If you are heading over to Thailand soon, one of the things on your bucket list is bound to be playing with elephants, am I right? While playing with elephants is an amazing experience, you want to make sure you are going to an elephant park that treats their animals well and that doesn't abuse them. So, the real question is...how to find the best elephant park?
There are elephant parks all over Thailand, but chances are high that you will be in Chiang Mai when looking to play with elephants. Chiang Mai has SO many parks and you need to be really careful to pick the right one.
Finding good parks that don't abuse the animals is quite a bit easier than it seems. The internet is a great researching tool and so many people post reviews about these parks that it's easy to find the ones you are looking for.
The first step in find a good park is to do a broad search over "elephant camps or parks" in Chiang Mai. It will bring up a ton of results. Go through and pick a handful that have the activities you are wanting. Just a warning, most places that make the elephants paint, stand on their hind legs or do anything unnatural, probably isn't going to be a good park. You will want to look for parks that you will feed the animals, right BAREBACK (no seats on the backs of the elephants) and where you can play in the water with them.
The second step will be to do individual searches on each of the ones you chose. Don't be fooled, all of their websites will say they do not abuse the animals. Don't believe them! The reviews you will be finding at this point will speak for themselves. Read through a few of the good reviews and read through the bad reviews. The good elephant camps have most good reviews. Those are the ones you are looking for. The good ones will be a little more pricey, but it's totally worth it!
Now that you found a few camps that have great reviews, you will need to narrow it down. Go through their services and see what kind of package you will want. If you go to an elephant rescue park, while they are amazing and help the elephants so much, you may not be able to ride them. If you're looking to ride them, there are parks that do not have elephants that were barely taken out of bad circumstances that enjoy rides through the jungle.
Here are some elephant parks that our ILP Thailand volunteers have been to and loved:
- Blue Elephant Tours
- Baan Chang
- Patara Elephant Camp
- Elephant Nature Park
When you decide which park is best for you, make sure you pay DIRECTLY through their website. There are many parks that will rip off the name of the good ones and try and lure people over there. Don't let that happen to you! You won't have as good of an experience.
Spending the day with an elephant is priceless. If you go with a good camp that has happy elephants, it will be the favorite part of your trip!
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