- Choose a Sanctuary to Visit
Google ‘elephant sanctuaries’ & ‘blogs elephant sanctuaries’
Get a map of Thailand & figure out where the sanctuaries are.
elephantnaturepark.org is an excellent site & details many sanctuaries they support.
There are other places to consider such as Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES), http://www.phuketelephantsanctuary.org (Phuket Elephant Sanctuary), & Burn and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary (http://www.bees-elesanctuary.org). Keep track of all your research!
I’m sure you can find more, but by now you will have a feel for your project & need to make some decisions:
- Are you OK with ‘basic’ or do you need a little pampering as well? I met a lady who had spent a week in a hut with a Thai family. What an experience!
- How long do you want to stay at one location? Can you manage a week or just an overnight stay?
- Would you prefer to watch many elephants or get involved with a few?
- Does a smaller setting appeal to you or are you looking for a large facility with many people visiting?
2. Decide when to go.
Google ‘weather Chiang Mai’. January works for me.
Then check availability at ENP. I booked the last week in January. You pay in baht so google ‘baht to USD’. These were my figures: ENP for a week – B12,000 ($435), Deposit – B2400 ($92), Balance – B9600 ($350)
3. Search for flights.
Go to momondo, sky scanner, google flights & even expedia. Get a feel for what’s available & what it’s going to cost. Keep track in your notebook. Delete the cookies as you go, just in case they recognize you when you return & give you a higher price. I don’t know if that’s true but why take a chance.
I like google flights because I can check prices around my dates & set a flight tracker to notify me of changes. I thought I might stay in Bangkok a couple of days & take the train up to Chiang Mai so I put in my dates for Toronto to Bangkok & Toronto to Chiang Mai. Don’t forget you’ll have an overnight flight so you need to leave the day before you’d like to arrive.
To explore the train idea go to seat61.com. The overnight sleeper might be an experience! In the end I chickened out & decided to go straight to Chiang Mai.
Once you think you’ve got the route & price that works, go directly to the airline. You sometimes get a better price & it’s easier to change things, choose your seat, etc. if you’re dealing with the airline rather than another source.
4. Find a place to stay in the city closest to your sanctuary.
ENP picks you up if you’re hotel is within the city walls of Chiang Mai.
Google ‘places to stay Chiang Mai’. A guest house or hostel is a good choice when you’re travelling by yourself. Blogs often recommend places such as Rendezvous Guesthouse & Smile House Guesthouse. Booking.com and trip advisor are good places to search. Be sure to check trip advisor reviews before you book.
My daughter & her husband had visited Chiang Mai & stayed at Parasol Inn Hotel. It was reasonable, recommended & city centre so I stayed there. I liked it. Sunday night was amazing when I discovered it was smack dab in the middle of the famous Night Market,
I knew I could find a guide after I arrived but I searched on the Chiang Mai forum & found Jack. He was wonderful.
5. Learn some Thai. ‘Hello, Thank you, Where is the bathroom?, Can you help me?’ are good phrases to know. I love the smiles I get when people see you are trying to speak their language. Youtube is your friend for this!
That’s it. You’re ready to go. Stay healthy, plan your packing so you take as little as possible, follow the social media posts for the site you’ve chosen, & have a great adventure. You might read about MaeDoe & ENP on my Thailand blogs.