I have a confession to make: I’m taking up a masters course and I’ll also be moving out of the country by the end of the month, which explains why I haven’t been posting as much. I’ve been doing assignments and reports, as well as packing all my things before I say goodbye, to my little city, for good. IT’S BEEN A CRAZY MONTH, I tell you.
Published first on Tripzilla on July 19, 2017
Elephants – this is what comes to mind when many of us hear “Thailand,” right next to temples and street food. I love elephants; they’re such intelligent and majestic creatures. Unfortunately, these extraordinary traits can’t save them from being used for the country’s entertainment and tourism purposes. Thankfully, there are many organisations in Thailand that have dedicated their full-time efforts to saving and nurturing these acclaimed creatures. And they let tourists help for a day!
These said organisations run their facilities in such a way that can help you get close with the animals without having to ride or see them perform.
“But riding elephants is kind of a-once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
I know how exciting it is to tell your friends that you’ve ridden an elephant. However, elephant sanctuaries bring a more fulfilling experience because, not only can you see the elephants act in their natural environment, you can trek with them and bathe them yourselves! So if you’d also like the option of going the more ethical animal-loving route, please continue on scrolling down.
1. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
On the very first page of their website, Elephant Jungle Sanctuary emphasises their no riding policy. Located about 60 km from Chiang Mai, this sanctuary is focused on taking care of formerly mistreated elephants. They currently have a little over 30 elephants on their watch. The place offers half day, full day, and overnight visits where you can feed the elephants, give them medicine, and witness their mud spa sessions.
Address: 119/10 Thapae Rd, Chang Klan, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
2. Elephant Nature Park
Also located about 60 km from Chiang Mai, this sanctuary’s been operating as a rescue centre for elephants since the 1990’s. Alongside these elephants, many other rescued species are also taken care of. Elephant Nature Park also offers elephant feeding, bathing, and trekking in their day’s activities, which are suitable for all ages.
Address: 1 Ratmakka Road, Phra Sing, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
3. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
For those of you who can’t go up North, Phuket actually has a couple of sanctuaries of its own. The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary calls their preserve as a retirement home for the sick and injured elephants. They work together with the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, in participating in ethical elephant tourism programs.
This sanctuary allows their guests to interact with their elephants for half the day. Bathing and trekking are part of the itinerary, however, people can only observe the animals from the distance, during these activities, since the sanctuary emphasises on “natural” socialisation.
Address: 111/116, Moo 8, Saunneramit 1, Thombol Paklok, Amphur Talang, Phuket, Thailand
4. Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand’s Wildlife Rescue Centre
Wildlife Friends Foundation not only focuses on rescuing elephants from exploitation, they help every kind of animal affected by deforestation, illegal trade, and pollution. WFFT is constantly looking for volunteers, but if you can’t stay for good, you can help out at their Wildlife Rescue Centre. There they’ll give you a guided tour, let you walk with the elephants, and inform you of their stories. You’ll come home much educated about Thailand’s efforts in saving their elephants.
Address: Moo 6,Tambon Thamairuak, Amphoe Thayang, 76130 Petchaburi, Thailand
5. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary
But if you do have time to stay in Thailand and volunteer to help the elephants, BLES is the place to call. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary welcomes guests for their homestay program. Not only will volunteers get to feed the elephants, but they’ll actually gather the food themselves. And aside from walking with the elephants, visitors are encouraged to camp with them in the middle of the jungle! Sounds like an enlightening experience to me.
Address: 304 Mu 5, Baan Na Ton Jan, Tambon Baan Tuek, Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai 64130, Thailand
So, on your next Thailand getaway, STOP riding elephants and start taking care of them, will you?