This elephant sanctuary near Chiang Mai offers the special experience of spending time with two friendly elephant brothers – Dodo and Khum Meun. Rescued from elephant riding and performing, they now live a good life together in nature near a century-old Karen settlement. The goodhearted Karen family operating the project has been living with and caring for elephants for three generations and their intimate knowledge of elephants and their ways provides visitors with a unique insight into the nature of this fascinating species.
Dodo and Khum Meun’s mother, Mae Thor Khor, used to live with them at the sanctuary, but passed away from natural causes in her 70’s last year. The brothers seem to have adjusted to the loss of their mother now and spend their days wandering the sanctuary together while foraging, playing in the mud, and relaxing in the stream.
Arriving at the project, guests feed the elephants bananas and then take a walk with them along scenic hillside trails that pass terraced rice paddies and weave through tall grasses, orchards, and forest – stopping to watch the elephants forage along the way. Guest can observe the elephants playing in the mud and later bathe them in the beautiful stream that winds through the sanctuary. In the rainy season, guests also plant saplings to help reforest the area and learn about planting rice.
By visiting this project you are making it possible for these magnificent bull elephants to live a more natural life, as well as helping to support the local Karen community.
Spend time with elephants in a beautiful natural environment and gain insights into elephant behavior from a Karen family who have been living with and caring for elephants for generations
Walk with Elephants
Number of Guests: 8
Number of Elephants: 2
Tour Type: Full Day Visit
Fitness Level: Moderate
Age Suitability: Adults & Children 7+
Adults & Children 12+: 2,500 Thai Baht
Children Aged 7-12: 1,250 Thai Baht
Adults & Children 7+
About Your Trip
Start: 8:00am – 8:45am minivan pick up from your Chiang Mai city hotel, or from our office at 7:45am. If staying out of town (outside the middle ring-road) additional charges apply. Please advise on your reservation form.
Travel Time: Around 1 hour & 45 minutes (safety video en route to project).
Return: Arrive back in Chiang Mai city 4:30pm – 5.00pm.
Baggage Allowance: One small day pack per person.
What to Bring: Hat, sunscreen, sandals/flip flops, change of clothing (as you may get muddy or wet), towel, walking shoes, camera, insect repellent refillable water bottle.
Facilities: Gift shop, traditional Karen house, lunch area, bathrooms, shower, lockers, water dispenser.
Items Provided: Traditional Karen shirts, hats, towels, boots, ponchos & umbrellas in the rainy season.
Age Suitability: Adults & children over 7 – guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Fitness Level: Moderate – walking through grassy fields and hilly terrain for about 1.5 hours.
Topography: Hills, forest, river, terraced rice paddies in the rainy season.
Extra Activities: Visit a traditional Karen house showcasing artifacts from Karen culture and watch Karen woman weaving handmade textiles.
Location: Mae Wang, South of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.
Nearest Airport: Chiang Mai (CNX) – we recommend you stay in Chiang Mai city the night before your visit. Please note that we cannot collect you from Chiang Mai Airport – only from your Chiang Mai city hotel / guesthouse.
Booking Details: Bookings close at 5pm (GMT+7) on the day before the date of your tour if made in person at our office or 24 hours in advance if booking online. A 30% non-refundable deposit is required to secure your booking. The balance should be paid at our Chiang Mai office by 8pm on the day before your tour.
The owner of this project, Kriengkrai Dinu, and his family have worked with and cared for elephants for over three generations. He previously spent time at the Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang where he received further training in working with elephants. When he heard about the ‘Saddle Off’ model he seized the opportunity to bring his elephants home where they could be retired from elephant riding and be properly cared for in the hills near his Karen village. The project opened in late August 2017, and is located in a century-old Karen settlement surrounded by forest and rice paddies with a beautiful stream running through it. It is home to two male elephants who are brothers, Dodo and Khum Meun, who used to work in elephant riding. Recently, chain free shelters were built for the elephants so they can sleep more comfortably at night. The family wants to help preserve Karen culture and has created a small museum to give visitors a glimpse of the traditional Karen way of life. The project also supports local weavers who have their handmade textiles on display, which are available for purchase.
How Karen Elephant Home is Eco Friendly & Sustainable
Khum Meun was born in 1997 and was the fourth calf of Mae Thor Khor, who passed away from natural causes in 2018. He is easily identifiable by his one long glorious tusk. The other tusk fell out after becoming infected some years ago following an accident at a trekking camp. Early in his life, Khum Meun spent 6 years performing in a circus and was later used for bareback riding at a trekking camp. Since 2016, Khum Meun has lived at Karen Elephant Home with the Karen family who cared for him when he was a baby. Today he spends his days wandering the sanctuary with his younger brother, Dodo. The two brothers get along very well and supported each other after the loss of their mother in 2018. Interestingly, they also share the same father so are closely tied genetically as well. Kriengkrai, the project owner believes that Khum Meun and his brother are from a subspecies of Asian elephant found in Thailand and Burma, distinguished by particularly long legs, smaller ears, and a more pronounced curve in their backs than other Asian elephants. Despite Khum Meun’s imposing size, he has a kind, gentle nature.
Dodo was born in 2002, and was the fifth calf of Mae Thor Khor. When he was born, Dodo's health was in a fragile state and he required special care. When he was older, Dodo walked beside his mother while she did elephant riding at an elephant camp and later performed in shows. With those days of hardship behind him, Dodo has relaxed into sanctuary life and enjoys the company of his older brother as they wander the hillside, foraging and playing in the mud and river together. Like his brother, Dodo has an easy going nature and is very friendly towards people despite past hardships. He can sometimes be heard making high pitched squeaking sounds, which he learned to do as part of his performances. Dodo only makes those sounds now because he wants to, for example when he’s excited. Dodo is easily recognized by his two small tusks – such a handsome bull elephant. His life is infinitely better since coming to live at Karen Elephant Home. Dodo and his brother Khum Meun now have a lot space with the freedom to roam the beautiful natural surroundings of the sanctuary and just be elephants.