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Elephant Sanctuary

The Best Elephant Sanctuaries In Chiang Mai

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If there is one animal that first comes to mind when one hears or reads the word “Thailand,” it’s the elephant. So it’s no surprise that ethical elephant sanctuaries are one of the most popular activities for travelers in Southeast Asia. With over 70 elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, most of which are located in Northern Thailand, you’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai.

Our clients 3 Most Populars Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai

  Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary Hug Elephant Sanctuary Kanta Elephant Sanctuary
Mud Spa
Other Activities Bamboo Rafting Making herbal medicine/ Vitamin for the elephants
Walking In the jungle In the jungle Around the sanctuary
Transportation Pickup Truck Van with AC Van with AC
Price ฿2,500 / person ฿2,500 / person ฿2,500 / person
  Book Now Book Now Book Now

However, you will soon discover that not all elephant sanctuaries operate to the same ethical standards. It’s important to do a little research to ensure a pleasant experience for both you and the elephants. Luckily, we have done the hard work for you of locating ethical elephant sanctuaries for you. If you’re looking forward to a once-in-a-lifetime experience with these majestic animals, take a few minutes to learn more about what to expect on your trip and read our tips on how to choose the right tour for you.

Browse our ethical elephant tours and join us in an experience of a lifetime.

Hug Elephant Sanctuary

Highlights :

  • Learn more about the history of elephants and their behavior.
  • Feeding, touching and watching the elephants – no riding
  • Bathing elephants in a local river and giving them a mud bath

Hug Elephant Sanctuary was founded by a small group of local people to improve the quality of life for the elephants they rescued from all over Thailand and for the people in the community.

This unforgettable tour is about how to safely and sustainably interact with elephants without riding them in their natural environment in the jungle. You and your family can look forward to a personalized experience as you spend the day learning about the elephants’ unique history and then feeding and playing with them in the beautiful jungle.

After a scenic drive through the Chiang Mai countryside, you’ll take a short walk through the local forest and meet with a local English-speaking guide and a mahout of the Karen hill tribes. He’ll briefly talk about the general history of elephants in Thailand and then give you traditional Karen clothing to wear.

After that, you’ll be introduced to each elephant in small, private groups. While you feed them their afternoon snack of bananas and sugar cane, the guide will tell you stories about each elephant. As you get to know them better, you’ll notice their different personalities. Some are relaxed and shy, while others are playful and curious!

After a traditional Thai lunch and a short break overlooking the nearby hills, continue in the afternoon with a reunion with your gentle giants at the local river. Don’t be afraid to get wet, as they love to cool off with a midday dip. With buckets of water and large mops, you can help them wash before assisting them with their mud bath.

Before the tour ends, rinse off upstream and change back into dry clothes. Don’t forget to take a few last photos of the elephants before returning to your hotel in Chiang Mai.

What’re you waiting for? Check out more details or book the No Riding Tour now!

Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary

young man bonding with elephant


  • Learn more about the history of Thai elephants
  • Give the elephants a mud bath
  • Swim with the elephants in the local river
  • Trekking on a scenic jungle trail – no riding
  • Floating down the river on a bamboo raft

If you’re looking for a trip full of activities and jungle wonders, this tour offers two memorable tours: one with trekking and one without.

A typical day begins with a picturesque drive through Thailand’s countryside toward Mae Wang, a district about an hour and a half southwest of Chiang Mai City. Depending on the arrival time of your group and its size, the order of the day’s activities will be adjusted accordingly.

Once you’ve arrived at the Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary, you’ll meet your local Karen hill tribe guide, who will teach you about the history of elephants in Thailand and how these gentle giants came to be at the sanctuary. After that, put on your mahout clothes, because it’s time to meet them!

Elephants love getting dirty, so the first thing you’ll do with them is giving them a mud spa. Slather cool, smooth mud on their massive bodies because it helps protect their skin from the sun and insects. Next, accompany these amazing animals to a field by the forest where they’ll graze on grass and bamboo leaves. Once the elephants have had their lunch, it’s time to take them to a local river where you will give them a bath and take a refreshing swim.

Afterward, say goodbye to the elephants and sit down for a satisfying Thai lunch in the jungle. Once you’ve rested, go on a short trek through the cool jungle. End the day with a relaxing trip down the Mae Wang River on a handmade bamboo raft before changing into clean, dry clothes and riding back to Chiang Mai.

