The Best Places to See Elephants in Thailand

If you’re planning an adventure through Thailand, or if you’ve already started one, you’re no doubt looking for unforgettable activities to fill your itinerary.

Our incredible country has plenty to offer travellers of every kind. But it probably comes as no surprise that we think ethical elephant activities in Phuket are the best way to create lifelong memories.

The Asian elephant is a symbol of Thailand and is thought to bring good luck. These majestic animals are a key part of the Thai national identity.

As such, you have plenty of opportunities to interact with them on a sustainable, cruelty-free basis.

And this is exactly what we offer at the Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve. Our elephant experiences in Phuket prioritise the health and well-being of our rescued animals — and they always will.

For more information about anything we do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In the meantime, continue scrolling down to find our recommendations for some of the best places to see elephants in Thailand. Please note, all photos are of the Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve.

Elephant in Jungle Phuket

The Phuket Nature Elephant Reserve

We don’t include ourselves on this list lightly! But since our establishment in 2019, we have become a leader in ethical elephant activities in Phuket.

Elephant conservation is of the utmost importance to us, and our main goal is the welfare of our animals, all of which we have rescued from cruelty and exploitation.

Our Gold Star accreditation demonstrates international certification in line with the highest levels of elephant care and welfare. The assessment criteria are provided by the strict Asian Captive Elephants Standards (ACES).

We also place importance on visitor education. This allows us to provide amazing experiences in a sustainable, stress-free manner, all while amplifying the importance of elephant conservation.

And as you would expect from a truly ethical elephant sanctuary, we offer absolutely no riding or bathing and we never use chains or bullhooks.

We simply offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience elephants in their natural environment.

Elephant in Jungle

Elephant Nature Park, North of Chiang Mai

If your travels in Thailand take to the north of the country, Elephant Nature Park is a fantastic place to see elephants.

Located north of Chiang Mai and west of Si Lanna National Park, Elephant Nature Park is the most well-known conservation project of its kind in the region.

The refuge has an impressive track record for ethical elephant activities and sustainability.

It’s home to 75 elephants with the freedom to roam spacious grounds set on the edge of dense rainforest.

Most of the elephants here have been rescued from the exploitative, harmful conditions found in the elephant tourism and logging industries and abusive training camps.

And there’s even more for animal lovers! The conservationist who founded Elephant Nature Park in 1995, Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, has also rescued cats, dogs, horses, and even water buffalo!

Discover more about rescued elephants and captivity in our previous blog, Is Being in Captivity Unhealthy for Elephants?

Bathing elephant in Phuket

Burm & Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary (BEES), Southwest of Chiang Mai

Southwest of the Elephant Nature Park and Chiang Mai, but still in Thailand’s northern region, you can find Burm & Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary.

Established in 2012 by a local Thai (Burm) and his English wife (Emily), this sanctuary is another at the forefront of the push toward more ethical approaches to animal tourism in Thailand.

BEES prides itself on always putting its elephants’ needs first. This is why their volunteer program is more hands-off.

Activities and experiences focus on active care. As such, you can clean the elephants’ living areas and prepare their snacks.

This is a place where old, retired, and injured elephants who have suffered years of abuse and mistreatment can live the rest of their lives amidst rolling mountains and verdant green valleys.

Given the care and safety provided to these gentle giants, BEES has an outstanding reputation for animal welfare and a five-star rating.

Are you looking for even more exciting adventures to add to your itinerary? Read our recommendations for 5 unique things to do in Phuket, Thailand.

Lady patting elephant

Elephant Haven, West Thailand

Elephant Haven was previously known as the Sai Yoke Elephant Camp and is a fascinating example of animal tourism reform.

The name change coincided with a dynamic shift in intention.

Put simply, this used to be a trekking camp that catered to tourists’ needs first. As a result, elephants were ridden and chained.

Today, however, it’s a very different story! Elephants are now free to roam, socialise, cool down in the River Kwai, bathe in mud, and live their remaining years in a peaceful environment.

The transformation that has created Elephant Haven is one of the numerous projects delivering change in line with Elephant Nature Park’s groundbreaking work.

As a result, you can visit Elephant Haven to walk alongside elephants through the jungle, not riding on their backs. You can also prepare balls of millet and fruit to feed them along the way.

Learn more about the unethical and cruel act of riding elephants by reading our previous blog, Should I Ride Elephants in Thailand?

Elephant in Jungle

Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), Southwest of Bangkok

As you may have guessed from the name, Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand rescues a range of animals from abusive and exploitative conditions.

In addition to elephants, these include birds, deer, big cats, bears, and primates.

There are over 600 animals resident at this sanctuary, of which around 20 are elephants.

The WFFT rehabilitates and releases approximately 40% of their rescued animals back into wild conservation areas. However, none of the released animals are elephants.

This is because older, retired elephants are too reliant on human care to survive in the wild. Fortunately, the WFFT provides everything these wonderful animals need.

A visit to the WFFT allows you to help provide for the elephants in their care. You can clean enclosures, harvest bananas, build enrichments, and observe the animals in their natural habitat.

Woman patting elephant in jungle

Let Us Help You Find the Perfect Ethical Elephant Activities in Phuket!

We hope this guide has provided useful information and invaluable inspiration for your adventures in Thailand. Our country is truly one of the best in the world to experience the magic and majesty of elephants.

Browse our range of thrilling Phuket elephant experiences to find the perfect activity for you.

And if you have questions about anything you see, please feel free to contact us.

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