A visit to an Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai

A visit to an Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai

One of the highlights of our trip in Thailand was spending the day with elephants in the Baan Chang Elephant Park in Chiang Mai. Being so close to these huge animals was absolutely amazing! 

In this post, you will find everything you need to know for a visit to the Baan Chang Elephant Park in Chiang Mai. 

Baan Chang Elephant Park

Run by a Thai family, the Baan Chang Elephant Park has loved and cared for Asian elephants for over three decades. The Elephant Park is situated in a small, rural village in Chiang Mai, and focuses on practicing ethical and sustainable elephant tourism. They aim at not only saving and caring for abused elephants but also educating the general public regarding elephant welfare. 

Programs

You can do a half-day, full-day, or 2-day program. We did the full-day program which we recommend. We learned about the elephants, prepared food, fed, walked, and washed the elephants. You can find more information about the different programs and prices here

Our experience 

After a little more than an hour in the van, we arrived at the park. We were about 20 people. We were all handed blue shorts and T-shirts so that the elephants would recognize us as friends. 

After a quick orientation to the park, and changing into our uniform for the day we were ready for the first activity; feeding the elephants. Elephants spend about 18 hours eating each day, so we were there to provide them with their daily dose of treats in the form of sugarcane, sticky rice balls, and bananas. 

The elephants were waiting in an open space and some of them were separated from the rest, mostly because they are traumatized and are not very social in groups. They reached out their enormous trunks as we passed. Some elephants were pickier than others, preferring sugarcane over bananas or refusing to eat green bananas. 

The real challenge was holding onto the food long enough to approach the elephants. It took some time to get used to the elephants snatching the food from our hands with their trunks. 

Once we were more familiar and comfortable with these majestic creatures, it was time for lunch. There was plenty of rice, fried prawns, spring rolls, and chicken curry. 

After lunch, it was time to spend more time with the elephants. 

Bath time was our favorite part. The elephants were dirty, and so were we after a day spent feeding and walking with them. Everyone got a brush and a bucket to wash the elephants by the watering hole. It was amazing to see them rolling in the water, colling off from the day’s heat. 

We had a great time at this elephant park. What’s most important is that the park treats the elephants respectfully. There were no chains, no riding and no hooks. 

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