Phang Nga Elephant Park
Phang Nga Elephant Park provides one of the best experiences for those looking to spend time with elephants in an ethical environment comprised of people who care so much about their well-being and who love sharing how incredible these creatures are with people from throughout the world. This place has been described as a "unique, small, family-run eco-park," and the 30 people working here are part of a family that has cared for these elephants for more than 150 years. The beautiful park itself has been compared to a typical Thai village.
Elephant Park Programmes
Phang Nga Elephant Park offers two primary types of bookings, the Elephant Care Experience and the Family Elephant Experience. One of the things that is common for both of them is the inclusion of English-speaking guides. Also, a French- or German-speaking individual can be made available for an additional cost of 2,500 baht.
Guides will share information about these elephants, the history of the species and elaborate on what role elephants have played in Thai culture throughout the years. The guides will also talk further about the park's mission and why those there feel it's so important to have ethical interactions with these animals and how this is being done.
One of the best aspects of these experiences is that one of the elephants will accompany you throughout your journey through the park, allowing you to bond with a single animal in addition to interacting with other elephants throughout your visit. The one-on-one experience allows you to more fully understand what life is like for an elephant as you'll be able to see how it goes about its life over an extended time period, not just for a few minutes until you move on to a different place in the park.
The first of the two options is the Elephant Care Experience, which is what you'll need to reserve a spot in if you're an individual visitor. During this experience, you'll get to see what goes into health checks that these elephants regularly experience and get to help prepare food for it and feed it. This is followed by being able to scrub the elephant with a special piece of vine that's specially prepared for its skin. After a bathing experience, it'll be time to eat your own meal unless you decided to enjoy a late pick-up; in that latter case, the meal will occur at the beginning of your stay. Regardless, the entire experience will last around 4-5 hours. It'll start at either 9:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m.
The cost of the Elephant Care Experience is 4,900 baht per person if at least two people are booking, 6,400 baht for one person booking for themselves and 3,400 baht apiece for children from 7-14 years of age who will be in the group.
The other option is the Family Elephant Experience. This will be what you're going to need to take advantage of if any children younger than 7 are in your group. If your group includes children 7 or older, you're encouraged to take advantage of the Elephant Care Experience instead. The cost of the Family Elephant Experience is 9,900 baht for two adults and two children. Differently sized groups can generally be accompanied too; the price will be adjusted for those. Otherwise, your time spent here will be similar to that experienced by those taking advantage of the Elephant Care Experience, but it will be tailored towards a family-focused one that pays special attention to the young children in the group.
Elephant Park Rules
While you're at Phang Nga Elephant Park, you will want to follow a few rules for the safety of yourself and the elephants. Don't run or make loud noises as both of those can startle the animals. Do not approach elephants without a guide's approval. Don't feed them your own food as food that hasn't been approved for them can have harmful effects on their health. Otherwise, be prepared for this excursion like you would many others, doing things like bringing a camera if you'd like, putting on sunblock to protect your skin and being prepared for rainy weather if that is in the forecast.
As far as the financial fine print goes, note that a fee of 3.9% will be applied to all refunds and that refunds are not possible within 48 hours of the scheduled time. You may want to also be further protected by travel insurance although the park does offer full accident insurance for all of its guests. Otherwise, Phang Nga Elephant Park is not responsible for any loss of damage to person or property at the park. Payments for tours must be done with a credit or debit card while unrelated in-park costs must be paid for with cash.
Park Location and Transportation
This park is situated in a beautiful, quiet area that's just 60 miles north of Phuket. It's also 475 miles south of Bangkok. You're welcome to drive up to the park and will receive a 200-baht reduction per adult and 100-baht reduction per child if you do. However, most will take advantage of the transportation options provided. Specifically, Phang Nga Elephant Park will arrange transfers in air-conditioned vehicles from Khao Lak, Khao Sok, Krabi, Phang Nga and Phuket.
Those coming from Khao Lak should expect the trip to last about 45-60 minutes, from Phuket anywhere from an hour to two-and-a-half hours, depending on where in Phuket you're located and other factors, and from Krabi about an hour and 45 minutes. The exact pick-up time will be communicated the day prior to your trip. Departure times from the park are not planned in advance although, if you must return by a specific time, that can generally be accommodated.
Do note that changing the drop-off point for where you'll be delivered after your time at the park is completed from where you had been picked up will incur an additional charge of 2,500 baht per group.
Included in your experience will be a traditional Thai lunch that has been freshly cooked for you as well as complimentary refreshments that will be provided throughout your time at Phang Nga Elephant Park. If you require gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian food, make sure to request that in advance of your visit. The refreshments that'll be offered include snacks and various types of drinks, including water, soft drinks, tea and coffee. Note that alcohol is neither served nor allowed on the grounds.
If you should require Wi-Fi access, rest assured that it's available throughout most of the park. You also have access to shower facilities if you'd like to freshen up after your stay while a cafeteria and souvenir shop are available for visitors to utilise as well.
Most have had outstanding nature experiences at Phang Nga Elephant Park, so much so that it averages five stars out of five on TripAdvisor with 94% of TripAdvisor reviewers rating it as "excellent," the highest mark. One of the things that visitors most appreciate about this park is that it's independent and is not part of a chain or similar type of organisation. They also can tell just how cared for these gorgeous animals are. Some reviewers also talk about how beautiful the park is; it's adjacent to a nature reserve and amidst a forest.
Specific comments have included, "riding, feeding and bathing with Juna was a highlight I will never forget," "exceeded all of our expectations," "the only place we could find that truly looked after the elephants and their well being" and "the day was more than I could have expected."
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