If you are planning a family holiday to Phuket, Chiang Mai or Pattya in Thailand, the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is one place you must visit with your kids.
Over the Fall school holidays we took a family cruise which stopped in Phuket for one day. Our time in Phuket was limited, but we still wanted to do something memorable with the boys. The kids wanted to see “elephants”, so naturally I began my Google searching for the perfect place. I found a variety of places to see elephants in Phuket online, but upon further reading of the reviews discovered that the elephants were being treated poorly at these establishments. I stumbled upon the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, read all the positive reviews and decided this was the adventure for us.
About the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary (EJS) is an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand, with locations in Chiang Mai, Phuket & Pattaya. At EJS, visitors are given the opportunity to interact with elephants in the safety and security of their natural home. You can do either a morning, afternoon, full day or even an overnight visit, where you will feed, bathe with and play with the elephants.
Our visit highlights…
We decided to do an afternoon visit to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. We were picked up by the EJS in a private 4×4 vehicle from a hotel nearby to the cruise port where our ship had docked. Due to traffic, our journey to the Elephant Sanctuary took approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. The round-trip journey to EJS from most of the major hotels is included in the price of the visit, however since our cruise port was located so far away, we had to top-up and pay a little extra for the ride.
We were the first family to arrive at 12:30pm for the afternoon slot (they also offer a morning session and full day session). Check-in took less than a minute and then we raced up the path to meet the elephants. My curious boys asked a zillion questions and the guide was very helpful and patient answering all of them. The elephants were free to roam – there were no cages or barricades in front of them.
Once everyone arrived, we were given a brief talk on the different types of elephants and their distinguishing characteristics. After that we all proceeded to pick up baskets of food and carry them to the elephants.
For the next half hour we got to feed the elephants a variety of fruits and vegetation.
It started pouring rain for about 15mins – but no one seemed to mind (we already planned on getting wet and muddy soon). My boys ran in and changed into their swimming clothes and didn’t mind the downpour.
Once the elephants were fed, it was time for the fun to really begin. The whole group proceeded to get down and dirty in the mud with the elephants.
Then it was time to clean off the mud and splish-splash in the man-made lake.
After that it was time to give the elephants a nice shower & scrub.
Once the elephants were all fed and clean, it was time for us mere mortals to shower up and eat. We started off with a Pad Thai cooking lesson. I jumped right in and volunteered to help (and got some first hand Thai cooking tips in the progress).
After the lesson it was time to chow down on a Thai buffet style lunch. My picky eater even found a few things he could enjoy.
Once we were done eating, we were given a special gift of ponchos by the EJS. Of course we had to put them on and take some fun pictures with the elephants again.
After a fun and exciting afternoon, at 4:00pm, it was time for us to bid farewell to our new elephant friends and get ready for our next adventure.
Super Tips for Bringing Babies, Toddlers & Kids to EJS
– You can bring a Baby or Toddler. You can bring a baby or toddler to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, however I do not recommend them getting in the man-made lake, as it may be too deep. Otherwise, all the activities would be fun for kids of all ages.
– Don’t worry about the mud or lake. Your kids do not need to get in the water or mud with the elephants. They can stand on the side and watch & still experience the excitement or dip their feet inside. Just make sure that if your kids do get in the water/mud with the elephants, that they have an adult with them.
– The walking is minimal. There was very little walking involved. You can wear open-toed shoes, but plan on having very dirty shoes at the end.
– Pack an umbrella or rain poncho. If it rains, you will get wet. Only the eating area is covered. Bring an umbrella or poncho to keep you dry.
– Bring sunscreen & a hat. The hot sun will be shining down and there is minimal tree coverage in the mud and lake. Make sure you have adequate sun protection.
– Pack food if you have picky eaters, dietary restrictions or starving children. If you are attending the afternoon session, you will be leaving your hotel before lunchtime and will not get to eat until about 3pm. Basic coffee, tea, bottled water and cookies are provided from check-in onward. The buffet lunch included pad thai, chicken curry, vegetable curry, white rice, french fries, salad and lots of fruit.
– Bring your own towel. A towel is not provided, however you can purchase a towel if you forgot to bring your own
– Leave your jewelry and valuables at home. You will need to leave your bag on a bench while you visit the elephants – no lockers are provided. Just heed caution when packing anything of importance.
– Bring a waterproof Phone Case or Camera. Bring a waterproof case for your phone, otherwise you will not be able to take pictures while you are in the mud, lake or shower.
– Free professional pictures are included. EJS does have a photographer that takes lots of pictures, however your individual family pictures will be limited. The pictures will be in a Dropbox and the link will be posted on the EJS Facebook page after 5+days from your visit. The pictures are free.
– Souvenirs & memorabilia will be available for purchase. There are a few souvenirs for purchase – which naturally your kids will want. The price is about 2x higher than the normal tourist places, however the money does go back into providing for the elephants.
SuperMommy’s Overview of the Experience
The whole family had an awesome time! The kids loved it and before we even left the place, were already asking when we could come back. This was definitely a great experience and one not to be missed if you are in Thailand on a family holiday.
Feel free to leave me a comment if you need help planning your visit – glad to help!
Hope you have a fabulous time in Thailand!