Elephant Trekking

The Kingdom of Thailand is an independent country that lies in the heart of Southeast Asia.  Cheap flights to Bangkok are easy to find and they will deliver you to an exotic paradise unlike any other, where the majestic elephant and the elephant trekking industry are subject to abuse.  Get informed and carefully select the elephant camp that you visit.

elephants on a trek in front of rocky outcrop in Krabi

Types of Trek

A half hour or an hour’s ride through an elephant village and surrounding forests becomes a trek if you choose to make a one-to-three to five-day journey through the jungles in Northern Thailand.  Most tourist attractions offer elephant rides, but serious trekkers have to venture into the northern regions of the country in order to have a truly memorable experience.

Elephant trekking that is properly regulated serves more than one purpose.  It offers a definite boost to the tourist industry, but it also serves as a dignified vehicle to generate the funds needed to assure the survival of thousands of elephants.  Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand is an area that has many elephant camps where these majestic creatures are properly cared for, and tourists can sign up for day trekking and camping trips.  Nearby Kham Pia Village has a visitor centre and food and camping equipment necessary for these pleasant diversions.

In north eastern Thailand, the Phu Wua Sanctuary is spread over 186 square kilometres and is situated very near to the Laotian border, approximately 170 kilometres east of Nong Khai city.  It is an ideal destination for a one or two-day elephant trek into the wilderness and is one of the most beautiful settings in Thailand.  From atop your elephant you will have views of waterfalls, caves, interesting rock formations and fascinating flora and fauna.  The sanctuary was created in 1975; the animals are protected and elephants are wild in their natural habitat.

Elephant Welfare

Some things to bear in mind when selecting an elephant camp for your trekking adventure include an awareness of operations.  Specifically, avoid those camps where the elephant keeper uses a terrible metal hook to control the elephant.  Although these are legal in Thailand, they are cruel and unnecessary.  Also, stay away from any camp that keeps the animals in direct sunlight all day, as elephants are creatures of the forest and do not like being in the hot sun.  A trainer must always accompany elephant trekkers throughout the duration of the ride, as it is easy to get lost along the trails and woodlands.  Wear comfortable light clothing and sandals.

Most tourist areas in Thailand will have some kind of elephant riding attraction to offer but visitors should always be aware that they have more power than they know when it comes to making a difference in the lives of these noble creatures that are subject to abuse.  Many roadside camps just offer a photo opportunity aboard an elephant but before you decide to go for a ride, take a careful look around.  If the camp appears to be a fly-by-night operation, avoid it and go somewhere else.  These camps cannot continue operate if no one uses them.