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  • Gemma Fottles

Should I have ridden an elephant in Thailand?

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

When I was 18 years old, a boy invited me on a trip of a lifetime, a mini-backpacking trip around the best sights of Thailand. From Bangkok, we would get the overnight train to the islands, where we stayed on The Beach, indulged in Thai massages, swam in the crystal clear waters and - rode on elephants. Looking back on this experience a decade later: should I have done an elephant tour in Thailand? The short answer is no.

This is a picture taken on my very first backpacking experience. I was 18 years old, and my boyfriend at the time invited me out to Thailand with him. Things didn’t end well between us (as you can read about here!), but the trip was awesome and opened my eyes to a world of travel that I didn’t know existed before.

The truth behind elephant rides


The elephant ride in itself was a crazy adventure… but in hindsight, I wish I’d thought more about the company we were going with and looked at how the animals were treated. I would hate to have contributed to any kind of mistreatment of the animals, but I was young and naive. I’ll definitely be looking into it next time I do something concerning animals!

Top tips for ensuring conscious travel tours

It can be difficult to know what travel provider is telling the truth when it comes to the wellbeing and safety of animals.

  • Do your homework

  • Read reviews

  • Check out animal rights articles

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