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Visit BEES - Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary

ตำบล ช่างเคิ่ง, Thailand



3.7 miles

Elevation Gain

164 ft

Route Type



Added by Neonconflagrations

While elephant tourism remains a popular activity in northern Thailand, Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary is the only sanctuary in the country that maintains a non-touch policy, allowing visitors and volunteers to observe elephants under their care while putting the safety and well-being of the elephants as the main priority.

BEES - Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary - is a sanctuary offering care for retired elephants, open for guests to visit, see their operation, and spend a day or longer observing elephants in their natural habitat with the help of knowledgable guides. 

While Thailand, particularly the northern areas of the country, are known for their elephant experiences, there is a wide variance between businesses that house elephants in confined conditions and market elephant rides, to 'sanctuaries' marketing the chance to feed, bathe and take pictures with the elephants, a series of actions repeated for new visitors each day. Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary aims to create a sanctuary space that puts the elephants' best interest at the core of their operation. 

BEES transitioned from the bathing and feeding experience to being the first non-touch Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand. At BEES Elephant Sanctuary, visitors are invited to observe elephants in their habitat and participate in activities benefitting the health of the elephants in the sanctuary's care.

Elephants are housed nightly in pens, where staff sees to each elephant's health and, if necessary, medical needs. During the day, the elephants are free to roam the jungle adjacent to the sanctuary's facilities. Elephants in the care of the sanctuary are retired 'entertainment' elephants, and the staff on hand was incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and had a wealth of stories about Thailand's history regarding the use of elephants in logging and entertainment, as well as the specific elephants now under BEES' care.

After selecting rubber boots, our guide led us from the sanctuary buildings into the jungle, slowing to point out elephant tracks, explain their habits and tendencies, tell some humorous stories about their personalities, their past histories and how they've responded to sanctuary care.

As the elephants are free to roam, visiting and observing may include a walk of up to a few kilometers in order to find them and follow along as they walk throughout the jungle. Accustomed to human activity, the elephants tend to eat and wander, while trails and paths created and worn over time act as routes for the guide and observers to follow their movement from a small distance.

While out and observing, guides supply a lunch catered to group members' dietary preferences, which you can eat in the jungle while watching the elephants forage for their own food.

Following the jungle walk, visitors return to the sanctuary, where they are able to participate in preparing food for elephants who require a special diet due to health issues or age. 

Rather than operating as a set tour, BEES Sanctuary is able to make each outing fit the desires of the guests involved. The sanctuary also has accommodations in several modern buildings for volunteers who opt to stay for a length of time. 

My overall experience at BEES Elephant Sanctuary was that it was one of, if not the most memorable experience we had in Thailand. I appreciated the sanctuary's practices of simply allowing the elephants to roam while giving us the chance to observe from a distance. As the landscape of tourism changes throughout Thailand, with an increasing number of elephant 'experiences' moving to more of an ethically-guided type of environment, one can only hope that more sanctuaries adopt BEES' guidelines of placing the well-being of the elephants above other factors.

Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary is located west of Doi Inthanon National Park [add hyperlink]. It is located about a one hour drive from the national park, and a 2.5 hour drive from Chiang Mai. Due to visiting and program times, those considering a day-visit might want to look into combining the sanctuary with a visit/stay at Doi Inthanon National Park, or may want to consider a lengthier stay at the sanctuary where they can engage in volunteer work.

The sanctuary can also arrange for pickup and dropoff in Chiang Mai for overnight and multi-day stays.

Complete information about Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary can be found by visiting their website at http://bees-elesanctuary.org/ or by calling them at +66 (0)8619 72519 or emailing at enquiries@bees-elesanctuary.org

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