Here are 4 elephant sanctuaries in Phuket that you must visit.
1. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, Paklok, near Phuket Town
This place which borders the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park was the first to introduce the concept of ethical elephant tourism. Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is one of those elephant sanctuaries in Phuket which rigorously works towards making the environment as nature-friendly as possible both for animals and visitors. The Sanctuary is more like a grand retirement home for the elephants who have been through harsh times with their captors and were later rescued and brought here.
If you opt for one of their daily tours, you can enjoy glimpses of the magnificent giants strolling amidst the lush green surroundings and being wild at heart again. This elephant sanctuary in Phuket is spread over a 30-acre facility and the funds collected from the daily tours is an aid to provide for the living cost of the residents here. Visitors are not allowed to ride the elephants; however, if one is interested, they can go on a lazy stroll with them or feed them.
Otherwise, one can enjoy by observing them being in their natural surroundings, bathing, playing, foraging and roaming. Rescued elephants have graciously spent their lives here as new elephants are brought in for rehabilitation after rescue each year.
Plan a trip to this place and get a chance to meet and be friends with Cattleya, Sai Tong, Sroy Fah, Tong Kwaw, Jan Jao, Gaew Ta, Madee, Dok Gaew and Kannika - these are the elephants of different age groups who reside here.
Timings: 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Location: Collection from Monkey Pod Café, Paklok
Price: 3000 Baht for adults, 1500 Baht for children below 12 years old
2. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Phuket, Naithon Beach
Another great spot to visit, Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, Phuket, Naithon Beach was among the first of its kind of elephant tourism locations in the area. With the overwhelming response they received over the years, they have now expanded to three venues now - Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya. Among all the elephant sanctuaries in Phuket, this one, in particular, is known for offering the cheapest half-day visits in the area. It is undoubtedly a unique experience when you give an elephant a mud bath and then help them wash off in the river. This place also allows visitors to feed and touch the residents. Make sure that you click tons of memorable pictures with these gigantic beauties.
The price of the tour also includes pick up from your hotel. The ride from your hotel to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary will be a pleasant one as the drive is nearly one hour away and the beautiful agricultural areas, beach, and hills will enrich the experience. On arrival at the sanctuary, you will be assigned an English speaking guide who will introduce you to the animal's behaviour and habits. You will receive sugarcane and bananas to feed the elephants. Your guide will take you on a tour of the sanctuary and will happily narrate stories of each elephant that you pass by. After spending considerable time with your new pal, you will be taken to an impressive Thai buffet where you can savour the delicacies.
Timings: 08:30 AM - 06:30 PM
Location: Hills behind Naithon Beach
Price: 2500 Baht for adults, 1,900 Baht for Children below 10 years olds
3. Elephant Retirement Park, Phuket, Bangtao Beach
A haven for rescued and retired elephants, as the name suggests, Elephant Retirement Park, Phuket, Bangtao Beach, provides freedom to these creatures and ensures that they get to live in a space which resembles their natural habitat. Visitors get a plethora of opportunities to spend time with the lovely residents and interact with them physically. This includes a wide array of activities ranging from giving them a mud bath to feeding them their favourite food. The Elephant Retirement Park is an elephant sanctuary strictly dedicated to maintaining a near-perfect accommodation facility for the elephants and hence, they allow visitors in small groups.
If you are going with hopes of going on a merry elephant ride, then this place is not meant for you as the facility team sticks to strict guidelines against riding. There are a couple of packages that one can opt to explore a multitude of activities here. Half-Day Elephant Care, Private VIP Elephant Care, Honeymoon Elephant Care, Volunteer Elephant Training and Corporate Team Building are the packages from which you can select one as per your convenience. These packages also include the pick-up facility from your hotel which can be in any part of Phuket.
Timings: 07:30 AM - 05:00 PM
Location: Soi Cherngtalay 1, Bangtao
Price: 2600 Baht for adults, 1800 Baht for children below 10 years old
4. Phang Nga Elephant Park
A small family-run park, Phang Nga Elephant Park, has been showering love and compassion for the majestic beings for more than 150 years. Now that is a considerable period if you think about it. The family has taken care of elephants, and every generation had the opportunity to learn something new about the Asian elephant. This elephant park has the most personal touch among all of the elephant sanctuaries in Phuket. Located an hour away from Phuket, the park is actually a traditional Thai village where more than 30 people reside along with their families and their gigantic friends. Being firm believers that the practice of ethical elephant tourism will save the animal, the owners take the utmost precaution to protect these precious beings.
They are entirely against any unnatural practices that might hamper the well-being of elephants and take every step required to enlighten people and the world about the creatures. Phang Nga Elephant Park indeed allows visitors to bath and feed the residents and also provide the privilege of riding on their necks which are considered to be far less harmful than the tradition of people sitting on the spine of the animal. The riding on the neck service is only allowed for those who are above seven-year-old. If a child is below seven-year-old, the facility provides them with the 'Kids Elephant Experience' which is significantly gentler. You can also join in for a Thai cooking lesson here and enjoy a sumptuous Thai meal during your visit.
Timings: 09:30 AM - 06:00 PM
Location: Route 3059, Phang Nga
Price: 4900 Baht for adults, 2900 Baht for children below 14 years old
These elephant sanctuaries in Phuket are a promise to bring humans closer to nature in every way possible. Observation of the elephants leading their natural lifestyle helps people overcome their fear of these enormous beings who are incredibly gentle and friendly in their ways. Considered to be among the most intelligent animals, sadly, elephants are often ill-treated by not-so-friendly humans. These elephant sanctuaries are a wildlife refuge for the rescued and retired elephants. Not only it will be an eye-opening experience to visit an elephant sanctuary, but it will also be an informative session that will enable you to know unique things about them. So, if you are planning a trip to Thailand, make sure that you add 'visit the elephant sanctuary' to your list, now that you have all the information required.