Travel - Feb 11th, 2019

Guide to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Chiang Mai

Thailand vacation will never be complete without visiting elephants. As tourism grows stronger in this country, elephants are trained/used to attract tourists and that results in them being exploited and harmed. We are really glad to come across learning about ethical tourism and knowing that by visiting these beautiful animals, we can actually have fun and at the same time, helping them!




What is Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

There are many elephants sancturary across Thailand and they are claimed to provide elephants a safe shelter and care for their well-being. These elephants can be saved from different places such as circus, zoos, temple or those which have been injured, where returning to the wild is not an ideal option for them to live on. However not all sanctuaries are as ethical as they claim to be. Hence, it is important to research on the sanctuary you are visiting. One of the easiest way to recognize is that an ethical sanctuary does not provide any elephant riding, performances or any unnatural activities that are designed for tourists. 

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Activity 1 - Feed the elephants breakfast

Our driver, BAHT was giving us orientation and introduction on the history of the sanctuary. He also shared on tips in interacting with the elephants, the do's and dont's, as well as the types of elephant species.
The sanctuary staffs prepared baskets of bananas and sugarcanes as well as tons of leaves for us to feed the elephants.
We were taught to shout 'BOM BOM' or to gently touch the elephants' cheeks (part where in between their eyes and ears) so that the elephants will lift up their trunk and we can feed the food directly into their mouth!
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Activity 2 - Shower the elephants

After changing to our swimsuits, we were brought to a small waterfall where the elephants usually take their shower. Everyone then picked up a pail and started splashing water on the elephants. The elephants got so excited some were soaking themselves in the water and some were playing water with their trunks. 

We all got so messy and wet but it was the most enjoyable part of the program.
Walking their way back to shelter after showering.
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Activity 3 - Interact with them

One of our favourite travel experiences in Thailand.

Besides feeding and bathing them (which we were given a certain duration), we were also provided some free time to interact with the elephants. This is when your photo opportunities come! There will be a photographer to take photos for everyone and your photos will be uploaded to their facebook page on the next day.

Their sense of smell is really strong. He knew what is in my pocket!
SUGARCANE! *and then he stole it!
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How to get there?

There are free transport service from your accomodation. Small surcharge will be implied for locations that are 5km further away from Chiang Mai Central. It took about 1.5 hours to arrive to the sanctuary. Most of the roads are paved however upon reaching the sanctuary the roads are a little bumpy. 

We were seated at the back of a dual cab covered by an open canopy. Remember to bring a jacket as it can get really cold it the morning and a mask (if you unable to tolerate dusty air) during your journey as it may get sandy when the vehicle is driving through the jungle.

After picking us up, the driver went on the pick one family of 4 and a couple then we departed together. 

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Do I have to pay for the visit?

Yes! There are many different programs available and they come with different pricings. You can choose from half day visit (morning/afternoon), full day visit, or even an overnight visit.

We joined on a morning visit and it costed us about SGD115 per person. Bookings need to be made 24 hours prior your visit or as early as possible to ensure arrangement from the sanctuary on your transport and visit.

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FOOD: Lunch wil be provided. 

WHAT TO BRING: Swimsuits, sunscreen, towel, change of clothes, insect repellant, camera

ATTIRE: Casual, traditonal Karen T-shirt will be provided for change when feeding elephants

PICKUP/DROPOFF: Free within 5km of Chiang Mai's old city

TIME ESTIMATED: 6-7 hours (Time spent in sanctuary around 4-5 hours, the rest goes to transportation)

MORE INFO: visit here

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