BEES… Where elephants that used to work for humans now have humans work for them!
Are you a responsible traveller looking for a way to encounter elephants in the most ethical way possible?
About BEES Elephant Sanctuary
Welcome to BEES! At this family-run elephant sanctuary in the North of Thailand your conscience can take a rest, knowing that the elephants you see are behaving in exactly the way they choose! You will spend time with these amazing creatures in their natural habitat, safe in the knowledge that nothing that they do is done for your entertainment. This is a place where elephants can finally be free from years of exploitation and abuse and can forage, bathe, roam, explore and socialise with fellow ele’s as they would do in the wild.
Located in a beautiful area of rural Thailand, in the province of Mae Cham, South West of Chiang Mai, BEES is a retirement home for elephants, originally founded by Australian-Thai couple, Emily and her husband Burm, who was born locally. With a big passion for pachyderms, the couple set up BEES in 2010 and have since been at the forefront of elephant welfare and conservation in a constantly evolving world! Emily was a key voice in our article about Ethical Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand and her views are respected across the elephant conservation community.
South East Asia Backpacker is proud to support BEES Ethical Elephant Sanctuary on our website.
Hands Off Policy – Please Support BEES & Ethical Animal Welfare!
BEES Elephant Sanctuary is one of a few sanctuaries in Thailand that promotes a ‘hands-off’ policy which is as much about the safety of the visitor (and the caretakers, or mahouts) as it is about the welfare of the elephants. While sanctuaries across the country continue to get more bookings as they allow visitors to touch, bathe and even ride the elephants, BEES decided that it was not in the best interest of the elephant to, despite the fact that they lost a huge amount of bookings when they made the move in 2018.
What will you do at BEES?
- Observe the elephants in the forest, behaving just as they wish!
- Prepare food for the elephants and learn how to care for them.
- Help clear out the elephant areas.
- Lend a hand with the care of the other animals that are rescued at BEES.
Other activities you might take part in (for longer visits)
- Environmental conservation activities such as planting trees (only during rainy season).
- Planting grass for the elephants.
- Cutting grass or other foods ready for the elephants.
- Support a group of local elderly ladies at the weaving club.
- Learn to cook some delicious Thai deserts! (Please specify in the additional information box when placing your order if you would like to do this)
- Take part in local community projects, eg, building, clean-ups etc.
- Temple visits.
- River tubing.
Accommodation & Facilities
There are seven traditional Thai huts on-site (built by hand by Burm himself, with the help of other family and community members). Each one consists offers a mattress, bedding, mosquito nets and a fan. Bathrooms are located in a separate block with western toilets and showers with standard shower heads. There are two sinks with mirrors in the same block.
There is a common area, known lovingly as the “cat cafe”. This is where breakfast is served and offers a spacious balcony area. There is also a small gift shop attached, where it is possible to purchase snacks and beverages, as well as T-shirts sporting the BEES logo! A washing machine is available for use, you can buy washing powder at the gift shop.
Food & Drink at BEES
For the overnight packages at BEES, three meals a day are offered.
- Breakfast is western. Guests are invited to prepare their own toast or cereal, teas and coffee. Staff are on-hand to prepare egg (boiled, scrambled, fried or omelette). Delicious seasonal fruit is always available.
- Lunch and dinner are Thai. Expect noodles or rice with plenty of vegetables.
We cater to vegetarians – Meat meals are served, but BEES will very happily cater to vegetarians and vegans. If you have special dietary needs, please specify in the additional information box when placing your order. The sanctuary is in a very remote area and it is not easy to get hold of specialist ingredients at short notice, so be sure to let us know with plenty of time!
Snacks are available at the gift shop. You will also have the chance to pick some up on your way to the centre and on sightseeing days (often Thursday). Beers can be purchased in the local town, though it is requested that you limit yourself to one or two cans, you drink them in the cat cafe or at your hut after you have finished that day’s activities. BEES request that you do not bring stronger alcohol (spirits) onto the site and would like to state that drunken behaviour will not be accepted.