I'll be travelling around in Thailand in July and I actually want to do an elephant trek, but I've read a variety of blogs/articles/etc about the elephants being mistreated. Is this the case at every elephant park or not?

I'll be visiting Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Ko Samui. Is there any place/organization that you know of which treats the elephants well at one of these places?

I've also found an elephant nature park online where you can walk beside elephants and feed and bathe them, so they are treated right. Does anyone have experience with this Because it seems like a great alternative.

Is there a place and where or do you recommend the alternative above all others?


I lived in Chiang Mai for over two years but never got around to visiting one of the few elephant parks in the region. There are a few parks that are known for their fair treatment of elephants, it not being uncommon the elephants at these parks to have been sourced from circuses and whatnot, where they would have been treated, well, not very well.

I don't exactly remember the names of the elephant parks that were considered to take care of the animals properly, but the below might be one of them.



There are a number of elephant camps in Chiang Mai that treat the elephants well.

There are several tourist camps, Lampang Elephant Conservation Center, Mae Sa Elephant Camp, Chiang Dao Elephant Camp. These camps have been around for 30+ years, have their own veternarians on staff, provide all the needs of the mahouts and elephants, raise the young in camp in the open, engage in breeding programs to avoid inbreeding, etc. LECC has its own elphant hospital.

They are tourist venues so the elephants do put on a show and provide short rides through the forest. But the elephants only work 3 to 4 hours each day.

There are also several rescue centers such as Baan Chang, Elephant Nature Park, Patara. These places take in abused elephants, purchase street elephants from their handlers or accept retired elephants (often one whose mahout has died and left no one to care for the elephant). These camps are more along the line of visit and observe, perhaps help feed or bath the elephants, Patara does allow rides.

The only down side to these places is that as non-profits they need to garner donations so tend to over emphasize the abuse issues, championing themselves as the only ethical folks out there.


There have been some reports of elephants being ill-treated but I believe it doesn’t happen anymore. Since you will be visiting Chiang Mai, then you are in the perfect place for some elephant trekking. In fact elephant trekking is offered at Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa. Should be a good experience.

  • Are you in any way affiliated with the resort? – JoErNanO Jun 3 '15 at 13:56

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