Got off the 13 hour train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and cruised straight into the heart of the bustling old city on a tuk-tuk (three wheeled motorcycle taxi). Chiang Mai is more impacted than I imagined, with many street vendors, manufacturers, and tourist adventure businesses which sit alongside beautiful Wats (Buddhist temples) inside the old city ramparts.
I spent the rest of our first day in Chiang Mai checking out the aquarium before feeding a leopard and jaguar at the local zoo. On our second day we took a great trip to the Mae Sa Elephant Park.
Out of the 15 elephant parks in the region, I chose Mae Sa Elephant Park because I heard the animals were treated well. Mea Sa Elephant Park grounds were spacious, keepers were professional, and the elephants looked genuinely happy. There must have been 20 or more elephants living in the park.
I was able to interact with the elephants for hours. It was my first time hanging out with elephants.
The park makes the majority of their money taking tourists like me on rides along a dirt trail that wraps around the grounds and ends in a river. I didn’t ride them, but did watch an elephant paint a bouquet of flowers with a paintbrush in it’s trunk. No joke, the painting came out better than if I were attempt it.
Elephants are very intelligent and emotional, and it was incredible to experience their characteristics first-hand.