"Elephant Conservation Centre home stay" Northern Thailand Things to Do Tip by Brian&Sally
Northern Thailand Things to Do: 61 reviews and 95 photos
Just outside Lampang, on the highway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, is the Elephant Conservation Centre. This is a place dedicated to improving the lot of the Thai elephants. They take in old working elephants that are no longer of use to their owners; run a hospital for sick and injured elephants; run shows for the tourists; and generally do lots of good things for our long-trunked friends.
If you want to get up close and personal with elephants, this is the place to do it. You can just stay for one of their shows and a tour of the facilities, or to get the most out of it join a home stay program. Running in length from a couple of days (the website says 3 days but we negotiated a 2 day program) to a month, you get to experience life with the elephants as the park staff do. You will learn to ride them as the mahouts do, learn commands for controlling them, take part in their training - and if you're game, join in with elephant bath time in the river! It's hot and sweaty and you'll get sore legs and an even more sore butt, but you'll get memories for a lifetime.
We booked and organised our stay well in advance via email and had no problems. The camp is well-run and organised and the accomodation is basic, but clean. Each night, you join in the preparations and cooking of the evening meal with your host family. It's a little expensive compared to other activities in Thailand, but it's for a good cause and you really do get a lot out of it.
Photos to come!
We took the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, which stops at Lampang in the morning. It's early, so set your alarm. Don't rely on the train porters to wake you - we asked them to get us up for breakfast before we arrived but they came around only a few minutes before we arrived. Luckily we'd already got ourselves organised!
Directions: From Lampang station, it's a short walk to the bus station. Take any bus going north to Chiang Mai and watch for the big sign a few kms north. It's well signposted. There is a shuttle bus from the highway into the camp.
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