As you know, elephants are an important part of Thailand’s culture and heritage. But unfortunately, these adorable animals have been and are still being abused for tourism and taken out of their natural habitat. Some may enjoy it for the unique experience, but it’s easy to ignore how mistreated and abused the elephants are. That’s why, as a traveler, it would be better if you were aware of such activities that involved the mistreatment of animals.
One way to make a difference for elephants is to visit the elephant sanctuary.
Nowadays, many people are joining the movement to create a nurturing experience for elephants. There are many elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai thanks to the vast forests for them to thrive in. It’s also important to check that the elephants are taken care of with tenderness & love and not exposed to harmful environments.
Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is one of those places. Run by the people who have a genuine concern for the animals’ welfare, they do not promote any elephant rides or shows. 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 inspired!
1. Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Overview
Chiang Mai Jungle Sanctuary is an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project with 7 camps in Chiang Mai. All the elephants in the sanctuary were rescued from abuse and now live there with plenty of food, love, and care.
The money raised from visits and donations is used for more elephant rescues, food as well as infrastructure so that they can continuously take care of the once mistreated elephants in Thailand. They offer various programs for visitors to choose based on how much time they want to spend there.
- Half-Day Visit (Morning/Afternoon) – 7 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 are familiar with Karen clothing. That’s why the visitors are given Karen clothes so they can get along with the elephants.
2) Feeding Elephants
One of the first activities you will be doing at the sanctuary is feeding the adorable elephants. You can spend about an hour feeding the elephants. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary will supply sugar canes, watermelons, and bananas to feed them. The elephants at the sanctuary receive 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 as well as 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 bath time is over, the elephants will walk out of the water and be on their way. This is one of those experiences 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 can learn 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 these lovely elephants. Once you get to know them, you will totally fall in love with 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.
Also, don’t forget to check out our other blog on Ethical and Sustainable Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand.