A fun day at the Elephant PooPooPaper Park, Chiang Mai!
Chiang Mai is an amazing and beautiful city, and is one of the places in Thailand where tourists flock to see elephants. The town has elephant decorations and references everywhere and is pretty much obsessed with the largest pachyderms. Not surprisingly, elephants have inspired many businesses and initiatives, including the Elephant PooPooPaper Park and the worldwide smash hit the Elephant Parade.
We also visited Elephant Parade Land and have a full review and lots of pictures from that creative day out.
The Elephant PooPooPaper Park
You’ve probably heard that paper can be made from elephant poop; if not, now you know! It can be made from many animal’s droppings, as long as they’re herbivores. Elephant poo is particularly good because it is very fibrous, and in Chiang Mai there is a lot of it.
This park is doing a great thing by utilising the resource and making into something useful, as well as educating people about waste and providing a sustainable tourist attraction.
It sounds like a bit of a yucky process, but the staff at the Poo Poo Paper Park make it really fun, interesting and don’t worry, not smelly! They take visitors on a tour around the park and involve us in each step of making paper from poo. Our lovely guide also cracked many jokes along the way and made it funny as well as informative, and it was a great experience to have with our kids.
The tour takes about 45 minutes. Afterward, you can take as long as you like to make cards or decorate other items to purchase if you want to. There is also a “Poo-tique” to browse through their large range of products, and a cafe on the premises selling light refreshments, including the very popular Poo Poo (chocolate chip) Cookies!
We spent two hours there and recommend at least 1.5 hours if you’re visiting with young kids.
Cost and tickets
Entry to the Park is THB 100 per person or free for kids under 5.
You can get tickets for the Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park from their website or at the entry gate.
- The elephant poop paper is created without the use of chemicals, coloured with food colours and printed with soy-based inks. All offcuts are recycled into new paper and no trees are used to supplement any products.
- Fairtrade principles are adhered to or exceeded, and the park is certified by the Social Accountability International’s SA8000 standard.
- The park supports the World Wildlife Fund for Nature with 5% of profits donated from all WWF branded products.
- Employment is offered to ethnic minority groups, and all staff have flexible working arrangements and access to assistance and accommodation if requested.
- Though plastic is used to cover some of the products for sale, they try to minimise relying on it. Water for visitors is provided with metal cups, and gifts and cookies are sold in paper bags.
If you’d like a surprise when you visit, skip past this section! Or if you want an idea of what you’ll encounter along the tour, here is the step-by-step process.
Where it all begins, the poo shed. Paper is made from cow, buffalo and horse droppings as well as elephant poo.
We got to hold dried elephant poo! It’s surprisingly light.
Once the poo is dry (and not smelly) it is cooked for many hours to reduce it, and rinsed in several stages.
Then the poo is paper pulp! Here it is coloured and shaped into balls for processing.
The many colours for poop paper, all dyed with natural additives.
We chose a colour to make our paper with and took it to the paper-making stand.
Then we carefully spread the pulp out over the mesh in the usual paper-making technique.
It was fun to spread out the fibres, and tricky to get it all equally distributed!
We then put our paper screen in the sun to dry. Playing with poo is so funny!
Our paper would take some time to dry, but we still got to see what it would be like once complete. We carefully peeled off the paper from a screen that was already dry.
Then the final activity was decorating our own products. Dante and Allegra loved making some cards for family and friends back home. There is a great range of supplies to choose from to decorate cards, bookmarks, photo frames and more.
The store (AKA the Poo-tique!)
The lovely open-air Poo-tique is full of merchandise, and we couldn’t believe how many products can actually be made from poo poo paper. Passport-holders, wallets, postcards, diaries, notepads, decorations, jewellery boxes, and even jewellery to go into them! They also have funky t-shirts for kids and adults, shopping bags, and charity gifts.
We visited in December when Christmas cards, gift boxes and decorations were also available.
We loved our experience at the Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park, and highly recommend it as an activity for children, and also for adults who love crafting or supporting ethical and sustainable tourism. It was lovely to support them while learning about sustainable paper-making, and we left with some great memories and excellent souvenirs.
The PooPoo Paper Park is also in such a beautiful outdoor setting, which felt spacious and lush and was great for the kids to keep moving around. And the tour was very hands-on, which is also great for young kids.
Also, our purchases have been well-used since our visit, and we’ve been very impressed by the quality of their products.
Being a family with small children who seeks sustainable and ethical experiences, it was wonderful to have this experience and the Elephant Parade Land to choose from in Chiang Mai. If you’re looking for some supportive, creative and unique experiences too, I think you’ll enjoy them as much as we did.
- Experiences like these are some of the ways our children learn as we travel. I have a whole post about why we choose to worldschool and home educate our kids, and how we do it!
- This post details some kid-friendly (and ethical) activities in Pattaya, Thailand. It’s not known as a family destination but we had a great time with this range of unique and fun things to do.
- While in Northern Thailand, we were also collected from Chiang Mai and driven four hours away to visit actual elephants in the forest, with a truly ethical and community-based program. Read all about our wonderful adventure with the Mahouts Elephant Foundation here.
- And if you’re interested in volunteering with a reputable animal conservation program, be sure to read my post about our time helping sea turtles at the Juara Turtle Project on Tioman Island, Malaysia.
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