Elephantstay

Elephantstay, Ayutthaya: Address, Phone Number, Elephantstay Reviews: 4.5/5

Elephantstay
4.5
About
Elephantstay is an elephantastic unique program where you get to live, work and play with elephants, staying in the heart of the Royal Elephant Kraal village in Ayutthaya. Elephantstay is a not for profit program under the Phra Kochabaan Foundation.
Suggested duration
More than 3 hours
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4.5
311 reviews
Excellent
199
Very good
65
Average
29
Poor
8
Terrible
10

Chris K
3 contributions
Apr 2021 • Couples
We stayed at this wonderful elephant village for two nights and three days. The Eva, Lexi, the mahouts and overall staff were incredible. We had a detailed immersion experience into the cultural and societal aspects of the role elephants play in Thailand. Elephantstay gave us an opportunity to learn about the welfare of elephants and what is required to care for them on a daily basis. The facilities are well maintained and staffed with professionals who dedicate their lives to the betterment and welfare of the elephants they care for. Hearing each elephant’s unique story and observing their individual personality was sublime. Cleaning their areas, gathering their food, taking them to graze in the field, bathing in the river, riding with the mahouts were some of the highlights during our stay. Although we had one specific elephant to focus on, Rasamee, we were able to interact with multiple elephants at various ages. We particularly enjoyed our visits with one of the infant elephants, taking him to bathe and play in the river everyday. It is an experience we will never forget. We spend the evenings enjoying the company of the staff who were fountains of knowledge about elephant welfare and their significance in Thai culture. The accommodation was fantastic, comfortable, clean, and well furnished, not to mention A/C (so important!). During our stay, locals would frequent the elephant village to bring extra food resources to help the elephants. We truly enjoyed and treasure our time here with the elephants, and hope to come back for another visit soon! Kombucha!
Written April 3, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Tom W
Portland, OR10 contributions
Feb 2020 • Couples
My wife and I did the 3 day stay and enjoyed ourselves. We learned a great deal about Asian elephants and how to care for them. We also came to understand their domesticated role in the culture of Thailand. Six people during our stay; 2 sisters there for a week; and an Aussie couple for 2 weeks. They returned after a 2 week stay 5 years ago. We watered and fed our elephants several times a day, rode them twice but not on the tourist chairs but rather on their necks with our their mahout to steady us. We learned simple control commands; walked them to a grassy area where they loved to graze and then walked to the river where we all waded and cooled off. Our elephants loved the walks and river. Every morning we mucked out their areas, and in the afternoon team cleaned 2 of our elephants with a hose and scrub brush. Elephant Stay does an exceptional of daily cleaning and care. Their breeding program is well done and we got to interact directly with a 2 month baby elephant. We can’t wait to come back.
Written February 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

De B
Bundaberg, Australia45 contributions
Feb 2020
My Husband and I needed a holiday, a relaxing holiday. With no hassles and stresses of finding the right train, bus, tram, the right restaurant, cafe, hotel. No worries about being at a certain place at a certain time. A REAL holiday. I knew where to go, we have been there before - Elephantstay. We arrived for our two week stay to warm welcomes from staff and elephants, and everything was warm and familiar. The accomodation has had an upgrade, but is still very basic but comfortable. A clean room with air con and wifi is all we needed. It was so good to see our elephants again, and of course the closeness you feel when riding them to the river for a swim was wonderful. Playing with the babies, getting wet and dirty, was all part of the fun. Plenty of alone time to wander around the village and pretend I'm not just another tourist in Thailand. Oh and the food was wonderful. I'm such a picky eater, but they always made sure there was plenty for me to eat. We also celebrated my husbands birthday here, and they sure knew how to make it feel extra special. I hope to return to Elephantstay one day soon.
Written March 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Bunyaphon N
15 contributions
Dec 2020
Ayutthaya has many interesting attractions. I went to Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Elephant Palace with my family. There are elephants to see the city. Very cute. Take photos and get a beautiful view. There was an impressive show of elephants, they were very friendly and skillful. The food they sell is good. If there is a chance me and my family will come back.
Written July 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Bev K
3 contributions
Jan 2020
Jan 2020 was my second week long stay with Yitor at Elephantstay. The first was 4 years ago with my 16 yr old grandson and this time I shared it with my 12 yr old grandson who looked after Rasamee. The experience is totally unique and so rewarding. I really admire the dedication shown by all the staff not only for the elephants well being but also to the visitors. Thank you so much Michelle, Ewa, Lexi and our mahouts. I think my grandson summed it up as we were leaving saying "I really want to stay" Bev
Written February 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi Bev Jumbo thank you for your support! We and our elephants appreciate you returning with another grandson to do our program and helping to create a sustainable future for Thai elephants. It's elephant enthusiasts like you that really make a difference to lives of Asian elephants. Thank you also for taking the time to write a review and sharing your experience with others. We look forward to seeing you for a third visit. Have an elephantastic day, every day The Elephantstay Team
Written February 6, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

MiniExpl0rer
North West England5 contributions
Jan 2013 • Solo
I am from the UK, in my early thirties, and a well experienced traveller, particularly for animal conservation experiences. I had been to Thailand before so had an understanding of the standard of living of both people and animals there. Taking Elephantstay in context therefore, and it being a ‘working village’ the place is ok but the elephants lack freedom of movement. I do not have any animal welfare related qualifications or work with animals as my profession. I fully appreciate there are a lot of elephants to be cared for, but as a visitor it saddened my heart to see all the elephants kept on short chains i.e., approx 2 metres on the foot, and several chained by the neck with even less length. I stayed for 7 days and I didn’t see the mothers of the babies moved, let off their chain, or exercised at all. Many of the elephants sway. Maybe Google this type of behaviour, I don’t think it’s natural, and I guess they do it as some kind of release or comforter to alleviate boredom. For such intelligent creatures it must be hard to lack fundamental freedoms.
The elephants are obviously giant creatures which for several reasons have to be well controlled especially when being ridden. Most of the mahoots were very good, but I witnessed one in particular being heavy handed. Like I say I am no elephant expert but I know the better the mahoot the less they use or need their Takaw (bull hook). I also go with my gut instinct and it was not right. It made me wince badly. You have to be prepared to speak up if you don’t like what you see, and make sure the senior operations staff know of it, as lower ranking staff seemed very nonchalant about it. The mahout complained about didn’t do the rides again for the rest of the week while I was there, so at least action was taken.

What the website doesn’t make clear to prospective visitors:
1. Although this is a very hands on experience, it is also a very repetitive one. The village is situated in a semi urban flat land area. I did not see any lush greenery or forest-like setting. Each day you will have to be up and ready to clean up with rakes; the elephants day and night areas by 07.30am. You will feed the elephants a couple of times a day and ride them twice each day. The ride was always one of two short routes. Either you turned left out of the gate and go for posing pictures by some elephant statues, but usually you turn right to the river. The rides last approx 25-30 minutes. Same river every day. Same routine every day. The elephants know the drill. They fall in line and follow the one in front. As a result, I would say the three day package is more than adequate. I was getting bored and tired of the routine as I stayed 7 days.
2. The main operational staff that run Elephantstay and that you will have contact with are English speaking (Australians in fact). Unfortunately customer service is poor in my opinion. I had my accommodation to myself for the first 3 nights then I was told I would be joined by another traveller for the remaining 3. I asked if just the bathroom could be cleaned for her arrival, so she didn’t feel like she was walking into something half used, and so it looked fresh for her arrival as it had done for mine. I knew from the look on the guy’s face it wasn’t going to happen but he humoured me and said he would see what he could do. It didn’t get cleaned. I apologised to my new room mate.
3. I thought the experience was going to be very educational with staff informing us of interesting elephant facts and stories throughout. Instead we were handed a printed booklet and told to read it as it would answer most visitor’s predictable questions. The staff told us what to do throughout the day (task wise), but didn’t give any educational mini-speeches or stories i.e., how long elephants live for, how long they are pregnant for etc etc. They didn’t even seem to know what the elephant’s names meant i.e., their English translation. There was a DVD played for us one evening though. If you felt exhausted or simply like you wished to skip a ride or a task on any day, the staff made you feel like you were skiving, and letting your elephant down, even though your elephant still went on the walk with or without you. I heard staff bad mouthing another guest for ducking out of a couple of tasks. Quite unprofessional and inappropriate in my view. The tasks are very physical and can be quite tiring in the heat.

