Even though there are still wild elephants roaming in some rural areas of Thailand, quite a large percentage of the pachyderm population are enjoying new leases of life in dedicated elephant camps dotted around the nation. Visitors will find there are more than 15 elephant camps within easy driving distance of central Chiang Mai.
Some camps such as Tong Bai Elephant Camp, Baanchang Elephant Park and Elephant Jungle Sanctuary are 100 per cent focussed on giving elephants the best possible care and do not offer the elephant riding. Others, including the legendary Thai Elephant Conservation Centre near Lampang, provide fully immersive experiences with elephant rides, elephant shows, mahout courses and even the chance of visiting an elephant hospital. Our recommendations for the best elephant camps in Chiang Mai are shown below.
Elephant Camps [With Elephant Rides]:
Baanchang | Elephant Conservation | Mae Sa Elephant Camp | Mae Taeng Elephant Park | Patara Elephant Farm
Elephant Camps [No Elephant Rides]:
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary | Elephant Nature Park | Tong Bai Elephant Camp | Further Reading
*Note: Prices do change, we recommend you to check with the camps before making reservations.
TONG BAI ELEPHANT CAMP
The Tong Bai Foundation is a voluntary organisation which operates an ethical elephant camp in the hilly Mae Wang region of Chiang Mai. The camp is a home and sanctuary to a small herd of elderly elephants and calves, with limited human interaction or commercialisation. Tourists who visit this camp get the unique opportunity of spending quality time with elephants such as Mae (mother) Boontong and Yaya. Visitors are allowed to interact with the elephants by walking with them in the Mae Sapok Forest and bathing them in the Sapok River. Watching mahouts assist with the day-to-day training of the calves is a delight. Elephant rides are not an option at this camp. To subsidise the donations the foundation needs to exist, the sturdier elephants are hired out to Elephant Special Tours.
Tong Bai Elephant Foundation by Green Trails: #111/70 K-Park, Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 08:00-17:30 (Mon-Sat) | Packages [min.3 pax]: 1 Day = 5’500 B / 3 Days = 10’500 B | Tel: +66 53 141 356 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
THAI ELEPHANT CONSERVATION CENTRE
On the road southeast to Lampang, the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre is about 65kms from Chiang Mai. This centre lives and breathes elephants and offers elephant bathing, elephant shows, interaction with elephant calves, and elephant rides. The onsite elephant hospital is open to visitors. There are currently 50 elephants at the centre, but there are new calves born every year. Shows take place three times a day and feature the elephants demonstrating their skills in moving logs and painting. Onsite sales outlets stock elephant souvenirs including dung paper.
Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC): Km.#28-29, Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway, Hang Chat, Lampang 52190 | Open: 08:00-16:30 (Daily) | Entrance Fees: Adult 200 B, Child 100 B | Elephant Rides: ½ Hour 500 B, 1 Hour 1000 B | Tel: +66 54 829 333 | Fax: +66 54 829 334 | Website | E-mail | Map
MAE SA ELEPHANT CAMP
One of the key attractions in the renowned Mae Sa Valley, Mae Sa Elephant Camp is to the north of Chiang Mai. This is another facility dedicated to the wellbeing of elephants and has ones of all ages from calves to pensioners. Visitors are provided with the full range of elephant experiences. These are shows with elephants painting, elephant river baths, rides on howdah seats and mahout training courses from two hours long to three days. The riding route follows jungle paths and river crossings.
Mae Sa Elephant Camp: #101, M. 9, Mae Rim-Sa Moeng Rd., A. Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180 | Open: 07:30-15:30 (Daily) | Entrance Fees: Adult 250 B, Child 150 B | Elephant Rides: ½ Hour 1,000 B | Tel: +66 53 206 247-8 | Fax: +66 53 206 247 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
MAE TAENG ELEPHANT PARK
A little over 50kms to the north of Chiang Mai, Mae Taeng Elephant Park claims it offers the best elephant riding in the whole of Northern Thailand. The route typically meanders through verdant forest, up and down hills, and across rivers. Elephant shows staged at this park include painting, football and stacking logs. A one-day deluxe adventure package offers visitors elephant rides, admission to the elephant shows, bamboo rafting, trips in ox-carts, a buffet lunch and transportation from Chiang Mai. This facility also operates one and two day mahout courses and incorporates an elephant hospital.
Mae Taeng Elephant Park: – T. Kud Chang, A. Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai 50150 | Open: 08:00-16:00 (Daily) | Park Packages: Adult US$54, Child US$27 | Tel: +66 53 206 047, +66 89 755 5451 | Website | E-mail | Map
PATARA ELEPHANT FARM
Situated in a hilly location 30kms west of Chiang Mai Old City, Patara Elephant Farm provides an interactive one-day elephant care course. Elephant Owner for a Day enables people to spend a day as a mahout and learn elephant commands, how to make sure the elephant’s skin is in good condition, to bathe and brush the pachyderm down. The highlight of the day is riding elephants bareback on a sample trip to a nearby temple and then through the forest to a waterfall. Patara’s fully inclusive package provides pick up and drop off from city hotels, a picnic lunch, drinking water and a souvenir DVD.
Patara Elephant Farm: #299/22, T. Baan Pong, A. Hang Dong , Chiang Mai 50230 | Open: 08:00-18:00 (Daily) | Training Courses: N/A | Tel: +66 81 992 2551 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
BAANCHANG ELEPHANT PARK
Up in the hills of Mae Taeng, Baanchang Elephant Park is dedicated to providing its inmates with the best quality of life and offering exceptional elephant experiences for visitors. Baanchang offers one to three day elephant mahout training courses. The programmes provide bareback elephant rides, bathing and feeding as well as transport from central Chiang Mai, meals and, for two and three day courses, accommodation.
Baanchang Elephant Park: #T. Ki Lek, A. Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai 50150 | Open: 06:00-17:00 (Daily) | Training Courses (1 person/2 persons): 1 Day 15,900 B/8,900 B; 2 Days 22,900 B/13,900 B | Tel: +66 53 814 174 | Fax: +66 53 829 334 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
ELEPHANT NATURE PARK
Elephant Nature Park is in Mae Taeng and about 90 minutes’ drive from central Chiang Mai. The camp was set up to provide a home for rescued elephants as well as stray dogs, cats and buffaloes. Animal and nature enthusiasts are provided with opportunities to bathe elephants in the local river, feed them and stroll through the countryside with them. Elephant Nature Park has an assortment of set elephant care programmes ranging from one day to a week in length. This camp does not offer rides in elephant howdahs.
Elephant Nature Park: ##1, Ratmakka Rd., T. Phra Singh, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 | Open: 09:00-17:00 (daily) | Packages: N/A | Tel: +66 53 272 855, +66 53 818932 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
ELEPHANT JUNGLE SANCTUARY
Like Tong Bai Elephant Foundation and Elephant Nature Park, the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary does not offer rides for visitors. The camp is set in the lofty hillscapes of Mae Win and 60kms from Chiang Mai. The camp aims at offering unique eco-tourism and elephant experiences with packages ranging between half a day and two days. As part of the tours, participants get to walk with the 30 elephants housed here, enjoy mud-baths with them and meet the Karen hilltribe villagers who help run the sanctuary. The visits come with transport from Chiang Mai hotels included as well as traditional Thai meals, soft drinks and snacks for the elephants.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary: #119/10, Thapae Rd., T. Chang Klan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 07:00-22:00 (Daily) | Packages: 1 Day = 2,400-3,500 B / Overnight = 4,900 B | Tel: +66 53 273 415 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map