Elephant Sanctuary | Half-Day Experience

Visit a Karen Tribe village outside of Chiang Mai and learn more about the age-long tradition of elephant care in Thailand.

NO riding, NO performances.

This is more than just a fun activity. During this full-day experience, you will have the opportunity to visit a Karen Tribe village outside of Chiang Mai and learn more about the age-long tradition of elephant care in Thailand and participate in certain aspects of that care. You will also see for yourself that the elephants are cared for in an ethical manner.

The elephant sanctuary is run by a friendly family who has cared for their elephants all their lives. They are dedicated to rescuing elephants, providing healthcare and rehabilitation in natural habitats and providing education to visitors.

You will learn about the history of elephants in Thailand and understand the challenges faced by them, their mahouts, and their owners. (A mahout is an elephant keeper. Although many elephant owners are mahouts themselves, most mahouts are employed by owners to care for elephants.)

You will be able to get up close to the magnificent creatures and experience firsthand what a mahout does in caring for their elephant. Most of all, you will get to see elephants where they rightly belong. In nature and not in zoos.

At the end of your time with the elephants and their mahouts, you will leave with a totally new understanding and appreciation of the efforts made to care for and to provide the gentle giants with a sustainable life after being deprived of their natural habitat by development.

And your participation directly helps the owners with the financial support they need to maintain a high level of care for their elephant family.

Itinerary: We pick you up from your hotel and drive outside the city to the Karen village. You will enjoy the view of the countryside.

When you arrive at the village, you will do a short trek through the village and past rice hills to the sanctuary where the elephants live.

There, you will change into ethnic pants and tops that the mahouts wear, so you won’t get your attire soiled when interacting with the elephants. There are changing rooms and showers on site.

The owner/guide will give you a short briefing about the village, its people and the efforts they are dedicating to the proper care of their elephants.

Prepare food baskets to take to the jungle where you will feed the elephants and interact with them. This is a great opportunity to get up close to them for photos. You’ll feel how kind and gentle the massive creatures are.

Our guide will be available to answer any questions you have.

Take a short break and relax at a waterfall where you may go for a cool dip and swim if you want.

You will learn how to make herbal balls that are usually fed to the elephants to help them with digestion and improve their health. Then you will feed the herbal balls to the elephants and give them a mud spa. They love it!

Next, it’s on to the creek to clean the elephants. And yourself. As you watch how much the elephants enjoy frolicking in the water, you’ll want to jump in with them.

Then it’s time to say goodbye to your new friends and prepare for lunch. Take a shower and change into dry and clean clothes.

Enjoy a freshly-prepared Thai lunch and share stories with other visitors. After a short rest, it’s time to drive back to your hotel.

  • English speaking tour guide
  • Travel insurance
  • Bottled drinking water
  • Lunch
  • Transportation. Shared with other visitors.
  • Other tours not mentioned in the above itinerary
  • Personal expenses
  • Beverages
What to wear and bring:
  • Comfortable attire
  • Proper shoes for walking in the jungle and uneven terrain
  • Towel and change of clothes, because you will get wet when bathing the elephants in the creek
  • Swimsuit
  • Cap or hat
  • Camera or smartphone
  • Waterproof bag for your camera and phone

Brief History of Elephants in Thailand

The elephant is the national symbol of Thailand. Elephants have been a huge part of Thai culture. They were owned by the royal families and used in wars because of their size and strength.

Elephants were also used for transportation and manual labor. During the period when the logging industry was active, elephants were made to work under harsh conditions.

The Thai government imposed a ban on the use of elephants in logging in 1989 to put an end to the cruelty. Elephants went back to their owners and families.

Caring for elephants is expensive and many of these families cannot afford to give them the best care possible without financial help. Each elephant consumes as much as 250 kg or over 500 lbs of food every day and drink about 50 gallons or 190 liters of water a day.

This led to families opening their homes to visitors, offering them the experience of seeing elephants out in nature instead of in public zoos, in exchange for the money they need to provide for their elephants.

It’s how elephant attractions began in Thailand. While some businesses have put on elephant shows for tourists, most owners prefer to keep their elephants free from hard work and performances, and only allow tourists to be with elephants in nature where they belong.

Elephants in Thailand

The elephants you’ll meet in Thailand are Asian elephants. Their bodies are proportionately smaller in size compared to the African ones. Their heads are bigger while their ears are smaller.

Elephants are very friendly and sociable animals. They are also intelligent and beautiful creatures and can be very playful, grabbing food when no one’s looking.

Due to the hot climate in Thailand, elephants love spending time in the water to cool themselves. They also cool themselves by throwing dirt and mud on their backs. The mud and dirt also protect them from parasites.

Fun Facts About Elephants

Elephants usually eat all the time for 20 hours a day. They only sleep between 3 - 4 hours every night.

They can consume up to 250 kg of food and drink close to 190 liters of water per day.

Elephants can recognize themselves in the mirror!


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April 2020

Elephant Sanctuary | Half-Day Experience