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“A dream come true” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Elephantstay

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Elephantstay
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74/1 M 3 Tumbol Suanpik | Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand   |  
Hotel amenities
Melbourne, Australia
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“A dream come true”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2012

Elephantstay was a dream finally realised, to be up close, face to face, with an animal I have admired for years. To be able to ride bare back in to the river, learn how to scrub them, feed them, give them commands and clean up after them was an adventure I'll never forget. Yes accommodation was basic but a bed and air con at the end of a long day is all you need here. Time in your room is a waste when there's so much to take in. And how quickly they got back up and running after the floods is amazing. The baby elephants were gorgeous. Staff were brilliant and really made the whole visit worth while. Special mentions go to Anne, Neil, Eliza and Paul. Always looking out for our safety and making sure we had a good time. Their work is fantastic and the Elephants have such an amazing life there. The food was the best we had the whole trip. And getting to hang out with other Elephant enthusiasts from around the world was great (my group had us Aussie's, Americans and Brits). It was perfect.

  • Stayed February 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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34 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2012

Such a surreal experience to live and work with such dedicated staff who care so much about the elephants. The 7 days spent at Elephantstay was enriching and very hands on. The food was amazing, lots of camaraderie amongst interesting people. Well done and thanks Michelle and Ewa

  • Stayed January 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 11, 2011

My 18 year old daughter and I signed up for Elephantstay for a week ....big mistake - we should have stayed longer. A couple of hours out of Bangkok is a refuge for elephants which was established by a Thai gentleman named Pi Om about 14 years ago. He's put all his personal wealth into helping these rescued elephants. The volunteer program is run very capably by Michelle Reddy and her partner Eva Narkiewicz and their wonderful permanent volunteer Paul ( hope you are feeling better!) .We looked at many places on the internet and decided that this Not For Profit spot was for us.
We got to look after our own elephants. Mine was Rasemee and my daughter's elephant was Ramruoy who just recently gave birth to a lovely daughter, Angpow.
We loved the fact that we looked after all aspects of their daily life. We were up early in the morning to shovel elephant poo and dirty hay... Feeding and watering a few times each day.There were a few moments that I thought ..."and I'm paying to do this ?!!" ...my daughter, however, thought that was the best part...she felt very connected to Ramruoy while she cleaned up and fed her...(now if I could just figure out how to get her to clean her room the same way!!!). We learned how to direct them and walked them to the river a couple of times a day, scrubbed them down, put them to bed and enjoyed watching the baby elephants play.
We loved going to the market when we had a few moments and filling our tuk tuk to the brim with fabulous fruit which cost just a few dollars. Our elephants loved the treats and we so enjoyed watching their pleasure as they ate.
We did do a few cultural excursions when we could grab a few minutes -we saw a wonderful traditional Thai dance on bamboo rafts submerged in water. Not touristy,mostly Thais in attendance and a floating market there with all sorts of delectable food.
We did see some of the ancient sites but my daughter just really enjoyed being with her elephant and doing whatever she could for her, so most of our time was spent in the Kraal.
We did take in the best fair I have ever been to - an amazing pageant with some of the elephants from Elephantstay, fabulous food and really fun midway games. We went home with a van full of stuffed animals and loads of giggles!
Elephantstay was also filled with all kinds of other animals to lavish love on...Bunglua the monkey torn apart by dogs, now with only one arm, many kinds of birds, beautiful, exotic, but abandoned dogs and lots of cats and kittens, all of whom gave my daughter and I peaceful moments to cherish.
The food was always fabulous. The lodging was basic but comfortable with AC , real toilets and hot showers. Very fitting for the atmosphere
This is a great spot for singles, couples, families ... it just works. It was great talking with other adventurous elephantstayers from all over the world.
Our family has been very fortunate to have had many world adventures...among them hiking the Inca trail and the Amazon jungles, ocean kayaking and this adventure at Elephantstay is right up there with the best of all of those adventures.

  • Stayed January 2011
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2011

I had read a review in the newspaper about the great work done being done with rescued elephants at Elephantstay and decided to book to stay for a week. Wow. I cannot recommend this stay highly enough.

Not only do you get up and close with the elephants (you get allocated your own elephant to look after which you ride down to the river and wash) but your money goes towards the up keep and future purchases of working elephants that desperately need a home where they can be with other elephants in a natural environment.

To say that the owners/workers here give their lives to these animals is an understatement. When you stay here you can feel the love that the manhouts have for their elephants and the care and attention that they give them. No wonder elephant stay has one of the most successful breeding programs and has had 43 successful births so far.

A word on the accommodation. The huts are lovely and confortable. The beds are comfy and the rooms and bathrooms are clean. Airconditioning is featured which is essential as it get's very very hot.

I would highly recommend staying at Elephantstay to any. It certaintly was a life changing experience for me and a priviledge to spend time with these beautiful creatures and witness the love and care that goes into looking after these animals.

