Ethical Elephant Tours in Chiang Mai: Costs, Inclusions and What to Expect

Finding an ethical elephant tour in Chiang Mai can seem daunting, so I’ve done the research for you. My top three elephant tours in Chiang Mai are Elephant nature Park, Karen Elephant Serenity, and Chai Lai Orchid.

Elephant Nature Park USD 80 – USD 480 depending on the activity

A beautiful elephant sanctuary started by a woman in the 90’s who decided it was time to start saving the elephants in Thailand from places like the circus, riding camps, and terrible living conditions. ENP is home to many elephants who have been rescued from harm. As a result of their previous mistreatment, some suffer from psychological problems and health ailments. ENP works to rehabilitate these elephants so they can be powerful, confident, and have the chance to live long, healthy lives.

ENP CNX

ENP has a diverse portfolio of Elephant tours to indulge in. There is the option to do full-day tours, half-day tours, stay-over-night, volunteer visits, tours that involve trekking or white water rafting, and various others. A full-day elephant tour gives you a lot of information about why the park opened and how it operates. You’ll also learn about the different animals at ENP and how the animals fare in such an environment. A short-day tour will be better if you don’t have much time or if you’re not interested in walking about and viewing the animals for a few extra hours.

Basic tour inclusions:

  • Feed elephants fruit
  • Learn the history of ENP and of their elephants
  • Watch the elephants bathe
  • Transportation to and from the park
  • Vegetarian buffet lunch

ENP Chiang MaI

Karen Elephant Serenity (link to book through ENP) USD 80

A subsidiary of ENP is the Saddle Off! initiative. The Saddle Off! initiative aims to bring families who own elephants into the world of ethical elephant tourism.

Karen Elephant Sanctuary Chiang Mai

Karen Elephant Serenity – Facebook is home to three female elephants: a mother, her baby, and an auntie. The family of elephants is in the care of a Karen family, which is an ethnic group in Northern Thailand. These elephants have been passed down through the family as pets to be cared for and supported. Through ENP, the Karen family learns how to best care for their elephants, and they can make an ethical profit off of their elephants.

This is the best elephant tour. The workers are knowledgable and very kind to the elephants. You could see that the elephants trust and love them. This tour is centered around what the elephants want to do and how they spend a regular day. When the elephants finish whatever activity is on the schedule, we move straight onto the next one. There’s no forcing or trying to make the elephants do something they don’t want.

Basic tour inclusions

  • Feeding of traditional foods and making of special treats
  • Elephant walk to watch them forage and snack
  • Water activity with the elephants
  • Mudbath with the elephants
  • Transportation to and from the park
  • Vegetarian buffet lunch

Chai Lai Orchid USD 50 – USD 160 depending on the activity

An elephant tour company that not only promotes sustainable tourism for animals but also fights against sex trafficking and its residual effects. Chai Lai Orchid has daily elephant activities that involve trekking, walking with elephants, bathing them, and feeding them. At Chai Lai Orchid, people can stay overnight and indulge in other activities such as visiting Doi Inthanon, taking a cooking class, ziplining, and many other adventure activities.

Chai Lai Orchid’s whole setup is cute, but to me, it really just seems to be a place that’s made for Instagram. At Chai Lai Orchid, you’ll have the opportunity to get all the quintessential elephant Instagrams even if it comes at the expense of the elephants. The elephants seem happy, but during my experience, I saw workers go overboard in trying to get the customer the perfect photo with little regard to how it would make the elephant feel.

Basic tour inclusions:

  • Feeding of traditional food
  • Choice of pad Thai or fried rice for lunch
  • Whatever the general activity you’ve paid for is

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It’s hard choosing an ethical elephant tour in Chiang Mai because there are so many options. The rule of thumb is that Elephants should never be ridden, so definitely do not go to any places that advertise any type of riding of elephants. Have fun, do research, and enjoy the kindness and love these gentle creatures have to offer.

 

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