If you prefer a less strenuous day, you don’t have to participate in trekking or bamboo rafting. Instead, spend more time with the gentle giants, feeding them their favorite snacks and learning how to make a special Karen hill tribe herbal medicine for the them. An overnight stay is possible. Whichever tour you choose, you will have an incredible experience!

Kanta Elephant Sanctuary

young woman bonding with elephant at knata elephant sanctuary


  • Learn more about the behavior and its importance to Thai culture.
  • Prepare medicine rice balls (full-day tours only) and tropical fruits to feed them.
  • Interact with the animals.
  • Pamper these gentle giants with a mud bath.
  • Bathe, brush and swim with them in a local river.
  • No elephant riding

One of the top things to do in Chiang Mai is to spend a day with a herd of elephants. The Kanta Elephant Sanctuary is a magical place where you can spend the day with these happy, healthy creatures in their natural habitat doing what they love doing most.

After a scenic drive through the hillsides of Chiang Mai, you’ll arrive at the sanctuary deep in the mountainous jungle. You’ll be greeted by your English-speaking guide and have a short lesson about Thailand’s most revered animal and why they are so important to Thai culture.

Next, prepare some tasty snacks for these gentle giants. This includes cutting tropical fruits, gathering sugar cane, and making medicine balls from rice and special herbs (full-day tours only). Then meet them one by one and win them over with their favorite foods.

Now comes the fun but wet and muddy part! Help give the elephants a mud spa by slathering smooth mud all over their skin. They love to lay in the mud pit and wiggle around but they will need some help covering their entire bodies. Be sure to take some photos! Afterward, lead them to a cool river where you can rinse off and swim and splash around in the water with them. 

This tour is available as a full day and half day tour in the morning (pick up from hotel at 6:30 am) or in the afternoon (pick up from hotel at 1:00 pm). The morning half-day program is best for families with young children or for people who are not comfortable in the hot afternoon heat.

Learn more details or book a Kanta Elephant Sanctuary tour by clicking the links below.

Elephant Rescue Park

young man and woman playing with elephant at elephant rescue park


  • An introductory lesson on these majestic creatures.
  • Preparation of special snacks for them.
  • Feeding them in a natural jungle home.
  • A walk with them to a scenic overlook – no riding.
  • A mud bath experience.
  • Bathing and brushing in a natural pool.
  • Visit to the POOPOOPAPER park (full day program only).

The Elephant Rescue Park is a newly established sanctuary that provides a safe home for these magnificent animals rescued from circus shows, logging and riding activities. In the hills of Chiang Mai, you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with, bathe and feed the animals. There is a full day program with adult elephants as well as a shorter tour where you can spend time with the rescued baby elephants.

A typical full-day program begins the day with a visit to the interesting yet educational Elephant POOPOOPAPER Park. This eco-friendly company teaches how paper is made from elephant poop fibers in a sustainable, chemical-free way.

Once you arrive at the park, you will receive a short lesson on elephants in Thailand, their importance to Thai culture, and their traditional involvement in the tourism and logging industries. This is included in both programs. After you put on your training clothes, you will be shown how to prepare their favorite snacks, such as tropical fruits, sugar cane and special herbal medicines.

Next comes the part you’ve been eagerly waiting for! Your guide will take you to the elephants where you will meet them one by one. As you feed and pet them, notice their different personalities. Some are shy while others are playful and curious.

After getting to know these gentle giants, you’ll walk with them through a field to a scenic viewpoint and then treat them to a mud spa. Help them spread the cool mud on their bodies as they rest in it. Afterwards, accompany them to a natural freshwater swimming pool where they splash around and eagerly await a bath. Scrub them down, and when they are all clean, say goodbye to your new friends.

Maerim Elephant Sanctuary

young man giving elephant a bath in river


  • Learn about elephant behavior and history.
  • Feed them their favorite snacks, bananas.
  • Walk with them through the picturesque jungle
  • Take a mud bath and swim in a local stream

The Maerim Elephant Sanctuary combines the one-of-a-kind experience of getting up close with elephants with the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting an ethical non-riding elephant sanctuary. This tour is a family-friendly activity but it’s also the perfect thing to do with a friend or even by yourself!

After a scenic drive into the countryside north of Chiang Mai, you will arrive at the elephant camp, meet your tour guide, and change into traditional mahout (trainer) clothing. Then it’s time to meet the gentle giants! Your English-speaking guide will explain the names of the animals and tell you how they came to the sanctuary. Afterwards, you will be given a basket of bananas so you can make friends with the animals by feeding them their favorite snacks.

