Patara Elephant Farm, Chiang Mai, Thailand
This is a bucket list kind of outing.
You will get to feed, clean and ride an elephant. The philosophy behind the experience is that you get to see what it is like to own an elephant. The day starts off with some education where you learn to spot the signs of a healthy elephant from the toes to the poop. Next, you'll get paired up with your own elephant and handler for the day. You'll feed the elephant and then brush him/her. You'll even take him to the stream for a bath. When I first got in, I kept noticing these big grassy things floating around and had no idea why there were so many of them. Later I figured out it was their poop! They want to make sure the elephant's skin is clean and free of debris before you ride him bareback. You know those other options where you can sit on an elephant, but in a basket of some form? If those owners aren't careful there aren't rocks between the basket and their skin, the elephant will have issues, not to mention the pain of that rock digging in while a human sits on top.
It's surreal riding an elephant, but they are super sturdy and while it's not the most comfortable riding bareback, at least it's more natural for the elephant. You'll ride atop up and down a hill to the water where they and you can go for a dip. I did not go swimming and if you do, don't accidentally get the water in your mouth. It's also bathroom time for the elephants!
All of the handlers are sweet to the elephants. You can tell they genuinely care for them and it's not just a job.
What to wear - flip flops, water resistant or fast drying shorts, bathing suit. They give you pants and a top to wear so you don't necessarily have to wear adventure/athletic pants of your own. No need to bring sneakers because you will be in the water.