HONEST RATING: Elephant Sanctuary In Chiang Mai-Ranked Best To Worst

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai, Thailand

Elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai has long been home to these gentle beasts. Relating with elephant is a signature experience in Thailand.

Learning about ethical tourism and places like elephant nature park in Chiang Mai are doing their part educating us all on how to be responsible tourists.

True Facts:

“The rescue elephants in Chiang Mai depend on their survival along with the tourist dollar.

Therefore, your visit will make a significant improvement, not only to the elephants but the environment and the dedicated volunteers”

Is elephant jungle sanctuary in Chiang Mai ethical?

According to Maria Mossman, founder of non-profit group Action for Elephants UK:

“Never go to a park that advertises shows, unnatural behavior, tricks or painting – and please, never ride an elephant”

“Captive elephants should be allowed to live as naturally as possible”

Source: Responsive Travel

It all boils down to visitor’s choices on where to go and how they categorize elephant parks or rehab camps that are as ethical as they claimed to be in Chiang Mai.

Matter of fact, most of the owners running the elephant sanctuaries and parks are good hearted by opening their gates to visitors and volunteers.

The rating by chiangmaigowhere.com on elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai are based on on enquiries, feedback and guests experience.

Here’s our findings and inquisitions on 10 most noteworthy elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai.

  • Here’s our web stories:

Amazing Things To Do In Chiang Mai

Well Operated Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai

#1. Chang Chill Elephant Camp

elephant sanctuary chiang mai

Image: ChangChill

Formerly known as Happy Elephant Care Valley, this elephant nature park in Chiang Mai have transited into a high welfare venue.

In 2019, the World Animal Protection Organization began working with the newly rename Chang Chill Elephant Camp.

“During Covid-19 pandemic, our elephants are enjoying their freedom and having the same routine as per usual. If anyone would like to help us by donating please check our Paypal link”

Changchill Instagram

There’s been a trend to make more acceptable elephant sanctuaries and Chiang Chill is pretty much one such set up.

It’s an observational only environment, where visitors observe the six resident females in their natural habitat over the course of their normal day.

The consistency of this routine (ethical) according to the owner Mr. Supakorn Tananseth, gives a better life and welfare for the elephants.

These females have been retired to Chang Chill from various provinces in Thailand, as they are relieved of the hard work in the logging and trekking industries.

PROS:

  • With World Animal Protection Organization backing and team’s expertise, the elephant camp will have a bright future.
  • Impressive social media marketing for their elephant project awareness.
  • Website not secured but up to date with fast browsing speed. Adding Linkedin would be great for pro networking.

CONS:

  • With 6 female elephants, programs might be limited for visitors.
  • No volunteering or privatized programs which may bring in more funds.

Reviews Tripadvisor:
chiang mai elephant reviews

With the camp’s guide, visitors are allowed to hike through the forest and observe these large mammals foraging for food in the jungle.

Guests are allowed to load banana or sugar cane snacks and other ingredients in the custom-made feeding tubes.

There will also be sharing moment with the camp’s Mahouts on the lifestyle of Chiang Mai Asian elephants in their natural environment. 

Pick up and drop off in Chiang Mai city will be provided by the camp’s representative.

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Hat/Caps
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Refill water bottle
  • Raincoat(wet season)

Full Day children friendly 

Half Day morning/afternoon 

2 Days program 

Full detail visit their website

#2. Monraming Elephant Park

This locally run elephant nature park in Chiang Mai provides a 20-acre jungle surroundings for 6 adults elephants.

With them, you will even have a chance to walk and bathe these gentle giants. 

The sanctuary embraces the elephants with love and care, and there is no riding, chains or hooks, just happy elephants.

Funds for the elephant care are supported by local guided service and adoptions.

The local guides are also involved as volunteers for this low profile Chiang Mai elephant park. 

PROS:

  • Elephants are cared by the local tribe. English speaking guide will provide all the narrative about the park and elephants.
  • Overhead expenditure for Park is not high so maintenance can go a long way. 
  • Privatized trip for your group to Park which include relaxing waterfall visit as well.
  • Goods road to park with quality transportation. Friendly and fluent local guide/driver. 

