Elephants are simply stunning, don’t you think? With their imposing size and calmness as if nothing could really bother them. Dozens of times I was able to see these remarkable animals… in zoos. But one time I was even able to see them in the wild. It was 2016 in the Yala National Park in Sri Lanka. I will never forget this moment where we spotted our first elephant. It was just an amazing feeling. Anyway, I always felt like getting nearer and experience these impressive creatures from a close distance.
Almost everywhere in Thailand you have the chance to ride an elephant for some $. But I cannot say it often enough: Please, please, do not ride an elephant! Neither in Thailand, nor anywhere else in the world. These animals are not made to carry heavy tourists around. And don’t even get me started about the bad standard of living and treatment that most elephants have to endure. I saw more than once on our trip how trainers hit the animals with sticks while they carried up to three people on their backs.
One of the most important things to do in Chiang Mai for me was seeing elephants that live under fair and natural conditions. Therefore, we started to do some research about elephant camps in Chiang Mai that doesn’t offer any kind of elephant riding or forces the animals to do tricks. So, we chose to spend a day in the Dumbo Elephant Spa.
Besides seeing the amazing temples of Chiang Mai, spending a day with elephants is another true highlight.
This post is not a sponsored post in any way. We did not receive any kind of discount, money or any other type of benefit. There aren’t any contracts done and I won’t receive any commissions. This post is just expressing our personal opinion and experiences about the Dumbo Elephant Spa.
What to find out in this post
- 1 What makes Dumbo Elephant Spa so special?
- 2 What does a day in a Chiang Mai Elephant Camp cost?
- 3 Pick-up in your accommodation
- 4 Arrival in the Elephant Camp Chiang Mai
- 5 Feeding the elephants
- 6 Getting to know the elephants
- 7 A bath in the mud
- 8 A bath in the river
- 9 Lunch
- 10 Saying Goodbye to the elephants
- 11 All in all
- 12 More Chiang Mai?
What makes Dumbo Elephant Spa so special?
In our guesthouse in Chiang Mai, the Dutch Guesthouse (by the way, a great place to stay in Chiang Mai and our favorite accommodation in whole Thailand. Please find prices and availability here) the owner highly recommended us the Dumbo Elephant Spa. He told us that there are several Chiang Mai elephant camps that just pretend to care about the conditions of the elephants but still offer elephant riding on other days. Of course, we wanted to avoid this kind of Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuaries.
The owner of the dutch guesthouse has just made great experiences with the Dumbo Elephant Spa during the last years and was sure that the animals are treated well.
By the way, I am not saying that any other Chiang Mai Elephant Camp is bad and exploits their animals. I’m sure you can also find other great places around. But the Dumbo Elephant Spa is definitely a safe choice.
Another factor which benefits the animals is that the groups of visitors are kept quite small. I’ve heard that in other groups there can be like 5 people for just one elephant.
What does a day in a Chiang Mai Elephant Camp cost?
Depending on where you buy your ticket, the prices can vary. The Full Day Program on the website of the Dumbo Elephant Spa costs recently 2200 Baht/ ca. 57€/ $66. (October 2017)
That might sound a little bit pricey but in my opinion worth every Cent of it.
The price includes also your pick-up and your way back to your accommodation (around 1 1/2 hours each way), a big lunch with fresh fruits, such as drinking water and a shower.
Pick-up in your accommodation
Your elephant adventure starts between 08 – 08.30 am with the pick-up from your accommodation.
The journey takes about 1 1/2 hours.
My personal advice: The way gets super shaky. If you tent to motion sickness, better take some pills before, chew some gum or something along those lines. I felt super bad during the trip.
Arrival in the Elephant Camp Chiang Mai
As soon as you arrive, you can already get started. Every participant gets a shirt to wear as the elephants can be pretty dirty from playing in the mud.
And since I got this question more than once: Yes, those are the shirts from the camp and no, Eduardo and me didn’t suddenly start to wear partner look. 😉
Feeding the elephants
Everyone takes a bunch of greens and walks in direction of the elephants. As soon as those smart animals see people with food approaching, they will run towards you. Especially, the baby, Dumbo, gets super excited about it.
Every participant gets a bag full of roots and bananas. Little Dumbo doesn’t like waiting until you took it out of your bag and already tries to steal the bananas from your bag with his trunk. Just super adorable.
He prefers bananas as he can’t really chew the roots yet.
The grown elephants take them super happily though. Anyway, be sure to give them some bananas as well. 😉
While feeding the elephants you can get extremely close to those impressive animals. You can let them eat from your bag or give them the food directly into their trunk. (If you are fast enough 😉 )
You can use your chance for some nice pictures. It’s just an absolutely amazing feeling suddenly standing between those huge creatures.
Getting to know the elephants
The staff knows their animals pretty well and therefore they can tell you the story about every single one of them. But you won’t only learn about the stories of the elephants, but will also get some general info about those animals. So, in case there is anything that you always wanted to know about elephants, feel free to ask.
Now you get to know all the elephants in the camp.
A bath in the mud
The elephants just love their mud baths. The group makes sure that animals and humans get enough mud.
The whole experience was super fun. But make sure to put off all your jewelry before jumping into the mud as some of the girls lost their rings etc. And maybe you shouldn’t wear your favorite swimming clothes either as you can get kinda muddy. 🙂
A bath in the river
Now that everyone is covered in mud from head to toe, you might enjoy a little bath in the river in order to get you and the elephants clean again. The staff will give you some buckets that you can use to get the mud off the elephants.
But also the humans need to get clean again. The mud was just covering my whole body. It can get easier if you help each other to get clean again. 😉
But don’t worry. Afterwards, you can also have a real shower back at the campsite.
So much fun with elephants can get you super hungry. In between, you will also have a super yummy lunch. There are options for vegetarians as well.
The rice is coming from the fields next to the camp and is therefore not only fresh but also super tasty.
Moreover, you can have some fresh fruit.
Saying Goodbye to the elephants
Even the best day has to end at some point and you will have to say goodbye to little Dumbo and the other elephants sooner or later. You can pet them one more time and then you will also get driven back to your accommodation, where you will arrive back at around 5 pm.
All in all
All in all, I can just say what a wonderful and amazing experience this program was. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and I can just recommend it to everyone.
Whether you will choose the Dumbo Elephant Spa or another Chiang Mai Elephant Camp. But please make sure whether the animals get treated well beforehand and only choose camps where they don’t allow elephant riding.
More Chiang Mai?
- Learn more about the Cost of Living in Chiang Mai
- Read how to spend an amazing honeymoon in Chiang Mai here.
- Also check this other great day trip from Chiang Mai to the Chiang Dao Caves.
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