The overnight stay at Elephant Nature Park with kids

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As many parents of travelling teenagers will attest not much puts a glimmer in their eyes these days. But I can tell you a spark was lit when I told Willow we were going to visit Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai Thailand.

She decided to do some extra research and found you could spend the night stay overnight at the best Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai as well as do a short day trip. But was an overnight stay at Elephant Nature Park with kids a good idea?

Willow at Elephant nature Park with kids
Chiang Mai elephant sanctuary for kids

Things were sorted very quickly, though, thanks to Marley. While Willow was crazy excited about the overnight stay at the Elephant rescue park, this was not the same for her sister, and staying the night at Elephant Nature Park was not for Marley.

Where is Elephant Nature Park?

The Elephant Nature Park is located in Northern Thailand, about an hour out of Chiang Mai.

staying over night at elephant nature park
Best elephant sanctuary in Thailand

Join in on a traditional Thai celebration. Songkran is the world’s biggest water fight and it is an epic three-day festival you’ll never forget!

What is Elephant Nature Park?

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai Thailand is an animal sanctuary where injured elephants are rescued and rehabilitated from a life of hard work or from being ridden. They have been found through many different channels and bought to the elephant park for medical attention or surrendered once they are unable to work any more.

It is here at the Elephant Nature Park where they get to live out their lives in peace and harmony without the hard life they have had in the past. It is the best place to see elephants in Chiang Mai.

Elephant Nature Park was started in the 1990s by Sangduen “Lek” Chailert who was rescuing mistreated elephants or injured elephants and re-homing them on the property. Now the elephant park has 84 elephants to care for.

On-site there is also a dog shelter and a cat kingdom where abandoned, injured or hurt animals are returned to health by the staff and many volunteers that work there. They then spend their lives there unless they are adopted out to a family who will love them.

If you would like to see the latest documentary released on the park Love and Bananas click here

There is also an abundance of buffalo living there as well, and they are so funny to watch, especially when they are under the sprinklers. They do like to get a little close sometimes too, but there is nothing to be worried about!

How we visited Elephant Nature Park with kids

While both the girls love animals, it is Willow that has a deep affection for them, and they seem to connect with her just as easily. So it was decided that Willow and I would stay the night at Elephant Nature Park while Mark and Marley would do a short day tour to Elephant Nature Park, returning to our hotel that night.

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Day 1 at Elephant Nature Park

Day one started with us being picked up at our hotel in Chiang Mai. As we had booked two different tours our guide was not happy that we would experience the park separately.

So, after a couple of phone calls were made, and it was decided that the second bus that was to pick Mark and Marley up would also take Willow and me. We would be all going together.

Elephant nature park Thailand
Elephant Nature Park is one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai

Day 1 Itinerary

  • 8.30 am pick up at the hotel
  • Arrive at the park
  • Welcome
  • Feed the elephants on the common area veranda
  • Walk to see the elephants through the park
  • Check-in (for Willow and I)
  • Lunch
  • Walk to see elephants bathing in the mud
  • Say goodbye to Mark and Marley
  • Free time
  • Meet the herd that we would be spending time with the next day
  • Dinner

Our day was filled with feeding, watching and learning about the elephants and how they lived life before coming to the park. To hear stories of what they went through to finally get here is truly heartbreaking. There were times our group didn’t talk for a little while.

Things to do in your free time at ENP:

During your free time at the park, you can sit on the common area verandah and watch the elephants roam, you can visit the cattery, or you can help out at the dog kennels by walking a dog with a disability.

What is the accommodation like at Elephant Nature Park for the overnight stay?

As you drive into Elephant Nature Park there are some houses on stilts, these are the places you will call home for the overnight stay. They are absolutely beautiful and very spacious. They come with:

  • A fan – there is no air conditioning
  • Our room had a double bed and a single
  • Mosquito nets over the beds
  • A balcony to sit and listen to the Elephants trumpet after your day with seating
  • A small couch
  • Bedding
  • Wi-fi
  • Shower and toilet

We found the accommodation at Elephant Nature Park really good. There was plenty of room to sit inside and out. The balcony was a favourite of ours as the dogs seemed to want to follow Willow everywhere so they would sit on the balcony and wait for her to go out there and pat them.