  • Stayed November 2010, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lyndoch, Australia
Top Contributor
139 reviews 139 reviews
27 hotel reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
173 helpful votes 173 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 21, 2011

I have never had to write a negative review on Trip Advisor – I usually read other reviews and do a bit of wider research and have not previously been let down. Having said that there were some good things about our experience at ElephantStay. Let’s look at them first,
We got to play with elephants, we got as close to our own elephant as we were happy with
We washed elephants, We scrubbed elephants, We cleaned up after elephants (and their poop is elephant size!!) We learnt a lot about elephants and their habits
Our accommodation was clean and neat and of style to be expected in an elephant village. The food was very good
The “volunteers” (who do all the work) were outstanding (yes that is you Paul and Debbie)
The Mahouts are nice guys (and girls)
The baby elephants are gorgeous and fun to play with
Going into the river on the back of an elephant is incredible fun

But, unfortunately there was another side to our experiences
The philosophy behind this place leaves a lot to be desired – it is not what you are told
The place is a mess – very untidy – unused or surplus equipment, junk and parts just lying around the place – give me two trucks and an afternoon and I would make the place look neat and tidy and put a smile on the face of the scrap metal buyer
The daily routine is repetitive – yes you expect elephants to get up and go to bed – but we did the same ride each day, the same river swim. There’s nothing different each day.
We paid equal to US$400 each for three days / two nights but it was hard to see where the money goes. Yes we know that elephants are expensive to look after but it seemed that we might have been subsidising a lot more than elephants (check out the likes of the cars parked there or the 18 different breeds of exotic dogs kept running loose on site)
The staff who interact and supervise you are not “volunteers” – they too actually pay for the privilege of being there too.
Note that all transactions are in cash in Thai money – no traceable credit card transactions.
The elephants are all chained up by one leg to a ground tether. Most were walked daily either as part of the ElephantStay program or as part of their popular street performance/rides in the city centre. But many remained chained up throughout our three day stay.
The elephants were being fed on an ongoing daily diet of baled straw – not hay but pretty fibrous un-nourishing straw. We were fed a story about the truck bringing the pineapple tops and banana leaves having broken down like they wanted one of us to buy them a new truck. The great stories about the feed mixing and molasses treats did not eventuate. If we wanted to supplement our elephant’s diet with a basket of cucumbers we had to pay for the privilege
While the “human” food used to be cooked onsite and you could learn some Thai cooking tips it is now prepared in private in the owners house.
Do NOT expect to see elephants in a natural environment. This is semi urban and certainly not a lush green forest. The only thing green was the river water we went into each day to bathe our elephants!
You will be asked to keep your wallet open – be it $17 for a copy of photos taken or 70c for a cool drink (yes only tea/coffee and cold water is included). You even have to buy your “seatbelt” (a piece of coloured cloth worth a few baht) for US$7 if you want to take it home! You might have thought these “extras” might be included
Check out the folders that contain requests dating back 5 years for money for sleeping mounds or scratching posts and then count how many are on site and ask where are they?
None of the Mahouts speak any English so it is very difficult to build a relationship or learn anything from them

Overall we had a great time with the elephants but the whole experience leaves a lot to be desired. We would search for another elephant experience rather than return to ElephantStay.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2010

in June 2010 we returned to Elephantstay for the second year in a row - this time for a week. The four of us (two adults 8 year old boy and 6 year old girl) had enjoyed the time there in 2009 so much we couldn't wait to return. The Elephantstay crew, from Michelle and Ewa, to the fabulous volunteers, to the friendly and cheeky mahouts, all combine to give the best way to experience the domestic Asian elephant. The elephants are incredibly well looked after - as evidenced by the amazing amount of healthy baby elephants running around the nursery (our children loved bathing them!). The vision of Pi Om years ago to begin this amazing elephant farm to bring back the status of the Thai elephant to its historic royal status and create an environment which enables these beautiful animals to thrive is truly inspirational. The community of the mahouts, with Pi Om and his wife Pilek in the centre is fascinating to be a part of for a short time. Elephantstay is a travel and life experience we will never forget - and we hope to return again in the future!

  • Stayed June 2010, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Maryland
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
41 hotel reviews
Reviews in 58 cities Reviews in 58 cities
260 helpful votes 260 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 9, 2010

We spent 3 days, 2 nights at Elephantstay and had a fantastic time! The schedule is just enough to keep you interested while not being too busy. The breakfasts were yogurt/cereal in the morning, followed by an hour of cleaning up where the elephants stayed, (yes, raking some elephant dung). The mohuts help with everything, too. At 1130 was the first elephant ride of the day. My husband and I “shared” an elephant, and only one person can ride at a time, so we each got one ride a day, which was perfect for us as the other could still walk along and take pictures. After the ride we fed the elephants a bit and we had people-lunch ; ) , followed by elephant scrubbing around 13:30PM. The second ride of the day was about 1600, followed by feeding the elephants and our dinner. Michelle and Ewa helped organize a tuk-tuk for us to see the temple ruins one morning (we arrived before any crowds, which was awesome), and another morning they took the newest “baby” – one month old - out from the pen and we got to play with him. We had an amazing time – thanks to Gandaganga our elephant for her patience and having such a nice disposition!

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Elephantstay

Address: 74/1 M 3 Tumbol Suanpik | Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Location: Thailand > Ayutthaya Province > Ayutthaya
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 31 Specialty Lodging in Ayutthaya
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Elephantstay is a close up and personal hands on experience with elephants staying in a working elephant village. ... more   less 

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