top of page

Elephants in Thailand

Updated: Apr 27

elephant in Thailand

I must confess that one of the things I love the most about Thailand is the abundance of animals. You can find street dogs, cats, chickens, butterflies, hermit crabs, lizards, birds, fish, frogs, pigs, and last but not least, elephants!

If you are an elephant lover like me, you will be delighted to know that there are plenty of opportunities to interact with these majestic creatures in Thailand. However, it is crucial to make sure that you choose an elephant sanctuary and not a tourist trap.

At a sanctuary, the elephants are not chained up, and there is no riding on them. Ask locals about which places are ethical and take good care of their elephants.

My first experience came in Phuket at the Kalim Elephant Sanctuary. I had just arrived in Thailand 2 days earlier and was still struggling with culture shock, jet lag, and an overall sense of unreality... Had I really left my life in the US to travel to the other side of the world and why?

I needed to feel grounded and connected to something and thought “What better way to achieve this than with some elephant therapy!” I booked through my hotel in Patong at the Andamantra Resort and Spa and was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the Sanctuary to find I was the only visitor for the day.

I met my "baby" elephant named Michael in the jungle on a short trek. He was a 3-year-old elephant born at the sanctuary and weighed about 1.5 tons. The gestation for elephants is approximately 22 months and generally, the mom only gives birth to one elephant at a time.

The last part of the visit was bath time, where I expected to brush the elephant a bit in the water. Nope! I was in a makeshift large pool with Michael for almost 40 minutes, swimming and playing as we rolled around together. It was pure joy and a deep sense of connection with this enormous chunk of love. I got to meet Michael's mom and feed her a coconut before the end of the visit. I left smiling, having experienced the first of many adventures in Thailand.

The second encounter was in Koh Phangan, where I visited the Tawan Elephant Trekking Sanctuary. I was the only visitor there at the time, and for just $15 US dollars, I was able to shower, pet, and feed an elephant.

As I was showering the elephant, I suddenly found myself completely drenched by the two huge towers of water. The adult female elephant was able to hold and spray an incredible amount of water with her trunk, and I couldn't help but laugh as I brushed her with a scrub brush and got a proper shower myself. It was a truly unforgettable experience.

Next came the feeding and I was handed a basket full of bananas. I held them out one at a time unpeeled and she grabbed them from my hand with her trunk and inhaled them in one bite. I also fed some directly into her gigantic mouth which was a bit nerve-wracking, but not frightening.

Dessert came in the form of a full coconut which she grabbed with her trunk from my hand and crushed with her foot to open. I knew these animals were strong, but the sheer power of a single elephant foot was just awe-inspiring.

If you ever get the opportunity, please go visit these magnificent creatures! They are intelligent, gentle, and oh so playful. Just remember to visit a sanctuary where the elephants are well cared for. You won't regret it and your heart will be full.


bottom of page