elephant sanctuary chiangf mai

Ultimate Guide To Elephant Sanctuary In Chiang Mai Day Tours

Nestled amidst beautiful landscapes, a mesmerizing encounter with elephants in Chiang Mai beckons for those eager to get close and experience these gentle giants in their natural habitat.

As you venture into their world, the elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai offer a retreat for both you and these magnificent creatures.

There are also sanctuaries that offer visitors interactive activities, such as elephant trekking, bathing, and feeding. So while you are on vacation, your visit will make a significant improvement to their living environment. 

These ethical elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai have a no-riding policy and do not engage in any harmful practices like chaining, performing tricks or using hooks.

Actually, each ethical sanctuary offers a variety of programs such as elephant rescue and rehabilitation, while others focus on elephant education and conservation.

Here’s our 7 top-notch elephant sanctuaries to plan your visit for an unforgettable experience plus a great elephant hotel in Chiang Mai to stay. 

Best Elephant Sanctuaries In Chiang Mai

1. Happy Elephant Home

Happy Elephant Home have transited into a high welfare venue.

There has been a trend to make more elephant sanctuaries acceptable to tourists and Happy Elephant is pretty much one such set up.

It has a pretty big area, where visitors can observe the resident elephants in their natural habitat over the course of their normal daily routines.

The consistency of this routine (ethical) gives a better life and welfare for the elephants.

These Chiang Mai based elephants have been retired from various provinces in Thailand as they are relieved of the hard work in the logging and trekking industries.


Half-Day tour includes a visit to the sanctuary, observing elephants in a natural setting, learning about their behavior and history, and have the opportunity to feed and interact with them.

Full-Day program extends the experience, allowing you to spend more time with the elephants including observing them in their natural habitat, feeding, bathing, and learning about their conservation.

  • Address: 74/1, Kuet Chang, Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai 50150
  • Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday / 9am –  5.30pm

2. Elephant Care & Retirement park

This elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai is a small family run set-up. The elephants are owned and look after by Karen villagers.

Its main objective is to rent or lease elephants from the villagers with monthly payment. In this process, the elephants are free from captivity and the villagers gets paid monthly.

All the elephants are free to roam in the forest and the ethnic group mahout will usher them back to the sanctuary sheltered paddock in the evening.

You can also explore the surrounding villages in the mountain and swim at the scenic waterfall. If you really loves to get close or cuddle with their baby elephant, then this is the place to visit.


  • Trekking with them out to the forest for grazing, feeding them food and bathing them.
  • Experience Karen lifestyle and activities such as weaving clothes, collecting coffee, making jewelry etc.
  • Provide in-house Buffet lunch at this elephant sanctuary for all guests.

3. Elephant Nature Park

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is one of the most well known establishment since 1990.

Formatted by well-known elephant conservationist Lek Saengduean Chailert.

The center is considered a leading rehabilitation park for elephants in Thailand.

Probably, one of the biggest elephant herd in Chiang Mai, providing a full visitor and volunteering experience.

One of a kind “Skywalk” program where visitors observed and learned the chosen elephant herd amidst other rescued animals.

This huge Chiang Mai elephant park has won tons of awards and documentaries from Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, BBC, CNN etc


  • Strictly “no riding” policy.
  • Promote observing elephants from a respectful distance.
  • Visitors are allowed to feed, walking alongside them, or observing them as they bathe in rivers or mud pool.


  • Half/Full day programs available and you can also book a personalized trip.
  • Overnight non air-con accommodation in private hut with mosquitoes net and attached bathroom.
  • Volunteers live in shared accommodation with attached bathroom.
  • All vegetarian meals are cooked and served by local villagers. Programs are suitable for all ages


Tons of activities from feeding, bathing, jungle walk to walking the resident dogs and even water rafting. You can spend your free time, socializing, getting a Thai massage, walking the dogs, tubing on the river, etc.

Or simply watch elephants wandering on the property freely. It’s like a village by itself. There are even a small convenience stall and food market outside the park’s front gate.

