I knew when we planned on going to Thailand I would ride an elephant. I wanted to do my research and find the best option available so we weren’t giving our money to an elephant camp that were abusing their animals. Let’s face it: any elephant that is used as rides and money are probably being abused in some way or another but I wanted to make sure they were treated well. Tour with Tong seemed like a great option since it was a 2.5 hour drive out of Bangkok. There are a lot of elephant conservation camps in Chiang Mai but we didn’t have enough time to fly up from Bangkok. I knew for sure I wanted a more personal interaction rather than us sitting on big carriages on the elephants back and this tour seemed the best.
We drove the 2.5 hours out in our nice big van and got there when barely any other people were there. It was amazing, we had the elephant bath tour all to ourselves! We walked down to the river where the elephants and their guides followed. We convinced Bruce and Marcy to come in the water with us (my husband’s parents who joined our 2.5 week adventure) and each couple got an elephant. As soon as we sat on their backs, the guides said something in Thai and the elephants started spraying us with water. I didn’t realize how much water they could actually spray at once, I was constantly wiping my eyes because of how much water was getting thrown on us! It was pretty hilarious watching little Marcy getting sprayed right in the face since her head was in the exact spot the elephants nose turned around to spray. Needless to say she got soaked!
The elephant Ryan and I rode is named Apple and she is 20 years old. She rolled us off her backs and we each got a turn to sit on her neck where she would lift us up to take a photo. The most hilarious part of the whole day was when it was Bruce’s turn Apple lifts up for a split second and dunks him down as if to say, “No way am I lifting this guy!”. They had him try again and she dunked him even faster. We were all cracking up. We got to lay on their backs and sit in the water with them as we carefully avoided the “elephant chocolate” the local guides called it ;).
After hanging out with them for a while we each got on the elephants back as they walked out of the river and back to the main camp. Ryan and I were on Apple and she took twice the amount of time to get back, stopping here and there to explore the leaves and anything around the pathway. She definitely wasn’t going to listen to the local guide and take her sweet time! It was so fun to see such a spunky personality in an animal and it’s amazing how gentle they are. One thing I did learn was that elephant hair is very wiry and since we were wearing swim suits my legs got red from sitting on her back and having her hair scratch them.
After we changed, we asked Tui of a good Thai place to eat for lunch and it was hands down the best Thai food any of us had had in our entire life! So good. It was a very fun day, a definite once in a lifetime opportunity!
Tips we learned:
- Wear shorts to avoid your skin from getting irritated by the elephant hair.
- Have an awesome tour guide like Tui to take dozens of photos for you while you enjoy your time.
- Bring a plastic bag to keep your wet swimsuit in at the end.