Elephants have played an important role in Thai history and the animal is a treasured national symbol. However, the majestic beasts have not always fared well in a tourism context. There remain numerous shady operations where the animals are not treated with the respect they deserve. Happily, Elephant Nature Park is most decidedly not one of those. By far the best place to get up-close and personal with pachyderms, the sanctuary has led the movement to abandon rides and shows and put elephant welfare at the top of the agenda. Visits are focused on interaction. Guests spend their day wandering with mahouts and their charges, helping to feed and wash the animals.