  • Office Address: 1 Ratmakka Road, Phra Sing, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
  • Tel: +66 (0) 53 272855, +66 (0) 825573380
  • Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday / 7am –  5pm

4. Burm and Emily

Burm and Emily’s elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai (BEES) is an elephant and animal rescue center in Mae Tan Valley in Mae Chiam.

This is indeed a greater-welfare elephant nature park, where they have implemented a hands-off approach to view elephants in a more natural habitat.

Located close to peaceful lush forests and rivers with a spectacular view of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain peak.

BEES unique approach is to adopt, buy and even rent working elephants. Giving the elephants a better tomorrow in an unbelievable beautiful natural habitat after working in poor conditions most of their life.


  • Get close to these gentle mammoth in a splendid forest setting near Doi Intanon.
  • Mini elephant safari to locate these elephant in a forest area.
  • Accompanied by camp’s mahouts with narratives about the history of these elephants.


  • Programs runs from Monday to Sunday. Suitable for children aged 10 and above.
  • Booking in advance is necessary for confirmation.
  • Short stay available. No lavish resort style accommodation, just mattress  on the floor and mosquitoes net. 
  • Address: 34 M1, Ban Thung Yaw, Tambon Chang Keung Chiang Mai, Maechaem, 50270 Thailand
  • Contact: +66 (0)8619 72519

5. Mahouts Elephant Foundation

Mahouts Elephant Foundation in Chiang Mai mission is to return more captive elephants to the extensive jungle range to roam freely.

The framework preserves the safety and welfare of the elephants, a sustainable healthy forest and Thailand’s culture for future generation.

This is the model we want to keep replicating and taking to more communities. This will in time create a shift in elephant tourism where people choose to see the elephants living naturally.

“This is a young project but more and more communities are asking us to return these elephants back to the forest but we need the tourists to sustain this” – Sarah Blaine, Founder


Mahouts Elephant Foundation aims to offer a different experience at Huay Pakoot mountain village near Doi Intanon.

More like a combination of AirBNB and elephant safari where you will be accommodated with a host family. Back to nature stuff with beds on the floor/mosquito net. Limited electricity and shower/toilet located outside.

Western style toilet but without the flushing system. Buckets of water are available just like an adventure in the wilderness.

Meals will be cooked by the host and brought to your guesthouse. The best part is that you will have 4 days of totally tranquil experience with nature and the foundation’s resident elephants.

6. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Spend half or full day with elephants at the Jungle Sanctuary and it all depends on your group size.

The different between Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and the rest, is that they have 8 locations in Chiang Mai.

The trip will be determined by your program choice but you can make a request for your favorable sanctuary. Wheelchair bound visitors can be accommodated by special request.

Each location have at least 3 elephants and you may have a good chance that only your group will participate at one of the locations.

The inconvenient thing is that, you’ll be traveling on cramped open-air truck or Songthaew especially when there are more visitors on peak season.


  • Standard interaction with elephant such as bathing, walking and feeding. 
  • Traditional Thai meals are provided.


  • Full elephant experience with half, full day and overnight stay.
  • Full board overnight stay at traditional Karen tribe house. 
  • Children and wheelchair friendly.
  • Office Address: 119/10 Thapae Road, Chang Klan, Chiang Mai, Thaialnd
  • Contact: +66-53-273-415

7. Chai Lai Orchid Elephant Hotel

Set against the backdrop of Chiang Mai’s mountainous locale, this unique Chiang Mai elephant hotel offers more than just accommodation – it’s an experience that merges comfort with a deep bonding with its resident elephants that roam the surroundings sanctuary.

Wake up to the symphony of chirping birds and even an elephant visiting your hotel room’s window as you connect with the gentle elephants.

Chai Lai Orchid Chiang Mai elephant hotel has a reputation that resonates far and wide – a place where the elephants in Chiang Mai live in peace next door to your accommodation.