The tour continues with a scenic walk through the jungle along a nature path, past a local farm, and down to a cool stream. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the water and then give the elephants a bath! Splash and play with them to your heart’s content. Whether you choose to partake in a full-day or half-day tour at the Maerim Elephant Sanctuary, everyone will have the chance to make a bowl of traditional Thai noodle soup. The day wraps up with some time to relax and swim in a pool before heading back to your hotel or guesthouse in Chiang Mai.

Which tour best suits your travel plans: the half-day morning or afternoon tours or the full day tour for the ultimate experience?

Happy Elephant Home

Happy Elephant Home


  • Watching these majestic creatures in the wild.
  • Feeding them their favorite snacks, bananas.
  • Making a mud bath for them (full day visit).
  • Enjoy watching them bathe and play in the water.
  • Prepare your own Thai lunch.

Happy Elephant Home is a pretty little elephant sanctuary in northern Thailand’s Mae Taeng District, home to 2 Asian elephants, 42 and 48 years old, rescued from elephant riding tourism. The owner has built a sanctuary where she feeds and cares for the animals. It’s amazing to see how much love they’ve.

When visiting this ethical sanctuary, you can feed these amazing creatures or watch them bathe in the river. In the process, you will get to know their personalities.

You’ll prepare food for the elephants, feed them and take them to the river to bathe. You’ll have time to relax and enjoy the scenery.

For lunch, you can prepare your own Thai food or enjoy delicious local cuisine prepared especially for you.

This is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with them in a safe environment.

Patara Elephant Farm

Patara Elephant Farm


  • Learn more about the history of these majestic Thai creatures.
  • Understand their importance in Thai culture and Buddhism.
  • Learn training techniques, an overview of health care and daily routines.
  • Build a respectful relationship with these living beings.
  • Feed, wash and ride elephants

This tour is known for providing an unforgettable opportunity to build a trusting relationship with an elephant for an entire day. In fact, it is one of the most popular tours in Chiang Mai because it is a unique opportunity to build a deep connection with one of Thailand’s gentle giants.

The Patara Elephant Farm tour begins with a brief lecture on the history of domesticated and wild elephants, their anatomy and life cycle. This introduction also provides educational information about the long tradition of domesticated elephants in Thai culture, the country’s reintroduction program, and the mission of Patara Elephant Farm.

Next, you’ll see how these large animals are cared for and trained. On this tour, it’s important to build trust. You’ll learn to understand their body language to know how they feel and how to care for them safely to keep them happy and healthy.

Once you’ve found and become familiar with your own elephant, you’ll continue with a scenic ride through the local jungle, visiting waterfalls or temples. Along the way, you’ll be able to apply the commands you learned on the farm and have a friendly competition, challenging your elephant to splash water on the other group members along the way.

Take a lunch break with a picnic of traditional Thai dishes and enjoy a short rest. Afterwards, wash your elephant in a local river, brush it and go swimming together.

-> Full Day: 5800 Baht per person

Ethical Visit to the Elephant Nature Park

elephant nature park


  • Learn more about the history of gentle Thai giants.
  • Meet these creatures and feed them tropical fruits.
  • Walk with them through a picturesque forest.
  • Watch them play and bathe in a local river.

One of the most anticipated experiences in Thailand is a day dedicated to elephant welfare and spending time with these gentle giants! The Elephant Nature Park was the first facility in Chiang Mai to rescue elephants and create a peaceful haven where people could visit and observe them in their natural habitat.

This tour begins with pickup from your guesthouse at 8am (full day visit) or 8:30am (short park visit). After driving through the rolling mountains and reaching the park about an hour outside of town, you will be greeted by park staff. Your English-speaking guide will tell you about the rescued elephants and their life in Elephant Nature Park.

You will then meet the elephant herd and enjoy some time with them from a safe viewing platform. You will also gain their trust by feeding them their favorite fruits. Afterwards, you can rest briefly and enjoy a vegetarian buffet lunch before joining them for a scenic walk through the jungle. The walk ends at a refreshing river where these creatures play with each other while you watch from the shore. This is a great opportunity to take photos while they splash in the water!

At the end of the tour, you will have a chance to clean up and put on fresh clothes before heading back to your hotel or guesthouse and remember your elephant adventure with a smile. You will arrive back in Chiang Mai around 5pm (full day visit) or around 3:30pm (short park visit).

