Koh Samui is one of the most tourist friendly islands in Thailand, due to its upgraded infrastructure and ease of access. There are plenty of daily flights from Bangkok, Krabi, and others, and the island has plenty of things to do! In fact, as Thailand is one of our favorite countries, Cody and I decided to get a house here back in 2017. This gives us an excuse to go back time and again. This guide will tell you how to see an ethical elephant sanctuary in Koh Samui, along with all the extra details.
One of the best things to do on the island is to go see the elephants. Only issue: how to see elephants that are treated ethically as opposed to the ones that are abused for the tourists. Before we went our last time we did a ton of research to find an ethical elephant sanctuary in Koh Samui. While they are more expensive than ones that treat the elephants poorly, it is important to us not to use our money supporting the bad treatment of these majestic creatures.
The place we found to be the best is called Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and it is located in the north of the island. You’ll have to make a reservation online as they only allow a certain number of people to be around the elephants per day. The cost is $100 a person and the total excursion lasts for around 3 hours.
Whenever looking at elephant sanctuaries the first thing to check for is whether or not they let you ride the elephants. If they do, then it is not an ethical place. In fact, while we were climbing the Na Muang Waterfall, we saw a terrible place catering to mainland Chinese tourists. They were letting them ride the elephants and poking the elephants with sharp metal sticks to make them move.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Koh Samui does provide quite a lot to do however, so you don’t have to worry about only looking at the elephants like in a zoo.
Our day started by getting on the van to take us to the actual sanctuary. They will pick you up if you are staying at a hotel, but as we were at our house with one of Cody’s high school friends and his friend’s sister, we just drove to a pick up point. I do believe if you pre-arrange it the company will allow you to meet at the sanctuary by yourself.
Upon arriving at the sanctuary we were presented with a traditional tunic which was a nice gift so that we don’t ruin our own clothes. We were given a short presentation about how the ethical elephant sanctuary works, and how it is different than others. The first thing on our itinerary was feeding the elephants. This was so much fun. We were able to get right up to the elephants and give them nutrient balls, bananas, and pineapples. You don’t realize just how massive these animals are until you get right up close to them. You are allowed to touch the elephants and feel their skin.
From there we were allowed to clean up, and follow the elephants on a walk to the mud bath. Elephants use mud to protect their skin from the sun, so it is important to give them the chance to do what they do in nature. The elephants go into a muddy area and large hoses spray around the area. The elephants have some time to play around by themselves while we watch, and then after they are wet and muddy we are allowed to go in and smear some mud on them as well. This is probably the dirtiest part of the day, but it is one of the most fun. After the mud bath we are given access to the showers in which to rinse ourselves off. As all the animals in this ethical elephant sanctuary and rescued, we also got to apply some medicine to one of their’s skin, where they had suffered injuries.
The last thing we do with the elephants is swim with them. There is a large pool filled with water and the elephants seem to have a fun time swimming around in the water, and we have fun swimming around with them. They even spray water around with their trunks.
After the swim we are given some more time to feed the elephants before showering off again and drying off. At this point we could have chosen to change back into our other clothes, but most people chose to keep on the tunic, as we were taking a lot of pictures.
Our guide the entire day now let us relax as he told us more about the elephants, and gave us a small cooking class teaching us how to make papaya salad. The entire time during this excursion there is a professional photographer taking pictures of the day. This means we didn’t have to worry about our cameras getting ruined when we were in the mud or the water. The photographer later put up the pictures on a dropbox so we got them a few days later.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how the day went. The elephants seemed happy, and I realized that riding these creatures is not what experiencing them should be about. I highly recommend Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Koh Samui to anyone who wishes to see a well run ethical elephant sanctuary.
Hours: By appointment only, meetings at 8:30 AM and 1:30 PM
Price: $100 per person
Duration: 3-4 hours
Included: Lunch, Shirt, Feeding the elephants, mud bath with the elephants, swimming with the elephants, professional photographer
Check out 5 Must Do Things In Koh Samui