In conclusion my stay was not bad but nor was it great, and for the money it was very expensive in retrospect. The place only accepts cash. I hope most of it contributes to the cause, but for what I paid (£500 for 6 nights/7 days) I would have hoped to have been treated more courteously and like a contributing/working ‘guest’ rather than cheap ‘work-for-your-keep’ labour. I do not regret going to Elephantstay, it was an experience, but I am writing this review so if you are thinking of going, you are a bit more informed of what to expect – I wish I had been.
Written January 7, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

KimBarossaAustralia
Castlemaine, Australia278 contributions
Jan 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.
Written March 27, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

cassie350
Sydney, Australia20 contributions
May 2011
I get the idea behind this place but its so poorly managed that the execution falls way short of the vision. For one thing the place is a mess. Its covered in rubbish and no one seems to care. For another mahouts don't seem to care too much about the elephants. Some of them are overly rough. We saw a couple of them feeding elephants watermelons still in their plastic wrappings. And the elephants are on very short chains and clearly pretty unhappy about that. Why would a place concerned about the future of the Asian elephant give four to a zoo in Germany? And since there's an on duty vet, maybe he could take care of some of the stray dogs that roam around the place. The dogs, are skinny, mangy and sick looking. If animal welfare is something that concerns you, skip this place.
Written June 1, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Elephantstay is located in an Elephant Village which is home to about 90 elephants and the same amount of people. Elephantstay is swept in the morning and often during the day if there are elephants painting or whatever there is dung and food remains to be swept up. The same for the rest of the place, the nursery and all the elephant spots are raked and cleaned. Maybe you came when it was very wet as sometimes when the weather is bad and the truck is out of action we cant always take away the remains of the food or the dung. Just put it into piles. As we don't advertise as a tourist place our main priority is the elephants keeping them fed and healthy. Aesthetics are simply not a priority and believe me keeping the place in some order is no mean feat. Heavy rains and hot and humid conditions can make it very difficult to get food into the place so really please understand that making the place look nice for tourists is not what we are about. I dont know who you saw feeding the watermelons with plastic bags. But as we make clear in the induction, if there are any concerns please speak to us. we are doing a very difficult job and work extremely hard trying to give these elephants a better life. If there is no feedback at the time something is happening it is impossible to keep for us to do anything about it. We expect everyone who comes here to try and understand the difficulties we face and if they are really concerned about the welfare of the animals to help us by pointing out things we can deal with at the time. If you thought the elephants were on very short chains and clearly unhappy about it, again why was nothing said. Everyone who comes as a guest is given every opportunity to speak to us about anything they wish. Again I dont know what your concern is about the elephants going to Germany as it was sanctioned by the all the required government departments and CITES in both countries. As far as the dogs go. All our pet dogs are treated regularly and well fed. A lot of them were former strays. You must understand that in Thailand there is a huge population of stray dogs as it is in keeping with Buddhist principles that they should not be put down but be allowed to live their lives in their "urban jungle" We all have strays that we look after but the population is also very difficult to deal with sometimes and it is very difficult to treat strays as they most often have to sedated to administer any treatment. And so therefore with limited resources we cant help every single dog on an ongoing basis that wanders into the Kraal it is simply physically impossible without it becoming a full time job requiring a lot of resources that would then be taking away from the elephants. Having said that we do organise mass spading but that also requires a huge effort on many people to coordinate. I hope this helps you understand some of what we face and try and do here. The conservation of elephants is a complex and difficult and increasingly thankless task. It is fraught with problems to numerous to address here. Needless to say we are doing all we can the best we can to ensure this magnificent animal does not become extinct.
Written June 21, 2011
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

