6 Best Places to Visit Elephants in Thailand

Elephant tour is popular in Thailand. Many visitors come for an elephant riding. Riding an elephant sounds amazing. However, if you realize how they are treated, you will never want to ride an elephant anymore.

Mahouts brutally train their elephants to be tourist-friendly. The training usually begins at an early age. And actually, riding elephants is bad for their growth and development.

Down the years, many animal lovers in Thailand have realized the mistreatment that elephants received. Increasing numbers of protecting camps and retirement homes for elephants have been founded. Keep reading to know the best places to visit elephants in Thailand.

Are all elephant tours in Thailand unethical?

Well, let’s know the brief history about the elephants in Thailand.

In the past, elephants in Thailand were employed in the logging industry. After a government-imposed ban on logging in 1989, the industry gradually disappeared. Later, Thailand tourism started to grow. Many tourists came to Thailand and they were keen to ride elephants.

Elephant in Thailand Logging IndustryElephants used to be employed in Thai logging industry.

Since then, elephants have become big business in the country. Elephants were taken into cities and were used to entertain tourists who wanted a photo. In the jungles, riding camps were set up. Visitors could ride an elephant through the jungle, take their photos, and return home with tales of their cool experience.

Nowadays, elephants in cities are banned. And luckily, more and more people in Thailand realize the importance to protect elephants. Some responsible camps are built to take care of those elephants that were used to labor in different industries. You have a lot more ethical options of the best places to visit elephants in Thailand.

Best Responsible Places to Visit Elephants in Thailand

After several years of cooperation and selection, we recommend you the following 6 best places to visit elephants in Thailand. These elephant camps are built to protect the abused, disabled, or retired elephants in Thailand.

It’s expensive to keep an elephant. Food can cost up to $38 per day. In order to keep their elephant camps running, the founders tend to open their camps to tourists. You can pay a visit to these ethical camps during your next Thailand tour.

Elephant Nature Park

Elephant Nature Park is one of the most famous elephant conservation projects in Thailand. You’d better book in advance. Seating on the edge of the rainforest near Chiang Mai, the park was founded by award-winning conservationist Lek Chailert in 1995.

Chiang Mai Elephant Nature ParkChiang Mai Elephant Nature Park is a haven for elephants.

There are more than 75 elephants living and roaming here. Many were saved from irresponsible camps that force elephants to work in the tourism or logging industry. The refuge is also home to many stray cats, dogs, horses, water buffalo, etc.

Both single-day visits and overnight stays are available. You can work as a volunteer to help prepare fruit and vegetables for elephants and the other animals here. Also, together with the trainer, you can drive these gentle and cute elephants to rivers and learn how to bathe them.

Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary

Located in Sukhothai near the airport, Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary has over 600 acres of forested land of banana plantation, grasslands, fresh-water rivers, and open fields. It’s founded by animal-loving Brit Katherine Cooper who comes from the UK. Some lovely cats and dogs also live on the grounds.

In order to ensure the well-being and quality of life for the animals living here, there are only just three guesthouses.

Therefore, you need to book in advance as well. You can stay at the sanctuary for several nights, spending your days watching elephants on the grazing grounds, taking a swim in the river, or getting to know the village mahouts.

Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital

Located in the Mae Yao National Reserve of Lampang, Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Hospital is one of the only elephant hospitals in the world. You can expect a special elephant experience here.

Friends of the Asian Elephant HospitalInjured elephant is being treated in Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital.

FAE is dedicated to treating and rehabilitating sick elephants. Its mobile vet clinic treats sick, weak and injured elephants all over Thailand. Visitors are welcome at the hospital. You can learn about how the animal doctors treat the injured and disabled elephants.

Since 1993, over 5,000 elephants have been cured by this donation-based hospital. The hospital needs visitors and volunteers to come and help ensure its future. You can volunteer to prepare food for the elephants and clean their living places.

Elephant Haven

Elephant Haven in Kanchanaburi was formerly known as Sai Yoke Elephant Camp which used to be the kind that employ elephants to work. Today, the elephants here don’t live for entertaining tourists and they have freedom to roam and socialize.

While your single day stay here, you can wander with the elephants through the jungle beside them, instead of on their backs.

For longer stays up to one week, you can work as a volunteer here to help to prepare fresh fruit and rice-and-millet ball treats for the elephants and jungle walks, along with feeding and caring for the sanctuary’s resident, including some cats, dogs, horses, buffalos, goats, birds and many other rescued animals.

Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary

Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary is also based near Chiang Mai, in a valley surrounded by dense greenery and beautiful mountains. It’s a perfect place for the old, retired or injured elephants that have gone through years of logging or tourist trekking to spend their last days of their lives.

You have the access to prepare afternoon fruit treats and cutting grass and corn for the elephants, cleaning their living areas. Cat safe enables you to care for the cats rescued from street and lanes.

There are many other activities to expect. For example, you can take a cooking class, join in a weaving club in the local village, or try the tree planting and conservation work.

Burm and Emily's Elephant SanctuaryVisitor in Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary are bathing the elephant.

Elephant Hills

Situated in the Khao Sok National Park of Surat Thani Province, Elephant Hills is home to the elephants who have been rescued from heavy work. Nowadays, these gentle giants are free to roam the vast jungle area.

Visitors will be rewarded with luxury tented camping experience. You can stay at one of the two glamping camps here to fully immerse yourself into the nature. Book in advance, and you will obtain the chance to go kayaking, trek through mangrove forests, as well as have a close touch with the elephants here.

Summary

Animals do not exist for our entertainment. Hope more and more tourists can say no to elephant riding and choose the best places to visit elephants in Thailand.

The Elephant Nature Park can be your prior option in Chiang Mai. Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary is another one to explore in Chiang Mai. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary and Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital are also hidden in northern Thailand’s green forests. Elephant Haven seats in Kanchanaburi that is not far from Bangkok. Elephant Hills is a wonderful glamping site in the south of Thailand.

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