This was a long day, but I enjoyed this tour. I was on the tour with 2 other people that I met on the previous day's tour. The three of us got along well on the previous day's tour. I was already scheduled to take this tour, the other two people, who were traveling together, were interested in doing this tour, so we requested to do this tour as a private group. You trek on land for about an hour and then if you get to ride in the Ping River, that's another 30-45 minutes of riding. If the river waters aren't high enough, you will not be able to ride through the Ping River. Fortunately we were able to ride through the river. This tour consists of a short elephant show (where the elephants do tricks, obey commands, etc.). One elephant even paints a picture. A pretty decent looking pic at that. At this camp, they seem to treat the animals kindly. Prior to booking this tour, I had read that some camps were not so humane. I did not notice any abuse while I was at this camp. After the elephant ride, there was lunch at a nice secluded restaurant not terribly far from where the elephant camp was. River Rafting is also part of this tour, which you are on the river for at least 45 minutes. Visiting the Hilltribe people is also a part of the tour. This visit consists of looking at handmade items by the people and you possibly buying something. You don't have to buy anything though. We had some extra time, so we did a side trip to the Tiger Kingdom. Nong was the tour guide. Very good guide, accommodating, and he spoke English well.
Elephant shows were very entertaining. Elephant "jungle trek" and Ping River rafting tour were enjoyable.
Piew was our group tour guide for this tour, and he was excellent. We first visited an orchid farm which was really interesting to see. Next we went on to the Chiang Dao Elephant Camp which was such an amazing experience. The camp seemed to take very good care of the elephants and was much less commercial than many of the other elephant camps in the area. We watched a show by the elephants with demonstrations and elephant painting, and then took a long jungle trek through the jungle riding the elephant. After returning, we took a bamboo raft ride down the Ping River which was so relaxing. Great experience overall.
Wassan was also a great driver. Wassan and Piew went out of their way to take us back to the elephant camp when we forgot to buy an elephant painting, which we really appreciated. Highly recommended tour!
We were picked up at the hotel in Chiang Mai promptly and taken to a beautiful orchid farm and to the Chiang Dao elephant camp north of Chiang Mai for a trek atop an elephant, a visit to a Karen village, lunch and a rafting trip down the Mae Ping. Our guide was very friendly and familiar with the area and even knew the elephant names in the camp. The guide and the driver even stopped along the way to satisfy our craving for local desserts in the market.
Just a wonderful experience for our family of four. Prompt pick-up at our hotel. Our guide spoke excellent English and had a sense of humor, very experienced and knew the elephants well. He made sure that we got front row seats for everything. The lunch was great overlooking the river. The whole tour was also timed paced really well so we had enough time to finish each step yet never wasted any time. Riding the elephants through the jungle was just a fantastic experience we will never forget. It was so beautiful and peaceful, totally relaxing. At first I was a bit disappointed that the elephant guy couldn't speak any English to chat with me. But as we went, I realized what a blessing it was to be able to not talk and just thoroughly enjoy nature. Our kids 5 & 7 were originally nervous about the idea of sitting on an elephant, but they now tell me that this was the best part of our whole vacation, even beating playing on the beach. Rafting down Ping River on the bamboo raft was also an awesome experience. Pretty much anywhere you visit in Thailand, you can find some kind of elephant trekking tour somewhere. But we felt like none of them could have compared to the one we went on. The location was ideal, the elephants well trained, the mahoots so experienced, and the scenery just beautiful.
This is an amazing tour that includes so much - seeing the elephants bathing was really good and there were a few rather nice surprises in the elephant show. The elephant ride was an interesting experience, if not a rocky one and the hill tribe village was akin to a shopping centre. The river raft ride was a beautiful experience.
