Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – never ride an elephant again

Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle sanctuary (EJS) is the best activity in our Chiang Mai itinerary! If you love elephants, you will get an opportunity to get super close to these gentle giants. (TripAdvisor review)

Chiang Mai Elephant
Chiang Mai Elephant

There are a few no-ride elephant venues in Chiang Mai, we chose Elephant Jungle Sanctuary because it seems to be more active in Instagram.

 

The tickets are not exactly cheap, so we need to make sure that our tour operator is reliable.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is about 2.5 hours drive from the city (near to Doi Inthanon). Majestic mountain ranges beckon to us over the horizon.

 

On a side note, you might have stopovers at rest points (R&R), do look out for a famous local cuisine, braised pork leg. It looks plain and ordinary but super succulent and tasty!

Back to the elephants, EJS estimated GPS location is 18.658668, 98.648556. Do take note Elephant Jungle Sanctuary do not entertain walk-ins. You must secure a booking through their website or phone, and a 4×4 pickup will pick you up from your hotel on tour day itself (if your location is 5km from old city)

Visitors have to change into “tribe” uniforms, and undergo an orientation. Operation of EJS, feeding protocols, and simple commands for the elephants etc.

Image credit ES

 

We learnt why EJS promotes No-riding policy because Asian elephants’ spines are not meant for carrying loads or humans. We might end up hurting them. Secondly, Elephants (and animals) which are trained to perform and entertain might be subject to abuse for them to “conform” to instructions.

We do not wish to harm these majestic beasts’ wellbeing.

 

Elephants have big appetite, they can consume up to 300kg of food every day! We know they were always happy to receive more bananas!

Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

We do not need to peel the skins, Elephants consume them whole. And please save the bananas for the elephants, not humans :p

Bon Bon means “lift your trunk” and feast on bananas. These elephants are so adorable, do pardon their slightly mushy snouts haha.

Image credit ES

Some of the elephants were rescued from manual labour like logging or farming. Some were chained before and subject to other forms of cruelty.

In Chiang Mai Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, the operators depend on tourism receipts (education and awareness campaigns), and donations to let the elephants retire peacefully.

 

Both kids and parents enjoyed the elephants interactions!

 

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Image credit ES

Part of the package includes “mud bath” and “showering” with the elephants. Wow, their huge surface area means we need to work fast. Elephants use mud as a form of sunscreen and shield themselves from pesky mosquitos.

The guide did warn us that elephants can coconut “lingo for shit”  into the pool without warning. And Elephant poos are enormous lump of Yucks!

Image credit ES

The guides and crew were all friendly. “One” bringing Xin cross the bridge, and “Mario” acting wacko haha 🙂

Image credit ES

The crew are very considerate too. If they noticed you are too clean, they will cake you with mud. Natural spa treatment yeah 🙂

Image credit ES

Majestic yet gentle beasts. Elephants easily weigh in excess of 500kg, do not stay in their blind spots!

 

Elephant love to bath, humans had fun too, Songkran style! Did I mention the waters in the hills are cold.

Image credit ES

 

After bathing the elephants, we trek back to a waterfall. Do take note of the strong current and chilling water.

Video  (YouTube link): Checkout waterfall and elephant mud spa. Highly recommended for families 🙂

A trip to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary provided us with an educational yet enriching trip. Our kids understand they should never ride an elephant again.

Image credit ES

Lunch at EJS was simple yet one of the best during our Chiang Mai stay (no exaggeration!) . Simple vegetable and delicious curry fused perfectly and everyone requested for second helping.

Chang beer is optional, and Chang means Elephant in Thai 🙂

Dining spot offers a scenic view of the waterfall.

You will get dirty with mud and sometimes a little bit of poo.
You will feel cold, and shiver at the waterfall.

But showering and feeding with the elephants will bring back everlasting memories. We will never forget our friendly encounters with the elephants.

What a mammoth experience 🙂

Do take note that baby elephant might not always be available. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary have different camp visits everyday, and venue might be slightly different.

A half day tour is more than enough. EJS do have 2D1N itinerary.
– Fees – Adults THB 1,700 (about SGD $65), Child THB 1,300
– GPS 18.658668, 98.648556
– Do take note transport will be provide by EJS, you cannot drive in yourself
– More photos of EJS on their Instagram and website

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

If you are looking for shopping centres in Chiang Mai, you would be disappointed. All our 5D4N Chiang Mai Family Itinerary photos have been uploaded :

– 5D4N Chiang Mai Family Itinerary
– Day 1 photos — Airbnb stayGrand Canyon Waterpark
– Day 2 photos – Doi Inthanon
– Day 3 photos – Buatong waterfallSiam Insect ZooDoi Suthep temple
– Day 4 photos – Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Old city

Follow out hashtag #skbChiangMai

 

 

 

Chiang Mai Family Itinerary

Our 5D4N Chiang Mai Family Itinerary 🙂
(We spent 10D9N in Thailand, and beautiful Chiang Mai enchanted us)

If you want shopping, go Bangkok.
If you love nature and culture, go Chiang Mai.
4 nights were not enough for us at Chiang Mai!

Follow out hashtag #skbChiangMai for the updates on Instagram (skb= SengkangBabies). All photos already uploaded on Facebook, links at end of page.

Chiang Mai Family Itinerary

I have group the GPS and directions for the attractions below into North, West and Center, so it is easier to plan your Chiang Mai Family Itinerary.

It is easy to drive in Chiang Mai once you are out of the city-area, folks in Chiang Mai are very patient and we did not experience any cursing or horns during our stay there! We hire a driver and 10-seater van for some days, rate is about 3,000 baht per day (SGD 120).

#TIP 01 :- Take note out-of-city attractions might need 2 to 3 hours transport time (including jams), so always have “Plan B” in your itinerary (ie Must-Go, Nice-to-See etc)

Chiang Mai is famous for temples.

#TIP 02 – Before you go further, and if you are the nature culture loving folks, then you must know the following Thai words :
Namtok – Waterfall
Doi – Mountain
Wat – Temples
Chedi – Stupa

Ok, now you can hitch the next Red Tut Tut ride in Chiang Mai. This city does not have any BTS system, so a lot of commute would be on bikes or 10-seater Red tut tuts.

Let us start with our best experience, no-rides elephant from (1) Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (EJS). We learnt that Asian elephant’s spine are not designed to ferry people, thus some agencies are encouraging No-Rides elephant experience.

We would recommend a half-day tour (one day would be overkill, I mean how much bananas can the elephants consumed). You can spend the remaining daylight to visit the night market (look under “Center“) below.

Video (link) : Fun with the gentle beasts

– Recommended duration – Half day (more than enough)
– Fees – Adults THB 1,700 (about SGD $65), Child THB 1,300
– GPS 18.658668, 98.648556
* Do take note transport will be provide by EJS, you cannot drive in yourself
** The fees are not cheap, but the experience is priceless
*** Two popular no-rides establishment are Elephant Retirement Park and Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (we chose the second one as their Instagram #ElephantJungleSanctuary has more interactions between humans and elephants)

Chiang mai elephant

#TIP 03 – The most important thing you can do before reaching Thailand is grab the maps and brochures from Thailand Embassy Orchard). This might sounds weird but you will not find brochures in Chiang Mai airport itself!

===== WEST ====

Map below is the recommended attractions around (2) Doi Inthanon (Thailand’s highest mountain at 2565m). Just pick your best spots 🙂

#TIP 04 – Take note some attractions on Doi Inthanon will need toll or entry fees.
Ask your guide or driver beforehand. Come weekends, the road leading up to the temple is always congested.

Doi Inthanon hiking at a cool 15 degrees, a light jacket would be sufficient as we can still perspire from hiking. Take note winter period can drop to 5 degrees.
Chiang Mai Itinerary for family

From the map above, we love the following activities :
a) Point 09 – Hiking at Kio Mee Nature Trail (Hire a guide at the entrance for 200Bht + 100Bht tips). 2 to 3 hours round trip, go slow and whole family can enjoy the beautiful landscape, cool weather and mist. With smaller kids and elderly, u-turn at point 10, and exit at the same location (takes a leisurely 2 hours) (link reference)

b) Point 10 – If you only got 60 minutes, go for “Ang Ku Luang” Nature Trail. You will see and touch moss floors and trunks. Highest point of Doi Inthanon.

c) Point 8 – We ran out of time to visit the King/Queen chedi (Naphamethinidon and Naphaphonphumisiri), looks majestic from far.

d) Just choose any two waterfalls, all are majestic. (actually kids and spouse might find all waterfalls identical after the second one hee hee)

e) Point 4 – Royal project flowers and landscaping, but flowers might not appeal to everyone. I love the beautiful landscaping, showcasing the farmers’ produce

Hiking, waterfall, or flowers in the cool weather.

