The elephant is Thailand’s national animal and played an integral role in the country’s development as well as historic its wars. Trained elephants were the beast of choice for ancient Thai kings. In one memorable 17th century battle, King Naresuan triumphed over the ruling King of Burma in an elephant duel. People visiting Chiang Mai have a wonderful opportunity to get up close and personal to these majestic animals.
There are a number of elephant camps within 90 minutes’ drive of Chiang Mai where visitors are able to ride elephants, learn to become mahout elephant trainers or simply enjoy interacting with elephants. Mahout training courses are fun, enlightening and provide a level of interaction with elephants that is hard to beat. Our recommendations for the best elephant camps in Chiang Mai for mahout training courses below.
Last Updated: November 2018
Best Chiang Mai Elephant Mahout Training Courses:
Baan Kwan Chang | Baanchang Elephant Park | Chang Siam Mahout Lodge and School | Patara Elephant Farm | Thai Elephant Conservation Centre | Further Reading
Note: Courses and prices do change, we recommend you to check with the camps before making reservations.
The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre is in Hang Chat District and 60kms down the main Chiang Mai to Lampang highway. This centre pioneered the foundation of mahout training courses for tourists. The large park here has onsite homestay accommodation and offers mahout training courses of up to 30 days in duration. The courses teach participants how to take care of and ride elephants. They also provide participants with their own mahouts’ suits which are made from traditional mor hom fabric. The centre incorporates an elephant hospital where sick and injured elephants are cared for.
Thai Elephant Conservation Centre: Km. 28-29, Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway, A. Hang Chat, Lampang 52190 | Open: 08:00-16:30 (Daily) | Courses: 1 Day 4,000 B; 2 Days 6,300 B | Tel: +66 54 829 333 | Fax: +66 54 829 330 | Website | E-mail
Baanchang Elephant Park is located in the hills of the Ki Lek region of Mae Taeng. It is about 50kms north of Chiang Mai. Baanchang offers half a day to three day magical mahout training courses. At the end of the courses, novice mahouts are able to give elephants basic commands, feed them and help them bathe.
Baanchang Elephant Park: Office – 147/1, Rachadamnoen Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50150 | Open: 07:00-22:00 (Daily) | Courses (no elephant rides): ½ Day 1,500 B; 1 Day 2,300-2,700 B | Tel: +66 53 814 174, +66 86 924 1245 | Website | Facebook | E-mail
Chang Siam operates an elephant camp in an unspoilt hilly region close to Chiang Mai. Chang translates from Thai to English as elephant and this facility tries to offer genuine mahout training which is fully interactive and provides students with the skills to be able to control, feed and take care of elephants. One and two day mahout courses include pick up from Chang Siam’s head office on Rachapakinai Road in Chiang Mai Old City or from hotels.
Chang Siam: Office – 136/8, Rachapakinai Rd., T. Phra Singh, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 | Open: 08:00-19:00 (Daily) | Courses: ½ Day 1,200 B; 1 Days 1,800-2,900 B | Tel: +66 53 273 742, +66 86 911 1274 | Fax: +66 53 206 159 | Website | Facebook | E-mail
Baan Kwan Chang is the elephant nursery at the renowned Mae Sa Elephant Camp. Baan Kwan Chang provides mahout training courses between half a day and three days long. The programmes provide a good grounding in taking care of elephants on a day-to-day basis and include plenty of hands-on and riding time. Mahout training packages include transport from Chiang Mai, souvenir elephant paintings, accident insurance, overnight accommodation for multi-day programmes and course completion certificates.
Baan Kwan Chang at Mae Sa Elephant Camp: #101, M. 9, A. Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180 | Open: 07:30-15:30 (Daily) | Courses: N/A | Tel: +66 53 206 247, +66 53 206 248 | Website | Facebook | E-mail
Patara Elephant Farm offers a mini mahout course called Elephant Owner for a Day. This course provides a hands on experience on which budding mahouts are taught how to get up close to elephants, check their skin is healthy, bathe and groom them, and give basic instructions. Bareback riding is an integral part of the programme and takes in the local temple, forest paths and waterfalls. Patara Elephant Farm enjoys a peaceful hill location beside the southern road to Samoeng and is about 30kms by road from central Chiang Mai. The course price includes transportation to and from the farm, lunch, drinking water and a complimentary DVD with videos and photos of your day as a mahout.
Patara Elephant Farm: #299/22, T. Baan Pong, A. Hang Dong , Chiang Mai 50230 | Open: 08:00-18:00 (Daily) | Courses: N/A | Tel: +66 81 992 2551, +66 82 493 9644 | Website | Facebook | E-mail