Elephants eatring in Thailand
Chiang Mai with kids must include a trip to see elephants up close.

*The only issue we had during the night was some of the dogs were really keen to get in and would jump at the door but they stopped after we turned the lights off. At one point they also had a great time chasing a poor cat around.

Read more: Are you visiting Bangkok? A day trip to Ayutthaya is a must when there. Not sure how to get to Ayutthaya? Lucky we’ve got all the answers here!

Day 2 at Elephant Nature Park

  • 6.00 am wake up
  • 7.00 am breakfast
  • 8.00 am getting prepared for the first day’s activities a walk to feed the herd
  • 8.30 am meet the herd and walk to their paddock
  • 10.00 am watch the elephants bathe and feed them
  • 11.00 am free time
  • 12.00 lunchtime
  • 1.00 pack up
  • 2.00 free time/check out
  • 3.00 departure time
Elephant nature park with kids overnight stay
Elephant Nature Park accommodation is comfortable

How much is a night at Elephant Nature Park?

For our overnight stay at Elephant Nature Park, it cost us: 8700 baht for both of us.

Adults are 5800baht each and children 2-11 years are 50%

This included all of our meals in a vegan buffet style in the common area, our transport to and from Elephant Nature Park and our overnight accommodation.

Walking along the river at Elephant Nature Park
Visit the best Elephant sanctuary near Chiang Mai

What do I need to take with me to Elephant Nature Park for the overnight stay?

There are a few things you should take with you on your overnight stay at Elephant Nature Park. There are places to leave a bag but you must take your valuable items with you at all times until you are able to check-in. We suggest you take:

  • A good hat for everyone in the family
  • Sunscreen
  • Good sturdy shoes for walking in
  • Insect repellant
  • A change of clothes
  • Toiletries
  • A towel
  • A small back-pack to keep everything together

On our things to take to the Elephant Nature Park list, it says a towel and toiletries but when we arrived they were in our room to use. Take some with you just in case.

Are you travelling with teenagers? Check out our Travel with Teens destination guides for more epic travel inspiration

What can I buy at Elephant Nature Park?

There are plenty of things you can buy from Elephant Nature Park to remember your time there. There is also a coffee shop and a little store where you can get drinks and ice-cream during the day

ItemCost
T-shirt200 baht
Drink bottle holder120 baht
Cap150 baht
Long-sleeved top 300 baht
Elephant plush250 baht
Ice-creamfrom 25 baht
Coffee30 baht
Beer30 baht
Wine Cooler30 baht
Chips25 baht
Soft drink20 baht

Some extra things you need to know

  • All meals served at Elephant Nature Park are vegan
  • Coffee is made with almond milk or soy
  • It is not recommended that you go to the local town for meat dishes as there have been some cases of food poisoning
  • The food was extremely good. We are not vegans but I can tell you we thoroughly enjoyed the food
  • There is a little shop on site where you can buy things. It shuts at 9.00 normally but on a Sunday night they shut at 5.00
  • There is no fridge in your room

*Just one more tip. If you are going out there take some smaller notes with you for small purchases especially if you are staying the night at Elephant Nature Park for a few beverages after a long day.

My favourite parts on our overnight stay

There were so many but I have put down the ones that have really stuck

  • Watching my daughter in awe of these amazing animals
  • Wondering what all the yelling is about and then see a small elephant running towards the water with his Mahout running full speed behind him trying to keep up
The Elephants roaming
Elephant Nature Park volunteer package is very rewarding
  • Meeting everyone from our group and learning about where they came from
  • Meeting a lady Meg, who was doing her second stay at the dog rescue centre and hearing her story
  • Going to sleep at night listening to the elephant’s trumpet
  • Knowing and seeing that these animals are well looked after but most of all now safe and extremely loved
  • Being a Mahout for the day and taking bananas to the herd. Also making food for the older elephants who no longer have teeth was brilliant and messy!

Travelling with kids is hard. Here are our top tips for keeping kids of all ages safe while travelling near and far!

