pachyderms around paradise city ...
Elephants were used for centuries in Thailand as the primary mode of transport in The Kingdom. They are reliable and able to travel great distances over all kinds of terrain.
Although motorised transport has obviously now taken over, elephants are still widely used today in logging and for journeys in mountainous, jungle environments.
These days, you can also enjoy this ancient method of transport. There is an elephant camp situated some 3 km west of the town centre on the road leading to Pala U. Upon arrival, you will be introduced to and familiarised with the animals and given the chance to feed them some bananas. At the time of writing, there are 19 elephants in the camp, 2 male, 16 female and one baby.
Afterwards, you can go for a ride on the backs of these huge beasts. Your carriage will be a wooden bench, that is perfectly safe and the elephant is guided by a mahoot who sits on the neck. The price for an hour's trek around the surrounding countryside is approximately 800 Baht and includes an example of logging, seeing the elephants take their morning bathe and lunch at the camp.
As one word of caution, do take heed of the mahoot's advice and any warnings about unruly animals. Elephants are large and it is not unknown for tourists to be seriously injured if one stampedes. Only get close to those indicated to you.
There is also another, smaller elephant camp in Khao Takiab. It is situated before you get to the beach at the end of the first soi on the left after you pass the hill. Again, feeding and rides are allowed.