Elephant camp in Thailand

Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café: Your Unconventional Stay near Chiang Mai (2024)

Discover an eco-friendly oasis near Chiang Mai at Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café. Immerse yourself in the lush wilderness while enjoying sustainable comfort and authentic experiences. From tranquil accommodations to ethical elephant encounters, embark on an eco-conscious adventure and relaxation journey.

Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café stands out as one of the most remarkable and distinctive destinations I’ve experienced in all my travels. Nestled near Chiang Mai City, this lodge offers a perfect escape from urban life, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the tranquillity of nature and the company of majestic elephants.

Serving as both an eco-lodge and an elephant sanctuary, the property provides a haven for rescued elephants, with the owners managing the accommodations to support their care and well-being. It’s truly a place where visitors can find solace in the natural world’s beauty while contributing to these incredible animals’ welfare.

PIN for later reference – Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café

PIN for later reference - Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café
PIN for later reference – Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café

This article may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. For complete information, please see our affiliate disclaimer here.

About Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café

Nestled amidst the picturesque mountains of Chiang Mai, Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café is dedicated to fostering ethical connections between rescued elephants and travellers. Situated within the ancestral lands of the Pga k’ nyau indigenous people of Thailand, this retreat offers a serene escape into the heart of nature and lush forests.

It’s a sanctuary where guests can unwind, rejuvenate, and engage in meaningful interactions with these majestic creatures while honouring the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Chai Lai Orchid

Elephants at the Camp

Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café is home to approximately 20 elephants, including adorable baby elephants. These gentle giants have been rescued from various circumstances, often leased by individuals who previously kept them captive. Due to their upbringing in controlled environments, releasing them into the wild isn’t a viable option.

While at the elephant camp, I had the privilege of observing the daily routines of two to three elephants. What struck me most was their freedom of movement within the camp. Unlike traditional captivity scenarios, these elephants roamed without chains or restraints for much of the day. The only exception was for the baby elephants, who were securely tethered to their mothers with ropes. Only upon returning to their resting areas for nourishment were the elephants gently secured with chains.

Chai Lai Orchid

When the elephants weren’t exploring the camp or enjoying refreshing baths in the river, they indulged in the delicious bananas the visiting tourists and guests provided. This unique opportunity allows visitors to interact closely with these majestic creatures, whether feeding them homegrown bananas, bathing them, or capturing memorable moments together in photographs.

However, it’s essential to respect the elephants’ autonomy and preferences. While guests are encouraged to engage with them, photography is only permitted if the elephants are willing participants. At times, I was advised against taking pictures as some elephants weren’t interested, highlighting the importance of prioritizing their comfort and well-being above all else.

Elephant camp Thailand

Booking and Cost

Types of Rooms and Cottages

Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café offers a variety of accommodation options, including cozy bungalows and spacious king rooms. Each room type boasts unique features, some overlooking the tranquil river while others providing breathtaking mountain views. Prices vary depending on the room’s view, with the Plern Malee balcony room, inclusive of breakfast, priced at approximately AUD 80 per night for double occupancy.

It’s worth noting that the rooms are designed to embrace the natural mountain environment, eschewing air conditioning in favour of cooling fans. Rest assured, these fans provide ample comfort amid the refreshing mountain breezes.

For pet owners, the camp warmly welcomes furry companions, making it a pet-friendly destination. Guests interested in bringing their four-legged friends can contact the property for more information on pet policies and accommodations.

Also, Read Wat Rong Khun Facts

The room rate does not cover transportation to and from Chiang Mai city. Guests can arrange convenient transfers at an additional cost of approximately Thai Baht 800 per ride. To organize pick-up services, contact the reception in advance to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey to the Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café.

Facilities at Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café

The camp offers complimentary breakfast for all guests, freshly prepared at their on-site café. While complimentary Wi-Fi is available in public areas, it’s advisable not to rely on the internet as connectivity can be intermittent. Additionally, the camp hosts various wellness programs such as yoga sessions and massages, although massages are available at an additional cost.

