Do you want to see elephants in Thailand? Of course you do! BUT whatever you do… do not ride them or see them perform tricks and stuff. I’ll be honest, I’d rather not see elephants in any such captivity but the reality is that a lot of places still force elephants to carry tourists and entertain them. Luckily, there are places that rescue these elephants from that torture and they live in places called sanctuaries. The elephants here roam around freely, eat, bathe and play with tourists. They’re still enclosed off and still forced to engage with us humans. But since many of these elephants were rescued and cannot be put back into the wild this is the best place for them for now. Hopefully, one day, we can completely put an end to elephant riding and every elephant in the world can run and live freely again like nature intended.
Oops, sorry, I went off for a sec. Back to choosing where to see elephants… I chose to go to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, they also have one in Phuket. All of the elephants at this sanctuary were rescued and live a pretty good life now. The money from the tickets go to food and taking care of the elephants. I’m really glad I chose this tour, everything was great!
They pick you up at around 8am in a mini truck, where you have to sit in the back. Like a songthaew (red truck) but not red. If you don’t know what a red truck is, google “red truck Thailand”. It was a full truck when we went. 8 people can fit semi comfortably in the back. The ride was quite long and after awhile, my butt started hurting. The seats in the trucks are not comfortable. BUT, once you reach the sanctuary, you forget all about it.
First, they ask you to put on these traditional Thai shirts in various colors. Then, they ask you to wash your hands of any lotions, soaps etc. that may be harmful to the elephants.
They go over what we will be doing throughout the day. Do’s and don’ts. It’s quite common sense. Then, we head over to the stables and feed the elephants mini bananas.
After, we move over to an open field and feed them grass and bamboo leaves, I believe? Sorry, I forgot.😐
After that, we head over to the mud baths. This is where it gets messy. If you don’t want mud all over you, maybe skip this. The elephants throw the mud around with their trunks. Mud will FLY all over the place.
After the mud bath, we head over to the river where you can play and bathe with the elephants in the water. This was fun until I saw an elephant drop some major poop into the water. I’m not a huge germaphobe and I don’t want to sound all girly, but that was the end for me. No poop water in my eyes or mouth, no thank you.
We were able to spend a good amount of time with the elephants. Lastly, they served us lunch. The lunch was alright. Nothing special but decent. What surprised me most was that they gave us little traditional Thai purses to take home with us. At first, I thought of course, they were trying to sell us stuff but to my surprise they said we could take one home. The purses are really cute too! (They also had a photographer taking photos of us throughout the day and they would be available for free!…on Facebook). Oh, and I forgot to mention… our guide for the day was super funny and awesome!
I really had a great time at this elephant sanctuary and definitely recommend it to everyone visiting Thailand!