My 22-year-old daughter has had special place in her heart for elephants since she was a little girl, so when we decided to go to Thailand, riding elephants was at the top of our list of things we had to do. I booked this tour based on the reviews I'd read and was absolutely delighted with the experience. Our guide was charming and full of information, his English was very good and he made the trip that much more special. Both the trek through the jungle on the elephants and rafting the Ping River were slow and quiet, just the right antidote for the previous days hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Lunch was also on of the best meals we had the entire trip. The scenery was beautiful and the people warm and welcoming. This is a trip I would highly recommend for anyone of any age!
We had a great time with the elephants, especially the 90-min ride from the camp to the hill tribe and back, and the 45-min bamboo rafting at the Ping River.
The elephant camp was the highlight of our trip to Thailand and fulfilled all expectations. We stopped at an orchid farm for a comfort stop and it also gave the opportunity to look at some wonderful orchids. On arrival we were just in time to watch the elephants bathing in the river. There was an opportunity to feed them bunches of bananas. The elephants then gave a demonstration of their skills lifting and moving logs, working as a team in various ways. We then went on our safari through the jungle which was fabulous, stopping at the hilltribe village before returning via the river. We then enjoyed an excellent lunch, my husband is a picky eater and this is usually the worst part of any day trip for him, but he ate everything put in front of him! After lunch we went along the river on our bamboo raft which was so peaceful and a perfect end to the day. The only disappointment was that we had to share a raft with another couple (who shared the mini bus with us from Chiang Mai) whereas everybody else had individual rafts. The guide said that Tour East had only paid for one raft. This meant that there was only one professional photograph available to purchase at the end of the trip (very reasonably priced in a handmade paper frame) and the other couple purchased it. For the cost of the trip I think individual rafts should be provided. The minibus, guide and driver were all excellent
Great hand on tour where you get to ride elephants through the jungles of chiang mai, and raft down the ping river. The only confusing part about my time on the tour is that we did mot visit any hilltribes as promised, with the exception being the mock up of a hilltribe village halfway through the elephant trek. Would of rated this tour four or five stars if it was not for the missing out on the hilltribe visits.
Nice view along river Ping, but the village was rather disappointing.
The activities themselves were ok. You get to ride an elephant through the jungle (on a chair, not bareback), see a hill tribe (or at least a tourist street fair version of one where the 5 people that are there are there to sell you expensive knick knacks), and ride a bamboo raft down a river (if sitting there staring at water for 20 minutes is really your thing). My problem with the whole thing was the passivity of the entire trip. This trip is designed for fat and lazy foreigners and you literally don't have to do much except walk between your different modes of transportation. The 90 minutes of elephant riding gets old pretty quick, especially when it's only broken up by 5 minutes in the hill tribe village (you can go through the 5 stalls in less than a minute, but we lingered for a bit...). The river rafting was the ultimate in boredom for our group of 20 somethings. We got so antsy we actually picked up the poles and started helping our guide push us down the river just to have something to do. Even they water buffalo they chased into the river in front of us were just a momentary distraction (It's like Disneyland: reset the water buffalo for the next raft!). My biggest problem with this trip though was that this same set of activities was available for a third of the price at almost every travel agency and "tourist information" booth in the city. The cab drivers and staff at most hotel desks also moonlight as tour operators, so you can literally book this anywhere for only $30. If you're trying to save money, just wait until you get to Chiang Mai before booking anything.
Only two hours of the whole day tour were spent doing what we actually signed up for. The elephant ride was 20 minutes long, not one hour, and we didn't even touch water, never mind wade down a river as advertised in the photo. The elephants were all chained up and didn't seem particularly happy or well cared for as advertised. The river raft part was pretty decent though. The tour guide tried to take us to every single shopping outlet possible on the way home, no doubt in an effort to receive commission. We ended up hiring a private taxi to get home half way through the tour. A complete waste of time and money.
Let's just say I ended up paying double for a car service to pick us up early. Little too touristy for my taste. Everything from the tour guide with a microphone to stopping randomly at orchid farms and other tourist traps along the way that we didn't sign up for and wasted a lot of time. Unfortunate because that was our main reason for going into Chiang Mai. Think if I were to do again I would choose to just visit one of the elephant rescue camps instead.
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