Tuk Tuking Through Thailand: Elephant’s World

Happy Travel Tuesday! I am coming to you from Singapore today. We made a last minute (literally the day before) decision to book a flight for me to join Travis on his work trip. Clearly my time in Asia was not quite over.


Before I tell you about our experience at Elephant’s Word I have a short PSA:

Before I started reading travel blogs and researching for our trip I had no idea the controversy surrounding riding elephants or elephant trekking.

It’s actually very harmful to the elephants physical and mental health. The tactics a lot of these places use to train the elephants are really appalling. Even though they are large animals their backs are actually very weak and the weight of people plus the wooden chairs they often strap on is very bad for them. If you want to read more, here are a few articles that I found on the subject.

The Humane Society: Please Don’t Ride the Elephants 

If You Love Elephants Please Don’t Ever Ride Them. Here’s Why.

I share these not to shame anyone who has ridden an elephant, but because I feel like it’s not well known information and I’m sure if people were educated on the effects they wouldn’t choose to continue to support this industry.


SO back to our trip- I came to the conclusion that if we were going to be spending time with elephants I wanted to make sure we did it in an ethical way. I researched and researched trying to find an ethical elephant reserve but everywhere I found was located near Chang Mai (further north than we were going). Finally, a week before our trip Shane wrote about her experience on her blog and included a link to a website that listed Thailand’s most ethical elephant camps. That’s how I found Elephant’s World, which is located about two hours outside of Bangkok.

Elephants World is a sanctuary for sick, old, abused and rescued elephants many of which were victims of the tourism industry. They take care of and nurture the elephants for the remainder of their lives. Their motto is “we work for the elephants, instead of them for us!”.



We signed up for a day program but they also have an overnight option. If you are staying in Kanchanaburi they will pick you up from your hotel, but since we were in Bangkok we had to arrange our own transportation. On their website they have a taxi service they recommend, you just have to e-mail (Jonney_taxi_guide@yahoo.com) ahead of time and set it up, which is what we did.



Going along with their motto, as a visitor to Elephants World you spend the day helping take care of the elephants in their natural habitat.


First we got assigned an elephant to feed and we were given a huge bucket of fruit and corn. Not surprisingly, elephants eat A LOT.


We were so giddy getting to be so close to such a magnificent animal.


I am not a fan of slobbery animal mouths, but Travis loves it.


We watched the elephants bathe in the river with their mahouts (elephant cowboys) and learned that the correct way to ride an elephant is up on their neck practically on their head. It’s a lot stronger than their back.


DSC_0291 DSC_0287

We made a GIANT batch of sticky rice to feed the elephants which we stirred with canoe paddles. Later we got to make them into giant balls mixed with vitamins to give to the older elephants. In the wild they would have eventually died because they have trouble chewing their food. But here we got to hand feed them just what they needed!




Next, we rode in the back of a truck to a farm to gather banana trees (after the mahouts chopped them down with a machete) for food as well. This was my least favorite activity since it was pouring rain during it and we were quite muddy #highmaintenanceprobs.

Our favorite part was at the end of the day. We got to get into the river with the elephants. With the help of the mahouts, we climbed on top of the elephants and carefully sat on them where it was safe. They asked if we wanted a calm or playful elephant and we both chose playful. Trav’s elephant was very playful and kept trying to buck him off which was pretty entertaining.




Honestly, it was just so cool to be surrounded by all the elephants in their natural habitat and learn about how Elephants World was taking care of them. Each one had their own story and own personality.


After spending the day loving on them it broke my heart to think about what a small percentage of all the elephants in Thailand were getting such fair treatment.



On the way home, we managed to communicate with our driver that we wanted to stop at the Bridge over the River Kwai. The bridge was built during World War 2 by Japan to connect Thailand to Burma. Many lives were lost during the construction of the bridge and the story has been featured in books and movies. There isn’t too much to do there so we just hopped out for a few photos.




To end the day, of course, a selfie over the River Kwai.

In conclusion, I would like to adopt an elephant (but I don’t think we could afford to feed one).


Now it’s time for the Travel Tuesday Link Up with Bonnie from A Compass Rose!
IMG_0773 My favorite post from last week was Estrella’s post on Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain. The vibrant colors and gorgeous architecture make me want to hop on a plane to Spain right now!
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2. GRAB the lovely button above! And link back to your lovely hosts: Lauren and me
3. LINKUP goes live! Every Tuesday at 8 am GMT.
4. HOP around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Link up will be open for a few days, make sure to check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!
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35 thoughts on “Tuk Tuking Through Thailand: Elephant’s World

  1. oh my goodness, so amazing. i love that you looked into an ethical way to see them, and really, this whole thing is just amazing. i didn’t know that there was such controversy surrounding it, but basically any time i do anything that involves animals i assume that it can be harmful or unsafe for the animals, so i always research it (as you did). i would much rather do something like this than ride an animal. really, this is just beautiful. i’d love to visit one day.

  2. Andrea On Vacation says:

    I loved visiting the elephants at a sanctuary in Thailand. Most of the elephants there were injured from landmines but it was nice to see when doing what they wanted to do and not chained or caged.

  3. I also didn’t know much about the ethics of elephant riding until recently. It breaks my heart that such magnificent creatures are so horribly mistreated! I think what you guys did instead is a really fantastic opportunity. I’d love to do something similar if/when I make it to Thailand 🙂

  4. I get why this is such a highly debated topic but I’d probably do this too as long as I see that the animals are cared for…. well, feeding them that is, not sure about riding them… I already am afraid of heights on horses 😀

  5. I love elephants, they’re such sweet creatures. I admit, I’ve ridden an elephant before when I went to Thailand a few years ago. I didn’t realize how hard they were worked until after my trip. I felt horrible afterwards. I think it’s great you’re spreading more awareness on the issue.

    PS. Thanks for sharing my post! 🙂

  6. Joanna - Me-And-My-Itchy-Feet says:

    What a great place. I’m glad you shared the information on the elephant rides and the treatment of these beautiful animals. Not many people are aware of that, unfortunately. It’s sad that most of the animal places/farms so eagerly visited by tourists, treat their animals so bad (that does not apply only to elephants).

  7. I love how you wanted to find a way to spend time with the elephants in an ethical fashion. It looks like such an incredible experience. I loved spending time with elephants in Thailand – watching the baby’s play soccer together was about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! Xx

  8. I would kill to do something like this! I LOVE elephants!!! I had no idea that riding them was dangerous to their health, so seriously thank you so much for sharing! Luckily I haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet, but now I know not to! It’s so great that you got to spend time with the elephants so up close and personal like that and really interact and learn about them! Seems like quite the amazing experience! The closest I’ve gotten (so far) to helping these gentle beasts is by buying a locally made artistic elephant statue in which all proceeds went to benefiting shelters such as this one! Hopefully I’ll get closer soon! 😀

  9. oh my goodness that is INCREDIBLE!!!!!! stirring with a canoe paddle?! that must have been a huge batch. thanks also for your PSA, that’s how we felt about the different places you could go to play with tigers in thailand…none seemed ethical though they all claimed they were free from drugs or abuse. so happy you both got to experience this!

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