Things to do in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Elephant Sanctuary

Elephant-Sanctuary

When you think of Thailand, the first things that come to mind are gorgeous beaches, amazing national parks, interesting food and culture. I can assure you there’s much more than that and that’s why we included Chiang Mai in our itinerary. The only reason we included Chiang Mai in our trip to Thailand is because I wanted so much visiting an Elephant Sanctuary. The elephants are considered as the Thai King. Since Thailand is a majority Buddhist country, elephants are portrayed as sacred animals from their special symbolism in the practice of Buddhism.

Elephant Sanctuary

Visiting an Elephant Sanctuary

History

In the old days, the elephants were used as “faithful laborers” just like the horses in other countries. Besides, some elephants have been held captive for years, inappropriately trained to do things, chained, and denied adequate space, food, water and rest. Over the years, this practice  was prohibited and no one could buy elephants anymore for own purposes because a lot of people used to mistreat them and make them live in such horrible conditions. After this prohibition, the elephants got “jobless” so tourist companies bought them and rescued them from those horrible conditions. The thing is that some tourist companies kept mistreating the elephants and allowed people to ride them, for example. Poor animals! So some sanctuaries came up where they treat the elephants how it should be.

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How to choose an Elephant Sanctuary

We chose the Secret Elephant Sanctuary company for our tour because their elephants are rehabilitated and it works towards their well-being. So, when you visit the elephant sanctuary, it gives you an opportunity to see the good work being done and to interact with the lovely elephants in a way that doesn’t harm their health or welfare.

When you’re looking among the many options for this kind of tour, be certain to check beforehand the company’s reputation and reviews. Check if they keep a track on sustainable and ethical standards. And you’ll find options of full day or half day tour. We chose the full day option because after visiting the Elephant Sanctuary they took us to a waterfall which is beautiful by the way.

An ethical elephant experience has certain regulations that work in favor of the elephants, such as no usage of chains, enough space and freedom to move around, a good diet, no elephant rides, health check-ups, and interaction with other elephants. 

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They gave us insight into the behavior and personal history of their elephants. Can you imagine how amazing this experience is? We fed them by our own hands, we played with them and bathed them! I can swear I saw them smiling! It’s inexplicable! Every time I remember these moments, I got so emotional because every second spent with them was very special! 

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How does the tour work?

Well, our guide from the Secret Elephant Sanctuary company picked us up at the hotel. We were a group of 8 people. When we arrived in the sanctuary, the guide gave us a basic overview of the tour, some information about the elephants and then traditional Thai Karen clothing to wear during the tour. Since the tour can get messy and wet (in a very fun way!) we suggest that you take some stuff with you such a hat, sunscreen, bathing suit, towel and a change of clothes.

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Being able to interact with these remarkable creatures gave us an unique experience! We checked this item out of our bucket list successfully!

Interacting with elephants is a fabulous experience that gives you an insight into these majestic animals. Just remember to ensure that the animals are well-cared for and that the rescue’s activities for tourists don’t hinder the welfare of the elephants. And now it’s over to you, guys. Would you add this experience to your trip to Thailand? 🙂

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See also:


Click here to check all articles about Chiang Mai.


Click here to check all articles about Thailand.


Click here to check all articles about Asia.


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Elephant Sanctuary
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