TheLoneRider
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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Bonding with the Elephants in Chiang Mai Apr 11, 2019

Bonding with the Elephants in Chiang Mai

Location: Chiang Mai Elephant Sanctuary, Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Big Shift
Riding elephants, because of the cruelty in training them, has been taboo in the tourism trade. This time, elephant tours consist of feeding, bathing and petting the elephants which were claimed to be rescued from shows and labor camps. Some of the tour captions explicitly state, No Rides. I tried one of them.

Door to Door Pick-up and Drop-off
It was a 6:30am door-to-door pick-up and 1pm drop-off on an open-air songthao that took nearly 1.5 hours one-way from Old City to the mountains of Mae Win, Mae Wang District. It was full house in the songthao with a Mexican crew and a Portuguese group. We had a brief stop-over at a gas station for breakfast eats. Buffet lunch was awaiting at the elephant camp grounds.

Feeding
First order of the day was to feed the elephants with bananas. One of them could take the whole banana and throw out the peel! The guides, Tommy and Lucy, said the elephants can eat as much as 80k of bananas daily and expenses per elephant could average B500/day.

Bonding with the Elephants in Chiang Mai

Bathing
Next stop was the mud bath. We went to the muddy pond and bathed the elephants as they were lying down. They could be playful and if you get too close, you could be rolled-over. I guess this is what scared most of the ladies...that, or they simply didn't want to wallow in the mud. It was fun for me and the elephants.

Waterfall
Last hurrah to douse off the mud was a waterfall bath. It was a nice and refreshing finish. Perfect for selfies too!

Ending Thoughts
I guess it's the country club life for these elephants. Instead of hard labor pulling logs while being beaten up, they are now the rock stars of their own show where they are fed and bathed by scantily clad ladies. Hey, not a bad life. That's better than what most people have!

If not for the uncomfortable 1.5-hour songthao ride on a hot day, it would have all been perfect. Perhaps an air-conditioned van would have made it a perfect day. But the guides Tommy and Lucy were incredible, lunch was good and the waterfall made for a happy ending.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
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Reader Comments:

Navraj GrewalNavraj India
(Apr 20, 2019) Sure would love to go on this trip! And you get to see the elephants too 🙂

Gabriella NagyGabriella
(Apr 19, 2019) Haha, you are funny 🙂

Erica BoucherErica USA
(Apr 19, 2019) I so loved my experience caring for the elephants. One of my greatest experiences ever.

Next stop: Movie Review: Hellboy (2019)


Google Map

Chiang Mai, Thailand

important places in Chiang Mai IMPORTANT PLACES
Chiang Mai Bus Station Bus Station
Chiang Mai Train Station Train Station
Chiang Mai airport Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily

hotels in Chiang Mai HOTEL
Chiang Mai Arun Dara Villa Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Chiang Mai Nawa Sheeva Hotel Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big rooms, high ceiling, salt-water pool, restaurant, cafe
Chiang Mai Nawa Saraan Hotel Nawa Saraan Hotel - low density (4 spacious rooms), stone garden setting, Koi fish pond, Old City location

birds nest restaurants in Chiang Mai RESTAURANT
La Pizza Chiang Mai La Pizza Chiang Mai - Italian pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, coffee
Chiang Mai birds nest restaurant Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup

Thai massage in Chiang Mai WELLNESS
ITM  International Training Massage School ITM - International Training Massage School - Chiang Mai's most prestigious massage school
Float Chiang Mai Float Chiang Mai - sensory deprivation float pod
Chiang Mai, Royal Thai Lanna Massage Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment

motorcycle rental in Chiang Mai MOTORBIKE RENTAL
Chiang Mai birds nest motorcycle Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200



