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“Worth every cent!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of The Elephant Training Center Chiang Dao

The Elephant Training Center Chiang Dao
108/1 Moo 9, T. Intakhin, A. Mae Tang | Intakhin, Mae Taeng 50150, Thailand
(053) 298-553
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Elephant Trek, Rafting and Hilltribe Village Tour...
Ranked #11 of 18 things to do in Mae Taeng
Certificate of Excellence
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Washington State
Level Contributor
41 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Worth every cent!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013

This elephant training camp is about an hour north of Chiang Mai. It is clean and it appears that the elephants are well cared for. I witnessed no abuse. We were told that the elephants are set free to roam for part of the day.The tour cost 2400 baht (aprx $80) in January 2013 and this included our transportation, guide, entry fee, and lunch. We made our reservation at our hotel the day before. It was an all day trip and worth every cent. We rode an elephant for an hour in the jungle and also up the river. Then we watched the elephants get bathed in the river which was a treat to see them roll in the water in pure delight sticking their big legs into the air like kids. We were given an exhibition of how the elephants have been used in Thailand in the logging industry pulling logs individually and in pairs and also pushing logs with their trunks. One elephant raised the flag and one painted a picture. We floated on a bamboo raft down the Ping River which was enjoyable, very peaceful. Saw lots of birds and butterflies and water buffalo. A delicious buffet lunch was enjoyed at the Tiger Kingdom and we also visited a beautiful orchid farm. The elephant camp is not recommended for wheelchairs because the access is on a swinging bridge and the ground is uneven. The trek up to the Lisu village was a disappointment to me...it was small, we didn't see inside the homes, and product was displayed everywhere in hopes of a sale.

Visited January 2013
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93 reviews from our community

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Livingston, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
54 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
“Well looked after”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2013

The tour is very good, you do get up close and personal with Elephants. Yes some are chained but this is for safety. The show is not a circus but a glimpse into how Elephants used to be used for logging. We bought one of the Elephant paintings..absolutely fantastic. The food here is also very very good. If you get chance go rafting and the pictures taken by the staff were excellent, they present them in a frame made out of Elephant dung...lol and are as cheap as chips.

Visited October 2012
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Buenos Aires, Argentina
Level Contributor
34 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Mixed feelings”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2013

You will be able to see how the bathe elephants, feed them, the tricks they do and you will be able to ride them. I enjoyed the ride, but the show of the tricks they do didn't feel too good. They make them move logs and things.. It didn't feel right to me. But well, that's just me. On the other hand, an elephant drew a lovely picture of a tree. Got to admit, pretty impressive.

Visited January 2013
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San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
37 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“Mixed Emotions”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2012

I am a huge lover of elephants, and the highlight of our trip to Thailand was seeing wild elephants in Khao Yai National Park. However, being an elephant lover, we also decided to visit Chiang Dao Camp and signed up for the full-day tour. Signing up was very difficult. They do not reply to your email (well, they did a month after our trip!) and we had to rely on a local friend in Chiang Mai to call them on the phone (many times to reach the right person). Our friend had to send them money to make our deposit. When we arrived, no one spoke English, but they somehow did know that we had paid a deposit.

First they allow you to buy bananas and feed two elephants, including the baby, which of course is exciting, and everyone loves to see the baby elephant.

But why are they breeding these elephants? I can understand why there are elephant camps so that the once-working animals can live out the rest of their lives. But I see no need to continue this way of life except for tourism. And I would rather not support this kind of camp. A week after our visit to the camp, we read in the Bangkok newspaper that a survey of all captive elephants in Thailand had just been completed, and the result was that 80 or 90% of captive elephants in Thailand are malnourished. The main reason is that elephants eat so much per day, and the poor owners of the camps can't afford the food. Some elephants are apparently only given grass to eat, which is not a complete diet for them. We did the elephant ride, which again is exciting, but our elephant was a bit sluggish, and the mahout was often encouraging him to keep up with the rest of the parade. He did not use the bull hook, but he did have to keep encouraging him. When I look at the framed photo of us riding him (purchased at the end of the day) I can see how skinny he was for an elephant. This saddened me greatly. Frankly, I wish we had not gone, or at least did not do the ride.

We also went to the hill tribe, and I agree with other reviewers, it seems like a set up. Do those people really live there? Don't know. Mostly it's an opportunity to buy things at higher prices than in Chiang Mai. Whatever. Those people need the money more than I do, and I like the carved teak elephants that we bought.

The raft down the river would have been pleasant, as it the jungle is very beautiful. But it started raining about 10 minutes into the one-hour trip, and progressively got more and more rainy. The mahout pulled out hats and crappy ponchos to wear, but it's hard to put them on when you're sitting on a flimsy bench on a flimsy raft. Once the bench shifted and started to fall through the bamboo branches, allowing water on the raft. It would have all been OK except for the rain.

Overall, I think the elephants are moderately cared for, but if you really care about captive elephants in Thailand, it might be better to support them in a different way. I am still looking for a charity to support that will make lasting changes to the situation. Haven't found it yet though.

Visited November 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
18 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Great time for kids and adults”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2012 via mobile

We decided for this camp as we were told it would not be too touristy and indeed it wasn't. We arrived and bought some bananas for 30 THB for the kids to feed the elephants. This was great. We went on to watch them see getting bathed in the river followed by a cute show. Our impression was that all elephants were treated allright which was very important to us. We then proceeded to a one hour tour on the elephants through the forrest. Our kids loved it. We skipped the river rafting on a bamboo raft - really not too excited about it and had lunch before everyone else arrived. Food was very good. We had asked for a private tour hence we had our own minivan and our own guide taking us there. We can absolutely recommend the trip to the camp.

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