What pops into your mind when you think of Thailand? Many people probably would say Buddhism, temples, beaches, and elephants! Yes, elephants are the icon of Thailand. But unfortunately, these adorable animals have been abused for tourism and taken out of their natural habitat.
There are quite a few tourist activities in Thailand that involve elephants such as back riding and circus show. Some may enjoy it for the unique experience, but on the other hand, it’s easy to ignore how mistreated the elephants are. It would be better if you, as a traveler, become aware of the activities that involve animals’ sacrifice.
One way to make a difference for the elephants’ welfare is visiting the elephant sanctuary.
These days, many people are joining the movement to create a nurturing experience for elephants. There are many elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai since there are huge forests suitable for elephants to live in. And it is important to choose the right one that takes care of the elephants with tenderness & love and does not provide any harmful environment for elephants.
Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is run by the people who have a genuine concern for the animals’ welfare. They do not promote any elephant ride or show. Instead, they do their best to give them love and care in a safe and sustainable environment.
If you are interested in visiting an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, be sure to read on and get inspirations!
1. Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Overview
Chiang Mai Jungle Sanctuary is an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project that has 7 camps in Chiang Mai. All the elephants in the sanctuary were rescued from abuse and now live in the sanctuary where they are provided with food, love, and care.
The money they raised from visits and donations are used for more elephant rescues, food, infrastructure so that they can continuously take care of the once mistreated elephants in Thailand. They offer various programs for the visitors to choose based on how much time they want to spend there.
- Half Day Visit (Morning/Afternoon) – 6 hours
- Full Day Visit – 9 hours
- 1 Day Walk with Elephants – 11 hours
- Overnight Visit – 2 full days
| Price: 1700~4900 baht (depends on the programs). For detailed price information, click here.
- Hotel pick up & drop off
- English speaking tour guide
- Sanctuary camp visit
- Karen clothes rental
- Food for feeding elephants
- Drinking water
- Traditional Thai lunch
- 1-night accommodation near Karen Hill Tribe Village (optional)
- Dinner on Day 1 (optional), Breakfast & lunch on Day 2 (optional)
| What to bring:
- Bathing Suit
- Insect Repellent
- Walking Shoes
- Change of Clothes
2. Things to Expect at Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary
1) Karen Clothes
Karen people (tribe) are from northern Thailand and southern Myanmar. The areas where they live are typically natural elephant habitats.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and Karen people have a symbiotic relationship as they cooperate for elephants’ welfare. Also, the elephants feel familiar with the Karen clothing. That’s why the visitors are given Karen clothes thus they can get along with the elephants.
2) Feeding Elephants
One of the first activities you will be doing at the sanctuary is to feed the adorable elephants. You can spend about an hour to feed the elephants. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary will supply sugar canes, watermelons, and bananas for you to feed the elephants. The elephants at the sanctuary are receiving a lot of food thus you don’t need to stuff them too much.
3) Mud Spa with Elephants
After about an hour of feeding and interacting with elephants, you get to bathe with the elephants. The bath starts in the mud bath where you can rub the elephants down with mud. The mud helps protect elephants from the strong sun and bugs and they love rolling around in it.
After the mud bath, you will go over to the river where you can rinse off the elephants and yourself. The elephants enjoy this even more. Once bathing is all done, elephants will walk out of the water and move along on their way. This is one of those experiences that you can actually see and feel that the elephants are living a happy life.
4) Trekking with Elephants (+ Playtime with Elephants)
If you participate in the “1 Day Walk with Elephants” or “Overnight Visit program”, you will have more time to interact with more elephants. Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary allows you to spend as much time as possible with the elephants. You can go on a trekking with them and if there’s some spare time in the sanctuary, you can simply just have playtime with them.
Visiting an elephant sanctuary is a truly unique activity where you get to know a lot about the elephants and see for yourself how the formerly abused elephants now happily live in nature. This is not only a rewarding but also an exciting experience as you can actually interact with the lovely elephants. Once you get to know them, you will totally fall in love with these nature’s cutest & friendliest giants.
You can also book your visit to elephant sanctuaries in other cities in Thailand. If you want to know more about another elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, click below.