6 Best Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand: Where to See Elephants in Thailand
Elephant tour is popular in Thailand. Many visitors come for an elephant ride. 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.
Over the years, many animal lovers in Thailand have realized the mistreatment that elephants receive. Increasing numbers of protecting camps and retirement homes for elephants have been founded. Keep reading to know the best elephant sanctuary in Thailand to visit elephants.
How Is the Situation of Elephant Tour in Thailand Nowadays?
Well, let’s know the brief history of 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's tourism started to grow. Many tourists came to Thailand and they were keen to ride elephants.
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 experiences.
Nowadays, elephants in cities are banned. And luckily, after knowing facts about elephants in Thailand, more and more people realize the importance of protecting 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 for the best elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
How Are the 6 Best Elephant Sanctuaries Like in Thailand?
After several years of cooperation and selection, we recommend you the following 6 best sanctuaries to visit elephants in Thailand. These elephant camps are built to protect the abused, disabled, or retired elephants in Thailand. It is an ethical and responsible way to interact with these magnificent creatures. Brilliant places to enjoy a happy and lovely day with children!
However, what to notice is that it is often 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.
Thai elephants wandering in the depths of the forest
Top 1 Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand: Elephant Nature Park
Location: 1 Ratmakka Road, Phra Sing, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
Opening Time: not fixed, contact in advance
Price: from 3,500 THB ($97 USD) (Child – 50%, children’s ages: under 12)
Elephant Nature Park is one of the most famous elephant conservation projects in Thailand, which is also the first elephant sanctuary in Asia. The park was founded by award-winning conservationist Lek Chailert in 1995. Seating on the edge of the rainforest near Chiang Mai, it is approximately 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) from Chiang Mai, about 1.5 to 2 hours north of Chiang Mai by car.
Visit Chiang Mai Elephant Nature Park
In the elephant rescue and rehabilitation center, there are more than 100 elephants living and roaming here. Many were saved from irresponsible camps that forced elephants to work in the tourism or logging industry. The refuge is also home to many stray cats, dogs, horses, water buffalo, etc.
It’s always a good way to observe and interact with elephants at Elephant Nature Park instead of riding them. During your time in the nature park, you can participate in volunteer activities to join the caring team helping prepare fruit and vegetables for elephants and other animals there. But bathing with elephants is not permitted. Elephant Nature Park offers various visit options, including half-day visits, full-day visits, and overnight visits with full-board accommodation. You have the flexibility to choose the duration that suits your preference and the days of your Thailand itinerary.
What’s more, you need to book in advance to make sure you can enter the park. But a changing fee of 980 Baht ($27 USD) will be charged before 4 or 10 days respectively. Otherwise, if you pay your balance for Thailand-based projects, please pay the balance in Thai Baht. If paying your balance for Cambodia-based projects, please pay in USD.
Top 2 Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand: Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
Location: 304 Mu 5, Baan Na Ton Jan Tambon Baan Tuek, Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai, Thailand
Opening Time: not fixed, contact in advance
Price: 7000 THB ($194 USD), adult/night (Child – 50%; children’s age: under 12)
Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) has over 600 acres of forested land of banana plantation, grasslands, fresh-water rivers, and open fields. It strives to rescue and protect the elephants in Thailand from abuse and ultimate extinction. The sanctuary is founded by animal-loving Brit Katherine Cooper who comes from the UK. Some lovely cats and dogs also live on the grounds. Drive to BLES is much more convenient than taking public transportation. It takes about 1.5 to 2.5 hours varying on the starting point in Sukhothai.
Visit Thailand Sukhothai Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
BLES allows elephants to live in a safe and natural environment where you can meet the elephants with true identity. In order to ensure the well-being and quality of life of the animals living here, there are only just three guesthouses. You can immersive in the natural and free atmosphere to escape yourself from the hustle and bustle.
At the sanctuary, you can stay for various tours, including half-day, full-day, and overnight. Spending your days watching elephants on the grazing grounds, taking a swim in the river, or getting to know the village mahouts.
There is no fixed public opening time in Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary. To visit BLES, you need to book about 1-2 years in advance by contacting the sanctuary directly.
Top 3 Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand: Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital
Location: MaeYao National Reserve, in Lampang, Thailand
Opening Time: not fixed, contact in advance
Price: no admission fee
Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) Hospital, a charitable organization, is one of the only elephant hospitals in the world. You can expect a special elephant experience here. Located in the Mae Yao National Reserve of Lampang, near Lampang City, the travel time to the FAE Hospital by car or taxi is approximately 20 – 30 minutes.
