I was able to visit the Maerin Elephant Home during my stay in Chiang Mai. I also visited the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which is a Buddhist temple, the same day. Most people refer to this temple as Doi Suthep for short even though “Doi Suthep” is the name of the mountain where the temple is located because it is well known. I was able to make a morning trip the the Elephant home and then visit the temple in the afternoon. The taxi driver that drove me from the CNX airport to the hotel, drove me to these two destinations. He provided me his card when he dropped me off at the hotel, and informed me that it would be 1,000 baht (~$33 USD) for the day’s transportation. In my opinion, this is a great deal because each destination (hotel to elephants to temple to hotel) took ~ 40 minutes. The admission price for the Elephant home is 1,500 baht (~$50 USD), and the temple admission price is 30 baht (~$1 USD), which includes the cable car ride up.
Let’s start with the Maerin Elephant Home. There were four elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary and for the admission price, I was able to roam with, feed, and bathe them! When in Thailand, I highly recommend avoiding places that allow the riding of elephants, as most of these elephants are abused in the process of training to cater to tourism. The Maerin Elephant Home is 100% against elephant riding, performances, tricks, and any method of training or discipline where pain is inflicted to achieve a result. The four female elephants at the sanctuary that day were all rescued (Mo Wa: 50 years, Uthai: 38 years, Mo Khux: 36 years, and Nong Luck: 28 years). I mostly spent the morning with Mo Wa, who is a year into her pregnancy (elephants are pregnant for 2 years).
I was able to wash her toenails, feed her, walk with her through the jungle to a river, and then give her a mud bath with a rinse. I did not provide pictures, but I was also able to hug her trunk, climb up on her leg and onto her back (brief), and was easily lifted up by her trunk!
With the elephants well taken care of, the morning ended with a plate of Pad Thai and local fruit.
After a wonderful time with the elephants and the caregivers at the sanctuary, I was off to Doi Suthep! I paid 30 baht for admission and the cable car ride. There are 309 steps to the top, and I chose to take the cable car up and the steps on the way down. At the top, where the temple is located, you can see all of Chiang Mai. After taking off your shoes, you can enter the temple and view the 79 feet tall gold plated (top to bottom) Monument, or Chedi. This temple is one of the most holy Buddhist sites in Thailand and is a major pilgrimage destination during Buddhist holidays.
After returning to the hotel, I enjoyed the night life with food and drinks. I will write a separate post about all the food and drinks that were consumed at a later date. As a preview, 3 large beers and seven gin and tonics cost 1,080 (~$34.33 USD) baht at a place called Ratana’s Kitchen, and this was only the second stop of the night! In the next post, I will write about the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar that I did not make it to previously and the Chiang Mai Saturday Night Market. The Saturday Night Market is a market that caters more to the locals and offers better prices for the same foods and items you may see around Chiang Mai. Be happy and safe everyone, until next time!