LevyShahar
3,115 contributions
Nov 2015 • Couples
Went to elephantstay with my girlfriend when we visited ayutthaya, I didn't enjoy this place at all. they have people riding elephants and performing command tricks with them. It's i wasn't too impressed though because the elephants looked pretty sad inside their cages, and i thought the elephants are in an open area where you walk freely near them and really feel part of them.
Written December 14, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi Levy Elephantstay is a program run under the Phra Kochaban Foundation. The program is a minimum 3 days / 2 nights living and working with elephants in the heart of the Royal Kraal Village. People learn all about elephants by actually doing hands on work looking after them. It is impossible to let casual visitors walk amongst the elephants without supervision as they are very large and powerful animals and it would be dangerous for elephants and humans. The people participating in our program can be around elephants because they understand our extensive safety procedures and they are also supervised. If you read the reviews of people who attended our program you will see that your review is not accurate at all, To say elephants look sad is not a statement that anyone is really qualified to make as it is anthropomorphising ie putting your thoughts and ideals on an animal which has no relation to their reality. As our elephants are fed highly nutritious diets, breeding successfully and all their husbandry needs looked after as well as having committed hard working mahouts devote their lives to them and enthusiastic visitors lavish treats and love on our elephants on top of what the mahouts do then I really think you should have joined our program to really understand elephants and learn about them. Also we do not keep our elephants in cages so it makes me wonder where you actually went and what you actually saw.
Written January 21, 2016
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

RH22_11
London, United Kingdom7 contributions
I am truly shocked by some of the comments I just read here. This is not a place of cruelty. This is a place for elephants to be loved and safe and that is extremely clear of you spend more than an hour here and actually talk to the people who run it.

I stayed for 7 days and during that time I witnessed only love for these animals and people who will protect them with their lives. Before you criticise take some time to actually understand what they do. And before you praise / criticise other places maybe take some time to see what they do behind the scenes.

This place takes in animals that would otherwise been starved or killed. They look after the elephants like a close family member and I witnessed first hand how happy these elephants are. They are feed and watered and walked and swum countless times a day. They hang with each other but also have their own free time. There have been 62 elephants born here. The most of anywhere and as they say only happy and content elephants breed.

The programme where you stay and look after the elephants teaches you about what they do and involves you in the daily work. You get first hand experience of what goes on and why. Let me say this clearly - these elephants are not abused. These elephants are happy. These elephants are loved. These elephants have people who have committed their lives - 24/7 - to ensuring the happiness of these amazing animals. Elephants can easily break free and leave but guess what; they don't. Why? Because they love it. They are feed and watered etc to their hearts content. Elephants are magnificently smart and would not put up with any crap. They are not harmed to do things. I've watched the babies naturally undertake actions that people say they are beaten into submission to do. Good luck beating one of the magnificent bulls. They would kill you in a second. And in other areas elephants have killed humans and humans have killed them.

Their natural habitat is fast running out and they are in danger every day thanks to man kind. They can live up to 80 years when humans are not harming them so where do you expect them to go?

I cannot recommend this place enough. I too was sceptical at first but after 7days I will defend it to anyone. Stay awhile. Learn what they do. Understand the situation before firing off uneducated comments.

I watched a man sleep outdoors with the new baby elephant to ensure her full protection. Such love can never harm these animals.

This was the most amazing experience of my life and I have been and done thousands of things and visited many places over the years.

And for those saying it is expensive - you get accommodation, all meals and the knowledge that you have contributed to . keeping these elephants happy and healthy. I thought it was cheap for what you got.

I could go on for hours but I won't. Forget the uniformed haters and experience this once in lifetime experience for yourselves.
Written February 6, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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