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Sunday, February 25, 2018

1 Day Elephant Lifestyle #1

Our 1 day Elephant Lifestyle programme offers you the chance to spend the day with an elephant in nature. Learn about the close relationship between the Pa Ka Yaw Sakhau (a sub group of the Karen people) and elephants, their daily life and history, and about the local herbs used to heal ailments and improve health.

The programme is hands-on too - you will gather herbs, feed and bathe the elephant, and perform a ritual to respect the elephant before returning it to the forest. We provide lunch onsite, filtered water to drink, and an English speaking Pa Ka Yaw Sakhau guide who is full of knowledge about the subject.

Pickup time: 8.30am
Drop off time: Approximately 5pm


  • Pickup from Chiang Rai
  • Transfer to programme startpoint
  • Put on a traditional Karen (Pa Ka Yaw Sakhau) shirt
  • Introductions
  • Explanation of the traditional clothing
  • Walk to the elephant camp
    • Explanation of farming and lifestyles
  • Introduction and brief history of the elephants
    • Including objectives of the programme
  • Prepare food and feed the elephant
  • Give the elephant a bath
  • Visit the Pa Ka Yaw Sakhau Karen museum
  • Lunch
  • Introduction to local herbs
  • Gather herbs and give them to the elephant
  • Perform a ceremony of respect to the elephant
  • Learn about the behaviour of elephants in the wild
  • Take the elephant back into the forest
  • Return to Chiang Rai

n.b. We supply our guests with filtered water. The Karen shirt is returned at the end of the programme.

Cost calculator



Our accident insurance coverage requires that we send the company the passport number and full name of everyone in the group.

We don't need any photocopies, or even to see the original passport - just the number and full name of each participant.

It is helpful if the details can be ahead of time, but if this is not possible, then they must be given to us before the trip begins - it is very important, as you will not be covered in the event of an accident during the programme.


Our fees are based on the number in the group, and the age of the participants.

The basic fee includes everything listed in the relevant programme. It also includes pickup and drop off in Chiang Rai city - but, there may be a surcharge if your pickup or drop off is located outside town. Please confirm your accommodation with us, so that we can advise if necessary.

Please click here to use our Cost Calculator

Further details

Our fees are generally slightly higher than that of other agencies. The extra cost is mainly so that we can pay a higher rate to the villagers and guides. For some programmes, we are able to make a donation to our foundation - this money is channelled to the projects which are non-income generating, such as the project which works to secure citizenship for stateless people. These funds are vital to maintain the work we do.

Child fees are based on age - 4-11 yr olds pay 80% of adult fees for trips which run over at least one night, and 50% for single day programmes. There is no charge for babies (0-3yrs). Use the to get an basic estimate of the fee, based on a standard option and the number/age of those in your group.

We cannot refund deposits, so please wait until we ask you to pay. Once the deposit has been received, whether the trip is cancelled or not, we are still obliged to pay the guide and villagers that we have booked to look after you. We also do not refund fees once the programme has begun.

We can only confirm a booking when the deposit has been received into our account, and cleared. Deposits must be paid, and cleared, before 11am on the day before the programme start (Or by 11am Friday, for treks leaving on Saturday, Sunday or Monday). eCheque payments are not accepted, as they can take up to 3 weeks to clear.

Balance of payment must be given in cash (Thai Baht) on the day the programme begins, before we commence - once the car leaves the city there are no ATMs, so please make sure you have the cash before we collect you.


The deposit payment is a confirmation of your booking, subject to our prior agreement, and within the caveats set down below. The 2,500B payment includes advance admin costs, transport, and food costs, with a surcharge of 150B to cover the PayPal fee. Balance of payment (total fee minus the 2,500B must be paid on arrival).

Please do not pay this deposit if

  • you have not yet applied using our form
  • you have not received a response from our staff
  • you have advised the dates you requested are unavailable
  • you have been asked to wait until further notice

Also, please note that this deposit

  • is non-refundable

Click the link above to begin the deposit payment process. 150B admin fee has been automatically added to the 2,500B deposit, making a total payment of 2,650B. The 2,500B deposit will be deducted from the total fee, which is payable in cash (Thai Baht) on the day of your programme.


We cannot accept credit or debit card payments, and do not accept cheques or travellers cheques. eCheques must clear prior to the start date or the date must be postponed.

Extra options

This is a list of all extra options, which can be added to your programme. If an option is already part of the programme you wish to book, then there is no need to pay.

