Trips around Thailand with a licensed local tour guide
Trips around Thailand with a licensed local tour guide

Elephant Camp and the Unique Elephant Kraals in Ayutthaya, What’s the different?

Elephant Ride in Ayutthaya
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Elephant Camp and the Unique Elephant Kraals in Ayutthaya, What’s the different?


Thailand is a culturally rich country that has a deep respect and love for elephants. Elephants can be seen in tourist hotspots, domestic environments, and even in the wild. Ayutthaya, an ancient city, is a popular destination for those seeking to learn about Thailand’s history and culture, and it is also home to many elephant-related activities.

This article aims to explore the differences between elephant camps and kraals in Ayutthaya and showcase the importance of elephants in Thai culture.

The Importance of Elephants in Thai Culture.

Elephants have played a vital role in Thai culture for centuries, being deemed as sacred and revered symbols of power, intelligence, and strength. Elephants have been the backbone of agricultural activities such as logging, transportation, and plowing.

They have also been a staple in cultural events, from religious festivals, ceremonies, and even battles. Elephants have been a part of Thai culture for so long that they have become a national symbol.

In Ayutthaya, Thailand, an elephant camp, and an elephant kraal are two distinct concepts related to elephants, but they serve different purposes and have different historical contexts. Here’s an explanation of each:

Elephant Camp:

An elephant camp, also known as a “elephant village” or “elephant sanctuary,” is typically a dedicated area or facility where elephants are cared for, protected, and trained.

These camps aim to provide a natural and ethical environment for elephants, often rescuing them from logging or tourist industries where they may have been subjected to exploitation or mistreatment.

In modern times, elephant camps in Ayutthaya and other parts of Thailand usually offer visitors a chance to observe and interact with elephants in a responsible and educational manner.

Visitors can often participate in activities like feeding elephants, bathing them, and even taking part in mahout (elephant caretaker) training programs.

The camps often prioritize the well-being and conservation of elephants, aiming to raise awareness about their conservation needs and promote sustainable tourism practices.

Functions and activities carried out in elephant camps.

Elephant camps in Ayutthaya offer various activities and functions for tourists. Visitors can ride elephants, bathe with elephants, or watch them perform tricks and stunts.

Additionally, elephant camps also provide educational activities such as lectures and learning sessions, where visitors can learn about the care, behavior, and diet of elephants.

Elephant Rides

One of the main attractions of elephant camps is the chance to ride on these majestic creatures. Visitors can choose from a range of different ride lengths and routes, depending on their preferences and budget.

Elephant Ride in Ayutthaya

Elephant Ride in Ayutthaya

While elephant rides are undoubtedly a thrilling experience, it is worth noting that some camps have been accused of using cruel methods such as tight chains and hooks to control the elephants.

Feeding Elephants

Many elephant camps give visitors the chance to feed the elephants, either by hand or by placing food in their trunks. This can be a fun and rewarding experience, as elephants have a well-known love of fruit, vegetables, and other tasty treats.

Feed an Elephant

Feed an Elephant

Elephant Shows

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of elephant camps is the practice of putting on shows where elephants perform tricks such as playing basketball or painting. While these shows can be entertaining, they also raise concerns about the welfare of the elephants involved, as many have been treated cruelly to teach them these tricks.

Elephant Kraal:

Historical Background and Evolution of Kraals in Ayutthaya

An elephant kraal, on the other hand, has a historical context and refers to a specific type of structure used in the past for capturing and domesticating elephants.

The word “kraal” originates from the Afrikaans language and means an enclosure or pen.

Elephant kraals were primarily used during the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351-1767) and the subsequent Thai kingdoms.

Kraals have been an integral part of Thai culture since the Ayutthaya period (1350–1767 AD). During this time, elephants were highly valued for their work capacity, ability to transport goods, and even their importance in battle. As a result, kraals were built to house and train these animals for domestic and military purposes.

Elephant Kraals in Ayutthaya, Thailand

Elephant Kraals in Ayutthaya, Thailand

The elephant kraal trap gate
is where the wild elephants are lured
to get inside the kraal by a decoy elephant.

Elephant Kraals in Ayutthaya, Thailand

The elephant kraal trap gate
is where the wild elephants are lured
to get inside the kraal by a decoy elephant.

Elephant Kraals in Ayutthaya, Thailand

An elephant kraal in Ayutthaya was a large wooden enclosure with tall walls, usually located near the city’s center. The kraal was used to trap and train wild elephants for various purposes, such as transportation, military uses, or ceremonial events.

The process of capturing elephants involved luring them into the kraal using various techniques, and once trapped, the elephants were then domesticated and trained for specific tasks.

Today, part of the elephant kraals area has been
utilized as a rehabilitation center
for babies, sick elephants, and old elephants.

Elephants at the elephant kraals


Today, the original elephant kraals activity in Ayutthaya no longer exists; at present, this area has been kept as a historical area for tourists to visit, and they can still feed an elephant and take a photo.

Moreover, the elephant kraal is still used to refer to the historical practice and the remnants of the structures. Visitors to Ayutthaya can explore the archaeological sites and learn about the historical significance of the elephant kraals in the region.

In summary, while an elephant camp in Ayutthaya is a modern facility dedicated to the care, conservation, and responsible tourism activities involving elephants, an elephant kraal refers to the historical structures and practices related to capturing and domesticating elephants in the past.

If you need to go to Ayutthaya, my recommendation is to go privately so you can experience what you expect.

Have a nice holiday in Thailand!

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