Other experiences offered by Elephant Nature Park

Another thing I really loved is that there are so many more opportunities at Elephant Nature Park other than just the Eles! We loved hearing about how they are trying to expand to help so many more animals too.

Elephant volunteer

There are a couple of different options to volunteer with the elephants. One is where you can care for the elephants at Elephant Nature Park and also have interactions with the local villages giving you a broad experience there. This is a 7 day experience. The cost if this experience is $15,000baht

Elephant Nature park
Elephant Nature Park ethical conservation is well known.

The other is where you care for the elephants on a daily basis at Elephant Nature Park taking in all the daily duties that they need to live a happy, healthy life there. This is also for 7 days and it will cost $12,000baht to be a part of.

*Both of these programs start on a Monday and run for 7 days but you need to be there the night before to start work on the Monday morning. Meals are provided and accommodation is basic.

Dog Volunteer

There are many dogs that have been abandoned and live at the Nature Park as well. You will work from 8 am to 5pm every day for a minimum of 7 days. There are options for you to extend your stay but they must be booked separately. All meals and basic accommodation is included.

You will help care for the dogs, feed them, walk them and clean the areas where they are kept. This is not a ‘holiday’ you are there to work and care for the dogs. This experience will cost you $7000 baht and you must be over 16 to participate.

Cat volunteer

The cat volunteer program is very similar to the dog one but it was still under some development when we left. It is due to open in the near future.

The cat sanctuary at Elephant Nature Park

Is Elephant Nature Park ethical? Our opinion

Going to any animal experience these days can be a worry for anyone. The growing recognition that animal parks, zoos and conservation centres are not all created equally or have the same ethos is a worry for many people wanting to do the right thing. We wanted to do the right thing, learn about the elephant and support a cause that was indeed ethical.

For us, our research led us here to Elephant Nature Park and our opinion is that it is ethical. The elephants are not ridden or bathed by tourists here. They are fed by tourists but at any point, if they want to move away they are free to do so, which some did during the day.

You are not allowed to wander freely around the park you must have a guide with you at all times and at any time if the elephant is not happy you are urged to move on.

The community Elephant Nature Park has created

What I also liked to learn is the sense of community that Lek has created there. A Mahout is assigned to each elephant. That Mahout is chosen by the elephant themselves. Three Mahouts are to spend time with an elephant and the one the elephant connects with the most is then given the job to care for them.

Being a Mahout at the Elephant Nature Park is a tough job. You must sit with the elephant and move with them when they go. The Mahout has to make sure they are happy and have everything they need at all times.

Every two hours over night the Mahout will come back to check on the elephant to make sure they are ok during the night. It is a job that is so full of love and commitment to making the best life for the elephant.

Feeding the Elephants
Elephant Nature Park price varies for different experiences

I also love that when the Mahout is chosen they are able to bring their family to live close to the park. This opens up a lot of opportunities for the entire extended family. The wife can work at the park and the children can go to school which has been opened there by Lek.

For me this was another reason for me to believe we had picked the right place to see these beautiful animals

Event though we had different experiences (Marley was very happy with her short day visit) we all walked away with a huge amount of knowledge about these amazing animals and the hard lives they led until the day they came here.

I feel that our money was well spent in both situations and I am glad that Willow and I stayed the night as we got such a brilliant small group experience the next day. We were comfortable, well-fed and we loved our overnight stay at Elephant Nature Park.

Visiting Elephant Nature Park with kids is a truly amazing experience. I enjoyed it and so did my family. Willow is planning a visit back there to be an Elephant Nature Park volunteer when she is 16. Not only will she plan to spend time with the elephants but with the other animals there as well.

Know before you go. Our top Chiang Mai travel tips

Travelling to Chiang Mai can be such an enriching experience for the whole family. There are so many things to do in Chiang Mai and having the best place to stay in Chiang Mai and wander is extremely important. Here we’ve got some information to get you planning your family vacation to Chiang Mai to make it completely hassle-free.

