Chiang Mai & Elephants Trip Notes

Chiang Mai & Elephants

Last Modified: 21 Mar 2016
Chiang Mai & Elephants
Trip code: TTAE-O
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2016
See a different side of Chiang Mai by hanging out with the gentle giants of the Elephant Nature Park. Be greeted by an expert guide and learn about the plight of this humble species - whose mistreatment is sadly prevalent in many parts of South-East Asia. Help out by feeding one of these friendly creatures from the viewing platform. Then, for those who don't mind getting a bit damp, don some bathers and get wet and wild during bathing time. Wave goodbye to new friends and return to Chiang Mai to make offerings to monks, explore Kad Ton Payo flea market, enjoy a spot of meditation or taste regional specialties.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinishing point instructions
ThemesMeals introductionEmergency contact
Why we love itMealsVisas
MapMoney mattersWhat to take
ItineraryGroup leaderHealth
Itinerary disclaimerSafetyTravel insurance
Physical ratingJoining pointA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinish point description
Style
Original
Themes
Short Breaks, Wildlife
Why we love it
- Learn about the plight of Thailand's elephants
- Delight in elephant feeding time
- Try not to get wet while bathing an elephant!
- Take a songthaew to Kad Ton Payom flea market and purchase offerings to give to monks
- Dine on delicious local specialties
- Talk with the abbot at the 600-year-old Wat Umong Temple
- Take a basic meditation class at War Suan Dok
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Chiang Mai
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand.
An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
A welcome letter will be waiting for you at the Hotel reception counter which will have more information about your trip. Please ask for the welcome letter upon check in.
The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. This 'Rose of the North' is also known for its beauty and the friendliness of the local people.
There are no activities planned today, and you can arrive at any time.
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Elephant Nature Park / Chiang Mai
    We set off early (approx 8am) and drive along Mae Taeng Valley to Elephant Nature Park (approx 60 km), a unique project providing a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants.

    Greeted by an expert guide we learn about the story of rescued elephants and elephants problem in South-East Asia. After that you will have a chance to feed the elephant from the viewing platform.

    Lunch is provided before elephant bathing time. After a safety briefing you can join in to scrub and bathe the elephant (bring some shorts/swim gear and change of clothing) or alternatively just kick back and enjoy watching the elephants bathe.
    Included Activities
    • Chiang Mai - Elephant Nature Park day trip
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch
      Day 3 Chiang Mai
      Its an early start (6.00AM) as we set off by songthaew for a scenic drive to Kad Ton Payom flea market. We collect our offerings from the market and then offer these alms to monks to ‘make merit’.

      This region is famous for its cuisine and we enjoy a traditional breakfast of local specialities such as: rice soup, fried rice, grilled pork,

      The next stop is Wat U-mong a 600 year-old temple famed for its large painted pagoda and underground tunnel. Soak up the peaceful atmosphere and take the opportunity to talk with the abbot about Buddhism and Dharma.

      Then its Wat Suan Dok where we can mingle with monks to learn about their way of life, take some time to learn basic meditation, and also make an offering to the Sangkha.
      Our adventure concludes at approx noon, and you are free to depart at any time. There is no accommodation included tonight.
      Meals
      1 breakfast
      Itinerary disclaimer
      ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

      OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
      Physical rating

      Included activities
      Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
      Chiang Mai - Elephant Nature Park day trip
      Important notes
      1. An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
      2. The tour finishes on day 3 at approximately 12pm
      3. This is a join-in trip, so if other travellers have booked on the same date you will share included activities.

      Group size
      Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
      Your fellow travellers
      GROUP TRAVEL
      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

      Please note many of our Short Break Adventures operate with a minimum of 1 person, so there may be instances where you are the only person on the trip.
      Accommodation
      Hotel (2nt)
      Meals introduction
      While travelling with us you'll have the opportunity to experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility.
      Meals
      2 breakfasts, 1 lunch
      Money matters
      SPENDING MONEY
      When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

      We recommend USD50 for meals not included.

      The official currency of Thailand is the Baht (THB).
      The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat. ATMs are now available in most towns and visa cash advances are available in major banks. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels.

      All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

      EMERGENCY FUNDS
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

      TIPPING
      If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.

      The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

      Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

      Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.

      Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.

      Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

      In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

      At your group meeting on Day 1, your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

      Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
      Group leader
      This Short Break Adventure is a 'join in' group departure, which means you are not accompanied by an Intrepid group leader - our local representative fills this role - and the configuration of any fellow travellers in the group might change during the trip.

