Elephant Trekking and Swimming in Thailand

Our Rating

Elephant trekking in Bangkok is a great experience, but swimming with the elephants is mind-blowing!

Our day began with our awesome Bangkok guide, Mandy, picking us up for a three-hour journey west of Bangkok near Kanchanaburi, Thailand. I told Mandy, before we came to Bangkok, that I wanted something more than just elephant trekking  – I wanted something that the kids would remember forever.

We drove to a small, local elephant farm where the family raises and breeds elephants. They all live on the property with the elephants, and there were a few baby elephants wandering around the property. I know that some people are adverse to riding the elephants, as they are concerned that the elephants are treated poorly, but we did not see any poor treatment of the elephants while at the farm.

We were the only people out at the farm, which was a nice change from the crowds of Bangkok. It was crazy hot, and the elephants were even hotter. Luckily, we were standing right next to the beautiful River Kwai which was beautiful green/blue, clean water and just screaming for us to jump in and take the elephants swimming.

We had to climb up into a grass hut to get on top of the elephants. They were so BIG. It is one thing to see their photos, but another thing to stand next to one.

FLower Girl logoFun Fact – Did you know that elephants are the largest land mammals in the world with no natural known predators?

 

Up we climbed, and off we went trekking on the backs of the elephants. We took a nice ride, for about 45 minutes, stopping to take some pictures and hanging in the shade for the elephants to cool off.

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Fun Fact – Did you know that elephants can get sunburned and that they use their trunks to cover themselves in sand to block the sun?

Elephant Trekking Thailand

I was truly amazed at how gentle the elephants were, and they seemed to really respond to being touched and hugged! Awww, we fell in love!

The two boys who took us around on the elephants held small sticks with a ball on the end – this made me sad at first – and had they hit the elephants or shown any signs of abuse I really would have had a problem.

Riding the elephants in Bangkok

However, we saw only love for the elephants, and the boys explained to us that the elephant’s skin is thick, very tough, and to slightly poke or bump the elephant is the way to get their attention but it does not hurt the animal or break the skin. The skin is just so thick and tough there is no other way to tap them and get their attention. They only use the tip of the stick if the elephant is not listening/misbehaving.

cameraFun Fact – The largest elephant on record is 13 feet high (4 meters) and weighs 24,000 pounds (11,000 kilos).

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These guys were truly like elephant whisperers – speaking to the elephants much like you would a pet dog. We were mesmerized! They never even raised their voices; they spoke quietly and gently to the animals, patted them, and they responded. WOW!

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Fun Fact – Did you know that an elephant can hear another elephant’s trumpeting sound up to 5 miles/7 kilometers away?

 

For a 100.00 Baht (3$/2€), the boys took an unlimited number of photos for us, with my camera, and we got to ride on the elephants neck – wow, they are so big! The boys and Benas all thought it was cool. Me, I was a little intimidated by the size, and I decided to get back into the chair! Yikes! After trekking around the property, we rode the elephants straight down into the river to go swimming! AWESOME! Here is where the real fun began!

We were with one of the farm hands and his son, and they told the boys to hold onto the elephant’s trunk… and the elephant lifted the boys onto his back! They rode the elephant in the water as he dove under the water and squirted the boys with water from his trunk!

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Fun Fact – The elephant’s trunk has over 40,000 muscles in it!

 

Swimming with the elephants thailand

We swam, played,  jumped, and dove with the elephants. I am not sure who had more fun – us or the elephants! It seemed like they truly enjoyed playing in the water and cooling off! It was an amazing time that none of us will ever forget!

Elephant Trekking and Swimming Thailand

We were all sad when the day ended and we had to say goodbye to our elephants who honestly seemed sad to leave the river as well! We hugged and patted and said our goodbyes. We might have to go back and visit our new giant friends in Thailand one day!

FLower Girl logoFun Fact – Elephants are very social and will often use their trunk to hug other elephants and people! We got some hugs at the river!

 

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If you would love to swim with the elephants in the beautiful River Kwai, contact Mandy at Mandyguidesmiles.com. Here is her website, and you can find her on Trip Advisor, too.

Cost for the day:

  • Elephant riding and swimming – 900 Baht per person (28$/21€). We are four so the total cost was 84€/112$.
  • Guide – 7$/5€ per hour, six hours of a private guide  was 42$/30€. Flat fee not per person.
  • Mini van – 2100 Baht for six hours and 200 Baht per extra hour. (66$/49€) for the day. You also will pay for gas – approximately 1000 Baht (31$/23€). Flat fee not per person.
  • We paired this tour with a visit to the tiger temple – reason for the six hours+ cost.
  • Total for the day – 251.00$/187€ and totally worth the money!

SUNDAY-TRAVELER-BADGE-BLUE1This post is part of #SundayTraveler. To read other great traveling stories, check out some of my fave bloggers, Chasing the Donkey, The FairyTale Traveler, and A Southern Gypsy.

