Chiang mai and Chai Lai FAQ

Most common questions and concerns

Frequently Asked Questions

Most Common

How much time you will want to spend here depends on how much you like camping. Most of our guests book only spend one or two nights here. The majority go to the city of Chiang Mai so they can enjoy activities and still have some time to relax downtown.

Our camp is rustic and full of natural beauty, but it is more like camping than staying at a resort, so we know that’s not for everyone. Some people may prefer to book a day adventure and then sleep in a hotel in Chiang Mai.

Yes. We accept donated clothes (especially cold-weather clothing), blankets, and mosquito nets. We also accept medical supplies such as wound care, children’s medicine, and vitamins, and at-home HIV test kits for refugee and Hill Tribe communities.

The Chai Lai Orchid is one hour away from the city of Chiang Mai. The cost is 700 to 900 THB for a songtaew (Thai-style covered truck with bench seating) that seats up to 8 passengers.

You can book the return trip with our reception team upon arrival. We’re happy to arrange for a driver to pick you up from the airport or your hotel. The driver will wait for you with a Chai Lai Orchid sign.

For airport pick-ups, please send us the following information:

  1. Flight Number 
  2. Local Arrival Time
  3. International or Domestic Terminal. 



Maybe. You should have a Thai license and preferably four-wheel drive. The roads can be steep and narrow. 

Yes. You should have a truck with four-wheel drive if you want to explore the local area where roads can be steep and narrow. 

We accept Thai Baht, credit cards, and bank transfers as methods of payment. There is a 3% processing fee for credit cards. A 7% VAT applies to all bills, as required by Thai law.


While trekking, it is best to wear shoes with a good profile, pants and whatever you feel comfortable in for sun protection. Please check the weather forecast before your stay and bring weather-appropriate clothing and/or gear. You can trek at any time of year, even in the rainy season.

March-May is the dry season. Daytime temperatures are especially hot this time of year, and the river is lower.

June-October is the rainy season. Afternoon showers are typical, and the jungle is at its greenest. Bring a poncho (they can easily be purchased locally).

November-February is cold season. Low night time temperatures are common. You will be staying in traditional bamboo housing which is uninsulated, unheated and located at a high elevation. Bring warm clothes if you plan to visit during this time.

Tipping is not an expectation, but it is appreciated. High-end hotels and salons may add ten percent gratuity to the bill. We don’t include tips, so it’s up to our guests to contribute.

In general, we recommend bringing the following items from home:

  • Your Passport
  • Athletic Footwear
  • Sunblock
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Optional: A small gift for your homestay hosts

Our treks last between one and a half to six hours per day.

Private treks give you the freedom to decide what you want to do. Our treks can be customized based on your preferences. The amount of walking and difficulty level is up to you.

We can recommend an itinerary, but it’s your experience, and we will try our best to accommodate your wishes.

Yes. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the cool mountain water.

No. Activities are an additional cost. The price of the room includes accommodation, complimentary breakfast, and feeding the elephants.

Yes. We offer many vegetarian and vegan dishes. Please let us know your dietary needs in advance so our chef can plan.

All of our food is prepared fresh and to order. Therefore, we can make adaptations to dishes to accommodate food allergies. Please let us know about your dietary needs in advance so the chef can plan.


No. In an ideal world, all elephants would be wild. However, Asian Elephants became domesticated thousands of years ago. The majority of elephants in Chiang Mai cannot return to the wild regardless, due to habitat loss and strict laws

Unlike in Africa, there is no place left in the wild for Asian Elephants in Thailand: They have livestock classification, so it’s illegal for them to roam freely in the jungle. If a company tells you that their elephants are free-range, please ask questions.

One of the reasons the elephant population has declined so drastically in the last twenty years is because elephants and mahouts could no longer earn a living.

Mahouts could no longer afford to care for and feed their charges. This change resulted in street begging elephants and illegal, amphetamine-addicted logging elephants. We don’t want to go backward.

Through ethical elephant tourism, owners can provide a home and stable income for both the elephants and the Mahouts. Lack of land, human-elephant conflict, and poaching make it very dangerous for elephants to be in the wild.

Even elephants in conservation centers and sanctuaries are not one-hundred percent free. With all of these problems, it is crucial to create the most humane environments possible for the captive elephants to live in so that they are protected and do not become extinct.

Yes. Work can be very stimulating for elephants, and studies have shown that working elephants live longer than those in zoos.

We create a unique experience where guests can learn about elephants while interacting, playing, feeding, and bathing them. These are all stimulating but low-stress activities for the elephants.

For domestic elephants, our friends aren’t doing too badly. They are the offspring of domesticated Thai elephants— Not wild ones from Burma. The youngest were all conceived and born here, which promotes elephant conservation and indicates that they are comfortable and healthy. These elephants have elephant friends, a clean river to play and bathe in every day, a lush bamboo forest to sleep in, and Mahouts who love them.

Tourism is also important because it’s a critical factor in government decisions to take proactive measures to preserve elephants because it is vital to their economies. Domestic elephants play a valuable part in education and as ambassador animals on behalf of their wild cousins.

We hope that after seeing these beautiful animals up close, meeting and learning about them, and watching them interact in a loving and protective family group, you will leave a friend of the elephants for life.

No. We care about wild elephant conservation. When you buy an elephant from an abusive situation, you reward the owner with money (about 60,000 USD ) to purchase new elephants and traffic them from the wild. We rent elephants to break this cycle.

Elephants are smart and gentle, but they are also wild animals and extremely strong.

Do not sneak up behind them, tease them, make loud noises, or make sudden movements around them. They have a blind spot directly in front of them, so try to stand to the side so that they can see you well.

The mahouts have received training to control the elephants and ensure everyone’s safety, so please listen to them around the elephants. And lastly, do not approach a young elephant without her mahout, as this can be stressful for them.