Bathe Elephants at a Rescue in Thailand

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.

Elephant Nature Park

How could anyone hurt this face?

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 feeding an elephant
buffet lunch at the Elephant nature park
basket of fruit for 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.

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.

Look…all clean!

Annette White: Thailand Elephant Sanctuary: 5 of the Best Rescues in or Near Chiang Mai

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.

Have you had any experiences with elephants in Thailand?

Elephant Nature Park | Website | Price

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

The Long Neck Karen Hilltop Tribe: A Village in Thailand

21 thoughts on “Bathe Elephants at a Rescue in Thailand”

  1. Ya…so sweet. I can’t wait to experience this for myself, and thank you for helping to spread the word about not riding elephants or seeing a show in Thailand.

  2. I did the elephant riding tour quite some time ago. I was horrified by the way the elephants are treated. The whole thing seemed like a tourist factory. It’s great to see here a place where the elephants are treated well.

  3. OMG I have the biggest smile on my face!!!! What an incredible experience! I think I would have died and gone to heaven haha.

    • It was an incredible day that I will NEVER forget! Even though I’ve looked at the photos dozens of times, they still make me smile :)

  4. Elephants are amazing creatures! We went to the same park in Thailand and it was such a fun experience to be so close to them.

  5. I’m reminded of a New Yorker cartoon in which two dolphins are swimming together and one says to the other: “Before I die I want to swim with a couple from Connecticut.”

  6. This looks like an absolutely incredible experience!
    Now I know where my ‘bath and take care of an elephant’ experience will take place! :)

  7. I am enjoying your bucket list. I’ve never bathed an elephant however I did find a stray elephant in Houston once. It have been lost by the zoo and was standing out in the street next to 59. An interesting problem because this was before cell phones.

    • It depends on the how long you have. The day visit is a nice overview and an opportunity to interact with the elephants. For most people this is enough. But, if you want more interaction join the longer program.


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Hey Bucket Listers!
I'm Annette.

I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

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