Seeing elephants differently in Thailand

Seeing elephants differently in Thailand

First of all, you should know that riding on the back of an elephant contributes to the fact that thousands are exploited every day in this country.

Indeed, you are not at Disney or in a nice children’s movie. In real life, a wild animal remains a wild animal and therefore unpredictable and dangerous! Don’t think for a second that an elephant is walking you on its back because it likes it or because it loves its mahout (“master”). Just like this tiger who wants to be photographed with you because he is raised by Buddhists and that a mystical relationship is established between him and humans … STOOOOP!

( Ps: the tiger is a predator, it has the instinct to attack, much harder for its master to raise it by beating it and much more dangerous for you too. You are taken in photo with an animal shot 24/24 with Xanax and Valium (too cool the small souvenir photo 😉 )

What you need to know about elephant rides in Thailand

Some examples about elephants in the wild and exploited elephants in Thailand

The elephant in the wild runs about 25 to 70 km per day.
Here, he is waiting nicely attached to a fence, for a tourist to climb him.

It is also one of the most intelligent animals on this planet, so its brain needs to be stimulated every day for its well-being (search for food, interactions with other animals…).
Here the elephant has no stimulation, the days are the same, the walks do not change… This gives us an animal extremely badly in its skin and therefore stereotyped (you know when an animal makes the audience laugh by swinging from left to right or from front to back…).

Their hierarchical structure is very important and attachment to one and the others is a necessity.

Here the elephant lives alone, except for mating (many young are needed to continue the business) or we will separate the young from its mother at a very young age to “train” it.

Where the elephant’s hard life begins

How to make so that a wild animal of 5 tons does not rebel and can live mass tourism with them?

Well, we make him forget that he is an elephant, it even has a name in Thailand: the phajaan ritual. We break him physically and mentally from his youngest age. One goes until breaking their limbs, suffocating them, beating them until they bleed… And continue to remind them all their life who is the boss thanks to the bullhook (kind of spade / hammer) very often located towards their ears (sensitive place) during the ballads.

Elephant nature park

The Elephant nature park

It is a center of refuge and rescue for elephants, located in the province of Chiang Mai (northern Thailand). That is to say that they travel through Thailand and other countries like Burma to come and recover (by sandstone or by force) elephants badly treated or in bad conditions to bring them back to this sanctuary, to take care of them and to teach them how to be elephants again. And good news, you can make a one-day visit or volunteer there!

Our opinion

At first, we were reluctant to pay to work in a shelter when we normally pay to work with animals.

When we arrived, we immediately understood that this money was for the well being of the elephants but also dogs, cats, buffalos… (It seems that they spread the word, that here they were going to take care of them), and that without this money this sanctuary could not exist!

We spent a week in the middle of nowhere surrounded by hundreds of free elephants and people devoted body and soul to the protection of these animals, it was magic!

An example of a day tour at the Elephant nature park

  • Watch a video to explain the exploitation of elephants (ok prepare handkerchiefs) and why you created this sanctuary.
  • Feeding the elephants with the explanation of the story of each elephant that will come to see you ( ok re prepare a handkerchief).
  • Visit of the place and the shelter for dogs and cats ( ok buy a box of kleenex in fact ^^)
  • Visit of the sanctuary, there you walk in the nature in the middle of elephants without chain, without hook, without anything, it’s incredible (and you’re less clever too)!
  • Paddling with the elephants in a river.
  • Feeding again and if you are lucky a little baby elephant will come to you.
  • A typical day in a week of volunteering
  • The 1st day will be the same as the visit above.
  • Prepare food in the morning.
  • Cleaning ( excrements are part of it 😉 )
  • Handling (park creation, painting…)
  • Care assistance.
  • Spend time with the elephants.
  • Walking with the elephants.
  • Feeding…


  • 1 day (lunch included) : 2500 bath or 72 euros.
  • 1 week (food, lodging) : 12 000 bath or 348 euros.
  • You can choose other options (2 days, 1 night for example)


It’s a sum we agree on. As animalist, we can see right away if the place is a trick, or if the animals are not happy. Here we saw only positive things, hope, and love, so if it’s only the price that holds you back, We’ll tell you: go for it! It’s not like a bungee jump where your money goes out the window, here you will contribute to the smiles of a hundred elephants and you will have lived a very enriching human experience and adventure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *