Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
Retirement home form Thailand’s working elephants
Amid the beautiful forests bordering Khao Phra Thao National Park in north east Phuket Island is a new sanctuary where sick, injured, tired or just plain old elephants can retire after a hard life of working in Thailand.
Opened in 2016, the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary promotes ethical tourism. It’s in 28 acres of land donated by one of the founders
You can do a half day tour here but you can only feed and observe the elephants as they roam, bathe, play and socialise naturally. The sanctuary has a saddles off policy, there is no elephant riding, and interaction is limited to preserve the elephant’s “personal space.” You need to book in advance, but you can pay on arrival. Here’s a map.
There is also a one week volunteer program where you can pay 16,000 baht to stay close to sanctuary and spend your days shoveling elephant shit (the price includes gloves and a shovel). Funds generated go to support the elephants by providing food, veterinary care and shelter.
Phuket Gibbon Rehab
While you are in the Thalang area of Phuket you can also visit the nearby Gibbon Rehab project which provides help to gibbons abused by the tourism trade. Entry is free although because the centre is located within a national park you will have to pay a national park entrance fee to get there.