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“Tourist Attraction that doesn't feel "touristy"”

Elephant Nature Park
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Chiang Mai: 1-Day Elephant Nature Park Exploration
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Elephant Nature Park, a unique conservation project set in Chiang Mai Province, Northern Thailand has been in operation since in the 1990's with a goal to provide a sanctuary and elephant rescue center. We have been involved in dozens of rescues and sustain a natural home for this endangered species. Mission: To protect and conserve elephants in a natural environment and to provide a healthy and fruitful life for all those creatures under our care
Useful Information: Stroller parking, Wheelchair access, Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed October 23, 2013

I was initially reluctant to do any elephant attractions during my time in Chiang Mai because I was searching for an authentic experience in this culture-rich city. Despite my reluctancy, I ended up choosing Elephant Nature Park and am very glad I did so. Elephants are an important part of Thailand's history and are facing an uncertain future in this country. Elephant nature park allowed me to get up close to the creatures while repsecting them simulttaneously. We were able to feed, pet, and bathe the animals and it is an experience I will not soon forget. If you're torn between which elephant park to visit, know that ENP is a sound moral choice that is also incredibly fun.

1  Thank Karen B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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5,454 - 5,458 of 8,982 reviews

Reviewed October 23, 2013

My girlfriend and I had an excellent time at the Elephant nature park.
It rained all day but not much we can do about that, our guide was friendly and very knowledgable. It was really good to hear all the stories and it seemed like he really cared about them.
It was really nice to get up close to the animals and spend time with them.
A little bit pricey but I understand as it goes to stood cause.
Food was awesome as well.

2  Thank Matt G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 22, 2013

This sanctuary touched our hearts deeply just to be in contact with rescued elephants. We could literally feel their gratitude as well as their sad histories as we fed and bathed them.
This is not the tourist 'Ride & Watch the Elephants Paint' kind of thing... but a place to come and be part of a rescue mission for these sacred beings.

The money goes towards food and hopefully rescuing new elephants.

The guides are precious and inform as much as they can. We were picked up directly at our hotel and delivered back to the front door at the end of the day.

And... the Lunch Buffet that was included was excellent!!! Some of the best Thai food we've eaten!

2  Thank TravelYogiD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 22, 2013

My husband and I visited the Elephant Nature Park during our honeymoon and it was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

It's about an hour's drive from Chiang Mai but our guide, Ten, was warm, funny and engaging as he told us a little about the park, before we watched a documentary to learn more.

The park itself is vast, green and surrounded by forested mountains. As we pulled up, we could already see elephants ambling around without a care in the world - it was incredible. In the centre itself, there were so many friendly cats and dogs to stroke too. I was in heaven - my husband not so much!

Throughout the day we got to feed the the elephants (many times - they have huge appetites!), wash them in the river and watch them in their natural environment, undisturbed. Ten told us all about them and their individual stories, some of which are harrowing. But the wonderful thing is, their stories have happy endings, since they have ended up at the Elephant Nature Park where they are taken care of and allowed to roam free.

We had a fantastic lunch too - it was vegetarian and my husband and I LOVE meat - but there was so much to choose from we barely noticed the lack of it!

In the afternoon we watched another documentary about the founder, Lek's inspiring work, and her battle against exploitation and abuse of elephants. She's devoted her life to helping these gentle creatures and is truly an amazing woman.

We'd love to come back to do the 7- or 14-day volunteering experience, and would recommend anyone planning on riding an elephant in Thailand (like we had) to visit the Elephant Nature Park instead and know that the money and time you spend here really helps not only the elephants living here, but also those that Lek will rescue in the future.

Thank Shelly E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 22, 2013 via mobile

I booked the 1 day tour which advertises spending a day with the elephants, arriving at 9:30 and leaving at 5:00 and being taken around by an expert guide. We arrived at the park at 11:00, left at 3:30, and our guide, Bee, was by no means an expert. She gave us occasional details but nothing educational or of any real substance. Additionally, you don't spend a day with the elephants. In total we spent literally less than 15 minutes playing with them or feeding them. We walked out to watch them from a distance for about 20 minutes total, and the rest of the day you are told by your guide to explore, then left on your own. I would have been fine with that but you aren't allowed to leave the building so exploring is impossible! We sat around for hours in the midst of the other 150 or so bummed-out tourists there, hoping that an elephant would wander near the building so we could look at it. This place is not interactive AT ALL. It's closer to a zoo, but you can't go anywhere to look at the elephants you just have to hope that one wanders near the building. I agree with the mission of the place, but I don't understand why the tourists need to be there. We were also told that the place costs $250,000 US dollars to operate every year. If you multiply the 2,500 baht cost of admission by how many people come per day, the place could easily pull in 2-4 million US dollars per year! So I have no idea how the money is spent...we not only got ripped off but we wasted one of our few days in Chiang Mai! Huge disappointment.

16  Thank anna3981
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
adamenp, Manager at Elephant Nature Park, responded to this reviewResponded October 22, 2013

We are sorry that you felt that your day at the park was wasted and that you felt that our project was a rip-off.

I do not understand the term you used "bummed-out tourists"

You also stated that you agreed with our mission but did not understand why visitors had to be there.

The reason is to support our project. It take a great deal more than USD 250,000 per year to take care of the elephant herd over over 35 elephants, hundreds of dogs, cats, buffalo as well as the medicine and vets that help at the park and numerous careers.

I would like to invite you to stay for a full week as a volunteer at our park where you can see, first hand, how much work, effort and funds it takes to maintain our project.

Thank you.
Elephant Nature Park

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