Lawa hill tribe women
Lawa (Lua) Hill tribe
September 26, 2017
Hill Tribes of Thailand
7 Hill Tribes of Thailand
October 3, 2017

Best Elephant Camps in Chiang Mai

Based on feedback from tourists that we meet and online reviews, here’s the low-down on the best and most ethical elephant camps in Chiang Mai. In no particular order….

1) Karen Tribe Native Elephants

As a small camp which until recently was relatively unknown, but has shot to popularity due to its top ranking on Tripadvisor . Groups sizes are so small, that it’s almost like a private experience. The elephants are not chained and live harmoniously with their mahouts in this cute village setting. You’ll get the chance to learn about the commands for an elephant, how to mount it, and take care of it by administering herbal medicine for it.

This place doesn’t feel like a tourist elephant camp, and has a very authentic and un-commercialised feel about it. Located in remote villages one hour from Chiang Mai, you’ll need a 4wd to get there- that’s how tucked away it is. The key thing about this elephant camp, is that it is owned by a community of Karen Hill tribe villagers. It’s a great approach towards a model of a community based tourism. This is unlike most of the elephant camps in Chiang Mai , which are owned by one or a few individuals, who then hire the mahouts.

If you want to combine a visit to Karen Native Elephant Camp with the Karen Hill tribes themselves, and learn about their fascinating culture and way of life  – then you can do this on our 2d/1n Hilltribe Experience. We will visit villages next to the camp and you can stay overnight with a Karen Hilltribe family. Here you will have the chance to meet villagers, be invited into their homes and to see how they live.

Group Size) Very small
Cost) 3,000bt/ 1 elephant/ 2 adults –  Full Day
Website) Karen Tribe Native Elephants

Karen Tribe Native Elephants Camp

Karen Tribe Native Elephants Camp

2) Elephant Nature Park

Probably the most famous elephant place in Chiang Mai, Elephant Nature Park (ENP) is a well-established sanctuary where the elephants are very well taken care of, and has the accolades to show for it. A strictly no-riding place, the experience focuses on educational and hands-on volunteer experience. They offer full day to one weeks volunteer program. They don’t limit visitor numbers, there can be up to 9 people per elephant.  Activities with the elephants here include; feeding, bathing, cleaning up after elephants.

Group Size) up to 9 people per elephant
Riding) None
Cost) 2,500bt Full Day,
Website) Elephant Nature Park

3) Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Is one the newer camps but has flourished since it started in around 2014. It’s treatment of elephants and ethics,  are the main cause for it’s fast growth. It gets rave reviews, and the word on the street, is that it genuinely is an elephant-friendly camp, where the animals are well taken care of. It’s a no-riding camp, and no bull hooks are used. One of the main group activities is enjoying a mud-throwing spa with the elephants. The ethics and treatment of elephants here seems to be on-par with Elephant Nature Park (ENP), but as a newer and less established camp, charges lowers prices than ENP.

Group Size) up to 9 people per elephant
Riding) None
Cost) 2,400bt Full Day
Website) Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Best Elephant Camps in Chiang Mai

Bathing Elephant Camp Chiang Mai

4) Baan Chang Elephant Camp

Not as exclusive as Patara or Elephant Nature Park, this is a mid-range camp which offers 1-3 day Mahout programs. They offer bareback riding, but if you don’t fancy this , they also have a nursing program where you can take care of rescued elephants. Note that, the elephant are kept in a wooden pen, and not roaming free.

Group Size) n/a
Riding) Bareback, 1-2 persons per elephant
Cost) 2,900bt Full Day
Website) Baan Chang Elephant Park

5) Elephant Rescue Park

Elephant Rescue Park has almost a 100% rate of Excellent feedback. The attractive thing about this camp, is that its a very small operation (currently only around 4 elephants), so it’s a more intimate experience.  Its a family owned business, its owners and staff seem to genuinely care for the elephants. Their service for its customers is also excellent too.

Group Size) n/a
Riding) none
Cost) 3,000bt Full Day
Website) Elephant Rescue Park

What to bring when you visit

A change of clothes (you’ll get wet), a swimsuit to wear underneath, comfortable shoes you don’t mind getting wet and muddy, bug spray, sunscreen, small notes as tips for your mahout !

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