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Should You Ride an Elephant in Thailand?

Elephant tourism is huge.  Without prior knowledge or research it may be difficult to know, should you really ride an elephant in Thailand?

Feel free to share your views and spark a conversation in the comments section below the article.

Prior to my trip to Thailand, it was impossible to scroll through my social media newsfeeds and not see a photo of someone riding an elephant.   I’ll admit, years ago, I didn’t know a great deal about the elephant industry and after seeing all the pictures, I did have an urge to ride an elephant myself.  What a once in a lifetime experience I often thought to myself, as I’m sure many people do.

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PADI Open Water in Koh Tao

First of all, I, by any stretch of the imagination, do not claim to be an expert in diving.  However, I do have first hand experience in going from having absolutely no clue about diving, to going to Koh Tao, completing my first ever dive and in turn, completing my PADI Open Water Certificate. Which consequently led to more diving in South East Asia and I’m sure plenty more diving across the globe in the future.

Koh Tao is well known for diving and there is certainly no lack of choice when it comes to dive shops, but with all that choice you might be thinking which one to pick?!

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Slow Boat From Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang

After Chiang Mai, it was time to make our way to the next country, Laos. There are a number of ways Luang Prabang can be reached from Chiang Mai – slow boat, fast boat, minibus or plane. We opted to take the slow boat from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang. We were told by a number of people, this was the best way to travel into Laos in terms of the experience. The journey does take 3 days, 2 night, so it’s definitely not the quickest journey. The minibus may be worth taking if time is not on your side as this can be done overnight. The fast boat also takes less time but is dangerous, due to the shallow rocks in the lake.

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Elephant Nature Park

As is the case with most people who go to Chiang Mai, we decided we wanted to go and see some elephants while we were there.  We had heard some stories about tourist camps who mistreat the elephants, so we decided to do a bit of research to see which would be the best one to go to.

After researching we came across Elephant Nature Park, we decided that it seemed like the best one for us.  Their website states that their aim “has always been to provide a sanctuary and a rescue for elephants”. Their office is located in the centre of Chiang Mai. We booked through the central office for 2500 Baht ($71) each. This may seem a little expensive compared to other offers from companies around Chiang Mai, but from what I’m about to explain I’m sure you will understand why it’s worth paying that bit extra.

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Elephants and Temples in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a beautiful and relaxed city in Northern Thailand. With a mixture of ancient temples and a lively bar scene, it is not surprising Chiang Mai is the destination for many travellers in South-East Asia.   As the largest city in Northern Thailand, there’s so much that can be done here.  Not surprisingly the majority of backpackers who begin their journey in Bangkok, as we did, make their way to Chiang Mai from Bangkok.

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A Short Guide to Bangkok

The day had finally come, the day we flew out to Bangkok from chilly Manchester and explore South East Asia for 6 months. 5 minutes after getting to the airport, upon checking in, our trip already had its first hiccup. Apparently, it was necessary to book a flight/bus/boat proving you were leaving Thailand before travelling there (to be honest, I think it depends on the check-in worker you get, some may request it, some may not). Of course, we didn’t know this.

We quickly scrambled to book the cheapest flight we could find. We ended up booking a flight from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur for $40 with Lion Air (later found out we couldn’t cancel this flight), so before the trip had even started we were $40 down, but that didn’t really matter as we were finally on our way to South East Asia for 6 months. Two flights and 15 hours later we reached Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, ready and eager to start our travels.

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