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Tourists ply their elephant with bananas before beginning a trek.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Thailand > Sports & Activities

Elephant Riding in Thailand

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For many tourists, riding through Thailand's countryside on the back of an elephant is a highlight of their trip. It's a safe and highly enjoyable activity, and the environmental impact is minimal.

A typical elephant ride - which can last between half an hour and half a day - will take you through villages and forests, past farms and across one or more rivers. Pachyderms are superb all-terrain vehicles, capable of getting up and down the most slippery of river banks without mishap.

The elephants are invariably well trained and good tempered. However, very few mahouts (the men who spend years training and working with individual elephants) speak more than a tiny bit of English, so don't expect any commentary on where you're going or what you're seeing. A few institutions organize mahout-training courses which offer an opportunity to learn a bit about how elephants are taught to obey spoken commands.

Bathing and swimming with elephants is possible at some places, including Kanchanaburi, Sangkhlaburi and Chiang Mai Province. At others, the animals are forced or encouraged to do circus-like tricks or 'paint' pictures. Some tourists find these attractions tasteless - you may, too. If you'd like to see elephants up close, and learn something about them, but not place them in a situation where they have to perform, the Elephant Nature Park is recommended.

Type: Tip
Location: Thailand

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