Thailand is a hot spot for traveling families seeking culture, serene natural beauty and incredible experiences. One of the more popular ways to spend the day, alongside enjoying local cuisine, is spending quality time with elephants. Whether feeding, washing or just visiting, elephants get a lot of attention from tourists.
Being a trendy attraction for visitors of all ages, many companies try to capitalize on the fascination of the beautiful animals and put their health and wellbeing below financial interests. Avoid the frauds and stick with the kinder, more responsible organizations, like sanctuaries and rescues, to get your face time with elephants on your family trip to Thailand.
Located in Tha Mai Ruak, Thailand, the Wildlife Friends Foundation is a wildlife refuge center focused on caring for ailing wildlife. WFFT works to rescue, rehabilitate and protect all kinds of animals, including elephants. Visit the other residents before heading to the Elephant Refuge and Education Centre for a day tour. For about $46 per person, guests enjoy an educational tour of the center, lunch, a walk with the elephants and bathing.
The sanctuary is located about a two-hour drive from Bangkok and 35 minutes from Ch-Am and Hua Hin, so plan transportation appropriately. Dress for walking, getting dirty and in light layers to change with the weather.
Over in Kuet Chang, guests can visit rescued elephants in the comfort of their new homes while learning more about each of them. Listen to their rescue stories from caretakers and experts during the day tour, also including the opportunity to feed and bathe the elephants for about $73 per person, or spend the night for $168.
The tours include meals for your family and the elephants as well as pick-up and drop-off in Chiang Mai. For those opting for the overnight tour, hut accommodations are provided. If you can, bring swim suits, towels, comfortable flip flops or sandals that can get wet and a pair of clothes to change into — this tour can get messy.
Live among the elephants at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary for about $175 per guest, per night. Get to know the lovable animals while taking care of them with the professionals. Watch as the kids are completely immersed in the caretaking process and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime activity with the family.
Experiences include all meals, non-alcoholic drinks, cottage accommodations, WiFi, laundry and pick-up and drop-off. This sanctuary is a bit more remote and operates as a bed and breakfast, so bring what you need and plan for a journey; reservations required.