Visiting Elephant Nature Park In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Visiting Elephant Nature Park In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Going to Elephant Nature Park was a priority for our trip to Thailand. We wanted to see the majestic creatures roaming about freely – without ropes or chains.

 

Visiting Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai

We reserved our visit about a month before we arrived; it was very easy to do. There are a few options for single day visits that you can choose from and there is also an option to spend a night at the park. If our budget had allowed, we probably would have stayed overnight. In the end we chose the Single Day Visit for 2,500 Thai Baht (just under $70). When reserving our visit on ENP’s website, we had to pay a deposit of 1,000 Thai Baht. The remaining 1,500 we paid in cash at the park.

 

Visit options for Elephant Nature Park

Visit options for Elephant Nature Park

 

Getting to Elephant Nature Park

ENP will pick you up from your hotel/hostel in Chiang Mai, so make sure you already know where you will be staying when you go to make your reservation as that is part of the information ENP asks for. We were picked up from our hostel around 8:15am. After a few more pick-ups, we were on our way to the park.

 

Along the way, our guide gave us some background history on the park and its many residents. We also saw a short video with some tips on what we could and couldn’t do around the elephants. The ride was about an hour long, but the van was comfortable and we did stop along the way to get some snacks and to use the restroom.

 

Inside Elephant Nature Park

When we finally got there, you could feel the excitement. Everyone was turning their heads every which way trying to figure out where the elephants were. Then, as we walked up to the main building, there they were. Walking around, some already being fed by visitors.

 

Our guide took us to a table that would be our group’s table for the day. We quickly put down our bags and headed over to the rail where a big basket of fruit was waiting for us. Over the next few minutes, we each took turns feeding fruit to the elephants. Eek! It was so much fun!

 

View of the grounds at Elephant Nature Park

View of the grounds at Elephant Nature Park

Feeding elephants at Elephant Nature Park

Feeding elephants at Elephant Nature Park

 

Walking The Grounds Of Elephant Nature Park

Next, we went for a walk around the grounds. We learned that ENP is not only home to 66 elephants, but also to hundreds of cats and dogs, some horses, and even some water buffalo. We were told that many local farmers in the area often donate food for the animals.

 

We were shown where new elephants are kept until they have been rehabilitated and can be introduced to the rest of the elephants and to people. We were also given multiple chances to interact with the elephants and to feed them plenty of bananas.

 

Elephant Nature Park is home to many animals, including dogs and water buffalo

Elephant Nature Park is home to many animals, including dogs and water buffalo

Watching the elephants eat at Elephant Nature Park

Watching the elephants eat at Elephant Nature Park

An elephant wit its trainer, feeding an elephant, and a baby elephant

An elephant wit its trainer, feeding an elephant, and a baby elephant

 



 

Lunch At Elephant Nature Park

Then we took a bit of a break to have lunch back at the main building. It was buffet style, with both Asian and International dishes. It was all fresh and delicious. Everyone in the group was pretty hungry by that point, with almost everyone going back for seconds.

 

Elephant Bathing

After lunch we were taken to the river where some elephants were already bathing in the water. We each had a small bucket and we took turns getting close and splashing water on them. It was a little difficult to walk in the muddy water since my flip flops kept getting sucked into the mud. A couple of times I thought I was going to fall over since it felt like my feet were stuck in concrete. But either way, it was really cool to spend that time splashing around with the elephants.

 

Giving the elephants a bath at Elephant Nature Park

Giving the elephants a bath at Elephant Nature Park

 

An Ethical Elephant Sanctuary

The best part about the whole experience at ENP was knowing that the elephants were living a much better life than they’d previously had. They were no longer being beaten, they weren’t being forced to work for logging companies, and they were no longer in danger of stepping on landmines. While we were at ENP, we heard so many sad stories about the hardships these beautiful creatures had endured.

 

It brought tears to my eyes knowing that they had suffered so much. But it was a consolation knowing that they had been rescued and were being taken care of now. They are fed properly, live in clean quarters, wander freely, and can be admired and appreciated without having to give rides or do tricks. They are in a sanctuary that is devoted to their protection.

 

A blind elephant at Elephant Nature Park

After the death of her baby, this elephant refused to work. She was beaten in the face so severely that she was blinded.

An elephant with a broken leg at Elephant Nature Park

During a logging accident, this elephant’s leg was broken. Without proper care, it never healed correctly.

An elephant missing toes at Elephant Nature Park

This elephant is missing toes on its back leg after stepping on a landmine.

 

I know a lot of people want to ride elephants, but there is no elephant riding at ENP. I will admit, I rode an elephant in Bali a few years ago. I clapped and cheered when I saw them painting pictures and kicking soccer balls into a net. I thought it was all part of the experience. What I didn’t realize at the time were the things the elephants had to go through at the hands of their mahouts (trainers) in order to perform those stunts. They were tied up, beaten, scarred, and their spirits were broken.

