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Purple Dragon  Elephant Riding in Chiang Mai

Elephant and Bamboo Raft Adventure in the Chiang Mai Countryside

There are only around 3,000 domesticated "chang" (elephants) in Thailand, and maybe an equal number left untamed in the shrinking wilderness of the Kingdom. Visiting a local community-run sanctuary dedicated to supporting and nurturing these smart and sensitive mammals is an unforgettable adventure for any visitor. Thai rural river life. There are about ten elephant camps in and around Chiang Mai. We have chosen the one that is the least commercialized and appears to offer their animals the best care in the most natural environment. The setting is spectacular and will give you a chance to enjoy the unique beauty of Thai rural life.


Nobody ever forgets the day they spent with the elephants! Leave Chiang Mai after breakfast and journey a mere fifty kilometers into the lush countryside north of the city. We first an elephant sanctuary, in a tiny rural village on the outskirts of one of Thailand's loveliest national parks. Here in time to see some of the 40+ mighty animals taking their morning baths. (At night, the elephants cover themselves in mud and dirt to deter pesky insects.) The mahouts (elephant trainers) will put on a small show just to show you how agile, powerful and intelligent elephants really are. You will also see displays of strength and teamwork that demonstrate how elephants are still used for agriculture, construction and forestry remote areas.

Next, climb on board the back of an elephant for a ride along forest paths across jungle streams. These animals are hungry all the time and each drinks about 200 liters of water a day, so they grab bunches of tender greens with their trunks to snack on as they go. You can stop to feed them bananas and sugar cane if you like.

Following a Thai buffet lunch featuring locally-grown fruit, you board a bamboo raft for a slow and easy one-hour trip downstream. You will see plenty of elephants along the way and get an idea what country life is like here. The land on both sides of the river is largely undeveloped so you will also encounter plenty of exotic birds and plants. If you are lucky you may have a chance to encounter the endangered Vanda cerulea, the blue orchid that is the pride of Chiang Mai.

On the trip back to the city we make a quick stop at a local orchid nursery and butterfly farm. You probably cannot take plants or insects home with you, but they are interesting to see and fun to photograph. You'll be back at your hotel by cocktail hour.

This program includes round-trip transportation by air-conditioned van on a joiner basis, elephant show, guided elephant trek, raft ride, lunch and soft drinks. Portions of program are subject to change based on weather conditions. Private transportation with private guide is also available at an additional cost and may allow time to visit one or more nearby hill tribe villages.