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.

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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Helpful Resources

Map of Chiang Mai

2018-12-27T13:26:27+00:00April 21st, 2013|Categories: Asia, LIFESTYLE, Thailand, TOP PICKS, TRAVEL|Tags: , , |


  1. Jenna April 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Annette White April 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm - Reply

      I want EVERYONE to go there! It was such an amazing and peaceful day.

  2. My Top Ten Bucket List Items April 21, 2013 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    […] I love animals and have vowed to travel to volunteer with animals soon. At the bottom of this post, you can learn more about this wonderful organization that aims to not only give Asian elephants a safe and loving environment to live in, but also educate the public about the abusive treatment of elephants worldwide. This is an important cause, and the park provides an animal lover’s dream experience. Read about one traveler’s time at the park here. […]

  3. Mike April 22, 2013 at 2:08 am - Reply

    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.

    • Annette White April 22, 2013 at 6:32 am - Reply

      The elephants here are definitely loved 🙂

  4. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures April 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm - Reply

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

    • Annette White April 22, 2013 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      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 🙂

  5. Agness April 23, 2013 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    We also did it last year, amazing experience 🙂 The elephants are my favourite animals 🙂

    • Annette White April 24, 2013 at 6:55 am - Reply

      They now rank on the top of my favorite animal list too!

  6. jill May 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Annette White May 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm - Reply

      They are so amazing and it’s rare to get such an intimate experience with them.

  7. Arnold Hansen December 6, 2013 at 11:11 am - Reply

    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.”

  8. Elitravelbug January 22, 2016 at 7:29 am - Reply

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

  9. Salwa October 18, 2016 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    How much did this cost?

  10. Mary December 5, 2016 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Annette White December 5, 2016 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      Wow, that’s not something you see everyday (especially in Houston)!! I almost forget what it was like before cell phones, so this probably caused quite a dilemma.

  11. Stephanie December 21, 2016 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Why does that elephant have purple paint on its forehead? Did it get shot with a paintball gun?

    • Annette White December 21, 2016 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      We were told it was some sort of medicine, so a wound wouldn’t get infected.

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