The verdant hills surrounding cosmopolitan Chiang Mai have long been dotted with hill tribe villages of Thailand’s many ethnic minorities. Visiting one or more of these rural outposts has become a quintessential northern Thailand experience. Here’s what you need to know.
Baan Chang Elephant Park
Tambon Ki Lek, Amphoe Mae Taeng, Chang Wat, Chiang Mai, Thailand, www.baanch
Choose from three half- or full-day programs to get to know more about the Asian elephants living in the Baan Chang Elephant Park, none of which involve circus tricks or elephant rides. Instead, help feed the elephants, walk them to the river for bath time, and learn more about the relationship between elephants and their caretakers (called mahouts) whether visiting independently or otherwise. Full-day programs also include time in the Nursery Zone, where baby elephants are cared for.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Baan Chang Elephant Park is a must-visit for animal lovers and families.
The elephant park has a shower room for cleaning up after your visit; bring along a change of clothes, sunblock, and insect repellent.
Don’t forget to bring your camera for photo ops with the resident elephants.
Animal welfare is the first priority at the Baan Chang Elephant Park; don’t expect elephant rides or circus tricks.
How to Get There
All three programs offered by the Baan Chang Elephant Park include round-trip transportation from hotels in Chiang Mai, so getting there is no problem.
When to Get There
Plan to visit this elephant sanctuary on a day when the forecast predicts little rain (typically the cool, dry months between mid-November and mid-February). If you’re coming for a half-day program, opt for the morning pickup to avoid the afternoon heat.
Elephant Poo Paper
While elephants were once prized for their ivory tusks, they’re now prized for something else—sustainable paper made from their dung. Once collected, the dung is thoroughly washed to separate the plant and grass fibers that have been broken down in the elephant’s digestive system. These fibers are then boiled and pressed into sheets of paper, much like with wood pulp.
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