Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thailand Elephant Conservation Centre

One of the top things to do in Chiang Mai is to visit the elephant park. Any tour guide will tell you that. But there is a serious ethical issue with elephant parks in Thailand. Most elephants are ill treated. In the name of making profit and tourism. You can read more on the issue here. The other issue that I have is the fee to most elephant parks. It is so expensive. Most are in the range of THB 2500 per person. For a family of 6, and a cheap skate mom like me...that's freaking expensive!!! But omitting a visit to the elephant park means there will be no animal related experience for the kids. Which is just not acceptable especially for animal crazy kiddos like Little Missy. Of course, zoo will be the last option. But I still prefer them to experience animal in the wild instead of confined space like zoo. So I was very elated when I stumbled upon Thailand Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) few days before we left for Chiang Mai. A more ethical and much2 cheaper option. Wooooottt!! ;-)
TECC is in Lampang. Which is about 40 minutes drive from Chiang Mai.

Thai Elephant Conservation Center
Km. 28-29 Lampang-Chiang Mai Highway
Hang Chat, Lampang 52190, Thailand
GPS: 18° 21' 52"N, 99° 14' 53"E

Tickets was THB150 for adult and THB100 for kids.  Kids are 135 cm and below. The fees include entrance to elephant show. This is freaking cheap. It's a fraction of what you pay to other elephant parks.
It's a huge place but you can hop on the shuttle to go around.
TECC open at 8.30am. We went there early and headed straight to the hospital. Coz I found out the vet will make their round and treat the elephants first thing in the morning.

Vet treating injured elephants with the help of the mahout.
On the way out from the hospital, kids bumped into this friendly calf.
Besides the hospital, there are other things you can do in TECC.
Elephant show.

Elephant paintings for sale.
Feeding the elephants
Elephant ride
Visit the museum. But most information is in Thai.
 The visitor centre is better for us as the info is in English. 
Apart from all these activities, there is something you shouldn't miss when you are in TECC. The Elephant Dung Paper Factory. It's a bit secluded. So make a point to look for it.

 The workers were busy processing the dung. None of them can speak English. Luckily I asked the man in the shop whether we can have have a hands on experience and he said yes ;-)

The dung ball.
Hajar not convinced it ain't smelly and yucky.
The aspiring zoologist getting her hands dirty and getting used to the "yucky" business. Mixing the dung ball with water.
Pour the dung mixture on the sieve.
Draining the excess water.
Drying up.

The finished products.
I think the highlight of the trip was the hospital visit and paper dung factory. Anyway, for the price that we paid, this is a steal. Not to mention it's very educational for the kids. Highly recommended.

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