CONS:

  • Not much marketing done. No social media sites and website for the Park.
  • No awareness campaign for International tourists. 
  • The Park existence are mostly known to Thai people and advertise thru local guides.
  • This make Monraming Elephant Park more reclusive and isolated to other recognized parks and sanctuaries.

 Reviews Tripadvisor:
chiang mai elephant park reviews

Visitors can get close and feed them by hand. You’ll help prepare elephant food as well.

You’ll gain knowledge on how to cut grass and sugar canes to feed the elephants.

Jungle walk with the elephants to see them forage their favorite food followed by bathing them in a specially construct pool.

After a hot day at the Park, the local guide will chauffeur you to a supper cooling waterfall.

The distance from Chiang Mai city to Monraming Elephant Park is approx 45 mins.

Road are well paved. Travel with comfort using tour-standard air-con minivan and SUVs.   

You can make arrangement with the English speaking local guide/driver for any information here

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Swimwear 
  • Soap
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Hat/Caps
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen

Full Day, Half Day morning/afternoon program.

Children friendly.

Local guide will chaperone you all the way from hotel – Park – Sticky waterfall – hotel, including narrative on the park’s elephant.

Veg meal can be arranged include water bottle. 

Visit the webpage

Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai Observation Programs

#3. Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary

elephant nature park chiang mai

Burm and Emily’s elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai (BEES) is an elephant and animal rescue center in Mae Tan Valley, Mae Chiam,

This is indeed a greater-welfare elephant nature park in Chiang Mai, where they have implemented a hands-off approach to view elephants in a more natural environment.

Located close to fascinating lush forests and rivers with a spectacular view of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest peak.

A sensational natural setting which totally looks like in the movies, BEES unique approach is to adopt, buy and even rent working elephants.

Giving the Chiang Mai elephants a better tomorrow in an unbelievable beautiful natural habitat after working for humans like forever.

Get close to these gentle mammoth in a splendid forest setting near Doi Intanon.

Mini elephant safari to locate these elephant in a forest area.

Accompanied by camp’s mahouts all the time.

The distance from Chiang Mai city to Burm and Emily’s elephant camp at Mae Chiam is approx 3 hrs 15min. ( 117km)

You can make arrangement with our English speaking local guide/driver for any information here 

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Hat/Caps
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • refill water bottle
  • rain coat (wet season)

Programs run from Monday to Sunday. Suitable for children aged 10 and above.

Booking in advance is necessary for confirmation.

Short stay available. No lavish resort style accommodation, just mattress  on the floor and mosquitoes net. 

Booking at website

#4. Elephant Nature Park

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Elephant Nature Park (@elephantnaturepark)

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai is one of the most well known establishment since 1990.

Formatted by well-known elephant conservationist Lek Saengduean Chailert.

The center is considered a leading rehabilitation and rescued elephants nature park in Thailand.

Probably, one of the biggest elephant herd in Chiang Mai, providing pretty much a full visitor and volunteering experience.

One of a kind “Skywalk” program where visitors observed and learned the chosen elephant herd amidst other rescued animals.

This huge Chiang Mai elephant park has won tons of awards and documentaries from Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, BBC, CNN etc

Tons of activities from feeding, bathing, jungle walk to walking the resident dogs and even water rafting.  

You can spend your free time, socializing, getting a Thai massage, walking dogs, tubing on the river, etc.

Or simply watch elephants wander on the property openly.

It’s like a village by itself. There are even a small convenience stall and food market outside the park’s front gate.  

For Volunteering, check out the FAQ’s here

The distance from Chiang Mai city to Elephant Nature Park is 65km and takes approx 90mins..

Pick up/Drop off point including personalized driver/van can be easily arranged from their website.

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Hat/Caps
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • refill water bottle
  • rain coat (wet season)

Overnight Stay/Volunteer

All provided except towels and toiletries.

Half/Full day programs available and you can also book a personalized trip.

Overnight non air-con accommodation in private hut with mosquitoes net and attached bathroom.

Volunteers in shared accommodation and bathroom.

All vegetarian meals are cooked and served by local villagers in family style. Programs are suitable for all ages.

Booking at website

Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai On Safari

#5. Mahouts Elephant Foundation

elephant nature park chiang mai

Mahouts Elephant Foundation nature park in Chiang Mai mission is to return more captive elephants to the extensive jungle range.