  • Office Address: 172 m 5 T. Mae Sapok A, Mae Wang District, Chiang Mai 50360, Thailand
  • Contact: +66 82 660 2213

elephant sanctuary day tours

Before you start thinking on how to hug these gentle giants, choose an elephant sanctuary that prioritizes the welfare and conservation of their livelihood.

Typically, your elephant sanctuary tour will start in the morning and last about 6 hours for a half day tour. The full day tour usually paired with a relaxing or fun trips such as Sticky Waterfalls or Bamboo Rafting.  

Upon arrival at the elephant sanctuary, you will be greeted by the mahouts for a Q&A (Question & Answer) session about their elephant’s behavior, and the sanctuary’s mission.

They will answer your questions in English, offer insights, and ensure your safety during interactions with the elephants. The mahouts will accompany you throughout your time spent with them.

You can expect an interesting and informative experience centered on the care and conservation of elephants when you visit the elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai with these programs.

elephant trekking chiang mai

This is a pretty great way to be up close with the elephants, and learn about their natural habitat by simply walking with them through the forest near your chosen sanctuary.

It feels like a walk in the park with your giant pet. The mahouts will be close by incase you need some advise. Elephant trekking is the most popular family bonding program in Chiang Mai.

Elephant Care chiang mai

Elephant care in Chiang Mai provide spacious forested areas, and water sources like rivers where elephants can freely roam, forage, socialize, and engage in natural behaviors.

The program encourage visitors to observe elephants from a distance, and learn about their natural behaviors on their usual daily routines.

Visitors are advised on how to safely approach and hand-feed the elephants with baskets of prepared food, such as bananas, watermelons, sugarcane under the supervision of the mahouts.

Elephant Bathing

Visitors will be given elephant-friendly clothes to wear, actively participate in the bathing process by using buckets to splash water from a pool or river onto the elephants and scrubbing them.

This activity allows for an immersive experience while helping to cool down the elephants, and keep their skin healthy. Elephant bathing in Chiang Mai is a popular program for visitors of all ages. 

picking the perfect elephant sanctuary day tour

When considering a visit to an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai, opting for a private guided day trip over a standard travel agent tour holds several significant advantages.

Private trips offer a more personalized and relaxing experience, allowing you to tailor the itinerary to your preferences and pace. With a dedicated local driver-guide, you can ask questions about almost anything about Chiang Mai.

Actually, booking travel agent tours may lack the depth of personal interaction. They often follow a standard itinerary and cater to larger groups, always in a rush and limiting the ability to immerse yourself fully in the trip experience.

For a more engaging and customizable encounter with your day trip to the elephant sanctuary, choosing a private guided day trip is often the preferred choice.

Last but not least, read reviews on the guide and the tour provided and consider recommendations from trusted sources or fellow travelers who have had positive experiences.

Tips To Visiting Elephant Sanctuary

Arrive Early: Aim to arrive early in the morning. This not only allows you to avoid crowds but also ensures you have ample time to spend with the elephants.

Entrance Fee: Be prepared to pay the entrance fee. This fee typically includes a guided tour and sometimes lunch or snacks.

Follow Guidelines: Listen carefully to the sanctuary’s guidelines and rules. These often include instructions on how to interact with elephants safely and respectfully.

Meet the Elephants: Enjoy the opportunity to meet and interact with the elephants. You might feed them, observe them in their natural habitat, or even bathe them.

Lunchtime: If your visit includes lunch, savor the meal provided. It’s a great time to relax and chat with fellow visitors.

Respect the Animals: Always treat the elephants with respect and follow the sanctuary’s guidelines for ethical interaction.

Departure: When your visit concludes, say goodbye to the elephants and express your gratitude to the sanctuary staff for their important work.

Feedback: Consider leaving a positive review or feedback about your experience to help other travelers choose ethical sanctuaries.

Essential stuff you should bring along when visiting elephant sanctuaries.

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel
  • Hat/Caps
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Refill water bottle
  • Raincoat(wet season)

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