Elephants in Southeast Asia are often abused, overworked, and abandoned. So, when I traveled to Thailand, it was really important that I visited an elephant sanctuary as opposed to just riding an elephant at some camp on the side of the road. After some research and talking with the concierge, I decided that a journey to Elephant’s World would do just the trick. Elephant’s World is a non-profit organization getting all of their funding from donations and visitors. Most of the elephants at the sanctuary are older, or as they like to say “retired”. The goal is to offer these elephants a safe haven where they can live out the rest of their lives as pleasantly as possible. In addition to the older elephants, they also treat ones who were abused, sick, or handicapped. When I visited they were currently trying to raise money to be able to buy a young elephant out of, what most would consider, questionable care. It is clear that their efforts have not gone unnoticed within the Thai community, and Elephant’s World is often one of the top recommend sights to see in the Bangkok area.
Throughout the day you get to care for the elephants in numerous ways. The volunteers don’t force the elephants to interact if they don’t want to, and most of contact with them is on their own terms. If they are hungry or curious they will likely come up to you, and at the end of the day, you get really up close and personally by swimming with them in the River Kwai. The mahouts are very helpful in showing you the best way to approach, feed, and bathe them, which makes for an amazing, well-rounded experience.
For 2,000 baht (roughly $60), this is an amazing opportunity to spend the day with elephants and to also give back. If you book directly through their website, you will avoid exorbitant transportation fees through an outside agency. If you want, you can also book an overnight visit for 4,500 baht. To learn more about Elephant’s World, you can check out their Facebook page here.