The Best Way to See Elephants in Thailand + 10 Reasons Why You’ll Love It

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There’s a lot of mixed feelings out there about seeing Elephants in Thailand. Feelings range from completely against it to trying to find an ethical way to see them, to simply riding elephants where they can.

I’m not here to tell you what’s right or wrong, I’m just sharing my experience that was fantastic.

If you really want to spend quality time with elephants then this is for you. You essentially get to take care of an elephant for the day.

Elephants in Thailand

Before we get to the experience, let’s talk about why symbols of elephants are everywhere in Thailand and how to spot unsafe conditions for both you and the elephants.

Let’s talk first about the history of elephants in Thailand and why you’ll see them in artwork, sculptures, etc while visiting.

Elephants abound in Thai art and popular culture. You’ll find them in carvings, paintings, textiles, stories—even on bottles of the beloved local beer, Chang. The national symbol of Thailand, elephants are admired for their strength, endurance and intelligence. They have long had a role in Thai society; elephants were used in warfare centuries ago, and they also hauled logs and farm produce. A white elephant was even on Thailand’s national flag from 1855 to 1916, and on the King’s personal flag before then. White-elephant flags still fly on Thai Navy ships.

The Truth About Elephants in Thailand

Now, as I said before, there’s a lot of mixed feelings on whether or not you should ride elephants in Thailand. See, conditions are not always the best for taming elephants. That’s why you should do your research.

When I was in Thailand, we went to Chiang Mai and spent the day at the Patara elephant farm. It was fantastic. I can tell you from my experience that it felt like the elephants were well cared for, and were rescued from other unsafe working conditions.  

How do I know this? Well, they were not chained up, and quite frankly, I was told when we got there as well. They also trained elephants using nothing but words. There were no tools being use to prod the elephants.

In reality, if the elephant really hated me being on him, he could have easily kicked me off at any moment. There was no force being used.

Now, this still may not be what you want, and that’s fine. However, I’m going to share my experience and you can make your own choices.

An Ethical Way to Ride Elephants in Thailand
An Ethical Way to Ride Elephants in Thailand

10 Reasons You’ll Love This Experience

1. Spend the Whole Day with the Elephants

First up, you get to spend the whole day with the elephants. This is way more time than a lot of places and really reason enough to have this experience.

Be an Elephant Caretaker for the Day
Be an Elephant Caretaker for the Day

2. Meet Them

When you first arrive at the farm, you’ll get to meet a few elephants out in their habitat. This is such a great introduction and how the company decides which elephant to put you with for the day. They’ll watch how you interact with them and you can take your first pictures.

Meet the Elephants in Thailand
Meet the Elephants in Thailand

3. Feed Them

Once the company decides who should be with which elephant for the day, you’ll get to meet your elephant and feed them.

Feed Elephants in Thailand
Feed Elephants in Thailand

4. Learn About Them

Next up, you’ll learn all about the elephants, the farm, and the conservation work the company is doing. You’ll also get to take lots of pictures with the elephants and meet your care person for the day. Each person is paired with a worker and elephant for the day.

Learn about Elephants in Thailand
Learn about Elephants in Thailand

5. Bathe Them

After the learning, it’s time to clean the elephants. You’ll sweep the excess dirt off them, then bathe them. If there’s a baby there, they’ll probably do a little bit of playing as well.

Care for the elephants by bathing them in Thailand

6. Ride Them

Here’s where some people start to get controversial. There are those who believe that riding them at all shouldn’t be allowed.

Personally, I don’t agree. When I was with the elephant, I knew that the elephant could get rid of me at any time (I mean, they ARE much bigger than us), and I didn’t ever feel like the elephant was in pain or even uncomfortable.  

It’s for you to decide, but my personal experience was wonderful and the elephant just went about its normal walk with me on his back. No one forced her or used any instruments in the process.

7. Have a Delicious Lunch

After your ride/walk through the landscape, you’ll get a delicious lunch. All included with your fee.

Lunch with Elephants
Lunch with Elephants

8. Swim with Them

This next part was one of my favorites. We got to swim with all the elephants and it was so fun. Just be sure to bring your swimmers and a change of clothes.

Swim with Elephants
Swim with Elephants

9. Photos Included

Another great thing about this company is that they take photos on your camera and a professional camera all day long. They’ll give you a CD at the end with all the photos the professional took and it’s included.

10. You’ll Do Good

Regardless of your feelings on any of the above activities, you’ll be doing good when visit this place.

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