Chai Lai Orchid: An Authentic Experience with Elephants

Hi friends! If you have been following along at all, you know that Andy and I have been traveling the globe for the last five months in a whirlwind of adventure. I must admit that our type of traveling is not conducive for blogging, so thank you for your patience and for your support as we have been MIA. That being said, I cannot wait to share with you glimpses of our trip, as well as just begin on This Darling Adventure with you again. So let’s have at it!

Chai Lai Orchid

One of the most popular and insta-worthy experiences visitors to Thailand can have is riding an elephant. There is nothing quite like mounting the back of such a big animal and meandering through the jungle on the adventure of a lifetime. However, many of the methods used by elephant camp owners to produce these experiences are known to be quite detrimental to the well-being of the animals themselves. But what if I told you that you don’t have to make that compromise on your visit to Thailand – that you can actually experience elephants authentically, responsibly and sustainably and have many great photo ops at the same time? Well, I would like to introduce you to Chai Lai Orchid Nature Bungalows, an eco lodge and elephant sanctuary located one hour from Chiang Mai. 


A Day In the Life

Imagine waking up to the sound of trumpeting elephants as a soft glow from the morning sun illuminates your private bungalow. You make your way down a path to find a full spread of juicy Thai fruits, decadent pastries, and freshly brewed coffee awaiting you for breakfast. You pull up some comfy pillows and lounge on the deck as elephants stroll by, checking to see if you will share your bananas with them. The cool morning air provides refreshment for the day ahead as you listen to the sound of the Mae Wang River gently flowing by. 

After a peaceful morning (and perhaps one too many of those pastries) you are ready for the day. Your friendly guide greets you and explains what you will be doing that day. First on the list is a hike through the tropical forest to a few secret waterfalls. You and your guide make your way to the start of a trail, which winds through the natural landscape until you reach the first waterfall. You climb up onto the rope swing and jump into the cool, refreshing water. From there, you move on to a second waterfall, which acts as a slide. You squeal with delight as the water carries you into the pool of water just below. You suddenly smell something delicious and realize that your guide has just finished preparing a traditional Thai lunch for you (served on banana leaves of course!). From there, your last stop on the hike is a local village. You visit  with some of the craftsmen and artists from the village, who are proud to show you some of their beautifully woven designs.


When you are ready, your guide brings you to what is next on the list: rafting down the Mae Wang River. You hop on a raft made from bamboo and sit back to enjoy the ride. Your raft slowly makes its way down the shallow river, directed by your guide and a long bamboo “paddle.” You lie on your back, watching the trees pass above you and the sunlight filtering through their mighty branches. 

Kay Rafting

Eventually you return to the lodge. There, you become acquainted with one of the elephants. After saying hello and giving it a few bananas, you are ready to hang out with it for the rest of the afternoon. Your guide helps you up and leads you and your new found friend along another path through the forest. You are riding the elephant bareback, but it is no problem, as the elephant’s movements are slow and gentle. After the walk, you return to the river with the elephant for bath time. You massage and scrub the elephant, while it sprays water at you and gives you hugs and kisses. Who knew, but bathing a baby elephant is indeed the best way to end a perfect day.


This is just one of the many experiences you can enjoy while staying at Chai Lai Orchid. The possibilities are truly endless. A variety of itinerary options ensure you have an incredible time with the elephants in a way that is good for both you and these magnificent creatures.

Travel & Do Good

One of the most rewarding benefits to experiencing Chai Lai Orchid Nature Bungalows is that 100% of their proceeds are designated to both protecting elephants and funding Daughters Rising, an organization that was created to empower women at risk for human-trafficking. So far Chai Lai Orchid has been able to rescue five elephants, provide food and care for eleven elephants, and raise awareness about ethical tours among many visitors to Thailand as well as other local elephant owners. They have also been able to coordinate programs for young, at-risk women and girls to attend English, Thai and computer classes, and seminars on women’s rights, trafficking and health. In addition, they have been able to support those women and girls by paying them a fair wage and supporting their education, medical, food and housing expenses. 

Chai Lai Orchid Nature Bungalows is truly a unique and authentic way to experience elephants, as well as do good while adventuring through Thailand. For more information, visit their website at 


Traveling to Thailand soon or just want to say “hi”? Please feel free to write a quick comment! It is a pleasure to hear from you 🙂


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