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“Some good and bad points”

The Elephant Training Center Chiang Dao
Ranked #1 of 1 Shopping in Mae Taeng
Attraction details
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“Some good and bad points”
Reviewed November 10, 2012

My husband and I went to Chiang Dao Elephant Camp in October 2012. We chose this camp based on the price and on travel advisor reviews as we did not want to go to an elephant camp where elephants were mistreated.
We thought about booking online but our taxi driver said to book it there. Online, the price included transport, watching the elephants bathing, an elephant show, an elephant ride to the Lisu tribe and back, lunch, and bamboo rafting down the river. When we turned up we booked and thought we were paying for the same trip (minus transport and for a similar price), but found after watching the elephant show that it only included the washing, elephant ride and bamboo rafting and we were followed and asked to pay for watching the show (which i would have prefered not to see). We felt a little ripped off that that when we discussed it with the worker, he wasn't clear about what was included. I suppose the language barrier didn't help.
-The bathing of the elephants was great to watch. A great experience.
-It wasn't good to a couple of elephants in the pens rocking back and forth, obviously bored, on too short a chains and in need of some stimulation. It was a bit upsetting to see.
-The show was ok and good to see how the elephants can work together but it did feel like a bit of a circus act and was repeditive and would be boring for them to repeat each day. Also, I don't have a problem with elephants painting pictures but I didn't really like that it was taught to draw a tree, grass etc and there were many more pictures I saw afterwards exactly the same. I feel like they should have been allowed to use free thought instead of being taught one picture and it would be far more stimulating for them.
-The elephant ride was good and I really enjoyed it but I really hated seeing the big hole/gash in the back of the elephants ear. It was very large and deep and was missing a lot of skin around the hole. It had purple stuff (probably iodine) on it so at least it was being treated. It was obvious that the elephant had done something the mahout didn't like and had given it a hard hit with the pick axe like instrument they use. He also used it whacking the elephant on the trip to get it moving and although I didn't like it, it wasn't hit too hard. And the mahout did at least seem to have a good connection with the elephant and talked and sung to it.
(I also saw an elephant with a healed scar on its forhead where I assume it had also been hit hard. Being a boney area, this would have really hurt)
-It was interesting going to the Lisu tribe but I do wonder whether anyone actually lived there or if it was just for show.
-The bamboo rafting was really hot but the guy rafting us down was friendly and it was a really nice experience. It was tranquil and fun spotting wildlife along the way.
This trip would be great for lots of people but we just didn't have the best experience regarding communication about cost and although I'm sure that compared to some other camps, the elephants were treated well, we felt uncomfortable seeing any unhappy or hurt elephants.

Visited October 2012
3 Thank NZKate_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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150 reviews from our community

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English first
Grand Junction, Colorado
Level Contributor
133 reviews
87 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Amazing animals”
Reviewed November 8, 2012

It is hard for people to see an elephant chained up, but these animals are very well cared for and are not suffering abuse, as far as I could tell. The park is clean and neat the the people are very glad to have tourists come and see what they do. The elephants are very talented and the 1 hour elephant ride is not to be missed. (They have a 90 minute ride as well but 60 minutes was enough). Great food at the restaurant and clean and well maintained restrooms. Watching the elephants take a bath and then watching them perform was great. Over tipped the mahoot(elephant driver?) but I knew that the money was going to feed the animals. If you have children they would probably love this, although it is hard to text while riding an elephant.

Visited October 2012
1 Thank WSCTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newfield, New York
Level Contributor
107 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“I have so much admiration for these beasts”
Reviewed October 19, 2012

So before you get up on your high horse and start thinking these animals are being exploided and mistreated understand that it is very costly to take care of these elephants and from what we were told they were mostly rescued. They were once used and trained for logging but then the government banned this region from logging any longer so the old owners were forced to abandon or get ride of there working elephants that is where all of the camps came into play. I personally feel these elephants have a much better life now then they use to. I would recomend visiting and feeding the elephants bananas, watching the show and taking a ride through the jungle. We were very pleased that we had this experience and for my husband who is not very keen on handling large animals it was the right amount of interaction for him.

Visited October 2012
Thank KRL32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Level Contributor
89 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
“Interesting and fun”
Reviewed July 29, 2012

I know that elephants are a tough issue, but after research I tend to side with the Thais who argue that these are work animals who would face extinction without finding a way to have them pay for their expensive upkeep. That said, I really liked this camp and my experience there. The elephants are well cared for, and the mahouts have a fantastic relationship with their animal. Watching them bathe in the river and feeding the elephants bananas was a lot of fun. The elephant ride goes through the jungle, which was cool, as was the raft trip afterwards. We also had a really nice lunch at the camp restaurant.

Visited July 2012
1 Thank parkbench28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Level Contributor
28 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“It's pretty good!”
Reviewed July 14, 2012

It's nice, clean and safe. I don't think it would be for the rough and tumble adventurist, but I think it's ideal for families with younger children. I haven't been there in a few years though, but of all the elephant camps I've been to, in my opinion, this was the most well-maintained of them all.

Visited October 2011
Thank GraceWonders
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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