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Ethical Elephants Thailand

Hopefully you found this Thailand blog post because you know that riding elephants is cruel and instead, you are looking for a way of helping elephants in Thailand. Please note this post is written in 2022, post covid pandemic and I visited the animal sanctuary recently.

To help elephants in Thailand, you have two options:

  • Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary Thailand
  • Head to a National Park to see wild elephants

Both are amazing experiences and I fully recommend seeing these incredible creatures. For a more intimate and upclose experience then consider a Thailand elephant sanctuary or for a real jungle trip and to see elephants where they truly belong then visit Khao Yai National Park, the best place in Thailand to see wild elephants.

For information about how to experience wild elephants in Thailand, click here.

This post will focus on one of the best elephant sanctuaries in Thailand and where you can actually experience a lot of Thailand’s wildlife. Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand has established an elephant sanctuary near Bangkok called I Love Phants Lodge.

I have visited this amazing rescue sanctuary multiple times and friends and I always recommend this Thailand animal sanctuary to visitors and fellow expats.

The elephant enclosure at I Love Phants, a humane elephant sanctuary near Bangkok

Where to stay to see elephants in Thailand?

Stay at the I Love Phants Lodge and wake up to the sounds of the elephants trumpeting and the gibbons calling. I feel this is the best jungle experience with a luxury twist (and that’s how I sold it to my Mum!). It has a swimming pool, various bungalow options and villas to choose from and offers frequent wildlife tours to see the rescue animals in Thailand. The accommodation on offer is fairly limited so be sure to book this humane elephant sanctuary in advance so you don’t miss out.

swim and watch the rescue elephants in Thailand
Sitting on the edge of the swimming pool and elephant spotting

Rescue Wildlife Thailand: Where do the rescued wildlife come from?

All the animals at the I Love Phants Lodge are rescue animals. The elephants you see here have been rescued from the entertainment industry and from poorly-run zoos. Many of the other rescue animals were rescued from Thailand’s dark pet trade, including gibbons, apes and primates. Many of their stories are incredibly sad but by supporting ethical animal experiences in Thailand we can all help to counteract the awful lives these animals have led before. This is therefore, the best  animal sanctuary in Thailand and, if you love animals, you’ll love your stay at the I Love Phants Lodge.

other rescue animals like gibbons at the rescue sanctuary
Gibbons (my favourite) at the animal rescue centre in Thailand

Ethical animal tourism Thailand

Unfortunately, during my years of living and travelling around Thailand, there is not much ethical animal tourism here. It was only 10-15 years ago where tourists could see elephants in Bangkok, a place where no jungle wildlife should be, let alone an animal that can feel vibrations through its feet. Luckily, along with ethical elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai, more and more tourists are calling for no riding elephant sanctuaries and I have seen first hand the impact this has had. When I first visited Thailand 10 years ago, there was ONE elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai that refused to give tourists rides. Now, almost every Thailand elephant sanctuary offers no-riding experiences which is definitely a win for these amazing creatures.

Elephant Reserve Thailand

The I Love Phants lodge feels more like an elephant reserve in Thailand. It has a huge, spacious central enclosure where elephants can roam freely, with the exception of the more aggressive bull elephants who have their own enclosures. You can view the elephants from the outdoor restaurant, from the swimming pool and from your hotel room window! There are many enclosures and the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand are constantly expanding as they rescue more and more animals from a life in the pet trade or entertainment industry.

Elephant Viewing Platform aka swimming pool

Elephants near Bangkok

This is the best Bangkok elephant sanctuary as it is found about 2-3 hours drive from central Bangkok. On my last trip, I combined it with a visit to the beach in Hua Hin, which was just a 1 hour drive from the elephant sanctuary.

Food at I love Phants: The humane elephant sanctuary

There is one restaurant and it is very reasonably priced, as well as a bar so you can enjoy your beer and watch the elephants. The buffet breakfast was included but I was disappointed not to see more vegetarian options for a rescue sanctuary! I hope this will improve over time.

Thailand Wildlife Tour

Several times a week, the foundation run a wildlife tour. You go in a small vehicle (like a long golf cart) and are shown all the enclosures in the sanctuary and told the stories about the different animals and how they were rescued and came to be at the Wildlife Friends Foundation.

This is the best place to see wildlife in Thailand because, in the jungle, you never know what you might see (or what you might not) and this is the best wildlife sanctuary to visit that means you experience the animals and support a much needed rescue centre in Thailand.

To book your stay, follow this link to see room options. Alternatively you can book on the website but I found they charged additional fees on my debit card (despite having a Thai bank account!) so I recommend going through Agoda to avoid this, click on the elephants below to compare room prices on Agoda!

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