 

At ENP, there are no ropes. There are no hooks. There are no 200-pound benches strapped to an elephant’s back. There are only elephants that are free to roam in their natural habitat. So if you really want to experience elephants the right way, I suggest visiting Elephant Nature Park. It’s a fun, educational, and eye-opening experience.

 

Also, if you want to learn more about responsible elephant tourism, we recommend reading this post written by Diana of D Travels ‘Round. She spent 3 years in Thailand and lives and breathes responsible elephant tourism.

 

An elephant roaming freely at Elephant Nature Park

An elephant roaming freely at Elephant Nature Park

 

A Few Tips For Visiting Elephant Nature Park:

  • – You don’t have to get in the river with the elephants, but if you do we recommend bringing water shoes, a change of clothes, and a towel.
  • – Bring sunblock and bug spray.
  • – Be courteous to those around you. We know you want to give the elephant another banana, but in your excitement don’t jump the line and cut in front of someone else that has been waiting patiently for their turn.

 

Final Thoughts On Elephant Nature Park

So if you’re wondering where to see elephants in Thailand, we recommend Elephant Nature Park. It was one of the highlights of our trip to Thailand and an experience we will never forget. Everyone there is all about the taking there of these majestic animals and teaching responsible elephant tourism.

 

Have you been to Elephant Nature Park or any other animal sanctuaries? We’d love to read your comments below! 🙂

 

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Experience elephants the right way by going to Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It’s a fun, educational, and amazing experience.

 

63 Comments
  • Hey Vicky and Buddy! At first I thought the price of visiting the Elephant Nature Park seemed expensive, especially by Thailand standards. However, after I read everything that is included with the price coupled with knowing they are doing a great work, I think the price is probably a bargain. Looks like great fun!

  • I haven’t been to an elephant park before, but I am obsessed with elephants and hope to visit one this year some time. I love hearing of elephants being treated to a happier and healthier life than they had before.

  • It’s great to hear the elephants live so much better lives in the shelter than before. During our trip to Thailand I was shocked by how many tourists wanted to participate in elephant riding without even realising what the animals had to go through!

  • Holly says:

    It seems like this is the top things to do when visiting Thailand. Great tips.

  • Laura says:

    I appreciate that these elephants are being cared for in a better environment, but I still don’t condone that they are being used for tourists enjoyment. I’m the one who hates zoos and any type of animal confinement though.

    • Buddy says:

      I understand Laura. But without the money from visitors, they wouldn’t be able to afford all that they do for the animals. It sucks that this park had to be built in the first place.

  • I’ve never been to an elephant park – just seen one in a temple in India and some herds in Sri Lanka from a distance. It sounds like an amazing experience.

  • I really want to go here now. I saw wild elephants in Africa and they were amazing. I would love to be that close to a elephant in Thailand.

  • Mags says:

    What a great experience. This would definitely be a priority for me too when I finally make it to Thailand. Thanks for the info. Good to know that it takes a little bit of planning ahead of time, that’s a step I sometimes forget!

  • I can’t believe the trauma that some of these Elephants have been through – it’s heartbreaking! I’m glad they found a way to still allow for tourists to interact with the elephants without harming them. That’s also a cool perk that they pick you up from the hotel! It made the price seem a little more reasonable. I’m glad you had such a great experience, thanks for sharing!!

  • Such an amazing experience! While I love that ENP is there to protect these awesome creatures, I Just wish that they didn’t have to.

  • Very nice , elephants are beautiful , i like your post very much . Thanks for your sharing .

  • mark says:

    Animal reserves do an amazing job when done properly, they support and help the animal populations. We visited a reserve for monkey’s in Alsace France where they were breeding them to return them to the wild of north Africa. There is story on our website about this

  • noel says:

    Yes without the places like this there would be no refuge for these elephants that have been subjected to harsh treatments, looks like a wonderful visit and tour.

  • Katie says:

    I have never been, but I know when I visit Chang Mai I will definitely visit this park. I first learned about it (and how elephants are treated) a few years ago when a friend stayed there. Ever since then I’ve been super interested. Looks like it was quite the experience – sad to see pictures of elephants that were injured, but glad to know they are being well taken care of!

  • Elephants are wonderful animals! Unfortunately there are many places in Thailand where they don’t treat elephants well… 🙁

    • Buddy says:

      That’s very true. But hopefully more and more people realize how badly the elephants are being treated and stop going to places that condone that treatment.

  • I can see the excitement on your face at being so close to those animals! it looks amazing! i hope that when we get to Thailand we can visit the Park and help contribute to the good they do!

  • Meg Jerrard says:

    So happy to hear of an elephant attraction which does not involve animal cruelty. Sanctuaries are a fabulous way to experience the animals in their natural habitat as best we probably could next to being in the wild. I’m so glad to hear that their lives here are better than they once were in other training camps.

