One of the most iconic things about Thailand is the opportunity to get up close and personal with native elephants, and Chiang Mai isn’t the only place you can do it. Phuket has a newly opened Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, sister location to the one in Chiang Mai where a couple dozen elephants roam, eat, play, bathe and enjoy the company of their daily visitors.
Last fall I took an 11-day trip to Thailand with a few friends and we got to spend the morning of Day 1 at Phuket’s Elephant Jungle Sanctuary,
The company picked us up from our hotel in Patong around 7am. We loaded into the back of a pickup truck, a transportation option that is common all across Thailand, and drove around picking up more people until it was full and we made our way to the sanctuary. Hold on, because they zip around corners quick!
The elephants were waiting for us on arrival and they were just as majestic in person as I had imagined! Once the whole group arrived we were briefed on the itinerary for the day.
We started by feeding them bananas and feeing them bananas and bamboo.
Then we moved on to giving the elephants a mud bath, swimming with them, and rinsing them off in the elephant showers. Once they were clean the owners took them back to their areas so we could shower ourselves off and then sit down to enjoy a delicious Thai lunch.
I highly recommend the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary as a place to get to know these gentle giants. But no matter where you go please do not ride them, and especially not with the racks on their back. Their are humane ways to enjoy elephants, like at a Sanctuary like this, that won't hurt them.