Thailand Lampang riends 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. There are three types of visits:
Standard visit- learn about the hospital’s work, visit elephants, and interact with the staff (around 1 – 2 hours)
Educational visit- in-depth learning of elephant care, conservation efforts, hospital’s mission (around 2 – 3 hours)
Volunteer visit- closely work with staff and elephants (from 1 day or 2 to several weeks or more)
During volunteer visits, you can prepare food for the elephants and clean their living places. Each elephant has its name and walks into to take care of them. You can also donate to Friends of the Asian Elephant Foundation on its official website to care about these animals.
Top 4 Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand: Elephant Haven
Location: Sai Yok National Park, Kanchanaburi
Opening Time: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Price: from 1,500 THB ($42 USD) (Child – 50%, children’s age: 2-11 years)
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 the freedom to roam and socialize. Located in the Southwest of Thailand in the beautiful Sai Yok National Park region, it needs about 1 to 1.5 hours driving time from Kanchanaburi.
Thailand Sai Yok National Park Elephant Haven
Elephant freedom project is the central idea of Elephant Haven. It provides day trips, overnight trips, and half-day morning or afternoon trips. While at Elephant Haven, you can work as a volunteer to help prepare fresh fruit and rice-and-millet ball treats for the elephants and jungle walks, along with feeding and caring for the sanctuary’s residents, including some cats, dogs, horses, buffalos, goats, birds and many other rescued animals.
As these trips start at 8:00 am from Kanchanaburi bus station, you’d better stay in Kanchanaburi for the night. Besides, contact to book the trip in advance. You can also donate to the elephants on Elephant Haven's official website.
Top 5 Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand: Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary
Location: 34 M1, Ban Thung Yaw Tambon Chang Keung Chiang Mai Maechaem, 50270 Thailand
Opening Time: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm, closed on Sunday
Price: no admission fee
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 the last days of their lives. But it’s deserved notice that the sanctuary does not fit children under 10 years old. Located in the southwest Chiang Mai in the Maechaem District, it takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours from Chiang Mai.
Burm and Emily's elephant sanctuary
At the sanctuary, you have access to preparing 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 streets and lanes. Beyond animal care, you can participate in enriching experiences like Thai cooking classes, village weaving clubs, tree planting for conservation, and even teaching English to local children.
The sanctuary provides authentic Thai-style accommodations and a unique “the cat café” on the sanctuary grounds. Your stay is not just about caring for animals but also about embracing a world of meaningful experiences! There are donation activities selected for animals and elephant adoptions (6 months for THB 1,000 ($28 USD) or 12 months for THB 1,500 ($42 USD)). Your adoption will help ensure the life of your elephant in our sanctuary. You’ll get the certification of adoption and have a happy feeling of significant contribution.
Remember to send a Booking Confirmation Email before your visit. Or your visit will not be accepted.
Top 6 Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand: Elephant Hills
Location: 170 Moo 7, Surat Thani, Thailand
Opening Time: vary from different activities and packages
Price: from 13,875 THB ($383 USD) (Child – 50%; children’s ages: 4-15)
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. To get to Elephant Hills from Surat Thani, it typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours by road.
Thailand Surat Thani Elephant Hills Sanctuary
Visitors will be rewarded with a luxury-tented camping experience. You can stay at one of the two glamping camps here to fully immerse yourself in nature. The sanctuary provides various jungle, jungle & Lake camps nature, and bush camp safaris for several days. It is a fantastic experience in Thailand. Moreover, there are also other projects, for example, a Children's Project offered to help children learn the importance of nature conservation and the local environment. Educational!
Choose from a range of day and nighttime tours at Elephant Hills. All of these experiences can be enjoyed within the comfort of luxurious tented camps.
Animals do not exist for our entertainment. Hope more and more tourists can say no to elephant riding and choose the best elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
Consider Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai as your top choice. Also, explore Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, and Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital hidden amidst the lush forests of northern Thailand. For those closer to Bangkok, Elephant Haven in Kanchanaburi offers a great option. Down south, Elephant Hills offers a unique camping experience.
Remember, it's advisable to book your sanctuary visit in advance to secure your spot. If you can’t make your decision, feel free to contact us and we will tailor the best Thailand travel with your suitable elephant sanctuary tour.
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