The Asian elephant is Thailand’s national animal and has been dear to the hearts of Thai people since historic times. Statues and other images of elephants are part of the ruins of the 700 year-old Sukhothai Kingdom while an elephant was the beast of choice for legendary King Naresuan in his 16th century duel with Prince Mingyi Swa from Burma.
There are still some elephants roaming freely in some parts of Thailand, but many have now found new homes at the nation’s ever-increasing number of elephant camps. There are quite a number of the camps in Northern Thailand at which tourists are able to enjoy interactive experiences with the elephants. The following are our recommended camps for the best elephant trekking experience in Chiang Mai. They do not offer elephant rides for visitors, but just the opportunity of feeding or bathing and walking with them.
The Best Elephant Camps for Elephant Trekking Tours:
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary | Elephant Nature Park | Tong Bai Elephant Foundation | Further Reading
*Note: Prices do change, we recommend you to check with the tour operators before making reservations.
ELEPHANT NATURE PARK
The team at Elephant Nature Park (ENP) run elephant tours to their rescue and rehabilitation camp in the jungles to the north of Chiang Mai. Visitors have the choice of single and two day tours or enrolling on something like the seven-day Journey to Freedom course. ENP also has shorter itineraries and offers packages to other local pachyderm camps. These all offer bathing, walking and feeding the elephants, but no riding. Transportation and meals at the camps are included in tour prices.
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 53 818 932 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
ELEPHANT JUNGLE SANCTUARY
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary has a city office on Tha Phae Road and provides the unique opportunity of spending a day with the elephants in their natural environment. Tourists joining these tours get to get up close and personal with elephants and enjoy activities such as bathing in a mud spa, feeding them and strolling through the countryside. What they don’t get to do is saddle the elephants up and ride them. These tours are inclusive of lunch and transportation from the city. Options are half and one day tours.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary: #119/10, Thapae Rd., T. Chang Klan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 07:00-22:00 (Daily) | 1 Day Tour: 2,400 B/Person; ½ Day Tour: 1,700 B/Person | Tel: +66 53 273 415, +66 83 562 4263 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
TONG BAI ELEPHANT FOUNDATION
Tong Bai Foundation camp is located in Mae Win southern region of Chiang Mai. This camp operates two tours weekly with small groups to ensure participants get full-on experiences. Tong Bai gives the chance of trekking through the surrounding forests with the elephants and bathing with them. The package price includes a set of clothes for the day and transport from Chiang Mai. Tong Bai is a voluntary foundation and the income from the tours contributes to the costs of caring for and feeding the elephants.
Tong Bai Elephant Foundation: c/o Green Trail #111/70, K-Park, Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 08:00-17:30 (Mon-Sat) | 1 Day Tour: 5,500 B/Person | Tel: +66 53 141 356 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map