Heal the World: The Best Ethical Animal Sanctuaries in Thailand
The animals in Thailand need your help. Not all sanctuaries are created equal, so how can you make sure your money is going to the right places? In this article, we go over some of the most ethical animal sanctuaries in Thailand.
A visit to Thailand is a visit to paradise. Beaches, jungle, elephants, it’s all there to enjoy. But this sunny holiday destination has a darker side to it; a side of animal exploitation and cruelty. As a tourist it’s all too easy to go to a show or visit an elephant sanctuary and marvel at the animals without thinking too hard about what goes on behind closed doors.
There is a way to avoid supporting this exploitation, however. Thailand has some stand-out destinations where ethics come first and where your tourist dollar is used to conserve and preserve the animals’ well being. Here are some of the best.
Rescue Paws, Hua Hin
Let’s start with a cute one- dogs. Rescue Paws has been set up to help the many millions of street dogs in Thailand, one furry friend at a time. They provide vaccinations, medical treatment and food to the dogs in the area and you can help too!
As a volunteer you can stay at beach-side accommodation and help to care for these pooches who are in desperate need of a friend. A volunteering holiday at the centre starts from $1000 for a 2 week stay up to $2,350 for 9 weeks upwards.
Location: Rescue Paws, Wat Khao Tao (old Police Box), 65 Hua Hin 101, Khao Tao, Hua Hin
Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai
This one is a big hitter. Elephant Nature Park is an absolutely fabulous wildlife reserve which keeps the elephants’ wellbeing front and center. The guides are knowledgeable and the food is fantastic but the real highlight is the interactions with the incredible animals they’ve rescued.
You can’t ride the elephants- no sanctuary that allows riding could be considered as ethical- but you can feed, stroke and wash the elephants yourself. There’s no better way to take a bath than by being sprayed by an elephant’s trunk in a crystal clear Thai river! A day visit costs from 2,500 baht and you should book well in advance as this is a deservedly popular place.
Location: 209/2 Sridom Chai Road, Chiang Mai 50100 (Chiang Mai office)
Gibbon Rehabilitation Project, Phuket
A visit to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project is guaranteed to be a fun day out. You can watch these cheeky simians as they swing through the forest canopy in their natural environment and the center aims to rehome and release as many animals as possible and watch them feeding from the custom-built viewing platform.
If you want to stay longer and really get to know these amazing animals then the center hosts a residential volunteering program. You’ll need to stay for a minimum of 4 weeks but the rewards of watching these amazing animals getting released back into the wild can be immense. A day visit to the center is free but you’ll need to pay a 200 baht entrance fee into the national park.
Location: 104/3 Moo 3 Paklok, Talang, Phuket 83110
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, Phuket
The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is a rescue center that puts the importance of animal welfare above all else. They focus on education and a visit here will leave you informed about their conservation efforts and enthused for the long-term welfare of the elephants in their care. A day visit includes all the best elephant experiences- feeding them, walking them and bathing with them in the river.
Many visitors stay in touch with the sanctuary and raise funds for them after a visit. If you want more than just a day at the sanctuary then they offer residential volunteering opportunities which cost 8,000 baht for three days or 16,000 baht for a full week.
Location: 100 Moo 2, Paklok, Thalang, Phuket 83110
An Experience That Speaks to the Soul
Visiting any of these ethical animal sanctuaries will be one of the highlights of your trip, and the chance to see Thailand’s incredible wildlife thriving in its natural environment is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. Do your research, choose from our favorite ethical animal sanctuaries in Thailand and enjoy!