The sad truth behind Elephant riding in Thailand


I have always been fascinated by elephant’s power and it’s majestic. When I was planning my first trip to Thailand, one activity that I want to do is to ride an elephant. Having a photo sitting at atop of gigantic and heavy beast, waddling through the jungle and river. Just like everyone else. This is until I have learned the sad truth about the popular activity in Thailand.


Everyday, animals are tortured in the name of entertainment and elephants are the most abused animal in terms of amusing tourist in Asia. Elephants are taken from their distraught mother at an early age to be mentally and physically broken. The process is called “Phajaan” or crushing, which is the traditional Asian torture of breaking or literally crushing young elephants spirit to submission. These helpless elephants are firmly chained and caged while the handlers beat them with bullocks, sticks, and deprived of sleep, food and even water until they are broken down and submit to their owner.


Once their spirit have been crushed, these elephants spends all their lives chained and serving to their owner and masters. They are forced to luge tourist on to their back, paint a picture or even perform circus-style stunts. This is the sad truth that the industry is trying to hide to the tourist. The ugly existences of this elephants have to endure in order for you to get a selfie on the back of the towering creature and gives you that experience.

“Elephants never forgets”.

There’s more truth to the proverb that has been exaggeratedly used. In the wild, elephants memory plays a major role in survival. Superb memory helps them to stay alive and go beyond identifying threats. Most of the rescued elephants are going through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Elephant trekking: to ride or not to ride

The choice is up to you. Elephants rides are cruel and offer no benefits to the shrinking population of this endangered species. Most of the tourist falls to this entertainment are unaware of how they are treated. Trust me, I was one of them too and I almost rode them!

Find a safe elephant tourism activities

There are plenty of elephants activities in the country that are both safe for the elephant and ethically for you to do,  if ever you decide to engage in elephant tourism activities.

  • Elephant Nature Park:  is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center  and is the biggest park in Northern Thailand. The park offers regular day passes and volunteer opportunities to devotees to provide healing to elephants past and present lives.
  • Boon Lotts Elephant Sanctuary: located in the rural village in Baan Tuek in Northern Thailand strives to rescue and protect elephants from extinction and  encourages elephants to interact in their natural environment.
  • Elephant Jungle Sanctuary: their mission is to promote the proper treatment to elephants  and educate visitors of the problems of irresponsible tourism practices. They have five locations throughout the country and the headquarters in Chang Mai.

Ironically, tourist money drives this cruel industry. I suggest to participate only in accredited sanctuaries. Please tell your friends and families about this reality behind elephant riding in Thailand and encourage to stay away from attractions that fuel this horrific trade and tortures to elephants.




Posted by

Pinay wandering the world, one country at a time.

One thought on “The sad truth behind Elephant riding in Thailand

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s