Book in advance because the Elephants Heaven: Half Day Elephant Experience at Kanta Elephant Park in Chiang Mai tour provided by Baanchang Elephant Park fills up fast. Located about 60 miles outside of Chiang Mai city center, transportation to Kanta Elephant sanctuary is included with the tour.
The family owned ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project, Kanta Elephant Sanctuary, was founded in March 2015. The sanctuary is home to 10-15 female Thai elephants. Visitors only interact with the female elephants, being less territorial and aggressive than males. Unlike Asian or African elephants, female Thai elephants do not have tusks. The sanctuary offers a healthy, free environment for elephants previously used for logging or entertainment. Riding the elephants is prohibited.
Traditional mahout clothes are provided upon arrival. These adorable outfits are available to purchase for 500 Baht. After changing, we learn how to safely approach and touch the elephants and signs of happiness. We are advised to be cautious around the elephants’ legs and petting the spiky hairs on the elephants’ heads. Matching bags are handed out to fill with sugar cane to feed the elephants. After filing our bags with as much sugar cane as possible, we are free to feed, pet, take pictures, and play with the elephants.
The elephants are bathed and scrubbed in the sanctuary’s fresh water lagoon daily to prevent insects from laying eggs under the elephants’ thick skin, potentially leading to an infection. After collecting a pail and brush, we wade into the waist deep water.
Traveling Gingerbread Note: We recommend bringing swim suits, water shoes, bug spray, and a change of clothes. We were soaked at the end of the day. Towels and showers with soap and shampoo are available to visitors before leaving the sanctuary.