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 Elephant Nature 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 training courses and even the chance of visiting an elephant hospital. Our recommendations on the best elephant camps in Chiang Mai follow.
Last Updated: June 2019
CAMPS WITH ELEPHANT RIDING SERVICES
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 feature the elephants demonstrating their skills in moving logs and painting. The sales outlets stock elephant souvenirs including dung paper. Elephant shows: 3 times/daily at 10:00, 11:00 and 13:30.
Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC): Km.#28-29, Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway, Hang Chat, Lampang 52190 | Open: 08:00-16:30 (Daily) | Admission Fees: Adult 200 B; Child 100 B | Elephant Rides: ½ Hour 500 B; 1 Hour 1,000 B | Tel: +66 54 829 333 | Fax: +66 54 829 334 | Website | E-mail
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. Elephant shows: 3 times/daily at 08:00, 09:40 and 13:30.
Mae Sa Elephant Camp: #101, M. 9, Mae Rim-Sa Moeng Rd., A. Mae Rim, Chiang Mai 50180 | Open: 07:30-15:30 (Daily) | Admission 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
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 four-hour safari package offers visitors elephant rides, elephant shows, bamboo rafting, ox-cart rides, a buffet lunch and round trip transportation from Chiang Mai. This facility also operates one and two day mahout courses and incorporates an elephant hospital.
Mae Taeng Elephant Park: 99/1 T. Kued Chang, A. Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai 50150 | Open: 08:00-16:00 (Daily) | Safari Package: 1,600 B/Person | Tel: +66 81 549 1110, +66 89 755 5451 | Website | E-mail
Chiang Dao Elephant Training Centre is about 20kms before Chiang Dao on the main highway up from Chiang Mai. Tourists here have the choice of just visiting the park, bathing with the elephants, a one-hour elephant ride through the forest, bamboo rafting or combo packages of rafting and riding. Elephant show: 1 time/daily at 10:00 (approx. 45 mins)
Chiang Dao Elephant Training Centre: #108/1, T. Inthakin, A. Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai 50150 | Open: 08:00-13:00 (Daily) | Prices: Admission Fee 100 B/Person; Elephant Riding + Bamboo Rafting (1 Hour) 1,300 B/Person | Tel: +66 53 298 553 | Fax: +66 53 862 037
CAMPS WITHOUT ELEPHANT RIDING SERVICES
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) | Package: N/A | Tel: +66 53 272 855, +66 53 818932 | Website | Facebook | E-mail
Like 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 transportation from Chiang Mai hotels included traditional Thai meals, soft drinks and snacks for the elephants.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary: [Office] #119/10, Thapae Rd., T. Chang Klan, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 07:00-22:00 (Daily) | ½ Day Visit: 1,700 B/Person; 1 Day Visit: 2,400 B/Person | Tel: +66 53 273 415, +66 83 562 4263 | Website | Facebook | E-mail