The framework preserves the safety and welfare of the elephants, a sustainable healthy forest and Thailand’s culture.

“This is the model we want to keep replicating and taking to more communities. This will in time create a shift in elephant tourism where people choose to see the elephants living naturally.

This is a young project but more and more communities are asking us to return these elephants back to the forest but we need the tourists to sustain this”

Sarah Blaine, Founder

Mahouts Elephant Foundation aims to offer a different experience at Huay Pakoot mountain village near Doi Intanon.

More like a combination of AirBNB and elephant safari where you will be accommodated with a host family.

Back to nature stuff with beds on the floor/mosquito net. Limited electricity and shower/toilet located outside.

Western style toilet but without the flushing system. Buckets of water are available just like an adventure in the wilderness.

Meals will be cooked by the host and brought to your guesthouse.

The best part is that you will have 4 days of totally tranquil experience with nature and it’s resident elephants.

Hiking and trekking into the jungle to look for elephants just like on a safari.

2 days camping in the jungle near village.

All the above set up by Mahouts Foundation. 

Not appropriate for unfit guests. Children friendly experience.

The distance from Chiang Mai city to Mahouts Elephant Foundation takes approx 3 hrs+

Huay Pakoot village is located a short distance from Doi Intanon.

Pick up/Drop off to hotel in Chiang Mai city by Mahouts Elephant Foundation reps.

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Hat/Caps
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Refill water bottle
  • Raincoat(wet season)
  • Backpack for camping

Programs run for 4 days/3 nites. Full board package including accommodations, all meals, camping etc 

Accommodation, just mattress and mosquitoes net on the floor. Non attached toilet  

Booking at website

Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai Interaction Camp

#6. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

elephant sanctuary chiang mai

Spend half day or full elephant experience at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai. And it all depends on your group size. 

The different between Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and the rest (Interaction Camps) is that they have 8 locations in Chiang Mai.

The trip will be determined by your program choice but you can make a request for your favorable sanctuary.

Wheelchair or similar visitors can be accommodated by special request. Each location have at least 3 elephants.

So yeah, you may have a good chance that only your group will participate in one of the locations. 

PROS:

  • Best for small groups as there are 8 locations for yours to be allocated. 
  • Secured website with fast browsing speed. Up to date information and easy booking. 
  • Full refund policy with only cancellation fees. Credit card payment available at office as well as portable terminal with drivers.   
  • Great for last minute decision booking while you’re already in Chiang Mai.
  • Have online shop on Facebook page to generate more funds for the sanctuary.

CONS:

  • Sub-standard open-air truck or Songthaew transportation service. Especially when there more visitors joining the trip.
  • The last stretch on rough terrain, you will experience bumpy and dusty ride. Rain will be a big hindrance.
  • Mindset for land transfers have to change for tourists satisfaction in the new normal after Covid.
  • Difficult for wheelchair-bound visitors.
  • Best is to try request for privatized SUVs or covered off-road jeeps. 
Review Triadvisor: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Standard interaction with elephant such as bathing, walking and feeding. 

Traditional Thai meals provided.

The distance from Chiang Mai city to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary takes approx 1.5 hrs

Pick up/Drop off to hotel in Chiang Mai city in open air truck/Songthaew.

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Hat/Caps
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Backpack for Overnight stay
  • Refill water bottle (trekking)
  • Raincoat( wet season) 

Full elephant experience with half, full day and overnight stay.

Full board overnight stay at traditional Karen tribe house. 

Children and wheelchair friendly.

Booking websitepage

#7. Elephant Freedom Village

elephant nature park chiang mai

This elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai is a small family run set-up. The elephants are owned by Karen villagers.

EFV main objective is to rent or lease elephants from the villagers with monthly payment.

In this process, the elephants are free from captivity and at the same time, the villagers gets paid monthly.

All the elephants are free to roam in the forest and comes back to the sanctuary sheltered paddock at night.

You can also explore the surrounding villages in the mountain and swim at the scenic waterfall.

If you really loves to get totally close or cuddle with their baby elephant then this is the place to visit.

PROS:

  • Allow to to play and cuddle with the baby elephant in the paddock.
  • Privatized trip available. Good for small group or family outings.

