Elephant Rides in Phuket
I know it's a bit of a cliché but if you stay in Phuket you
really can't miss the chance for an Elephant Ride, particularly for
the young or just the young at heart. Elephants are a big part
of Thai culture, and also of daily life. Although their role
as beasts of burden is now greatly reduced they do still have a
staring role in the tourist industry.
So if you want a chance to ride an elephant you basically have a
couple of choices -- the adult or the child. No, not you, but
the elephant! There are many places that have baby elephants
on hand to offer rides to children -- and though I say "baby
elephant" of course that can mean a half ton 6 foot tall specimen
who will easily carry the heaviest child without strain.
Each elephant has it's own handler or Mahout -- though that's an
Indian word imported into English, not a Thai one -- who is
basically looks after the elephant and acts as a human-to-elephant
interpreter for the tourists. Although in some places you will
actually pay a set fee for the ride don't forget that the Mahout
survives mainly on tips so passing along a 20 or 50 baht note will
Often to make a bit of a game of it the tip is passed to the
elephant, who wisely knows not to swallow it but to pass it to his
Anything else handed to an elephant though is liable to end up in
his big mouth and won't bee seen again -- well at least not for
another 24 hours or so!
Which reminds me, the one thing that it seems Elephants can't
learn is toilet training -- so don't be surprised to see a few cow
pats -- I mean elephant pats -- here and there. But like the
droppings of most herbivores it's sweet smelling and non-offensive
to the nose as it consists of mostly grass and vegetables.
At the Phantasea theme park there are large adult elephants who
you can ride for a few hundred baht -- but just around the square in
front of the theater -- and if you are staying at the Sheraton
Laguna resort then there will be at least one if not two baby
elephant's on hand each day to play with.