The awesome Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Thailand is a popular destination for tourists looking to see, ride or learn about the Chiang Mai elephants. However, riding elephants in Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand is becoming a big issue against the welfare of the elephants. As a result, elephant sanctuary’s are being developed around Thailand to help care for neglected working elephants and you can spend an awesome day trekking with the elephants and washing them in their natural habitat. I have been lucky enough to visit the best elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai and the amazing elephant jungle sanctuary in Phuket to discover how these precious elephants are being cared for.
From the moment they pick you up to the end of your adventure at the Chiang Mai elephant sanctuary, you will be treated as an honoured guest. The customer service is amazing and the elephant guides make you feel welcome throughout the day. This is the best elephant nature park in Thailand and one of the best things to do Chiang Mai.
If you’re wanting to get from Bangkok to the elephant sanctuary, check out my Bangkok to Chiang Mai post.
Where is the best elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai?
The elephant nature park sanctuary is near Chiang Mai and only a 1.5-hour drive away, don’t worry about transport the elephant jungle sanctuary, they will arrange everything for you including pick up from your accommodation in Chaing Mai and also drop-off back to your accommodation.
What should I take to the elephant nature park, Chaing Mai?
All the Chaing Mai elephant jungle ask is that you bring your towel and change of clothes. They will provide a hot shower, food, drink and of course an incredible day at the best elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai. In addition to this, take sunscreen, it’s crazy how quick you catch the sun when you’re with the elephants.
What should I wear to the Chiang Mai elephant nature park?
Boys should wear shorts and a vest, you can take your top off as you will be bathing with the elephants.
Girls should wear a swimming costume for when you’re in the mud and water with the elephants. Also, take a waterproof camera.
Is the Chiang Mai elephant sanctuary ethical?
Yes, the elephant jungle sanctuary is a complete ethical project that offers food, love and care to the elephants. Providing them with a safe environment and free from labour.
You will learn about ethical Thailand elephant projects and how your visit helps feed the elephants in Chiang Mai.
Elephants in Thailand must be cared for as so many are being mistreated, which is not good!
How much is the elephant sanctuary Chiang Mai?
What is the elephant jungle sanctuary Chiang Mai tour price? So, a full-day tour will cost 2400 Baht per adult ($76) and cost 1,800 Baht for children aged 3-10 ($57). Also, children under 3 go free. Here is what’s included in the price for the elephant nature park;
- Pick up/Drop off to your stay in Chiang Mai
- Food for you and the elephants
- Free water
- Friendly English speaking guide
- Free pictures upload to Facebook
Half-day elephant tour Chiang Mai
You can choose either full day or half-day (like the price shown. I would recommend doing a full day if you can, you won’t have many opportunities to do an amazing bucket list itinerary like this! If you’re backpacking in Thailand, this will be one of the highlights of your adventures.
The image below shows the full itinerary for the half-day tour of the elephant sanctuary:
As you can see it’s a fun-packed day with plenty of things to do, so even if you do choose to do the half-day tour. You will still have an amazing time 🙂
What should I bring to the elephant sanctuary?
Here is a list of essentials to bring the Chiang Mai elephant nature park;
- Bathing suit for getting in the water with the elephants
- Sunscreen, it gets hot out there
- Towel for after you shower
- Insect repellent for the mosquitoes in the elephant camp (they can be a bit of a. pain)
- Change of clothes, but I just had a shower when I got back to my accommodation in Chiang Mai
For more information on what clothes for travelling you need, see backpacking essential item list for Asia
Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai Photos
I wanted to share with you some of the amazing photos we took during our time visiting this amazing elephant nature park in Thailand.
You can see from the photos that this is an amazing personal experience and there are not many places in the world that offer a day trip like this one in Chiang Mai!
Your elephant trip in Chaing Mai also includes a mega buffet lunch, plenty of drinking water and lots of food for feeding the elephants in the camp. Also, the guides at the Chaing Mai elephant sanctuary speak very good English and this allows you to ask all the questions you want about the amazing elephants in Thailand.
The Chaing Mai elephant sanctuary will make sure you have an unforgettable day at the epic Chiang Mai elephant camp. The elephant guides want you to learn about the Karen people and understand the hard work that is being done to save the Chiang Mai elephants. You will get involved with everything it takes to look after these amazing elephants in Chiang Mai.
This includes feeding the elephants, washing the elephants, making medicine for the elephants and transporting their food around the elephant nature park. What I find truly warming is knowing our money is going towards welfare for the elephants in the Chaing Mai elephant camp and the environment they live in.
We are paying to make a difference to these elephant’s lives which makes the day a whole lot more amazing!
There are numerous elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai for you to visit. But you must do a little background research for information on the elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai that you want to visit! Why? Elephants in Thailand are still being miss treated, underfed and used as circus acts. It’s not fair on the elephants and as a human race, we shouldn’t be supporting this.
Fortunately, there are elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai that provide good homes for these amazing gentle giants. The one we visited was our first choice and the elephant jungle sanctuary in my honest opinion I believe this to be the best elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai.
You will have an unforgettable elephant experience provided by the elephant jungle Sanctuary.
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We chose the slow boat picturesque journey from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai, to eventually arrive at an amazing elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai. The slow boat is a popular route for backpackers looking to cross the border from Laos to Thailand.
We chose Chiang Mai as our first place to visit in Thailand because we were mega eager to see the elephant jungle sanctuary of Chiang Mai.
We did have the opportunity to see elephants in Laos. However, we discovered the elephant sanctuary’s in Thailand provide a more caring environment for Thai elephants. And tourists can have a more pleasurable experience in being part of these amazing sanctuaries for the elephants.