CONS:

  • Pick up/Drop off only available outside Chiang Mai city.
  • Small management team with 5 staffs.
  • Booking done via Facebook page. So have to consider response time and mode of payment.
  • Without strong backing and donations, how long can rent-an-elephant concept be sustainable. 
Review Tripadvisor: EFV reviews on Tripadvisor

Walking them out to the forest for grazing, feed them special food and bathing them.

Super friendly baby elephant that likes to be hugged and cuddled.

Experience Karen lifestyle and activities such as weaving clothes, collecting coffee, making jewelry etc.

Children friendly elephant sanctuary.

The distance from Chiang Mai city to Elephant Freedom Village takes approx 1 hr.

The Karen village is located near to Doi Intanon.

Pick up/Drop off only available outside Chiang Mai city by owner Non. 

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Hat/Caps
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Personal stuff  (overnight stay)

Not much information being provided from their website.

1/2 day, full day and overnight stay programs available  

Booking at Facebook page

Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai Riding Programs

8. Patara Elephant Farm

Starting with feeding and followed by bathing. guests are also taught using several different methods to interact and ride the elephants.

The riding takes place around the farm, in a spectacular mountain range setting.

The farm’s owner and professional elephant caretakers conduct the programs in English.

You may have included elephant riding on your bucket list, but there are some ethical considerations with it.

Riding within an elephant nature park in Chiang Mai may seem harmless enough, but the training techniques that are a cause for concern.

Patara Elephant Farm let guests ride bareback just behind the elephant’s head without wooden seats.

Whether it’s riding bareback or with wooden seats, these elephants are still considered working for life.

Patara Elephant Farm let guests ride bareback just behind the elephant’s head without wooden seats.

Programs in English with up close feeding and bathing the elephants.

It takes approx 1 hour by car/minivan from Chiang mai city.

You can contact our local guide/driver for more information on transportation.

  • Comfortable Footwear 
  • Extra Undergarment
  • Slight bag
  • Soap
  • Insect Repellent
  • Hats/Caps
  • Towel
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen

#9. Thai Elephant Home

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Thai Elephant Home (@thaielephanthome)

Founded by Nayok Satien in 2006, Thai elephant home vigorously promotes elephant riding in all their programs.

This elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai might vouch for “rescuing elephants from unhealthy working conditions”

But it’s the same as “taking from the pot and into the fire”

There have 20 elephants of which 6 are in the nursery. All their elephant experience programs have riding in it’s itinerary.

Thai Elephant Home let guests ride bareback on all their programs.

Programs in English with up close feeding and bathing the elephants in the itinerary.

  • Comfortable Footwear
  •  Extra Undergarment
  • Slight bag
  • Soap
  • Insect Repellent
  • Hats/Caps
  • Towel
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen

2 hr elephant riding program.

1 to 3days full board stay package are available.

Volunteering are also in their program.

Accommodation comes with attached toilet, hot shower and toiletries.

Check their website

#10. Elephant Valley

Operated by the same award-winning Elephant Valley project with strict ethical criteria for animal protection in Cambodia.

Elephant Valley is located further up north in Chiang Rai, about 3 hrs drive from Chiang Mai city.

This sanctuary provides only elephant observation programs.

The Valley is temporary closed for visitors and cannot be contacted.

So are their website and Tripadvisor page. Only their Facebook page is active.

Will update viewers here when they are back in operations.

Morning, afternoon half day as well as full day elephant observation programs.

Feeding the elephants are included in the itinerary.

Northern Lanna Thai lunch provided.

Children under 5 yrs old free of charge.

The distance from Chiang Rai city to Elephant Valley takes approx 30mins.

Pick up/Drop off to hotel in Chiang Rai included.

English speaking guide/driver included.

Transportation in pick up truck.

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Hat/Caps
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Backpack for Overnight stay
  • Refill water bottle (trekking)
  • Raincoat( wet season) 

Visitors have options to interact, observe and ride these majestic elephants that have been through decades of slogging.

Nevertheless, on the brighter note, read on my other post about top areas to stay in Chiang Mai and it’s attractions. 

  • Here’s our web stories:

Chiang Mai Hotels: Luxury On A Budget

Understanding how parks and elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai are managed and how elephants are rescued should be your ultimate trip experience.

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HONEST RATING: Elephant Sanctuary In Chiang Mai-Ranked Best To Worst