USEFUL INFORMATION

Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
  • crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
  • hot season begins March and lasts until June
  • wet season begins July and lasts until September
  • best time to visit Chiang Mai is mid-September to mid-February
  • visit Chiang Mai between October and April - best time, without the monsoon rains
  • you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
  • the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
  • to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
  • get a red cab (songthao) outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
  • shared red taxi (songthao) - B30 standard fare plying all over Old City
  • for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
  • FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
  1. North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session, Blues on Sundays by the 11pm band
  2. Road House - in front of Porn Ping Hotel
  3. Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai Cost Index
  • B60 Chiang beer
  • B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
  • B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage (highly recommended)
  • B50 noodle soup with meat
  • B50 coffee
  • B40 pad thai
  • B30/kilo wash-only laundry
  • B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
  • B100-150 dorm bed/night
  • B250 fan room/night
  • B30 internet cafe/hour
  • B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
  • B130-150 Movies weekdays
  • B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
  • B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
  • B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
  • B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
  • B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva (highly recommended)

  • Transportation
  • B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
  • B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
  • B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
  • B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
  • B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
  • B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
  • B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
  • B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B638 #7 a/c train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
  • B50 red taxi fare from point to point
  • B100 red taxi fare from train terminal to city

  • Tours
  • B2000 full day elephant sanctuary
  • B750 Chiang Rai one-day tour
  • B1500 mountain biking scenic ride
How to Get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok by Train from Bang Sue Train Station

For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)

(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)

  1. take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
  2. Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
  3. daily train schedule:
    • 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
    • 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
    • 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
    • 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
    • 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck
Chiangmai Blogs by TheLoneRider
  1. The Outsiders (people you need to push out of your sacred circle) May 31, 2019
  2. Fascinating Peoplescape of Chiang Mai II May 22, 2019
  3. Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame (2019) May 14, 2019
  4. Movie Review: Arctic (2018) May 13, 2019
  5. Secret Sunrise Interactive Dance May 9, 2019
  6. Bruschetta: Nawa Saraan Style Apr 22, 2019
  7. Thai Cooking at Pra Nang Thai Cookery School Apr 20, 2019
  8. Movie Review: Hellboy (2019) Apr 15, 2019
  9. Bonding with the Elephants in Chiang Mai Apr 11, 2019
  10. Ziplining in Chiang Mai with Eagle Track Zipline Apr 10, 2019
  11. Movie Review: Shazam! (2019) Apr 4, 2019
  12. Movie Review: Captive State (2019) Mar 27, 2019
  13. Getting Thai Massage from Chiang Mai's Best (Lar Thanakrit Khamtanong) Mar 21, 2019
  14. Movie Review: Captain Marvel (2019) Mar 19, 2019
  15. Being the Soul of Nawa Saraan Hotel Mar 18, 2019
  16. Peoplescape of Chiang Mai Jan 24 - Mar 13, 2019
  17. Movie Review: Vox Lux (2018) Mar 2, 2019
  18. Movie Review: The Favourite (2018) Feb 25, 2019
  19. Curing Cancer with Yoga? Feb 21, 2019
  20. Movie Review: Alita Battle Angel Feb 19, 2019
  21. International Training Massage School (ITM): Level 1 Feb 11-15, 2019
  22. Movie Review: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Feb 3, 2018
  23. Movie Review: Green Book Jan 30, 2019
  24. Meditation in a Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Chiang Mai Jan 29, 2019
  25. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Jan 27, 2019
  26. Movie Review: Aquaman Jan 26, 2019
  27. Reiki Share at the Mastermind Brain Spa Jan 26, 2019
  28. Resuming Life in Chiang Mai Jan 24, 2019
  29. 4 Days in Chiang Mai at Nawa Saraan Hotel Jan 2-6, 2019
  30. Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
  31. An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
  32. Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
  33. Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
  34. Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
  35. Yoga In The Park - Chiang Mai July 31, 2018
  36. Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
  37. 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
  38. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  39. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  40. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  41. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016

Travel Tips for Thailand

How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days

    60-Day Thai Tourist Visa

    NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.

  1. Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
    a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
    b) flight booking to Thailand
    c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
    d) filled-in tourist visa form
    e) 2 passport pictures
    f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
  2. After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!

    30-Day Extension

    NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.

  1. bring the following to the Immigration Office:
    a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
    b) Baht 1900
    c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
    d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
    e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
  2. submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
  3. when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
  4. when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
  5. when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!

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