear to care sincerely about their well-being. Besides, the guides are very knowledgeable and committed to educating us about everything relating to elephants and their care.
Chiang Mai elephant sanctuary prices
How much is the elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai?
The price for an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai depends on the category of the tour you choose. At Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai, you can choose between a full-day or half-day trip. Full-day tours cost 2,400 baht per adult and 1,800 baht for children 3-10 years old with less than 3 years free.
The journey begins with being collected from your hotel for a 1.5-hour drive to the Sanctuary at around 8:00 am. Your day includes feeding and playing with the elephants, as well as having a mud spa and a river bath.
The half-day tours cost 1,700 baht per adult for 3-10-year-olds, and 1,300 baht. Depending on your preference, you can choose to depart from your hotel in the morning (about 08:00) or afternoon (about 11:30).
Most of the same things will include your day at the Sanctuary, but you’ll get less time to enjoy them.
There’s also an overnight tour costing 4,900 baht per adult for the maximum amount of time with the elephants, with accommodation on-site provided.
Best elephant sanctuary Chiang Mai
Are there any good elephant sanctuaries?
The Ethical Nature Park is the best elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, according to Reddit, which offers discussion and views of different destinations. There are lots of positive opinions and positive experiences in the Sanctuary.
What is the most ethical elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai?
Elephant Nature Park: The most Ethical Elephant Sanctuaries in Chiang Mai was established by Lek Chalet, a well-known elephant conservationist.
Northern Thailand is a land of elephants.
The animals were previously trained and worked in the lumber industry and on public works.
Now, in the Chiang Mai region’s elephant sanctuaries, those elephants and their descendants are retired and given a better life.
Is elephant jungle sanctuary in Chiang Mai ethical?
Yes, elephant jungle sanctuary in Chiang Mai offers life experiences of elephants, such as feeding by hand or bathing elephants. The Shrine of the Elephant Jungle is an ethical sanctuary for elephants near Chiang Mai.
How far is Elephant Nature Park from Chiang Mai?
The distance between Chiang Mai and Elephant Nature Park is 49 km, while by the road, the range is 54.7 km.
How much is Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai?
The cost depends on the tour category you selected for the day tours is 2,500 baht ($73US); the overnight trips are 5,800 baht ($168US).
All tours include elephant feeding and bathing, meals applicable, and pick-up and drop-off at your hotel room in Chiang Mai. Overnight trips also involve sleeping in a cabin.
What is the best elephant tour in Chiang Mai?
The Blue Elephant Thailand Tours are the best in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, as they offer ethical elephant experiences and combined activities.
At the elephant village, you will take care of and pamper these giant pachyderms.
(No riding elephants & cruelty-free)
You will be cooking healthy treats and feeding them.
You will be walking through the beautiful jungle.
Have lots of fun during the elephants bathing in the river and waterfall. Learn their habits observing elephants’ Freedom of life.
Bring back great photo shots while they enjoy throwing dust & dirt, foraging food in the wild, and scratching on trees.
Are Thai elephant sanctuaries ethical?
Yes, Thai sanctuaries are ethical as they discourage elephant riding, and they offer the chance to interact with elephants is one of the biggest draws to Thailand.
What they do not tell you about elephant sanctuaries in Thailand?
There are many unspeakable tales about the sanctuaries of elephants in Thailand. Tourists are made to believe that these sanctuaries are ethical while they are not at some level.
Here are key areas that make Thailand’s most non-ethical elephant sanctuaries.
A goad of an Indian Elephant from the 17th century housed in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Walters Art Museum.
Modern equivalents of the day have a wooden handle and an iron hook with no taper or full dot.
One can sell a pair of eyeglasses to a blind man through smart marketing. The same applies to sanctuaries, which are marketing themselves as ethical, sustainable, free from abuse.
Step anywhere in Chiang Mai, and you’ll see commercials for various retreats selling themselves free of elephant riding or using hooks.
”Those hooks are also known as the elephant goad, a powerful hook with a tapered end used to torture the elephant into submission.”
These sanctuaries brand themselves as the better alternative by highlighting the cruelty an elephant faces in riding, logging, or circus camps.
They often advertise themselves as having “rescued” the animal from harsh conditions when, in fact, they simply leased it out or purchased it from the owner to run their business. A tourist might be forgiven for believing they are “doing the right thing” by visiting a sanctuary rather than a cirque.
Although an elephant’s at a sanctuary is far better than any of the camps discussed above.
Captivity is at the end of the day appears to be the only solution to safeguard the elephants from rampant and cruel butcher business.
The model of the elephant sanctuary relies heavily on a valuable asset; elephants, namely elephants that have been captured, tamed, and used either in the circus or in riding camps for the tourism industry.
These elephants have been around humans for years, are very docile, and are not bothered by tourists petting them, hugging their trunks, or picking up their tails.
Many sanctuaries will not buy elephants that are not tame, that are easy to control or that are injured.
There will no longer be sanctuaries if there are no tamed elephants. The very organizations that claim to exist for their benefit, they also might appear to exist to exploit them for financial gains. There is always a fragile red line here.
There are some elephants that aren’t so tame; they mainly come from forestry camps where the elephant’s strength is used to move large pieces of wood up and down steep mountains and hills. Most of these elephants are held in chains all day long and are whipped continuously, poked, or prodded with the hook to keep it working. The only interactions these elephants have with humans are due primarily to abuse and are not well suited for tourist interaction.
Although in the sanctuaries the elephant goad is not used, the violence does not cease.
The main issue is that the mahouts that the sanctuaries hired to watch over the elephants are the very same ones that used to abuse the elephants in the past.
Being a mahout is a family business, you’re born into it, from the moment you can walk around elephants, and you’ve taught how to tame them too. So abusing the elephant in an attempt to get it to do what you want is something ingrained in the mahouts.
The mahouts are elephant handlers. They work to ensure that the elephants remain on course for the duration of the tour, to ensure that the elephants do not harm any tourist.
They usually tell at the Sanctuary that the mahouts have a “special bond” with the elephants, which is why they have been so responsive to the commands of the mahout.
Every elephant has own dedicated mahout by their side.
When a fresh mahout arrives at the Sanctuary first, they will invest the relationship with their designated elephant building for a month or more. Many thought this was true, but the reality is far more sinister.
The period the mahout spent getting the elephant “learn” and creating a “bond” was proven, in the past, to be based on violence.
At the Sanctuary, the workers love to say that they rescued and released the elephants from many burdens; in fact, one elephant in the sanctuaries was even named Freedom.
The truth of the matter is that in a haven, they are no freer than in their former camp.
We tend to accept it to keep them safe and feed them correctly, definitely a huge step up from the cruelties they suffered before.