There’s loads of controversy if it’s really ethical to visit elephant sanctuaries near Chiang Mai. However, I did some research and found one that peaked my interest. The location of the Ethical Elephant Sanctuary near Chiang Mai is southwest of the city through beautiful rolling mountains. Based on street signs, it seems to be on the way toward Doi Inthanon National Park. There are six adult elephants that have been rescued and are taken care of by staff who live on sight.
Because I have had many visitors in Thailand, I have now been twice to Ethical Elephant Sanctuary near Chiang Mai. This post is my experience of what you do in a full day elephant tour vs. half day elephant tour at Ethical Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai.
Full day tour: 2,100 baht
8-8:30 – p/u at hotel
10:30 – Arrive at sight (dependent on traffic)
10:30 – 12ish – feed the elephants and trek up a hill with them. It’s fun to see them scratching on trees, stuffing their faces with leaves and bananas, and truly interacting so easily with humans. They all were free to roam about and were not contained in a secluded area. If they were hungry, they ate. When they were done they pooped and walked around.
12:00 – eat lunch with beautiful views of the mountains and greenery. Buffalo (I think) were grazing nearby.
12:45 – swim in the mud bath with the elephants. This was my favorite part. The elephants loved cooling down and would lay in the water. We were all giggling our heads off. After the mud bath we moved on over to the clear water to rinse and have water fights with the elephants.
1:30-2 – wrap up the bathing and shower nearby. There’s an area to rinse off, but you’ll want to take a “real shower” once back in Chiang Mai.
4:30 ish – drop off at hotel
Half day tour: 1,500 baht
6:30-7 – p/u at hotel
9-11 ish – Feed elephants, take photos, wander around the feeding area, mud bath, rinse off (exactly the same as a full day tour minus the mini trek up the hill)
11-11:30 – shower and lunch
1:30 ish – drop off at to hotel
So….what’s the difference between a half day and full day elephant tour? The ONLY thing that I noticed was different is that you don’t “trek” with the elephants during the half day tour. I HIGHLY recommend the half-day tour if you are on a time crunch. You get home at a reasonable time and get to still do almost everything that is included in a full day tour.
What to bring? Wear a swimsuit and bring a towel and dry clothes for the car ride back.
Can I take photos? You can use your phone to take pictures, but the staff are amazing and take photos for you with their nice camera throughout the entire day. You can access those photos on Facebook within 24 hours of your tour for free!
Would I do it again? Yes! If I had friends visiting I would take them here. I have looked up other elephant tours near Chiang Mai but this one really caters well for what we were looking for in our elephant visit in Thailand.