elephants Holiday

Elephant Holiday in Thailand
Elephant Smiles

Designed for elephant enthusiasts, this private tour takes in four areas of Thailand. It is more active than most of our soft adventure holidays as you are spend a lot of time being hands-on with elephants, but it is still very much a holiday, most likely a holiday of a lifetime!

On this 17 day itinerary (which just squeezes into 2 weeks off work), you'll discover four different areas of Thailand, from bustling Bangkok to Ayutthaya, an ancient city with an elephant history, Chiang Mai in the north, to the green countryside of Khao Yai.

You will spend time at two different elephant conservation centres we know really well, explore a vast UNESCO wildlife park to spot elephants in the wild and still have time for sightseeing with our expert local guides and have some time for relaxation too. As all Tell Tale trips, we have put a lot of thought into the design and pacing of this itinerary.

"It really was the most amazing holiday we have ever had!..Wonderful Trip, Wonderful People, Wonderful Experiences."
– Michael and Bev Lee
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Day 1 (Friday)
Direct flight from London Heathrow to Bangkok with Eva Air or Thai Airways. It is also possible to book with flights from other UK airports, or book excluding flights..

Day 2
One of our drivers will meet you at Bangkok airport in a private air-conditioned car and take you to your centrally-located boutique inn. Time to settle in and have a dip in the pool. This evening, your driver will take you around Bangkok. Have a look in your Tell Tale pack which as well as travel and cultural guideline, contains a map and tips to make the most of this evening.

Day 3 breakfast (breakfast included)
One of our expert guides will pick you up for a private day around Bangkok, including a boat trip. He will take you to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as well as Wat Arun (the 'temple of dawn') across the mighty Chao Praya river.

Evening at leisure to walk to a restaurant in the neighbourhood, your choices range from the world-famous Blue Elephant restaurant to very local, it's up to you!

Day 4 breakfast, lunch, dinner
Time to start your elephant adventures! Your driver will pick you up early and take you to Ayutthaya, 1-1.5 hours drive from present-day Bangkok. You'll head to the ancient elephant kraal, now home to Elephant Stay. You'll spend your first day learning about the centre and its work, meeting the mahouts and elephants and the basics on how to care for elephants. You'll even be given a manual of handy commands, time to bring out your innner elephant whisperer! Please note that the time here will be on a join-on basis with up to 10 other people, although you will have your own elephant for the two of you to look after.

You'll be staying in a chalet, it is rustic but it is comfortable with your own bathroom and hot water.

"We felt part of the team almost immediately after arriving, by the time we left we felt part of the family. How can you fall in love with 'your' elephant so quickly."

Day 5 breakfast, lunch, dinner
Hands on with elephants, doing anything and everything it takes to care for them!

Day 6 breakfast, lunch
Another day with elephants.

At the end of the day, you will have time to pack up before you are picked up and taken on a short drive to a boutique hotel in Ayutthaya.

Day 7 breakfast
Some time to recuperate from your activities. Then one of our local guides will pick you up using local transport and take you to explore the remains of ancient Ayutthaya. One of the capitals of Siam, it is a UNESCO heritage site with amazing temples and stupas, located on an island.

Day 8 breakfast, dinner
Transfer to the airport and short flight to Chiang Mai, the capital of the ancient Lanna kingdom in the 13th century. Again, you will be met at the airport by one of our drivers. You'll be driven to a teak house built in the traditional Lanna Style, on the banks of the Ping river, about 15 minutes away from the modern city of Chiang Mai.

Day 9 breakfast
Your driver will take you to the Mae Rim valley to visit the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens, you can easily spend a full day exploring this oasis which includes an insect centre, greenhouses and an orchid house. Or visit Mae Sa Waterfalls and trek up the tiers (10 in all) and have a refreshing swim. As today will fall on a Saturday when the waterfalls will have local visitors, we recommend taking clothes to wear on top of your swimming costumes.