– Recommended duration – 3 to 4 hours (about 2 to 2.5 hours transport from city)
– Fees apply at various attractions
– GPS 18.555768, 98.482446
– Minimum Age limit : Everyone can hike

===== NORTH ====

We noticed the North area (Mae Rim) has a high concentration of adventure and sports, so many ATV (all terrain Vehicles) outlets!

If you only have time for one waterfall in Chiang Mai, do (3) Buatong! Water will not be as spectacular as those normal “cascading” types, but you can CLIMB UP this waterfall! Look at this video and you will know why they call it Sticky Waterfall!(Video link).

Do visit our Photo album as I highlight some inherent dangers which come with “waterfalls”.
– Recommended duration – 2 to 3 hours (optional 30 minutes picnic on the green meadow)
– Fees FOC
– GPS 19.070030, 99.080118
– Minimum Age limit : Everyone can climb, but adult must accompany behind child, it is still a waterfall and any slip could mean serious injury

After a tiring and exhilarating morning, drive 45 minutes South towards lunch (we recommend Baa Baa Black Cafe lunch and cakes) and let the kids recuperate in the car.
(We have added delicious cakes and pastries photos in photo album below)

(4) Siam Insect Zoo is just 7 minutes away from Baa Baa Black Cafe, and it is the coolest insect museum we have seen (or touch) yet.

Staffs are always so eager to push a bug or chameleon to you haha, seriously Fun! So many learning moments and photo opportunities.

– Recommended duration – 1 to 2 hours (stay longer if you love creepy bugs)
– Fees – Adults THB 200, Child THB 150
– GPS 18.918132, 98.908408 (45 minutes from Buatong waterfall)
Facebook

If time permits, we would recommend (5) Doi Suthep Temple on the way back to city (Golden Domes or Chedi, we can classify Doi Suthep under zone “Center” too). Doi Suthep is one of the most famous (and grand) Wat in Chiang Mai, it offers a scenic city view too.

– Recommended duration – 1 to 2 hours
– Fees – Adults THB 200, Child THB 150
– GPS 18.804317, 98.919974 (50 minutes West of Chiang Mai railway station)
– You can climb 306 steps up, or take the lift
** We would not recommend you to jog or cycle up the steep hill, we saw many sports enthusiasts!

===== CENTER ====

Where most folks should loiter around for city life, old-city landscapes, tons of cafes. Weekends are night bazaars and night markets. You will also notice a lot of tourists on bicycles, we want to try it next time 🙂

(6) “Old City” Day and Night
You can tour the “Old city” in the daytime, at least ten historical temples (and ruins) to explore.
Enter via Phae Gate GPS (18.787735, 98.993235).

Night Market – weekends only (3 to 4 hours including dinner and snacks.
Food, jostle with the locals, side-walk massage (cheap!) and souvenirs hunting.

Streetfood (we love BBQ aroy!) is everywhere. There are some hawkers selling mango sticky rice outside temples, we tried the one outside “Wat Che Diluang GPS” and it was good 🙂

If time permits, or if your kids are Ninja Warrior or bouncing castle fans, head over to (6) Grand Canyon Water Park. Look at the photos and you will know why adrenaline junkies will spend hours here!

– Recommended duration – 2 to 3 hours
– Fees 300 Baht (price increased to 350 baht)
– GPS 18.695777, 98.890330 (15 minutes from airport)
– Minimum Age limit is 5 years old
– Closure at 7pm, 6 pm during winter time
Facebook and Website

(7) Our lovely Airbnb home away from home (read our review)

Additional tips :

Above GPS locations are group into “North, West and Center” based on estimated direction from Chiang Mai Railway Station (GPS 18.783692, 99.016787). We did not really venture East (villages) and South. If you head North 3 to 4 hours till Thailand’s borders, Doi Ang Khan, Chiang Rai and Pai awaits 🙂

If you are looking for shopping centres in Chiang Mai, you would be disappointed. All our 5D4N Chiang Mai Family Itinerary photos have been uploaded :

– 5D4N Chiang Mai Family Itinerary
– Day 1 photos — Airbnb stayGrand Canyon Waterpark
– Day 2 photos – Doi Inthanon
– Day 3 photos – Buatong waterfallSiam Insect ZooDoi Suthep temple
– Day 4 photos – Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Old city

Follow out hashtag #skbChiangMai