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Going to Phuket in Thailand and are now wondering if there is an elephant sanctuary in Phuket and which one is the best to visit. In a perfect world, we would not need any elephant sanctuaries but unfortunately, the reality is that elephants need to be saved or rescued. So, what is the best elephant sanctuary in Phuket?

Phuket has roughly about 6 sanctuaries on the island but there are 3 main sanctuaries with the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary or the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary being the most popular. It is always advisable to check online reviews from Tripadvisor and Google reviews or if there are any recent blog posts highlighting any issues.

In this post, we will go through what is the best elephant sanctuary in Phuket. So let’s get started!

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What Makes An Elephant Sanctuary?

Elephant sanctuaries is a place where the elephants have a home where they have the freedom to move around freely with plenty of room to do so in their normal habitat.

And that the elephants are safe, cared for, and receive medical care when needed.

What Is The Aim Of Elephant Sanctuaries?

The aim of elephant sanctuaries is to provide a safe home for the elephants so they live and roam as free as realistically possible. Most of the elephants are rescued or injured that need help to recover.

They also help baby elephants that have been orphaned cause their parents were killed often due to illegal hunting. There is a challenge to returning captive elephants to the wild as been held in captivity does change their behavior.

What Is The Best Elephant Sanctuary In Phuket?

There are surprisingly a good few elephant sanctuaries around Phuket, the problem like anywhere else is finding the ones that look after the elephants properly and not just say they do. You need to check the current reviews online as to how the elephants are treated can change.

They are a number of elephant sanctuaries in Phuket but these are the best 3 to visit.

  • Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Phuket.
  • Phuket Elephant Sanctuary.
  • Elephant Retirement Park Phuket.

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Phuket

This is an ethical elephant sanctuary in Phuket which is part of an eco-tourism project in Thailand that has four other locations around the country that is headquartered in Chiang Mai. This sanctuary is for retired working elephants and rescued elephants.

The sanctuary has multiple programs for tourists starting with the half-day programs to a longer time period at the sanctuary. Where you can spend time interacting with the elephants where there you can feed them, mud and sand spa, and bathing. The half-day program prices start from 2,500 baht.

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is the island’s first ethical elephant sanctuary that is set on 30 acres of the lush tropical jungle bordering Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. That is a sanctuary for retired working elephants and rescued elephants.

The sanctuary has multiple program options for tourists to visit the sanctuary where they can spend time interacting with the elephants where there you can them pineapples and bananas and observe the elephants go about their day. You can not bathe with the elephants in this sanctuary. The half-day program prices start from 3,000 baht.

Elephant Retirement Park Phuket

This sanctuary as the name suggests is for retired elephants and it is home to rescued elephants also. The sanctuary provides a suitable habitat for the elephants where they can live safely.

There is a strict policy in the treatment of its elephants at the sanctuary. This means that there is strictly no riding, chaining, or beating of any kind.

The sanctuary has multiple programs for tourists can visit and spend time interacting with the elephants where there you can feed them, mud and sand spa, and bathing. The half-day program prices start from 2,600 baht.

Can You Bathe With Elephants In Phuket?

Depends on the sanctuary, each sanctuary has there own policies on whether you can bathe with the elephants. For example, the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary does not allow bathing with elephants because they do not think it is ethical.

Why You Should Not Ride Elephants In Phuket?

The reason that you should not ride elephants not only in Phuket but worldwide is due to the cruel methods to break in elephants so that they can be ridden. The methods used to break in the elephants include elephants been jabbed with metal hooks or sharp hooks and deprived of food, and beaten.

elephant riding

Also, these places will often take baby elephants away from their parents. And then in a cruel manner to break them in that will involve stabbing them with bullhooks, beating them into submission, taking away their food, and all while they are kept in tiny cages.

What Is An Ethical Elephant Sanctuary?

An ethical elephant sanctuary is a sanctuary where you cannot ride the elephants and they don’t do tricks. And also the elephants will not experience any punishment, chaining, or other forms of dominance.

Elephant tourism and ethical elephant tourism is an ongoing debate, with ethical tourism the way forward.

To ensure change to more ethical elephant tourism, tourists need to not visit sanctuaries that make elephants do tricks and where they allow riding elephants.

Signs That Elephant Sanctuary Is Not Ethical

There are a few signs that can indicate that if the elephants are being treated properly. These are as follows.

You See Chains

If there are any chains insight or it seems that the elephant’s movement is restricted. This is a major sign that it is an unethical elephant sanctuary.

Captured Elephant

The Elephants Perform Tricks

If you see elephants performing tricks and that the elephants seem to be following commands of their handlers. Such as posing for photos by lifting their trunks, sitting on their hind legs, or painting.

This again is a major sign that it is an unethical elephant sanctuary.

Touching The Elephants Or Touching Is Limited

Ethical elephant sanctuaries generally do not let you touch the elephants as this can be stressful for the elephants and could be dangerous to you.

Also, bathing sessions at sanctuaries are popular but even this can be bad for the elephants especially if the camp allows visitors to sit on them to bathe them.

Elephants Should Have Shade, Water, and Food

The elephants at the sanctuaries should look healthy and not skinny. It is easy to tell if the elephants haven’t had any shade or water. Also, make sure they are not dressed up.

Elephant at the Maeri Elephant Sanctuary

Online Reviews Can Highlight Red Flags

When deciding on which sanctuary to visit, always check the online reviews from Tripadvisor or Google. If reviews seem to regularly mention elephants doing tricks and people riding elephants.

This again is a major red flag that it is an unethical elephant sanctuary. It is also worth visiting the sanctuary website.

Wrapping Up

Finally, Phuket has roughly about 6 sanctuaries around the island with there being 3 main sanctuaries. With Phuket Elephant Sanctuary or the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary being the most popular. It is always advisable to check online reviews from Tripadvisor and Google reviews or if there are any recent blog posts highlighting any issues.

And that’s it for now! I’d love to know if this guide on what is the best elephant sanctuary in Phuket has helped you. Let me know if you have any questions and let me know if there is more to add.

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Best Elephant Sanctuary In Phuket
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