Elephant viewing platform at Following Giants

Elephant friendly tourist guide

Travel & tourism

How to be an elephant-friendly tourist

Use our simple guide to avoid venues that don't have elephants’ best interests at heart.

Right now, thousands of elephants around the world are suffering in the name of tourism. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Be part of the solution

The best place to see elephants is in the wild. But if you’re going to visit an elephant venue, make sure it allows elephants to be elephants, while educating visitors on their complex needs.

Share your experience, leave reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, and be part of the movement to create a better future for elephants.

What's in a name?

A venue may call itself a sanctuary, rescue centre or retirement home for elephants, but don’t assume this means it’s high welfare. Do your research before booking and use our guide below to avoid being misled.

Elephant Valley Project, Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Is touching allowed?

Only visit venues where you can look, not touch.

Elephants are wild animals that belong in the wild. If a venue allows you to get close enough to ride, bath or touch them, it’s because they’ve been cruelly trained.

Tourist interacting with elephant and low welfare venue

Are the elephants behaving like elephants?

If the elephants in a venue are not allowed to freely move and express natural behaviour, it’s not the place for you.

Elephants in the wild spend their days roaming long distances, grazing and socialising with other elephants, not confined in small enclosures or forced to perform.

A mahout steers an elephant in a show at a zoo in Thailand

Are there baby elephants there?

They might be cute, but if you can see or touch a baby elephant, especially without its mum, then the venue is not elephant-friendly.

Baby elephants are tourist magnets, but true elephant-friendly venues shouldn’t allow breeding. You shouldn’t be seeing young elephants, except for orphanages where babies are rescued from the wild.

Baby elephant performing at low welfare venue in Thailand

Are the elephants and people safe?

Elephants should always be treated with kindness and respect, and hooks shouldn’t be used unless in a real emergency.

Being wild animals, captive elephants can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially if they're being crowded. Many tourists and mahouts are injured and killed each year. Even in elephant-friendly venues you’ll often see mahouts accompanying elephants at a distance, to keep everyone safe.

Elephants set off with tourists for a ride

Best practice venues

Even with all the right information, it can still be difficult to find the right best practice venue

To make your life easier, we’ve created a list of some venues we know are doing the right thing for elephants.






Sri Lanka: