I recently got back from a three week vacation in Thailand. Although it was all amazing and I had so many new experiences, like getting my open water dive certification, the highlight was definitely getting to spend the day with elephants. My friend and I knew we wanted to interact with elephants in some way, since Thailand is famous for them and elephants are amazing animals. We were, however, pretty set on not riding them, because they are often over-worked and tired and not treated very well. We settled on going to an elephant sanctuary, where the elephants get to roam around free all day. So we planned a day trip from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi to go play with elephants at the Elephant Haven. I think it was a much more rewarding experience, because it was more hands-on than just riding them. We got to prepare their food, feed them, and walk with them down to the river. After that we walked them to an open pasture and spent a good hour or so with them there.
We then ate lunch and had a brief excursion to see the bridge on the River Kwai. When we got back, we took the elephants to the mud pits, where they covered themselves in mud to cool down. When they were completely covered, we walked them down to the river to bathe them. It was amazing to actually get to go swimming with elephants. When they were nice and clean, which lasted all of 2 minutes, we walked them back up to feed them dinner and to say goodbye, along with one last photo op. There was also the opportunity to spend the night and spend two days, but my friend and I decided on just one day. It was definitely an unforgettable experience and I am so glad I got to have it.