The Karen Tribe: Elephant Handlers of Thailand

Price per person in THB
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This private tour combines trekking with an elephant experience and a gentle bamboo raft trip on the Wang River. We recommend you turn off your phone. A digital detox will allow you to fully enjoy this trip back to nature and back in time.

You will learn about the Karen people who are the traditional elephant handlers of Northern Thailand. They live close to nature. You will spend the night in a homestay in the Karen village Huay Khao Lip. We have supported this village for a long time and will continue to do so.

From: 7,900.00 ฿

Map of Mae Wang district with attractions
Map of The Karen Tribe: The Elephant handlers of Thailand

Day 1: Chiang Mai – Karen Village

Meet the elephants

This trip is a private tour. Your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel at 0800 for your two-day trip to the Karen tribe. We recommend you turn off your phone and enjoy your digital detox for a few days. Here you can find more about the history and background of hill tribe trekking in Chiang Mai.

Our first stop will be at a typical Northern Thai local market where your guide will do his shopping for the coming days. He will explain some of the local specialties that are for sale here. Drive to Mae Wang and onwards to Mae Sapok. This trip takes place in the Mae Wang area.
Here we will visit the Elephant Paradise Camp, one of the many camps in this area. We selected this camp because we like it. You will join a half-day elephant activity, which is not private. Your program today includes preparing a treat for these majestic animals, and you will also feed them.
Change to a typical Thai farmer’s dress and join them in their favorite activity, playing in the water. There are plenty of photo opportunities. You will learn about the Asian elephant, an animal that is unfortunately under threat of extinction. We will enjoy lunch in the camp after our elephant experience.

A gentle trek to the Karen village

After lunch, it is only a short drive to the starting point of the trek. This afternoon we will walk mostly uphill. We will follow a lovely mountain trail along a sparkling stream with crystal-clear water until we reach a camp beside a waterfall. Here we will stay for a while, enjoying a swim in the refreshing pool. After this, we will trek further up the mountain to the first Karen village. Here we will stop for a chat and say hello to the many pigs. Then we are set for the final stage to the Karen village, where we will spend the night.
After arrival in the Karen village, where we will spend the night, your guide will introduce you to your host. You can explore the town while he prepares dinner, and you are welcome to help him cook. We also encourage you to practice the Karen language with your host after dinner.
Overnight will be in a local homestay. You will sleep on a mattress with a mosquito net, and we provide a sleeping bag or sheet. For more information on the Green Trails village Homestays, please have a look here.

Day 2: Karen Village – Chiang Mai

Trekking and Royal Project

Rise with the roosters. Your guide will prepare a hearty breakfast. After breakfast, we will start our trek back. Before that, we will visit the Royal Project of the village. Your guide will explain this exciting agricultural project. The late King Bhumibol Adulyadej initiated the Royal Projects to improve the life of the tribal people of Thailand.
Then we will descend from the mountains to the lowlands. We pass rice fields and trek through the beautiful dipterocarp forest before we reach a pretty waterfall, where we will spend some time relaxing, swimming, and enjoying the natural surroundings. After a short walk, we will see our van parked along the road. We will drive to a private house where we will have lunch.

Bamboo rafting on the Wang River

After lunch, we will drive to a small rafting camp. Our bamboo rafts will be waiting for us. Enjoy a relaxing and, at times, exciting bamboo raft trip for about 45 minutes on the Wang River. It is a safe activity. We will supply life jackets, but the river is not very deep*. Please have a look at our bamboo rafting policy.

The Wang River ends up in the Ping River. Rivers were a primary means of transportation when the roads were of poor quality. Local people used bamboo rafts to transfer people and goods this way. After this, we board our van for the drive back to Chiang Mai.

* In the dry season (January until June), there might not be enough water in the Wang River.

Guests on a raft passing an elephant on the Wang River Family Hill tribes
Meeting an elephant during rafting


Comfortable and safe private transportation

Great Elephant Experience


Karen Tribal Culture

Overnight in a village homestay

Great food!

Royal Project

Great trekking

Bamboo rafting on the Wang River


What is included?

English speaking guide
Transportation by AC minibus
Accommodation in a local house
Two lunches, one dinner, and one breakfast
Drinking water during meals
Coffee and tea
Limited medical insurance
Elephant Experience
Use of sheet bag or sleeping bag
Use of Mosquito net
Use of Backpack (on request)
Toilet paper & Soap
A flashlight is provided in the village

What is not included?

Other drinks except for water during meals
Personal expenses


Day 1
08.00 – Departure from hotel
09.00 – Short stop at a local market
09.30 – Arrive at the elephant camp
09.45 – Start elephant care and activities
12.00 – Lunch at camp
12.45 – Drive to the start point of the trek
13.00 – Start hiking about three hours
14.30 – Stop and relax at the waterfall
15.00 – Continue hiking
15.30 – short visit at Karen village and local school
16.30 – Arrival at Karen village where we stay overnight
17.00 – Help your guide cooking dinner
18.00 – Dinner at the village before free as leisure

Day 2
09.00 – Visit and walk around the village
09.30 – Visit the Royal Project of the village
10.00 – Start hiking about two hours
10.00 – Stop and relax at the waterfall
12.00 – The trek ends and meet the driver
12.30 – Lunch at a local restaurant
13.30 – Start bamboo rafting
14.15 – The raft end and relax
14.30 – Drive back to Chiang Mai
16.00 – Drop off at the hotel

Things to bring

Short sleeve shirts for the daytime (bring a spare one, just in case)
Long sleeves for the evening (especially in the winter Nov – Feb, it can be a bit cold)
Shoes with good grip (especially in the rainy season from May-Sep)
A hat or cap
Flip flops
Your toiletries
Personal medication
Fully charged batteries or even an extra battery for your
Some money for souvenirs, drinks and tips: 1000-1500 Thai Baht per person in small (not bigger than 500 Thai Baht and plenty of 100 Thai Baht notes). It is for souvenirs, drinks, and tips.