    Thanks for shairng your beautiful photos and experience 🙂

  • Thank you for this portrait of a responsible elephant experience. Thank you for revealing that you had taken an elephant ride.Luckily the world has awakened to their plight. You’re helping with that.

  • Jenna says:

    The Elephant Nature Park would be the top thing I’d want to do in Thailand, too–it’s so great to see places treating animals well, especially ones that have been rescued like this. Looks like such a fun day and great photos!

  • Kate says:

    This is the kind of sanctuary that I like to visit. I still feel sad reading about the elephants that get beaten and chained. I can’t believe one of the elephants you saw had lost toes due to a landmine. People can be so cruel.
    I visited orphaned elephants in Kenya and it was a great foundation. I’m always willing to support these places. Great post and photos. Thanks for raising awareness

  • I really wish I’d visited the ENP when I went to Chiang Mai, but it was all booked up. I visited Ran Tong instead on its no riding program and found it to be okay. I didn’t like the use of ropes though. I love that ENP doesn’t even have riding as an option!

  • Natalie says:

    It’s obviously a great thing that they are able to roam freely. I haven’t been to Southeast Asia yet, but I have heard a lot of sad stories about how elephants are treated there. It’s really great that you were able to go to their normal habitat and spend time with them there. They look so cute!!

    • Buddy says:

      Yes, unfortunately they are taken advantage of because they bring in money. But hopefully more and more people become aware of how they are treated so that it is no longer profitable for them.

  • What an amazing experience! For sure the key is doing your research, and ensuring the animals are being well cared for.

  • Brenda says:

    It’s great to know that there is a responsible nature park in Chiang Mai. You looked like you really had a fabulous time connecting with all the animals. Will have to visit next time we’re n Chiang Mai.

  • I’m glad all these elephants found better homes, as well as all the cats and dogs! We want so badly to connect with animals when we travel, but it’s hard to know which places are responsible and which just do a good spin. I’ve been taken in before. Thankfully, you found a good one.w

    • Buddy says:

      Unfortunately, so have I. That’s why the best thing I can recommend is for everyone to do their research before visiting any place that has animals.

  • Loredana says:

    The elephants are amazing and beautiful creatures. It’s so bad that some of them had to go through some bad times – and I hope their species will be protected and they’ll be able to breed more. This elephant nature park is truly amazing – I’d love to visit it one day!

  • Rosemary says:

    That’s great that the nature park is responsible and takes such care of the elephants. The best part is reading that the elephants are allowed to roam around freely. Looks like you really had a great time connecting with them. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing.

  • Mags says:

    I’ll be in Chiang Mai in November and this is at the top of my list. I would love to get up close to the elephants, and I’m glad there is a responsible way to do it.

  • Annalisa says:

    Its wonderful that people are acting on and avoiding using Elephants as entertainment, they certainly look much happier here! I thought $70 was a little pricey at first, but reading on I think every dollar is worth it 🙂

  • This is one experience that we missed when in Chiang Mai. Happy that we are going back in a couple of weeks, for sure we gonna spend a day with the elephants 🙂

  • Melanie says:

    Hi! I’m going to Thailand in June and can’t decide which “visit” to do at the Elephant Nature Park . During the Full Day Visit, were you allowed to interact with the elephants or were you mostly observing them? Thanks for your advice!

    • Buddy says:

      Hi Melanie! Yes, you definitely interact with them. You’ll be given fruits that the elephants like so they’ll come right up to you, unless they’re already full lol! They come and go as they please but you’ll have plenty of chances to get up close to them.

  • Edel McGinn says:

    Hi I’ve booked to volunteer at the Elephant nature park for a week in August and I literally cannot wait. My niece did it last year and highly recommended it. I wonder if you can help though….I’m heading out to Thailand just to do this ( my first trip on my own at my 48 years of age!!!) but as its a long way from England I’m wondering where else is best to visit? I’m hoping to set off on the Thursday so would you recommend flying straight to Chiang Ma to explore for a few daysi or somewhere else close by? ( volunteer week starts on the Monday) …thanks in advance

    • Buddy says:

      Hi Edel! Yay, I’m so excited for you!! You could definitely spend a few days exploring Chiang Mai. There are plenty of temples to visit and lots of great food. It’s a big city, but certainly not as chaotic as Bangkok. One things we most definitely recommend is taking a cooking class. You get to know the local cuisine and you learn about the Thai culture as well. We had a great experience with Zabb-E-Lee. You can read more about it here: https://www.buddythetravelingmonkey.com/zabb-e-lee-best-thai-cooking-class-chiang-mai/

      I hope you have a great time and I think it’s awesome you’re taking this solo trip. Safe travels!! 🙂

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Hi! I'm Vicky, a South Florida-based blogger traveling around the world with my stuffed monkey Buddy. Tired of the 9-5, we recently sold all of our stuff and started traveling full time. Click on the photo to learn more!

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