There are few experiences in Thailand more iconic than riding a Thai Elephant. While Thailands elephants (technically Asian Elephants) have always played an important role in the history of the kingdom, modernization has taken away nearly all the jobs the Thai elephant traditionally performed. Consequently, Thai elephant’s have taken to the tourism industry, carrying visitors around the temples of Ayutthaya and through the mountains of the north and jungles of the south.
Nearly all tourist areas, from Phuket to Pattaya, will advertise Thai elephant trekking or riding, though the most popular of these are in northern Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai. An elephant ride can be a 30 minute or one hour activity on its own or part of a trekking, bamboo rafting, and ox-cart riding day-trip or multi-day excursion. Either way, riding atop one of these intelligent yet gigantic creatures is often the highlight of one’s trip to Thailand.
It should be noted that the treatment of Thai elephants varies from elephant camp to elephant camp, some using more humane methods to look after their elephants than others.
While available almost everywhere, riding a Thai elephant is most popular in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Kanchanaburi