4 Best Ethical Elephant Sanctuaries to Visit in Chiang Mai
Northern Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai, is famed for its extensive list of elephant sanctuaries. Walk down any tourism hub in Chiang Mai, and you’ll be surrounded by travel agencies showing off their popular elephant experiences, highlighting why visiting elephant sanctuaries is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai. With so many options to choose from, the experiences vary widely. Along with the food, culture, and a slightly milder climate than in Bangkok, Chiang Mai’s array of ethical elephant sanctuaries makes it one of the best places to visit in Thailand.
Without further ado, here are our top 4 of the best elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai, in no particular order.
1. Elephant Retirement Park
Home to rescued and abandoned elephants from the tourism industry, they can now roam freely and gaze at the natural greenery at Elephant Retirement Park. The founder, Adulwit Khamya, or “Noi,” has created a sustainable habitat for the elephants to live in a safe and natural environment, free from profiteering and neglect. The elephants here are never separated, and herbal medicines are used to keep the animals healthy and enjoy a better quality of life.
This elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai offers a mud-bath with the elephants, which protects their skin against the sun. You will also get to swim and play with them in the water, as well as feeding them. Other activities include lessons on elephant behavior and health, and making elephant medicine, which helps with their digestion and overall health. On top of all these, you get to observe and learn their natural behavior as animals by spending a day with them.
Location: 5 Kotchasarn Rd Lane 5, Tambon Chang Khlan, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100
2. Lanna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary
Located in the Mae Taeng district in Chiang Mai, visiting Lanna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai. At Lanna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary, you will get the chance to spend the day with the adoring rescued elephants and have them show you their home. The highlight here is making herbal medicine balls for the elephants, having a mud spa, as well as a jungle walk with them as they do their daily exercise. The younger elephants would climb up the hills of the small valley and slide down.
Here at Lanna Kingdom Elephant Sanctuary, you get to work alongside the elephant owners and local communities to show the benefits of ethical elephant experiences and let everybody know about ethical tourism and its perks.
Location: Mae Taeng, Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai 50150
3. Elephant Pride Sanctuary
Elephant Pride Sanctuary is one of the most ethical elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai, as the owners wish nothing but only a comfortable place for them to live freely in nature where they truly belong. This is where you will get an up-close-and-personal experience with the elephants, while maintaining their pride and honor.
Located in the Mae Taeng Area out in the countryside, Elephant Pride Sanctuary is less than an hour’s drive from Chiang Mai City. Here, you will get to feed the cute little elephants with bananas, and also go for a jungle walk. After that, you will get to have a fun little mud bath with the elephants. This is when the elephants will truly have a great time throwing cool wet muds onto themselves on a cool hot day!
Location: 191/12 Muang District, Chiang Mai, 50100
4. Thai Elephant Home
If you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai, then head to this ethical elephant sanctuary. Thai Elephant Home, founded in 2006 with only one elephant, now has 20 elephants, with 14 at the main camp and 6 at the nursery. It is all about eco-tourism and elephant conservation, as Thai Elephant Home have an active breeding program to increase the size of their herd to help preserve the Asian elephant species for future generations.
As the elephants’ natural jungle habitat is fragile and continues to decrease, Thai Elephant Home has trekking trails into the jungle, which allow you to appreciate nature without leaving a heavy footprint. Take a walk with them into the jungle, as well as the chance to play with the cute baby elephants!
Location: 102 Moo 2 Kuedchang Mae Taeng, Mae Taeng District, 50150
To sum up, Chiang Mai is, without a doubt, one of the most popular destinations for nature lovers in Thailand. The top-notch restaurants, lush forests, breath-taking viewpoints, and ethical elephant sanctuaries, makes Chiang Mai one of the best places to visit in Thailand. And with our “Chiang Mai Unlimited Day Pass,” you can have a truly peaceful and relaxing trip in Chiang Mai. Just use this one pass and you can have it all from playing with elephants to indulging in delicious bites!
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