Throughout Asia you will see a lot of things which may not be what they appear, especially when it comes to animals. I have seen my fair share of animal-based meals which I am sure have come from unscrupulous sources and I have also seen incredibly dangerous apex predators being offered on the street for money so that you can pet them. At first I was over the moon to pet a tiger, who wouldn’t want to do that! After the event however I questioned exactly why I was able to do that without having my hand bitten off, and I soon figured it out.
The same goes for elephants in many areas of Thailand and for a small fee you can watch them do tricks and you can ride them. The truth behind how these elephants can do such things however is one of brutality and pain on the behalf of these great beasts. Thankfully however, this is not always the way and if you want to see some o the happiest and friendliest elephants that you are ever likely to meet, go to the elephant nature park in Chiang Mai.
Unlike many places, in fact almost all places, which you will find where you can see elephants in Thailand, the Nature Park in Chiang Mai is a sanctuary for elephants and their main focus is saving and nurturing these great beasts. The park was established by conservationist Sangduen Chailert just over 17 years ago in order to stop the brutality that was taking pace in the country towards elephants, and the project worked.
You can visit the Nature Park for a day at the price of $75, overnight for $175, or you can stay for a multi-night adventure which will see you help out with the caring of the elephants, for $362. The majority of the elephants which you will find on site are those that have been rescued from some terrible situations and the staff here work tirelessly to bring them back to full health and happiness.
The elephants have plenty of space to roam here, they do not do tricks or actions on demand like you will find in some other places and this is actually a wonderful thing. The reason being that when the elephants do play or interact with you, you can be safe in the knowledge that this is entirely natural. You will be able to feed the elephants and you can play with them if they will let you!
The park can be a little difficult on your emotions if you are an animal lover as some of the elephants to bear scars of their tragic past, with this being said, at least you know that their lives have been turned around and that they are far happier now than before.
I can’t recommend this park highly enough, if you are anywhere near Chiang Mai, you must visit.