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

You’ll never be short of options for your holiday accommodation in Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai, you find a range of hotels, apartments, and hostels. You will be sure to be able to find something to fit singles, couples, families, and groups on every budget. If you’re not keen on any of our picks below or have specific needs, we recommend using Hotellook and Agoda to find the best prices in Chiang Mai

Budget: Accommodation with gardens, outdoor swimming pool, and free wifi. Each room at Pha-Thai House has a seating area and refrigerator. Free bottled water is available daily. Pha-Thai House is a 7-minute walk from Wat Phra Singh Temple, while Chedi Luang Temple is a 10-minute walk away

Mid Range: Located on the river a short walk from the old town is the WeBreeza Hotel. This hotel offers family-sized rooms and an indoor pool. Bike hire and tour desk are available for all guests.

Luxury: Rooms and suites feature tasteful design, teak flooring, and private courtyards or balconies. Flat-screen cable TVs, free WiFi, and coffee machines. The Anantara Chiang Mai Resort has a well-equipped fitness centre and offers yoga and aerobics classes. A true piece of luxury in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai apartment alternative for your stay

If you prefer a home away from home-style accommodation when you travel with teenagers then an apartment is the best choice for you on your Chiang Mai vacation with teens. There are so many options for singles, families, and budget-friendly options as well. For Chiang Mai . Search VRBO to find the perfect apartment in Chiang Mai for teenagers on your Chiang Mai vacation with family.  

How to get to Chiang Mai

Being the biggest city in the North of Thailand, Chiang Mai is connected by highways from the south and north, long distant buses, trains and planes all bring people daily to the city.

  • Plane: The Chiang Mai International Airport is the fourth-busiest airport in Thailand. Chiang Mai airport is the major airport in the North of Thailand. The airport is serviced by both international and regional budget carriers. Book your Chiang Mai flights with CheapOair today
    • You can book your transfer from the airport to Chiang Mai hotels today
      • If your flights have a long stopover, or you just want to relax before your trip you should consider getting a lounge pass with Priority Pass. Priority Pass have access to airport lounges all over the world. Search now for your lounge pass

Buses: Buses arrive in town daily from destinations such as Bangkok and Chiang Rai. Buses from Bangkok take 10 hours while Chiang Rai is 3 hours away. You can book all your Thailand buses with the experts at 12go Asia.

Train: A popular way to get to Chiang Mai is by the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok. The train leaves Bangkok Station in the evening and has you in Chiang Mai mid-morning.  You can search for all Thailand trains with Trip.com

Driving to Chaing Mai from Bangkok or Chiang Rai is easy. There are new highways from each city leading to Chaing Mai. You can pick up a rental car at any major airport in Thailand. Book your rental car in Thailand today

How to get around Chiang Mai

There is a local bus network visitors can use, we recommend that you download the GRAB app and use it (Grab is the Asian version of UBER). You will find plenty of taxis, just make sure you ask if they turn the meter on otherwise you may have a big surprise

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What currency do I need for my trip to Thailand?

The official currency you need to use in Thailand is the Baht. We recommend that you get a Revolut travel money card, that can be loaded with multiple currencies and has nearly non-existent withdrawal fees to save you money.

Travel insurance for Thailand

Thailand has a reasonable quality of healthcare but in saying that travel insurance is still recommended for all travellers entering the country. The last thing you want is a huge bill for medical expenses should you require care on your family holiday in Chiang Mai.

We recommend using Travel Insurance Master, their website will compare the best deals from a number of providers and present you with the best value for money policy on the market. Click through to Insurance Masters to get a free quote.

Using your phone in Chiang Mai

Relying on Wi-fi when you are travelling and sightseeing in Chiang Mai with family can be hard. Making calls and staying in contact when you travel with teenagers is a top priority. Plan your family trip to Chiang Mai and order your sim before you leave home to stop any stress about travelling, data and calls on your family vacation in Thailand.

I hope that the great work the staff at Elephant Nature Park do will continue for years to come. We hope this article from us here at Wyld Family Travel has you inspired to visit Thailand. For more amazing ideas on where to holiday in Thailand click through to our Thailand Destination Page for more brilliant inspiration.


Some more travel inspiration for your trip to Thailand

1 thought on “The overnight stay at Elephant Nature Park with kids”

  1. Thanks for this. We had planned to go this summer. If not, we’ll save it for next year!

    Reply

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