BEES Ethical Elephant Sanctuary | CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

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(2 Reviews)

(2 customer reviews)
100% of travellers said they loved this activity.
  • Experience elephants in their natural habitat at this TRULY ethical elephant sanctuary in the North of Thailand.
  • Volunteer to help the elephants and improve their environment by planting trees, preparing their food and learning about what makes them happy.
  • Hands-off policy – Support Ethical Elephant Tourism! At BEES you can feel safe in the knowledge that your visit is helping to change damaging animal tourist models and helping to improve the lives of elephants all over Thailand.
  • Pick-up and drop-off in Chiang Mai included.

From $198.00

  • Secure your spot with a small deposit today
  • 100% refundable deposit for peace of mind
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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.

Refund Policy

  • To book, pay a deposit online through South East Asia Backpacker. This deposit is fully refundable if you cancel at least 72 hours before the activity starts.
  • The rest of the payment is made directly to the operator according to their instructions.
  • Important: This refund policy applies only to the deposit made on this website. Any later payments made to the operator are subject to their own refund policy.
  • Check our customer terms and conditions for more details.

Why Book With Us?

Hi, I’m Nikki and I started South East Asia Backpacker in 2008 after my own first solo backpacking trip! My vision was to create a travel diary for everyone, a place for travellers to share their experiences from the road. After backpacking and writing about Southeast Asia for over 10 years, I saw the opportunity to provide backpackers with the kind of experiences that I’d treasured myself in the region! 

Today, there is so much choice, but there are a lot of poor-quality tours and companies that offer mediocre experiences with little care for the environment. I wanted to create a selection of the best tours and activities to help backpackers avoid scams and dodgy tour companies.

Today, I run this website with my partner, Dave, from Spain, where we live with our energetic two-year-old daughter, Evie. All of the bookable activities that you will find on this website have been vetted by a member of our team and we have a friendly relationship with the operator. There are real humans behind South East Asia Backpacker and we are passionate about sustainable travel and development in Southeast Asia.

We are committed to helping travellers at every stage of the journey and understand that plans can change which is why we offer a full discount on the deposit up to 72 hours before the start of your trip, no questions asked. We offer advice on flights, visas, itineraries, hostels, backpacks, packing and more!

If you have any questions about our business or any of the tours that we provide, feel free to contact me on Whatsapp.


Is pick-up/drop-off included?

For the 2-day to 1-week packages, pick up and drop off in Chiang Mai is included. Please provide the name of your guesthouse or hostel when booking, or you can email us later if you do not have anywhere booked yet.

For 1-day visits, you will need to make your way to the sanctuary by yourself. Please see the tab on ‘getting there’ for information about how to get to BEES.

Do I need to be fit to visit BEES?

In order to fully take part in the activities at BEES, a certain level of fitness is recommended. The fact that the elephants here are free to roam as and where they wish means that you may have to hike a considerable distance before finding them! The climate of the area is hot and humid, rain is common and the surfaces you will walk on are uneven. Some of the construction projects and food collection can also be physically demanding. Cutting down crops, shovelling and carrying materials are all common activities on the site. Aside from these physical requirements, visitors should also know that they’ll be expected to work in teams and follow the protocol and procedure as described to them by BEES team-leaders.

Is there WIFI at BEES?

There is no wifi on-site at the moment. To ensure you can connect to the internet, it is recommended that you purchase a SIM card from either TrueMOVE or AIS12CALL.

What should I bring to BEES?

  • Lightweight clothes
  • Warm jumper/jacket (depending on the season)
  • Rain jacket (depending on the season)
  • Sturdy trainers/boots or walking shoes for walking in the forest with the elephants
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Sun screen
  • Toiletries

Please note: Some travellers may not be used to the sound of nature that you will experience staying this far into nature. It can be considerably louder than you expect! Light sleepers may benefit from bringing earplugs or headphones to use at night.

Do I need travel insurance to visit BEES?

Travel medical insurance is compulsory for a visit to BEES and you must show proof upon entrance.

Are children allowed at BEES?

The program is not suitable for children under 10 years old. Children ages 10-18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Getting There

BEES is located in the Mae Chaem District, to the west of Doi Inthanon National Park. For visitors planning to take the one-day option at BEES, it is highly recommended that they spend both the night before AND the night of the activity in the Mae Chaem Town itself due to limited public transport options.

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Operator Information

  • Store Name: BEES
  • Operator: BEES
  • 5.00 rating from 2 reviews

2 reviews for BEES Ethical Elephant Sanctuary | CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

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Showing 2 of 2 reviews (5 star). See all 2 reviews
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  1. What an incredible experience! It was tricky finding an elephant sanctuary with the correct set of morals and creating a humane experience, however with BEES, we feel we made the best decision we could! Their hands off policy gives an amazing opportunity to be within the environment of the elephants, without causing any disturbance. The owners Burm and Emily were incredibley welcoming and made the whole experience entertaining; always wanting to make sure we were enjoying ourselves and attending to our needs.

    I highly recommend BEES elephant sanctuary if you’re looking for an organic experience in the close presence of their incredible elephants! We’ll definitely be back! ?❤️

    (0) (0)
  2. We did not really know what to expect with this elephant sanctuary as we booked it online from backpackers before travelling and although there are many elephants Sanctuary’s advertised within Chiangmai this is nowhere to be found so was a little apprehensive, we were picked up at 8:30 in the morning and informed it was a four hour drive to the elephant sanctuary through the National Park what a drive, there was five of us on the tour and we visited the waterfalls for lunch, Rice fields where the Karen Tribe live and saw the most amazing scenery within the mountains absolutely breathtaking.

    On arriving at the elephant statuary we were greeted by the many rescue dogs and cats. we meet Emily for a meet and greet explained their ethos of the elephants. All the elephants were retired from working. Although the animals are not wild they are retired back to as near as nature as possible so no hands on, no feeding observe them only allowing them just to be elephants again.
    Day two We were took out in the national park trekking and looking for the elephants we were able to observe them in their own natural environment crossing rivers, eating palm trees and it was the most amazing experience I have ever had on reflection I am so glad we did not bath or feed them just seeing them being elephants in the wild helped you see how beautiful these creatures are, we also learned about the plants that we could eat and plants that were used for medicine. After lunch we had to cross a river which was interesting experience then tubing down the river.
    Would recommend as an amazing experience

    (0) (0)
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