      The aim of our local representative is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. On this style of trip you might have one person stay with you for the entire journey, or you might get to enjoy the variety of having someone different for each day and/or activity. They will be able to provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and, where possible, introduce you to our local friends. While some may not be guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
      Safety
      Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

      We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

      In addition to any included activities on your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Our local representative may be able to assist you with available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that our local representative has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

      For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety

      PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
      While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

      SEAT BELTS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

      FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
      Joining point
      Imperial Mae Ping
      153 Sridonchai Road
      Chang Klan
      Chiang Mai
      50100
      THAILAND
      Phone: 66 (0)53283900
      Fax: 66 (0)53270181
      Joining point description
      Please note we sometimes need to use alternative accommodation when the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel is fully booked.

      The alternative hotels we use in Chiang Mai are:
      Raming Lodge Hotel & Spa
      17-19 Loikroh T.Changklan A.Muang
      Chiang Mai
      THAILAND
      Phone: +66 53 271 777

      and

      Chiang Mai Plaza
      92 Sridonchai Road,
      Chang Khlan, Chiang Mai,
      THAILAND
      Phone: +66 53-270036

      Please check with your booking agent to confirm if you are staying at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, Raming Lodge Hotel & Spa or Chiang Mai Plaza.

      Joining point instructions
      An arrival transfer is included on this trip. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.

      Our local representative will be holding a sign with your name when you exit the airport terminal. If you have any problems and cannot locate our transfer operator on arrival please our Thailand 24hr emergency number +66 89 810 3722.

      A taxi from the airport to your hotel in Chiang Mai costs about THB100. Buy a ticket at the taxi kiosk outside the baggage claim area in the airport.
      Finish point
      Imperial Mae Ping
      153 Sridonchai Road
      Chang Klan
      Chiang Mai
      50100
      THAILAND
      Phone: 66 (0)53283900
      Fax: 66 (0)53270181
      Finish point description
      Please note we sometimes need to use alternative accommodation when the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel is fully booked.

      The alternative hotels we use in Chiang Mai are:
      Raming Lodge Hotel & Spa
      17-19 Loikroh T.Changklan A.Muang
      Chiang Mai
      THAILAND
      Phone: +66 53 271 777

      and

      Chiang Mai Plaza
      92 Sridonchai Road,
      Chang Khlan, Chiang Mai,
      THAILAND
      Phone: +66 53-270036

      Please check with your booking agent to confirm if you are staying at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, Raming Lodge Hotel & Spa or Chiang Mai Plaza.

      Finishing point instructions
      Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.

      If you have a transfer to the Chiang Mai Airport your transfer driver will collect you from your Guesthouse 1.5hrs (90mins) before your flight time for domestic flights and 2.5hrs before your flight time for International flights. If your transfer has not arrived within 15minutes of the scheduled pickup time please call the Thailand 24hr emergency number +66 89 810 3722
      Emergency contact
      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

      For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

      In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.


      Intrepid's Thailand Office: +66 898 103 722
      Visas
      As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
      Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

      THAILAND:
      If entering by air most nationalities will be granted a 30 day stay on arrival.

      If entering by a land border, you will be granted a 15 day stay only (some exceptions are citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan who are eligible for 30 day visa at land borders). A visa extension can be obtained in Thailand at an immigration office for approx. 2000THB or alternatively you can apply for a Thailand visa in advance from your embassy or consulate that will allow a 30 day stay when entering at an overland border.
      If planning to enter Thailand via a land border multiple times during your travels, we recommend you pre-obtain a 60 day multiple entry visa from you embassy or consulate before you travel rather than attempting to obtain a visa at the border on multiple occasions which may result in being denied re-entry into the country.
      What to take
      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

      Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf
      Health
      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

      DENGUE FEVER:
      Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.

      Zika Virus
      Thailand is experiencing ongoing transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to Thailand or talk to their doctor about possible implications.

      Please see further information about the Zika virus (and our current cancellation/change policy) on our safety page of the Intrepid website at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety
      Travel insurance
      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

      When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the trip until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by our local representative.

      If you have credit card insurance our local representative will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact telephone number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

      Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:

      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
      A couple of rules
      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader or local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

      Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
      Responsible Travel
      We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

      ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
      While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:

      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/rt/51033_Elephant_Welfare.pdf

      LOCAL DRESS:
      Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees by wearing sleeves and long trousers. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

      The Intrepid Foundation
      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

      The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

      http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Thailand include:

      * Friends of the Asian Elephant aims to protect and conserve the welfare of elephants - both domesticated and wild. FAE's elephant hospital provides free medical care and transportation, and is in the process of establishing a nursery in an effort to reduce the high infant mortality rate of domesticated working elephants.

      Feedback
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback

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