There is plenty of YouTube videos showing you insights into what to expect from the elephant sanctuary.
Check out this YouTube video below, credit to the guys for filming it:
Elephant jungle sanctuary in Chiang Mai review
Morning – Upon arrival to the elephant Sanctuary, we were greeted by a few friendly faces with a box of quirky Thai jumpers. Me and the other cool guys I met on the journey to the elephant jungle sanctuary, tried on the funky jumpers, they’re sweet but the sizes are a bit of a nightmare sorting out.
Then, after the fitting we received a debrief about the day, the guide will make you smile with his English language learned banter.
After debrief, all the visitors excitedly ran down to the elephant’s field with a pocket full of free food for the elephants. Here you will wait for a couple of minutes for the huge Chiang Mai elephants to make there way over to you and then it’s all crazy fun from here.
You feed them fruit, touch them and take selfies with the massive and baby elephants (the baby elephants are mega cute). Best of all its not controlled by a guide with a whip-like you might see at other elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai.
The elephants are free to wander and you are free to wander around them and you get the vibe that the Jungle Sanctuary elephants are happy. Epic.
After the first feed, we all made our way over to another camp (you visit a few camps throughout the day), it’s just a 5-minute walk. Here you get to see and learn more about the Chiang Mai elephants. You may also get a chance to see a pregnant elephant.
This camp was surrounded by stunning scenery and a mega waterfall that ran by the side of this elephant camp. Then, after 15 minutes here we took a walk to another camp, there are so many happy elephants for you to see and learn about.
This is another great location for the Jungle sanctuary elephants and here you will get more chances to feed them and be as close as you want. I was stunned through the day of how close you can get to the elephants, it is a surreal elephant sanctuary experience.
After a busy morning, we made our way to the elephant jungle sanctuary camp house for a much-needed buffet lunch. I took full advantage of the all-you-can-eat.
Furthermore, here you get an hour to chill out and get to know the other elephant sanctuary visitors. We got contact details from a few of the guys and went out for tea that same night. Your day is a great way to meet other people from around the world.
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Afternoon (the best part of the day) – This is when we got to bathe with the elephants, it was one of the craziest and best things I’ve ever done, if not the craziest. Here you get to Cool the elephant down by washing them with water and mud. This is something the elephants do by themselves to stay cool because elephants only sweat through their toes and in the hot sun they need a way of cooling down.
I’ve seen posts on the internet saying bathing with elephants is a terrible thing and the Chiang Mai elephant sanctuaries should be closed. Yeah, I understand elephants should be free and I totally wish they roamed in the wild. However, elephants are being mistreated all over Southeast Asia, but this camp is a safe sanctuary for the elephants.
After the elephant bathing, we all headed to the elephant sanctuary waterfall and this is hands down the best part of the elephant jungle sanctuary experience.
To be able to play and wash a happy Thai elephant in a waterfall is once in a lifetime experience. Both us and the elephants enjoyed cooling down underneath the epic flowing waterfall.
This was an unbelievable end to the day and it was just an incredible wow factor. The whole day was an unbelievable experience and I doubt there are many more best things to do in Thailand
History of the Karen Tribe and Chiang Mai elephant in Thailand
The elephant in Thailand has played a massive role in Thailand’s history. The elephant is an iconic symbol in Thailand and is a big part of the Buddhist spiritual beliefs in Thailand.
Throughout time the Thailand elephants have been a crucial part of the power of the kings of Thailand. The more elephants a king had the more powerful he was to his enemy.
Furthermore, in the early 1900’s the number of elephants in Thailand was around 100,000 and over a century later that number has upsetting been reduced to around 3000 and most of these living in elephant nature parks.
So how have Thailand elephants become something of slavery and labour work? The Karen people have been working hard to protect the elephants in Thailand and they believe that humans and animals should respect, love and understand one another.
The Karen people are now the primary carers of elephants in Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand, they have the best interest of the elephants at heart.
This is why when you visit the Chiang Mai elephant sanctuary, you will feel like you are in a natural elephant sanctuary and not like you’re in some money-grabbing elephant business. As a result, you will become part of the Karen tribe for one day in caring, protecting and learning about the elephants of Thailand.
The elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai have to purchase the ex-worker elephants or the actively mistreated elephants, this is why they actively seek support to help care for these majestic animals. However, unfortunately, the elephants are not cheap to rescue. For example, we discovered an ex-worker elephant in Thailand can cost around $60,000, this is why they need our support in rescuing the elephants.
How does the Thailand elephant sanctuaries know if an elephant needs rescuing?
The sanctuary gets asked frequently about when an elderly elephant needs to be put under special care.
Determining key factors are: – The elephant is 50-60 years old +
– Looking at their skin, nails and hair
– Digestive problems, examining urine and faeces
– How well they digest their food, how much they’re chewing
– How many times they excrete waste
You can actively follow the amazing journey of the Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary through social media and see how they’re making a difference to the lives of elephants in Thailand. Remember it may cost you to go and see these amazing elephants, but every penny you spend goes towards looking after these breath-taking icons of Thailand. Contact the sanctuary;
- Follow on Instagram: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
- Follow on Facebook: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
- Follow on TripAdvisor: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
I had an unbelievable time here and it is an experience I will remember forever. I hope you have an experience like I did, send me a message and tell me about your experience.
There are also some cool waterfalls in Chiang Mai to see whilst you’re there!
Where to next?
Here are some of my favourite Thailand destinations;
If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Thailand and a guide to Thailand travel hacks, you will find it all in this awesome easy read guide. I have personally created this guide for travelling around Thailand. It costs less than a McDonald meal 🙂
Check out my ultimate Thailand Travel Guide for your trip!