 

– Stacey

The Breakdown

25 Comments

  • Reply January 29, 2017

    AllGudThings

    Hey Loved your post and the way you have described the events. Seems you all had a crazy time. Those fun facts are amazing.
    • Reply January 29, 2017

      BasketsLife

      OH thank You we had a wonderful time in Bangkok and this trip was the highlight of our trip for my kids - and husband.
  • Reply September 30, 2014

    melody pittman

    amazing experience and
  • Reply September 3, 2014

    irishjackie

    Hi Stacey, Fab post. Talk about giving your children memories ...wow! I love animals and nature so much, but I had never imagined that you could swim with elephants. Great photos Stacey, and I love your fun facts, some amazing information in there. I think the word mind blowing comes to mind about this experience. Also it must have been wonderful to visit the family farm! Sending you some Spanish sunshine wherever you are right now!! Jackie
  • Awesome! What an incredible experience for your whole family. I'm so jealous! My daughter desperately wanted to do this when we were planning a Bangkok visit but my husband was too paranoid for the layover. I'm showing these to her for a virtual trip for now. I'm so glad these elephants are treated lovingly. I've seen the trekking but you're right swimming with them is just too much excitement.
    • Reply August 10, 2014

      BasketsLife

      If you get a chance you have to take your daughter. The trekking is ok - but the swimming and playing with the elephants while they dive under the water and spray you with their trunks is just mind blowing! Hope you get a chance to check it out!! Thank you for reading.
  • Reply August 1, 2014

    Adelina // Pack Me To

    Anything to do with riding elephants is a sensitive topic in the travel blogging world. I'm glad to hear that you experienced something that was abuse free. I only hope that it is like that every day for these gentle creatures. Playing in the water with them must have been amazing. Your boys definitely looked like they were having fun!
    • Reply August 10, 2014

      BasketsLife

      It was really fun just mind blowing to play in the water with these huge animals. Thank you for reading!
  • Reply July 31, 2014

    Jess

    I'm glad you checked to make sure the elephants were treated all right - I would worry about that!
    • Reply August 10, 2014

      BasketsLife

      We did the farm is a private home where many of the elephants can roam freely and they are also breeding trying to raise more elephants. The family and kids live there on the farm and seem to really love the elephants.
  • I've also heard a lot about the mistreatment of elephants in Thailand and was also very careful to pick a humane operation when we visited Chiang Mai a few years ago. I'm hoping that more mahouts (handlers) start using positive reinforcement with elephants instead of beating them into submission. Your boys look like they're having a ton of fun in the river with the elephants. It must have been a wonderful escape from crowded Bangkok and all the heat.
    • Reply August 10, 2014

      BasketsLife

      It was amazing, and yes the heat in Bangkok was killer and it was very nice to get away. We really enjoyed it and had a wonderful time. Thank you for reading!
  • what a fun experience!
    • Reply August 10, 2014

      BasketsLife

      Yes it was thank you for reading!
  • Reply July 27, 2014

    Christa Thompson

    Great Post, very informative and great pics! No, I didn't know elephants are prego for 2 yrs, Wow! Also didn't know you could swim with them. That was so COOL!!! :)
    • Reply August 10, 2014

      BasketsLife

      Thank you Christa, it was a kick ass day and we had sooo much fun - swimming with them was really the coolest thing ever. I think the elephants had some fun too! :) Thanks for reading :)
  • Ahhhh so jealous!! I'm glad you brought up the topic of elephants being abused in this industry (which is why I don't think I want to ride them), but I'm happy to hear that the elephants are lovingly treated, and the boys are gentle with them! I would LOVE to swim with elephants though.. it looks like so much fun! I'll remember this company for when I'm in Thailand later this year :D
    • Reply August 10, 2014

      BasketsLife

      Yes the abuse is always your mind, but swimming with them really seems like they are playing with us too. I had no idea how much elephants loved water! It was a cool experience.
  • Reply July 27, 2014

    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo

    That certainbly sounds like a day your boys will remember for ever; it must have been amazing! Thanks fo rsharing it with us.
    • Reply August 10, 2014

      BasketsLife

      Hi Phoebe, thanks for stopping by! It was really awesome and a day my kids will never forget! :)
  • I agree pregnant for two years does not sound like fun! Thanks for linking up with us for #SundayTraveler, so great to have you back.
  • Reply July 27, 2014

    Bronwyn Joy

    Sounds like a really fun experience! Yes, the animal welfare issue looms large with elephants - glad you didn't see any signs of abuse.
    • Reply July 27, 2014

      BasketsLife

      It was fun - and a big item on the kids bucket list - the welfare issue is hard and hopefully what we saw is the way the elephants are treated on a daily basis - it is family run and they are breeding so it looked good. It was amazing fun swimming and splashing with the elephants was just mind blowing and so much fun! Thank you for reading!
  • Reply July 26, 2014

    JP

    This looks like so much fun! My girlfriend loves elephants & would really appreciate this - thanks for sharing :)
    • Reply July 27, 2014

      BasketsLife

      This was really a lot of fun swimming and splashing with the elephants was just amazing! Hope you have a chance to try it!

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