Elephants In Kanchanaburi

By: Jim Brown

At many of the hotels and at numerous positions along the roads you can hop into a travel office and book a trip to go out to any of the popular and lesser known local attractions.

Tourism is peak in some areas and competition is fierce. Agents working in travel offices can often be found searching the streets for tourists and trying to attract people to their offices.

Be wary of what is being offered. When you find something that you'd really like to do, check it out in at least three other offices. This is not only advice on being economical, you may find one or more attractions being offered in a package deal, on a day and time that better suits you at an office 500 feet away.

Elephant Training camps are located in most major cities and are inexpensive for what they offer. Take the size of the animal, the food it needs to eat, general care and cleanup as well as the cost of the staff needed to guide and train the elephant and you arrive at a pretty hefty fee. The usual price of a day trip including an hour riding an elephant through the jungle with another person, is only 1,500 Baht at the most.

The elephant's that are found in the training camps are generally retired city workers which are used to cleaning streets or heavier labour. Now they are able to relax and enjoy the brighter side of life while being of a different kind of public service. Tourists come to the training camp and get on the elephants through the top of a hut which is equipped with a platform to help less able passengers board safely. At the hut is a man who takes your picture in the hopes that you'll buy it for a fee of 300 Baht (roughly $10 USD) when you leave the camp. Most people think it is a reasonable price and buy the souvenir. The option of purchasing bananas to feed your elephant to keep it happy while you travel is also available at 50 (less than $2 USD) Baht per bunch.

The elephant waits patiently while passengers board and then sets off into the jungle.It's fun jostling from side to side while the elephant walks - just hold on tight when going uphill or downhill! The elephant approaches the water and wants to get his legs wet, though not allowing you to get close enough to the water to get wet yourself. The bath is brief and the elephant comes back up the hill to the jungle. The guide for the elephant will get down and ask you to give over your camera so he can take a few shots for you. He doesn't say anything about being paid but there is expectation of a tip which can be as much or as little as you like (typically 10~20 Baht).

The elephant is hot and tired from the excursion and needs a rest so he walks back to the hut and his passengers get off. Pay the photographer his tip and grab a bottle of water - it's hot up there!

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