Guests are encouraged to freely interact with the animals on the property, including patting them, participating in morning river baths, feeding them bananas, and capturing cherished moments in photographs. It’s essential to have camp staff present when interacting with the elephants and to respect their comfort levels. If the elephants show discomfort, moving away and gently giving them space is vital.

Contact the property for more information on hiring a local photographer to capture your moments at the property, including interactions with the elephants.

Elephant camp Thailand

The camp offers a variety of paid services and activities for guests to choose from, including:

  1. Thai cooking classes.
  2. Guided hiking tours.
  3. Canoeing adventures.
  4. Relaxing massages.

In-house Café and Restaurant

The camp’s culinary offerings are crafted at the in-house restaurant/café, featuring an à la carte menu showcasing delectable Thai and Asian cuisines. Guests can indulge in fresh and flavorful dishes prepared with care. During the evening and happy hour, cocktails are also available to enhance the dining experience.

While breakfast is included in the room rate, additional charges apply for other meals and beverages.

My Experience at Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café

Initially, I approached the idea of interacting with animals cautiously, particularly concerning the ethical aspects of such encounters. Given my deep fondness for these magnificent creatures, I was determined to ensure that any interactions were conducted ethically. Therefore, I hesitated when considering a stay at this property.

However, after reading numerous reviews and gathering information online, I became increasingly convinced of the property’s commitment to ethical practices. This ultimately led me to overcome my initial reservations and book a one-night stay.

Elephant camp in Thailand

My perspective shifted significantly after visiting the property and witnessing firsthand the treatment of the animals in the camp. Here, I found a harmonious sanctuary where elephants, chickens, cats, and dogs coexisted freely and peacefully.

The elephants, in particular, captured my admiration as I observed them moving about without the constraint of chains, a testament to their status as rescued individuals living with newfound freedom. This experience indeed affirmed the ethical principles upheld by the property, leaving me grateful for the opportunity to witness such compassion and respect for animal welfare.

Chai Lai Orchid
A baby elephant with its mother

How to Get to Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café from Chiang Mai City?

Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café are approximately 40 kilometres from Chiang Mai City, with the journey by road typically taking up to an hour. To facilitate transportation, the camp arranges pick-up and drop-off services via a private Tuk Tuk for guests’ convenience.

For travellers arriving by air, Chiang Mai International Airport serves as the nearest airport to Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café, which is located around 40 kilometres away from the camp.

Chai Lai Orchid
Lots of dogs chilling near the reception of Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café

Closing Notes

Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café is a haven where elephants, cats, dogs, and chickens roam freely, coexisting harmoniously in nature. My stay here was truly enriching as I immersed myself in the serene surroundings and had the opportunity to interact with the majestic elephants. I wholeheartedly recommend Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café to anyone visiting Chiang Mai, as it offers a unique and unforgettable experience that celebrates nature and animal companionship.

How can you support me?
You know how much I love coffee, so you can buy me a coffee – Buy me Coffee!

Or you can purchase from one of the below travel resources without any extra charge to you:
Travel Resources
Book your flight on Skyscanner.com or Trip.com
Reserve your accommodation on Stay22
Reserve your stay at a hostel on HostelWorld
Use RentalCars or DiscoverCars for hiring self-driven cars
Book your tours and travels or purchase tickets on Viator or GetYourGuide
For a universal SIM card, use DrimSim
Buy comprehensive travel insurance on SafetyWing and WorldNomads

If you liked this article and if it was helpful in your planning or travelling, do share, tweet, or pin this post.

Follow me on Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter | LinkedIn

Do you have a question? Do you want any suggestions and tips for travel, hikes, and scuba dives? Use the Subscription box below to sign up and get updates by email.

Learn how to plan more, travel more, & live more

Get valuable travel tips and tricks, travel inspirations and listen to my stories in your inbox.

Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café: Your Unconventional Stay near Chiang Mai (2024)
    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    PIN for later reference – Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café

    PIN for later reference - Chai Lai Orchid Eco lodge and café (elephant camp), unique stay near Chiang Mai
    PIN for later reference – Chai Lai Orchid Eco Lodge and Café