Day 10 breakfast
Sightseeing in historical Chiang Mai including the 'ancient city' and beautiful temples. You'll also visit the centres for handicrafts dotted around the city where you can see how the locals make them, a great opportunity to buy souvenirs direct from co-operatives. As this is a Sunday, you can also visit the bustling weekly market which starts later in the day.

Day 11 breakfast, lunch, dinner
Pack up before a drive out of Chiang Mai. You're off to Baan Chang Elephant Park for a special experience with elephants. As with Elephant Stay, we have known them personally for years. This experience will be a real contrast, as the set up and locations are so different. The park is able to have more land for the elephants to roam. When you arrive at the park once you've met your personal guide and changed into your 'mahout outfit', you can develop your new-found elephant caring skills. Again, you'll have an elephant just for the two of you and you will ride your elephant on its neck like a mahout (or walk alongside it if you prefer) and scrub him/her down in the river. As the day ends and the day visitors leave, time to shower and change before dinner. Evening activities can vary, if you're lucky, you'll get a chance to creep up on the baby elephants as they sleep, before you bed down for the night. Again, accommodation is basic but comfortable enough for elephant encounters (and even so, more comfortable than you'd find on many adventure holidays). If you would like to learn about a different approach to elephant conservation which is hands-off (though joining in with more people), you have the option of spending 2 days at the Elephant Nature Park instead.

"Chatting with the mahouts who were camping out by the pregnant elephant in case she gave birth during the night and watching the ground clearing fires glowing in the dark all around us..A magical stay."

Day 12 breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day at Baan Chang caring for elephants including taking them to the jungle to roam freely.

Day 13 breakfast, lunch
This morning, you'll bathe your elephant before a late breakfast. Then it's time to head off, you'll trek up to waterfalls and go rafting! At the end of the day, you'll be dropped off at the Royal Princess hotel, by Tell Tale standards a large one, however, we know them well and they take great care of our guests, and we're sure you'll appreciate the comfort after your elephant adventure. The central location is also ideal for this night. Evening at leisure, we recommend having dinner at a restaurant by the river (see the tips in your Tell Tale pack) or explore Chiang Mai's famous night bazaar, whatever floats your boat!

Day 14 breakfast
Your driver will pick you up for the short drive to Chiang Mai airport. Then fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok where you will be picked up and driven to Khao Yai National Park, 2-2.5 hours drive eastwards. You'll arrive at a lodge well away from it all, where you can settle in and have a quick dip in the pool. In the late afternoon, you will be taken to see over 2 million bats leave their cave for a night's feeding. (You'll watch them from a distance).

Day 15 breakfast
One of our naturalist guides will pick you up for a private day in Khao Yai national park. This is a vast reserve taking in terrain ranging from rainforest to mountainous. You'll walk the nature trails where you'll see the monkeys and birds (other inhabitants like clouded leapords are more secretive). You'll also be driven to the summit for far-ranging views. If you are lucky, you may spot elephants in the wild.

"To finally see a wild Asian elephant and standing, watching, listening to the gibbons in the tree canopies above. Just spine tingling!"

Day 16 breakfast
Day at leisure for some much-deserved rest! Enjoy the pool or gardens. (Optional excursions are also available)

Day 17 (Sunday) breakfast
You'll be driven to Bangkok airport and fly back to the UK. Arrival is usually same day, UK time.

This private tour for two including including flights from the UK, elephant activities, other activities and excursions with private guides and drivers, transport including chauffeur-driven cars and internal flights, accommodation and meals as specified costs from £2,245 per person.
Excluding flights from the UK, the tour costs £1,645 per person.

Please allow £30 per person to cover personal entrance fees for government entrance fees.

At your convenience, starting any Friday of the year (or Saturday if starting in Bangkok) except for the second weekend in November, subject to your preferred dates not having being booked by someone else previously. We advise early booking.

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bangkok temple
ele by michael lee
Khao Yai bats
monkey in khao yai
Photo credits: no 2 Michael Lee, 4 & and 5 Neil Spence