Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – The Ethical Choice

I’m not going to lie.. I really wanted to ride an elephant.. I mean who doesn’t?

But there’s something that just didn’t feel right about it. I have been a vegetarian for 10 years and animals rights have always been my priority. I love animals more than people.. I know you’re not supposed to say that but animals are amazing and they should be treated with love and care.

Arriving in Chiang Mai, people everywhere were talking about the elephant riding and tiger sanctuaries and I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the idea. I mean you ride camels and horses right, so why not an elephant? My friends who’ve been to Thailand had rode elephants at some of the places and said the elephants seemed truly happy and were well taken care of; especially the ones who don’t encourage “Elephant Shows” and kept strictly to riding and feeding the elephants.

elephant jungle sanctuaryelephant jungle sanctuary

elephant jungle sanctuaryelephant jungle sanctuary

I know my boyfriend wanted to, elephants are his favourite animals so of course he wanted to spend time with them. So I was conflicted with the “Do I?” and “Don’t I“’ and “Is it ethical?” I think I new the answer but I was still playing around with the idea, surely there was SOMEWHERE that treated the animals fairly. After lots of Google and soul searching I told Aaron that we weren’t going to ride elephant in Thailand. I couldn’t bring myself to book a tour and ride an elephant. I think part of me knew I would feel too guilty and it’s not right. You can’t condone an animals mistreatment for you 20 minutes of amusement.

Aaron was disappointed at first but when I explained the situation he understood. Most people don’t know the cruelty that comes with animal shows. It’s up to us to educate those who don’t know, which is what I hope do to for you in this post. So all of this researching lead me to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary:

The Sanctuary is run by a village of about 50 people in northern Chiang Mai, about an hour and a half drive from the Chiang Mai centre. They have five rescued elephants, including a baby and a pregnant momma!


The sanctuary was an amazing place. Instead of riding the elephants and having them prance around you for your own amusement you actually get to chill out with the elephants.

At the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary you learn about the elephants, feed them bananas and sugar cane, wrestle with the rambunctious baby and even swing from jungle vines if you find them! Aaron and I were so happy to see the rescued elephants roaming free, with no pressure to entertain.

After hanging out this these amazing creatures you have lunch. Lunch is a home cooked meal that is provided for you from the village. They even catered to the six vegetarians (myself included!) making 80% of their dishes meat free. You could say I was a happy girl 🙂 There was a few puppies playing in the village and one came to hang out with me. After lunch you had a mud bath with the gentle giants and have mud fights with your fellow travellers. Yes you have a MUD BATH WITH GIANTS. It was so much fun, I can’t believe I bathed with elephants.

Then you head down to the chilly waterfalls and wash the mud off the elephants before you head under the small waterfalls. There you wash yourself off and pose for some cameras. It was an amazing experience to be in the jungle, covered head to toe in mud and bathing with elephants.


The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary was an amazing choice. It was a long happy day where you get to hang out and have fun with the elephants and truly get to appreciate them as the majestic creatures they are ,without feeling the need to ride them. It was the right choice for me, and should be for you. Even though the idea of riding them still seems amazing I know I made the right choice in picking this amazing tribe in the mountains and their rescued elephants.

You have to pay to see the elephants but if you’re wondering where your money goes just remember – elephants are expensive. So while you don’t get to ride elephants for your money you do get to play, bathe and hang out with them, all the while having a clear conscience knowing your money is going towards rescuing new elephants. Awesome right?


To find out more check out their website here:



“From now on they will no longer be ordered to stand on two front legs on a small box or sways its head side to side all the time like it’s dancing to entertain tourists. We will only invite tourists to visit them as their colleagues in the world and will not think any exploit from them… Human will need to protect and preserve of their species to coexist in the world.”


-The Jungle Sanctuary




And if you want more information check out my Thailand post here !

What are your thoughts on the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary? Who else loves elephants! Comment below to share your thought! 

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  • Reply
    June 12, 2017 at 1:14 am

    Have you read many of the negative reviews on any of the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary sites?
    I did before I booked and I too was hopeful that this ‘sanctuary’ would be ethical, and with all the positive reviews I gave them the benefit of the doubt. However I decided to keep an eye out and I’m glad I did. It would have been easy to get swept up in the theatre of it all and miss what was actually going on.

    When we were told to move from the mud baths to the fresh water stream they ushered the elephants away from the tourists. The water at this camp was over a hill so once they got the elephants ahead of us we could no longer see them. This is when I decided to walk a head and I saw them throwing rocks at the elephants with slingshots. It was so upsetting!
    The handler then looked up to see me and quickly buried the slingshot under the sand and sat over it so I couldn’t dig it up.

    I know you had a wonderful time and I’m glad you did! However, I would urge you to have a read of some of the negative reviews and maybe put a disclaimer above your article for people to have a good think about whether they are morally okay with they treatment of these animals.

    Your article is high on the search list when you google this sanctuary and as someone who has the opportunity to influence people looking to book, you should do all that is in your power to give an accurate view of what this place is like.
    I know you had a different experience, but there is an overwhelming amount of reviews by people who have no affiliation to one another that their practices are unethical. I am just asking you to have a think about they way you portray this place as completely ethical, for you are contributing to the continued mistreatment of these animals.

  • Reply
    Throwback Thursday - 6 Months of Blogging!
    August 13, 2015 at 3:56 am

    […] Elephant Jungle Sanctuary: The Ethical Choice […]

  • Reply
    Elle-Rose Williams | The World and Then Some
    March 4, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Yay Elephants! Love the photos! x

    • Reply
      March 4, 2015 at 4:37 pm

      Thank you! :]

  • Reply
    January 9, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    owa..!! great people.. nice elephant also..!!

    • Reply
      January 10, 2015 at 9:21 am

      Thanks John! The sanctuary was amazing :]


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