In all honesty, we made the trek from Koh Lanta to Chiang Mai solely so we could visit the elephant sanctuary. I have a few friends who have been in the past and had nothing but amazing things to say about the experience. Suffice to say it had been on my bucketlist for some time. And although our expectations were crazy high, I’m happy to announce that not only were they met, they were far surpassed!
Located in a valley just north of the city, the nature park acts as a respite for elephants who have been abused or tortured throughout their lives. Seeing as most of these animals have been held in captivity for years, forced to perform in circuses, kept confined in zoos, or act as a sideshow for tourists to ride, the park allows these incredible beings to live out the rest of their days in peace, and as close to being wild and free as physically possible.
Not only did we get to feed these magical creatures out of our own hands, but we also got to walk amongst them and observe their behaviour as they went about their daily business. In addition, each group was assigned their own elephant and by mid-afternoon we were able to bathe him. Bathing an elephant? Add it to your bucket list immediately! It’s kind of the best! The entire experience was heartbreaking and beautiful and worth every penny.
Although our main mission for visiting Chiang Mai was to experience the sanctuary, I have to admit that we were pleasantly surprised by Chiang Mai itself. For those wondering, we stayed at DeLanna Hotel in the Old City. It was a lovely hotel, very reasonably priced with comfortable beds and a great pool. We walked absolutely everywhere, but if I were to go back I would have stayed a little closer to Thapae gate. Most everything we wanted to visit was a small jaunt away from the gate.
We only really had one full day to explore, but dotted with picturesque temples, it felt like a mini Bangkok, but a little more our speed. The pace was slower, the people kinder, the nightlife exciting, and the shopping exceptional. We basically spent our entire free day roaming around the city by foot and we were lucky to have found a ton of really adorable artisanal shops that allowed us to bring back some goodies for friends and family.
All in all, our entire Thai experience was just beyond. And although India fed my soul in a way that I’ve yet to re-experience, there’s just something about Thailand that mademe feel at ease. I’m absolutely certain that we’re meant to return.
PART I (BANGKOK) | PART II (KOH LANTA)
All images original to Lark & Linen | See other travel posts right here!
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