Sunshine for Elephants
Book Your Visit
Sunshine for Elephants
Book Your Visit
Sunshine for Elephants
Book Your Visit
Sunshine for Elephants
Book Your Visit
Sunshine for Elephants
Book Your Visit
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This elephant sanctuary was established to help a former trekking camp near Chiang Mai transition out of elephant riding and adopt a more compassionate approach to elephant tourism. The elephants living here are relishing their retirement from logging and elephant riding and instead spend their days wandering the jungle, feeding on native vegetation, scratching against trees, covering themselves with dirt and cooling off in the river.

Sunshine for Elephants offers day trips where as part of a small group you’ll get to spend plenty of time with the elephants, feeding them fruit and observing them in a natural environment. Take a walk with the elephants through the lush jungle and experience being close to these awe-inspiring animals, feeding them bananas along the way. In the dry season, guests are invited to assist with reforestation efforts by tying blessed ochre colored sashes around the trunks of trees to protect them from being cut down, and planting saplings in the rainy season.

Reaching a bamboo hut at the top of the hill, you will be shown how to make som tum – the famous green papaya salad – and be served a delicious vegetarian buffet lunch surrounded by serene forest and a small stream. The buffet includes homemade spring rolls and a delectable Thai dessert made with mangoes and sticky rice. After lunch guests prepare banana health balls to feed the elephants and then walk downhill back to the project with the elephants. Later in the afternoon, visitors can enjoy watching the elephants cool off in the river and splash them with a little water if you want to get wet. After getting changed into dry clothes, enjoy seasonal fruits served overlooking the beautiful rock garden while the elephants enjoy munching on grass.

By visiting Sunshine for Elephants you are supporting responsible elephant tourism and helping to make this small ethical elephant project sustainable so that they can continue to provide a better, more natural life for the elephants.

Support the elephants at Sunshine for Elephants

Sunshine for Elephants Elephant Sanctuary

Observe elephants foraging in beautiful jungle surroundings and later swim with them in a stunning stretch of the river

Activities at Sunshine for Elephants

Prepare Food for the Elephants

Walk with Elephants

Walking_with_Elephants_Sunshine

Feed the Elephants

Observe the Elephants

Help Protect the Forest

Make Som Tum & Banana Rice Balls

Elephant Bathing

Walk with Elephants

Feed_Elephants

Feed Elephants

Observing Elephants

Observe Elephants

Elephant_Bathing

Elephant Bathing

Activities

Tour Details

Number of Guests: 6 – 8
Tour Type: Full Day Visit
Fitness Level: Moderate to Challenging
Age Suitability: Adults & Children 4+

* Minimum of 4 people required for this tour to proceed

What's Included

Tour Price

Adults & Children 12+: 2,500 Baht
Children Aged 4-11: 1,250 Baht

Adults & Children 4+

Challenging

Moderate / Challenging

Lunch_Provided

Buffet Lunch

Transportation

Transportation

Book Your Visit

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Elephants at Sunshine for Elephants

Activities at Sunshine for Elephants

Ethical Elephant Tours
This is a small Saddle Off project with a limited number of guests. Our model is based on ensuring the well-being of the elephants, which means no riding or other unnatural activities.

About Your Trip

Start: 8:00am – 8:30am minivan pick up from your Chiang Mai city hotel, or from our office at 8:00am. If staying out of town, far from Chiang Mai city center you will need to arrange your own transportation to our Chiang Mai office.
Travel Time: Around 90 minutes (safety talk en route to project).
Return: Arrive back in Chiang Mai city 4:00pm – 4.30pm.
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.
Facilities: Main project area over looking the rock garden and stream, bamboo shelter in the forest for eating lunch, gift shop, bathrooms, showers, lockers, coffee & tea.
Items Provided: Traditional shirt & pants, hats, water holder, bag of bananas, sashes for tying around trees, ponchos in the rainy season, thongs, towels & soap.
Age Suitability: Adults & children over 4 years old – guests under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Fitness Level: Moderate to Challenging – 2.5 – 3 hour walk along jungle trails with some steep, possibly muddy slopes. After about 2 hours walk guests stop to eat lunch in a bamboo hut in the jungle.
Topography: Mountain, jungle, forest, river & waterfall.
Extra Activities: Tree planting in the rainy season and tying Buddhist sashes around trees to protect them in the dry season / learn to make som tum.
Location: Mae Taeng, 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 or guesthouse.
Booking Details: Bookings close at 4pm (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 5pm on the day before your visit to Sunshine for Elephants or by cash to the tour guide when they collect you from your hotel.

Order a Cake for the Elephants

About the Elephants

Ta Mon

Ta mon was born in 1965 and for much of her life she was forced to do elephant riding. She worked at a trekking camp with a seat on her back carrying tourists, walking through the jungle and across the river in a daily grind, year after year. Her life was a lonely one with few elephant friends and constant work. Ta Mon was rescued from a camp in Mae Wang, south of Chiang Mai in 2015. Her previous owner sold her because she could no longer provide rides to tourists, and so she was seen as a burden. Sunshine for Elephants rescued Ta Mon to give her a second chance in life. When she was rescued, Ta Mon was stressed and unwell and suffered from digestive problems. She was put on a healthy diet of fruit, grass, and natural vegetation, and over time her health improved greatly. Ta Mon is much happier now that she can enjoy a more natural life where she can just be an elephant. She loves to receive fruit cakes. Being an older elephants with worn down teeth she likes soft foods including bananas, cooked pumpkin, and rice banana health balls. Ta Mon can be quite a timid elephant and is gentle natured. She enjoys walking and foraging in the forest, throwing mud and dirt over her body, swimming in the river, and hanging out with her friend, Sri Prai.

Sri Prai

Sri Prai was born in 1990 and comes from Mae Sot in the west of Thailand, near the Myanmar border. In the past, she worked deep in the forest hauling logs in the illegal logging industry. Later, she was put to work at a remote trekking camp where she was forced to do elephant riding for many years before being sold. Sri Prai was rescued by Kwan and her husband in 2019 and came to live at Sunshine for Elephants. When she first arrived she was easily scared by unfamiliar sounds such as cars and motorbikes and was not so friendly with the other elephants. It took quite a long time for the trauma of her past to subside and for Sri Prai to feel at home. Sri Prai has changed a lot since being able to live a more natural life at Sunshine for Elephants -wandering in the forest without having to work. She loves to eat bananas and watermelon, and is also particularly fond of bamboo shoots, which she forages for in the forest, especially in the rainy season. Over the past few years Sri Prai’s life has improved greatly and she is a much happier, healthier, and more relaxed elephant nowadays. She has started to form a bond with Ta Mon and these two elephants can often be seen standing side by side, communicating and showing affection for one another.

Sunshine for Elephants Reviews

Liz
LizVisited June 2022
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Sunshine for Elephants was one of the greatest experiences I have had in my life. The feeling of walking along side such a powerful creature that is both loved and treated humanely is something one can only dream of. I think about it every day. Our guide, Em, was great and so were the mahouts. The lunch was delicious and the bananas for the elephants were beyond. Next time we go back to Thailand we will absolutely do this project again. Thank you so much for providing such an amazing experience.
Kelly
KellyOctober 2022
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I had the very best day today! Thank you SOOOOO much! The whole day was amazing! Including the great tour guide Top. It was not a tacky touristy experience, like many others when you are travelling and feel ripped off! The food was in abundance & fresh, the mahouts were very polite & helpful but above all else the highlight was Tamon & Sri Prai who I adored…beautiful kind gentle girls. A day I’ll remember forever!
Scott
ScottJune 2022
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Without a doubt one of the best days of my life. I’ve done a lot of amazing things and this is in the top ten and I will never forget my time with Sunshine for Elephants.
Sara
SaraNovember 2019
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I loved this so much and wish I could have fed the elephants all day long!!
Chelsie
ChelsieFebruary 2020
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Such a beautiful place. The only way anyone should experience elephants. Everyone has the elephants best interesting mind which is the most important. I can’t say enough good things.
Adeline
AdelineJuly 2023
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Thank you for everything. This day with elephants was wonderful! We never forget that. You're a wonderful team! We have wonderful memories.
Jess
JessMarch 2023
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Thank you to the bookings team who accommodated us when not enough people booked onto this tour. We were so grateful that the project agreed to accommodate our party of 2 and basically gave us a private tour!
Angelina
AngelinaFebruary 2023
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Art has been a great guide to us. He does not hesitate to share his knowledge about the project, the camp, and the elephants with us. We have gained so much valuable insights with all the information he shared. Although we did not get to swim/ bathe with Ta Nom and Sri Prai (as they did not feel like bathing for long that day), the experience feels very authentic and ethical. Thank you Asian Elephant Projects in helping these gentle giants live a better life, will recommend AEP to all those considering to support ethical elephant tourism in Thailand in a heartbeat.
Jess & Will
Jess & WillMarch 2023
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Sunshine for Elephants We’ll be back! Trust me this is the ethical elephant tour for you! Myself and my partner were so excited for our special day. And after a lot of research I knew that I booked the right tour months in advance. There was a slight bump but Asian Elephant Projects handled it with such personalised care. Thank you to the booking team who accommodated us when there were not enough people booked on this tour and basically give us a private tour! Prom, our tour guide absolutely made our day. He was funny, kind, informative and attentive. The elephants are clearly loved and cared for, the whole day was run in a super relaxed and organic way and honestly how many people can say they spend an afternoon in the river with 2 amazing creatures. Thank you to everyone at ENP for what you do, Asian Elephant Projects for helping us to organize everything at your Saddle Off programs and Sunshine for Elephants for accommodating us and giving us the most special day! And thanks Ta Mon and Sri Prai (the elephants) for being beautifully gentle.
Jasmien
JasmienJuly 2023
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We had a great time during our visit at Sunshine for Elephants and enjoyed very much the ethical elephant sanctuary project! It was nice to see that the elephants could roam around and the mahouts were very gentle. Ta Mon and Sri Prai are lucky to be part of this project and so are we because we got to experience it. The elephants are loved.
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Thank You for Supporting the Elephants

at Sunshine for Elephants

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Sunshine for Elephants Owner Kwan

Project Background

This project is run by Kwan and her husband, who used to operate a small elephant camp that offered elephant riding. Several years ago one of the elephants fell ill, and they were unsure how to treat her. On the suggestion of a family member, they reached out to Lek Chailert at Save Elephant Foundation for help. Lek arranged for her vets to visit the camp and provide their elephant with treatment. It was at this time that the owners were introduced to the Saddle Off concept and the possibility of making the shift to a more compassionate form of elephant tourism. They were eager to move forward, and five years on, the family is happy that they made the change. There are two female elephants at this project now – Ta Mon (55 years old) and Sri Prai (30 years old). Sadly, our beautiful senior elephant, Kanjana passed away at the age of 67 in July 2022 and Wassana passed away in June 2019. Kwan and her husband enjoy seeing the elephants happy in their new lives, where they are free to interact with each other and wander in the forest. The elephants have gained weight and are healthier and more relaxed since their retirement and being given the chance to live a more natural life.

Eco-Friendly

How Sunshine for Elephants is Eco Friendly & Sustainable

Elephants Sunshine for Elephants

Thank You for Supporting the Herd at Sunshine for Elephants

The Covid-19 pandemic caused severe challenges around the world and placed extreme limitations on travel. As a result, Sunshine for Elephants was closed from March 2020 until early 2022. We would like to thank all of the kind hearted people who helped to support our elephants during this difficult time. Thank you to Save Elephant Foundation and Trunks Up for supporting our elephants during the Covid crisis.

Life During Covid at Sunshine for Elephants

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic severely impacting tourism  there were almost no visitors to Sunshine for Elephants for 2 years. The elephants spent their days foraging in the lush jungle near the project eating a wide variety of natural vegetation, including bamboo, and the leaves of various native plants and trees. They also liked to drink from the stream and waterfall as well as cover themselves in dirt or mud and then scratch their bodies against trees. After a long walk, the elephants enjoyed cooling off in the river. The elephants also received a variety of fruit from time to time, including watermelon, papaya, mangoes, pumpkin and bananas depending on what is in season. Occasionally the elephants were treated to banana health balls made from rice, tamarind, protein pellets, and mashed bananas which they love so much. We really appreciate all the kind people who supported the elephants during these challenging times. Thanks  to Trunks Up and to everyone who helped to but food for our elephants. The elephants really appreciate your support.

In Loving Memory of Wasana 1965 - 2019 & Kanjana 1942 - 2022

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