Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is one of the new breed of elephant attractions which is spreading across Thailand and is the most humane way to see these majestic giants. Effectively a retirement home for creatures rescued from the more cruel and exploitative elephant parks, there are daily tours where you can see the residents enjoying the freedom of being wild animals again.
It is important to note that the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is exactly that – a sanctuary. The tours are not the primary purpose of the 30-acre facility, but money raised from them helps to provide food, care and medicine for the relatively small number of elephants (as of late-January 2017, there were five). As with the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project near Bang Pae Waterfall, this is not a petting zoo. You will not be able to ride the elephants, but you can walk with and feed them and watch as they roam, forage, bath and play in a natural environment.
Visit Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
The half-day tour at the sanctuary starts from meeting at Monkeypod Coffee House, on the main road through the Paklok area north of Phuket Town, at around 09:45. It features a vegetarian Thai lunch, as well as an educational presentation on the work of the sanctuary and, of course, the opportunity to meet the elephants. You will return to the collection point by about 14:00. The tour costs 3,000 baht per person and you are advised to bring a copy of your passport, personal travel insurance, sun protection, a pair of socks (so the provided boots won’t give you blisters) and clothes which you don’t mind getting dirty.
If half a day isn’t enough for you, Phuket Elephant Sanctuary also has a week-long volunteer programme (16,000 baht), during which you will be provided with accommodation and three vegetarian meals per day. You will be helping out with a variety of tasks, including food preparation (both for tour guests and the elephants), mucking out, maintaining the buildings and structures and working with the elephants.
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 13:00
- Location: Collection from Monkey Pod Café, Paklok
- Tel: +66 (0)94 990 3649
- Price Range: 3,000 baht for full tour