In a recent interview with Life Listed, I claimed that my favorite bucket list adventure was swimming with stingrays in the Grand Caymen. But, that was before bathing elephants in Thailand.

Elephants trump stingrays.

The one thing I was looking forward to most about traveling to Chiang Mai was an experience hanging out with elephants in Thailand. Nope. We will not be riding them or seeing an elephant show. Too many horror stories about the training techniques for these. Didn’t you see Water for Elephants? I’m not saying that all trekking or ellie show companies are bad, but instead we were headed to the Elephant Nature Park, an animal sanctuary where the elephants are rewarded for good behavior, not punished for bad.
Elephants in Thailand

The Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation camp where visitors can get an elephant education, plus feed and bathe these majestic creatures.

The park is located an hour from the Chiang Mai city center and on the ride over you will pass by several trekking companies where some of the elephants are tied up waiting for their next tour.

And then, the fields open up with endless stretches of green and there is the gorgeous sight of ellies roaming free. You have arrived at the Elephant Nature Park.
Elephants in Thailand at Elephant Nature Park

We started the day with an informative tour of the grounds and an introduction to its animal residents. They are an eclectic bunch; some old, some young, some blind, some injured from working in the logging industry, some abused and some rescued from the circus. All beautiful.

How could anyone hurt this face?
Elephant Nature Park

After the tour, it was feeding time and everybody was hungry. And their appetites seemed endless, but the barrel of fruit wasn’t.

We got some grub too, a tasty buffet with a line of chafing dishes filled with both Asian and American cuisine.

Annette White Feeding Elephants in Thailand Lunch at Elephant Nature Park Feeding the Elephants

As we finished up the last french fry on our plates there was an indication that the bathing of the elephants in Thailand was about to commence: a herd of dirty ones heading towards the river.
Elephants in ThailandDirty Elephant at Elphant Nature Park

Peter walked his new four-legged friend to the water and I followed closely behind. We spent the next hour in the river washing, scrubbing and rinsing each of the herd.
Bathing Elephants at Elephant Nature ParkAnnette White Bathing Elephants in Thailand

Look…all clean!
Annette White with Elephants in Thailand

This was one adventurous day, thats memory will last a lifetime, where I felt that I had an intimate experience with these charming elephants in Thailand. And I didn’t miss riding an elephant one bit.

Big Butt Montage
Elephants have big butts. And at the risk of sounding like a complete whack job, I am going to admit that I think their big behinds are adorable. And just because it makes me laugh here’s an elephant Big Butt Montage.
Elephants in Thailand

Bonus Head Scratching Video

Have you had any experiences with elephants in Thailand?

Elephant Nature Park | Website | Price

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More About Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Bucket List: 30 Things to Do in Thailand’s Best Northern City
Thailand’s Wat Rong Khun: The White Temple in Chiang Rai
Thailand Elephant Sanctuary: 5 of the Best Rescues in or Near Chiang Mai
Wat Chedi Luang: A Thai Temple in Chiang Mai’s City Center
Traveling by Tuk Tuk in Chiang Mai & Other Transporation
Learn to Make Handicraft Umbrellas in Chiang Mai
Get a Thai Massage in Thailand