What to bring

There are a few items to bring when you join one of our programmes, which will make your experience more comfortable, which we have listed below according to the programme type.

1 Day trips

  • Walking shoes - sandals are advised as a minimum, but covered walking shoes/trainers are preferable
  • Comfortable and cool clothes (please check our dress code)
  • Sunglasses, hat, and sun cream
  • Insect repellent
  • Optional:
    • Money (small notes) to buy local handicrafts

Overnight trips

  • Walking shoes - sandals are advised as a minimum, but covered walking shoes/trainers are preferable. Flip-flops are easier to wear once you arrive at the village, but are not essential
  • Comfortable and cool clothes (please check our dress code)
  • Enough changes of clothing for the whole trip
  • Daypack/small backpack
  • Torch/flashlight
  • Toiletries & towel
  • Sunglasses, hat, and sun cream
  • Insect repellent
  • Optional:
    • Money (small notes) to buy local handicrafts
    • Sleeping bag - bedding is provided on our trips, and extra blankets are sometimes available, but winter months (November - February) can be pretty cold, ranging from 5-20°C up in the hills. A light sleeping bag would be sufficient.


Dress code

Culturally speaking

Life in the north of Thailand is largely traditional, conservative, and rural. We have listed the dress code below, partly to cause minimal offence to locals, and partly so that our guests don't feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Thais and hilltribe villagers are unlikely to mention anything directly, but there can be plenty of discussion if a guest is dressed in a manner which goes against the social convention.

Practically speaking

There are a number of practical reasons as well. Nature and the elements can make the trip awkward, and sometimes painful, if inappropriate attire is worn. Along the trails, at certain times of the year, grass with tiny thorns can irritate your legs and feet; the sun can beat down and burn the skin in a very short space of time; it can also cause dehydration and sunstroke if a hat is not worn.

We respectfully ask our guests to follow the requests below*:

  • Trousers/pants: long, down to the ankles preferably
  • Footwear: covered shoes are suggested; ideally trekking shoes
  • Skirts: We advise against wearing skirts
  • Leggings: No leggings or yoga pants please - it can cause offence and embarrassment
  • Shirts/Tops: Shoulders need to be covered (no strap tops)
    • No cleavage should be seen
    • A bra should be worn at all times

*All requests in the list are especially important when visiting a Buddhist temple. Some of the larger temples, as well as the White Temple, have staff to hand out shawls and trousers to wear, but many temples are too small for this - self-awareness and respect for the culture is very important here, much more so than in western countries.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask us.

Our vehicles

We generally use our own vehicles, for picking groups up, as well as transfers within the programmes, and dropping off at the end. Our vehicles are mainly pickup trucks, with roofing and seats in the back. If these are unavailable, sometimes our staff use their own vehicles - these are also pickup trucks, although none have roofing or seats in the back. Please check the photos below to see the foundation vehicles.


We also offer the opportunity to hire a air-coonditioned minivan, although this would increase the programme price. We cannot give a set fee, as price is affected by distances and the chose programme itinerary.

We only recommend hiring an air-conditioned minivan if:

  • you are being picked up in Chiang Mai and are more than 2 people
  • have elderly or infirm members who would struggle to get into a pickup vehicle
  • or have lots of money to spend...


Please select the minivan in the extras section, if you wish to use it instead of our own vehicles, and we will work out the extra cost for you.



  • Your programme may include visiting local temples, and it is important not to offend the local relgion and culture. Please ensure that shoulders and cleavage are covered, and the length of trousers or skirts come down to on or below the knees.
  • Please remember that you will be carrying your own bags, so don't pack too much - you are welcome to store luggage at our foundation while the programme is in progress, and we will bring it along when we collect you.
  • Suitcases, and bags which use wheels, are extremly impractical - please use daypack/backpack only
  • Don't forget that we need the balance of the fee paid in cash (Thai Baht) when we pick you up - there are no ATMs once we leave Chiang Rai town, so please have it prepared in advance.
  • Electricity is limited in all villages, and non-existent in some villages, so please don't rely on being able to charge batteries during the programme.
  • We do not provide anything for rental (sleeping bags, towels, etc), so please check the what to bring section carefully.


Please be aware that you will be staying in a home - our homestays are based with a family with children, or a married couple. We have set standards for our homestays, covering cleanliness, accommodation, and food... but, these are real homes in traditional communities - not model homes, guesthouses or hotels. Facilities are basic: squat toilets, cold showers, rudimentary electric power (no power at all in some villages), thin mattresses.