Seeing elephants in their natural habitat is one of those unforgettable experiences that everyone should have at least once in their lives. Besides being known as the "Land of Smiles", it is also known as the "Land of Awe-Inspiring Wildlife", which has everything from beautiful rainforests to tropical beaches and, of course, friendly giants.

Trying to figure out where to go to see elephants in Thailand, but not sure which places are ethical to visit? Here are some of the greatest spots to get to know Thailand's friendly giants. Remember that this list only covers establishments that have sound animal care standards in place and do not allow people to ride elephants on their backs.

10 The Surin Project In Baan Tha Klang

The Surin Project which is located in the northeastern Thai town of Baan Tha Klang, works directly with mahouts, providing a haven for trainers and their elephants to keep them off the streets and prevent unethical tourism. In fact, nearly 200 mahouts and elephants live at the center and this non-profit organization employs mahouts to care for the land and the animals that walk free in the forested park. The site is a national treasure as its sanctuary encourages environmentally friendly tourism. Surin Project, visitors are welcome to stay for a minimum of one week, and their donations are used to pay the salaries of the mahouts and care for the elephants while they are in the sanctuary. This is a good sanctuary that is visited by many travelers as well as locals in Thailand.

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9 Elephant Nature Park In Chiang Mai

This is one of Thailand's best-known elephant conservation programs, but it is also one of the priciest. Despite that, over the years, the sanctuary has taken in a variety of animals, including cats, dogs, horses, warthogs, water buffalo, and more. A single-day trip or an overnight stay are also viable options for visiting Elephant Nature Park. For tourists that like to spend more time with these wonderful creatures, there is an overnight volunteer program where volunteers help prepare food for elephants and other animals. It is also possible to reserve longer volunteer positions, however, this must be done well in advance of the start date.

8 Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital In Mae Yao National Reserve Of Lampang

Visiting Friends of the Asian Elephants Hospital will definitely be a unique experience for travelers to Thailand. The sanctuary’s mobile veterinary clinic is essential to the treatment and rehabilitation of elephants throughout Thailand, which is located in the northwest. In fact, injured, crippled, and vulnerable elephants are cared for by the sanctuary’s specialists and volunteers alike. Visitors to this place will also be able to meet veterinarians who devote their careers to caring for these majestic giants of nature as part of their guest program. Additionally, visitors will also get to see how they care for sick and injured elephants, as well as how they prepare their meals and maintain their living spaces.

7 Elephant Sanctuary In Koh Samui

The Samui Elephant Sanctuary is the first haven on the island for elephants who have been abused and overworked. Visitors to this place can feed, walk, and even play with the elephants in their mud pit and custom pool in the sanctuary’s forest area. In fact, the Koh Samui Elephant Sanctuary has provided refuge to hundreds of elephants that had previously been exploited in the forestry industry or by tourists on elephant treks. This sanctuary is a great site to see elephants in their natural settings.

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6 Elephant Sanctuary In Phuket

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary provides a safe haven for elephants that have been subjected to years of cruelty in the tourism and logging sectors. The sanctuary is leading the way in the humane treatment and rehabilitation of elephants that have been retired or rescued. A treetop observation balcony provides an excellent vantage point from which to see the animals as they frolic in the freshwater lagoons and hydrotherapeutic mud pools. So visitors that would like to visit the area will be able to see these giant creatures playing on lagoons or in mud pools.

5 Wildlife Friends Foundation In Tha Mai Ruak

Wildlife Friends Foundation is home to many rescued animals all over Thailand. In fact, some of the animals rescued by the Wildlife Friends Foundation are rehabilitated and released back into the wild in protected conservation zones. However, elephants are not part of this group as the retired elephants from trekking camps are too reliant on human care to be able to thrive without it. Fortunately, the Wildlife Friends Foundation is more than happy to help them out with that. Visitors of this sanctuary can help other volunteers in cleaning the cages or even feed the animals which is a lifetime experience with wild animals.

4 Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary In Maechaem

Burm and Emily's Elephant Sanctuary is a haven for old, injured, or retired elephants. This sanctuary provides a safe haven for elephants who have suffered from years of logging or tourist trekking. In a valley surrounded by lush foliage and majestic mountains, the organization is located around two hours south of Chiang Mai, in an area that is ideal for elephants to spend their golden years in peace and tranquility. Visitors can visit the place and indulge with the elephants in the area, they can also try to volunteer too in helping feed the elephants.

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3 Phang Nga Elephant Park In Mueang Phang-nga District

Located on the edge of a nature reserve in Phang Nga Province, this modest, family-run park has been a sanctuary for many elephants. Phang Nga Elephant Park is committed to the welfare of its elephants, which makes them continue learning and developing sustainable strategies in taking care of these gentle giants in order to ensure their stay. Visitors to this place can make sure that they will have a positive experience together with the elephants.

2 The Happy Elephant Home In Chiang Mai

The Happy Elephant Home is a wonderful place to spend time with family and friends as it is located in a large green rolling field near an isolated cluster of bamboo buildings. This is a peaceful and calm area for the elephants as they will not be astonished by the presence of people in traditional clothing. In visiting this sanctuary, visitors can help feed the elephants enormous bushels of bananas and bathe them in mud, before letting them cool off in the river.

1 Elephant Hills In Khao Sok

At the outskirts of Khok Sao National Park, the magnificent Elephant Hills sanctuary is situated. According to many visitors of the area, the most exciting part of this sanctuary isn't the luxurious tents or the comfy lodgings that visitors can stay in because the most precious part is the opportunity to spend many days with the elephants and their guides. In this sanctuary, there are up to three-day safaris available, which include all meals and housing expenses. Gentle giants will be bathed, fed, and walked with by guests as they move through their natural habitat. Elephant Hills is currently home to Asian elephants that were abused and mistreated, but are now living out their lives in peace and tranquility.

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