Thai Elephant Home

lady in sunglasses bareback elephant riding through forest


  • Feed these gentle giants fresh tropical fruit.
  • Learning how to give them commands and ride them through the jungle.
  • Swimming with them in a local river.

The half-day ride is the ideal choice if you don’t have time for a full-day trip or prefer a short but memorable experience with these majestic creatures during your visit to Thailand. This tour is offered either in the morning (hotel pickup at 6:30am) or afternoon (hotel pickup at 1:30pm) and lasts approximately five hours. Please note that these pick-up times are approximate and will depend on the number of people in your tour group who require a pick-up service.

A typical half-day tour begins with a scenic drive into the mountains just north of Chiang Mai City. Along the way, your group will stop at a local market to buy snacks for the elephants, and upon arrival at Thai Elephant Home, you will be served a light Thai breakfast.

To prepare for your ride, you will first receive a traditional trainer’s uniform (mahout) to wear over your clothes, followed by a brief but informative lecture on the history of these majestic creatures from Asia. A local English-speaking mahout will show you how to safely approach such an animal, give you the commands that will be used during the ride, and demonstrate the proper sitting position to make you and your companion comfortable.

Then comes the most exciting part! You will be given fresh fruit to feed them and win their trust before riding through various scenic fields. Take a break from riding and give them a chance to eat bamboo and grass (they eat A LOT) before heading to the river to bathe them. Don’t forget to bring a waterproof camera!

So which half-day tour fits your travel plans best – the early morning half-day ride or the afternoon half-day elephant ride where you can sleep in?

-> Full Day at Thai Elephant Home: 4900 Baht per person
-> Half Day at Thai Elephant Home: 2500 Baht per Person

Which Elephant Sanctuaries in Chiang Mai Will You Be Going To?

While there are many contenders for the best elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai, which one sparked your interest the most? Whatever you decide, you’ll never forget the experience! Check out all ethical elephant tours in Chiang Mai.

Provided on the tour

  • English-speaking guide
  • Driver and transportation
  • Local Thai meal, vegetarian lunch available
  • Mahout clothing
  • Hotel transfer (within 3 km of the Chiang Mai City Moat)
  • Accident insurance

Full-day trip include a meal of local Thai cuisine. Visitors participating in half-day trip will only receive light snacks and refreshments. If you’ve special dietary needs, such as vegetarian or halal meals, or if you’ve food restrictions or allergies, please let’s know before your trip. Bottled water is also provided.

Responsible Tourism

Many travelers to Thailand agree that riding one of these majestic creatures is the ultimate on the bucket list. However, some are concerned about their welfare and are hesitant to participate in activities where they are outside their natural jungle habitat.

Increasing tourist concern for the health and happiness of Thai giants has led to a demand for ethically responsible elephant sanctuaries and conservation centers. Today, visitors can participate in gentler, less stressful activities with them, such as swimming in the river, feeding them their favorite treats, and giving mud baths.

If you dream of riding one, the best method is bareback. This involves a single rider sitting on its neck (behind the ears) without the aid of a chair or saddle. Contrary to popular belief, their spine isn’t strong enough to safely support the weight of several people on its back.

In addition, responsible elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai ensure that their gentle giants take shorter, less strenuous walks through fields and jungles and are given adequate water, food, and rest throughout the day. This helps keep them mentally and physically healthy.

What to Wear and Pack

As the climate in Chiang Mai is generally hot and humid, we recommend that all guests signing up for an ethical elephant experience wear breathable, comfortable clothing, such as short-sleeved cotton shirts and shorts.

Wear comfortable shoes that you can walk in safely on uneven surfaces and that are easy to clean. Also, since some areas are muddy, you should bring shoes that can get dirty. Although flip-flops or thongs aren’t the best choice, you can still do all the activities.

During the activity, you’ll have the opportunity to swim and bathe with the elephants in a river. We recommend that you wear a swimsuit under your regular clothes so that you’re comfortable in case you get wet.

Don’t forget to pack an extra pair of dry clothes to change into before heading back to your hotel. You can also pack a light towel to dry off after your adventures. This is especially advisable if you come during the rainy season, which usually occurs between July and October. Rain showers usually last an hour or two, but you can prevent getting wet by packing a light rain jacket or thin plastic poncho. Rain or shine, the tour will go on as planned.

Also pack a small zippered bag with small bottles of sunscreen and mosquito repellent, as well as wet wipes or soap. If you’ve prescription medications with you, such as asthma inhalers or epi-pens, don’t forget those, too.

Chiang Mai is the best place to visit an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand.