Elephants are one of the most prized animals in Thailand; you can see motifs of them on all kinds of merchandise – clothes, bags, you name it! Many tourists come to Thailand with the expectation to see elephants, and while some exhibits are humane, there are many that don’t maintain the best conditions. For example, elephants that are taken into captivity are often forced to perform circus acts, prompted by scraps of food and even painful needles that prick their ears. Beware of places like this! Instead, you can visit several sanctuaries in Thailand where elephants are rescued from captivity and allowed to roam freely, eating whatever they want and sleeping whenever they so please! During our trip to Phuket we visited Phuket Elephant Sanctuary – one of the top elephant sanctuaries in all of Thailand. The experience was seamless and so rewarding to get up and close with the elephants, who all seemed happy and grateful for the care and attention.

The experience was one of many that we booked through Airbnb. It was very easy to arrange pickup at our hotel; our driver arrived at the hotel and took  us straight to the main office where we filled out a few simple safety forms listing guidelines for the sanctuary visit. Only a few minutes later and we were on our way! The hosts greet you with a buffet of fresh Thai food and snacks followed by a quick introductory video about the sanctuary and its history. Groups are split up and given their own tour guide who takes them around the grounds and introduces guests to the elephants. All of the elephants were female, a bit older and saved from some form of captivity. You can get up close and personal with all of them as they the eat, play in the pool and do whatever happy elephants like to do. At one point in the tour guests are given a chance to pet the elephants who are most comfortable with people. Don’t be nervous! They’re very calm and seem to enjoy the attention. The pinnacle of the tour is the last portion when you can feed a variety of fruits to the elephants. Let me tell you – these elephants can EAT. Watermelon, bananas – you name it, they’re gonna eat it. Be ready to watch your fingers cause these hungry ladies want their food and they want it NOW. It’s honestly such a fun experience and the staff are just as friendly. At the end of the activities they prepare a warm dinner for the guests, and give you some time to shop in the little craft gift shop which is a perfect place for souvenirs. The staff will drive you back to the main office where a driver will be waiting to return you to your lodging. Fun, easy and not expensive at all. Highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting Phuket. 


PRICE RANGE: $100-$130 (transportation, lunch and snacks included)

TRANSPORTATION: Provided by the sanctuary; includes a car ride to and from your hotel

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