Look after Thailand's elephants
Of all the things to do in Thailand, spending time with some of the region’s last elephants has to be one of the most exciting. Tracking them in the wild through the magical scenery of a national park is thrilling – but despite their size these enormous creatures are elusive, so combining this with a sanctuary visit allows you to get up close. Sadly, there are many unscrupulous camps, so do your research to ensure the elephants you meet are neither taken from the wild nor maltreated. Good camps function as “retirement homes” for former working elephants, and as hospitals for sick or injured animals – and as elephants eat a whopping 300kg of food a day, the money from your visit will be well spent!
The Elephant Nature Park is certainly one of the best sanctuaries; the elephants have said goodbye to their trekking seats and chains, and are allowed to live their retirement blissfully, playing, bathing, eating and interacting as they would in the wild. Come for a daytrip to “pamper a pachyderm”, spend the night at the camp or become a full time carer on a longer volunteer placement. You can cut food, maintain the park and clean enclosures, and – most memorably of all – bathe them in the rivers, as both you and the elephants cool off in the 40 degree heat.