Monday, January 9, 2017

Travel Tuesday - Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai

One of the biggest attractions in Thailand besides seeing all the Buddha's and visiting the temples has to be riding elephants. That's come under fire with different elephants lashing out and killing tourists along with the discovery that a lot of them are mistreated in order to keep up with the tourist demand for riding them. So instead of riding elephants I decided to visit an elephant sanctuary. This is where elephants are taken when they've been rescued from their former poor conditions. Instead of riding you get to experience bathing an elephant, feeding them, and just interacting with them. Let's get on to it shall we?

The elephant sanctuary has a ton of land. I don't remember how many acres exactly but the scenery was beautiful and there was just so much room. The elephants obviously had plenty of space to roam around and just enjoy themselves. While there I found out that they don't just house elephants but also cattle, dogs, cats, and other animals. Due to the tsunami from back in 2004 they still have a lot of misplaced animals that have lost homes so they take care of them all.

Upon arrival I could immediately see all the elephants meandering around. There was a large terrace which was pretty high above the ground but at the height of most all of the elephants heads. There were guard rails to help make sure people didn't fall off and a clear line marking how far you should go. I got the start off feeding the elephants different fruits. I honestly can't remember all of the elephants names so forgive me but many of them were blind from injuries they sustained from their previous owners. That meant you had to help them a bit because of course they could smell where the fruit was but you eased them along to make sure they had it so they could eat it.

As a heads up elephants are super soft! I don't know why I always thought they were a bit rough but they aren't! If you believe they aren't soft you are living a lie. I have enlightened you so you're welcome. Anyways, they are truly gentle giants. Each elephant had a trainer assigned to them just to help them with transitioning to getting food or interacting with the tourists coming to visit so that was fun to see. There were other injuries from previous owners such as bad hips, arthritis, and some were even hard of hearing! It was nice knowing each elephant had someone to rely on as their partner to help them out.

As I said before they had a lot of different animals and these two cows below started going at it. The guide was super funny saying, "Those bad cows are dangerous. Stay away. Bad cows!" Everyone got a chuckle at that just because I've never seen two cows get upset with each other and start fighting. This was happening while the elephants were walking by.

They had a giant area in the middle that had four elephants. They were contained because there was a baby elephant, an older sister, the mother, and the grandmother. Elephants are all about family so they wanted to keep them together as the baby was growing up. The baby was easily able to squeeze through the barriers and actually did at one point! You'll see in the video below but of course the baby didn't wander too far.

It was also fun to watch the baby try to eat like it's sister, mother, and grandmother. It would pick up the food with it's trunk and hit it against it's own legs or the barrier just like the others did. Even though the baby was still nursing and wouldn't be able to eat it the fact that it was mimicking showed growth. I was informed that this is normal behavior because the babies need to learn what to do through social cues.

I also got to bathe an elephant! I didn't exactly have a chance to take many photos because I was a little busy so I won't be able to post any. There was a river running nearby right on the property that seemed to snake around the large amount of land that the elephants had to freely roam. It was fairly big and plenty deep so we stayed very close to the banks. I used a bucket and threw water at the elephant to help clean it off. She was very funny as well using her trunk to spray herself but would sometimes get lazy and just sway as I cleaned the dirt off. It was really fun and while some people preferred to watch I didn't mind getting dirty and stepping in the muddy river to get all around the elephant to clean her.

This was truly an experience to remember. I hope if you do have the chance to travel to Thailand that you will choose to not ride the elephants and instead visit a sanctuary to learn more and interact with these amazing creatures. Have any of you ever been to an elephant sanctuary before? What did you think? What did you get to do? If you haven't I hope you enjoy this post and learned a little more about elephants. Let me know what you think in the comments below! (:


  1. I wouldn't have thought elephants were soft! It's nice that you went to a sanctuary if riding them means they're being mistreated! I would love to do something like this.
    Amy xx

  2. Seems like a life time experience. Sometimes people forget that these animals weren't created for us to ride on them.

    Tania x

  3. What gorgeous photography and so well written!xxx

  4. Amazing post. This is actually my home city!!! I'm half Thai and my family and house back in thailand is in Chiang Mai. It's the most beautiful place. So glad to hear you enjoyed yourself xx

  5. Omggg I am so jealous!! This is like my dream, so amazing how you got to bathe a elephant!! so cool!! Thanks for sharing xox

  6. This is an amazing post! I'd love to go here, it's on my bucket list!

    Ps - I thought elephants were rough as well!


  7. Fab post. This looks amazing! We are travelling Thailand next year! I can't wait! xxx

  8. This is amazing, some of my friends visited this place a few years ago when they went travelling and they also had an amazing time! They told me about how an elepahant feels soft then and I still can't believe it haha x

  9. How lovely that you went to a sanctuary instead of riding them. To me Elephants make me so emotional they always seem sad (perhaps I have Dumbo to blame for that lol) but what gorgeous photos! xxxxxx

  10. This sounds like the most amazing experience. I love visiting zoos but I feel bad when the animals are so caged up. The fact that you got to bathe one is an unforgettable thing! In a way, I'm glad you didn't get any photos of that and just enjoyed the experience! Great photos otherwise though :)

    Sian x

  11. What a great post. I love Elephants so much. They are just so fascinating. I'm so jealous of you getting to do this.

    Thanks for sharing
    Steph xx

    Steph's World | Lifestyle Blog |

  12. Your photographs are absolutely gorgeous! It's wonderful to see these beautiful majestic creatures in the setting they deserve, with loads of space to roam about. It breaks my heart to think of any of them being mistreated! I think your ethical approach to tourism here is admirable!

    Abbey 😎

  13. Like everyone else has been saying its good to see that you went to a sanctuary after being mistreated rather than riding them! This looks like a once in a lifetime opportunity. I went to an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka, and it was one of the best moments in my life.

    Katie |

  14. This sounds like an amazing experience. Elephants are adorable and like you said, I fully expected them to feel rough not smooth!

    Emily x

  15. This sounds amazing! You've talked me into a trip to Thailand that's for sure. I love elephants! I once bottle fed a baby lamb and milked a goat but it's not as exciting as elephants!
    - K xo

  16. This sounds amazing, visiting a sanctuary is a lot better! I didn't think they would be soft either! xx

    Tamz |

  17. This looks awesome!