Other than being the national animal of Thailand, elephants are also known to be a highly developed species in personalities, behaviors, as well as intelligence. Here at the National Elephant Institute or the former Thai Elephant Conservation Center (TECC), elephants are cared for and trained to do the things that will make you adore these large mammals to the max.
You may have heard that it is inhumane to visit an elephant center. Unfortunately, this is true in some cases as few elephant camps may not reach the standards in treating their elephants, but NEI was founded under the Royal Patronage and is Thailand’s only government-owned elephant sanctuary with workers and researchers who devote their lives to elephant conservation. This can clearly be seen from the fond relationship between the mahouts and the elephants in addition to the elephants’ joyful nature as they are never put under any stressful environment.
There are mainly 2 types of visits you could do here. The first one is the day trip that starts with a 40-minute elephant show and bathing in the river. After that you can visit the dung factory, the hospital, the nursery, along with the craft shop. Overnight programs can last from one day up to one month where you will get to have your own elephant and interact with them in the verdant forest, their natural habitat. The accommodations here are very authentic but comfortable, while the restaurants serve very delicious food both Thai and western styles.
The National Elephant Institute also conducts many other interesting activities. For example, the mobile elephant clinic that is completely free of charge and the highly-technology research center. If you truly love elephants, give NEI a visit and you will be touched by how amazingly happy elephants can be when they are truly at home.
From Lampang Provincial Transport Station, follow Highway No. 1 (Phaholyothin) heading to Tak. At the main intersection, turn right onto Highway No. 11 (Lampang-Chiang Mai Superhighway). Continue straight until you reach kilometer markers 28-29, the destination will be on the right hand side across from the Thung Kwian Arboretum.