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Royal Elephant National Museum in Bangkok Thailand

Updated on June 15, 2011

The Royal Elephant National Museum (Chang* Ton Museum) is one of Bangkok, Thailands lesser known secrets. It is located just across the road from Dusit Zoo within the lush and well maintained grounds of Dusit Palace.

The actual museum is located within two well preserved buildings which were former elephant stables. These were built to house a progression of Royal White Elephants in the early 1900s. There were periods when the building was unoccuppied as in 1959 which was when the last animal moved in. This remained till 1966 before moving over to Dusit Zoo. The stables moved over to becoming a museum in 1988. The current Royal elephants themselves are housed in another location.

The Museum is located on U-Thong Nai Road and it is easy to find. Being only a stones throw from government buildings this is a sensitive area and there many approachable and knowledgeable military around. You really could not get lost.

The Bangkok Royal Elephant Museum is free to enter and is open every day from 09.00 - 16.00 hrs.

* The word 'Chang' means elephant.

Location of Dusit Palace

Thanks to Google Maps - The Elephant Museum is located within the grounds of Dusit Palace.
Thanks to Google Maps - The Elephant Museum is located within the grounds of Dusit Palace.

The two 'elephant stable' museums are very close to each other and each supervised by a friendly and informed superintendant.

You are expected to leave your footwear outside the door and no photography is allowed inside. These two buildings are more than a standard museum they are almost temples in their own right. It would also be truer to say that they were devoted to White Elephants and the culture, fact and fable surrounding these as it applies to Royalty. White was the colour of Thai Royal Elephants.

In the second building there is a statue of a white monkey and a white crow below which there is a lable which states "...these animals should be born for support the king's mysterious power".

I have visited a few elephant museums. The one in Bangkok Safari World is a waste of time but the one in Bali Marine and Safari Park is quite good. The Royal Bangkok Elephant Museum is distinctly different dealing as it does with a 'niche' area of interest within the discipline.

Here you will find a Statue of the supreme master of the mahouts along with mahout amulets and magic knives. There are statues of Ganesh along with elephant and tiger teeth. A finely polished Rhino horn too.

There are colourful paintings explaining the multiple types of white elephants. The names and ranks of animals going back over many years. There are the ropes and equipment for holding and riding and photographs of ancient elephant round ups.

Just after the interesting display of ivory and elephant tail brushes and whisks is the most gruesome exhibit...the flayed skin of a white elephant stewing away in several big glass jars of discoloured preservative.

The most impressive display was that of elephant tusks. There are many small ones within the glass display cabinets but those in the centre of building one are absolutely amazing. Three pairs of huge length, each one longer than I am tall. The longest pair, which are not an even match are 257 and 290 cms long!

Tusks from deceased Royal Elephants
Tusks from deceased Royal Elephants

Original Door

Although the door to the museum is now glass the original sliding closing poles are still there. Still in common use in zoos in many places around Asia.

Definitely worth a visit. Probably a nice tie in with a visit to the zoo as it is just a short distance away.

Surin Elephant Roundup - another take

Pre Elephant Roundup Festivities

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    • profile image

      Amanda 5 years ago

      asome!!

    • profile image

      MIRANDA 6 years ago

      WOW...SUPERB.I LOV ELEPHANT.....I DON HAVE WORDS TO EXPRESS..ITS SUPERB ...SUPERB...SUPERB...I WANNA BE TER ATLEAST ONE DAY..A FEW SECONDS,,,,,CONGRATS FOR THE BACK BORN MEMBERS FOR CREATING SUCH A LOVELY PLACE....

    • profile image

      joe young 8 years ago

      wonderful hub Peter. Elephants are amazing! Great Footage. Keep up the great work....

    • Peter Dickinson profile image
      Author

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      i scribble - I was up in Bangkok this week to collect my new passport. I intended to re-visit Siam Underwater World on the side but the 850 Baht was out of my budget by a long way so I visited the elephant museum instead. Always planned to visit and I just grabbed the opportunity.

      I have worked with a number of elephants as a keeper. They are probably amongst my favourite animals. If you read my hub 'King Kong versus the Elephant' you will learn something of my feelings for these creatures.

      I have never been to Korea but I have subscribers to my Zoo News Digest working in this zoo. Until fairly recently an American serviceman who I used to correspond with used to spend every spare minute in the Everland Zoo volunteering with the elephant there. He enriched its life and the elephant enriched his.

      The trunk in mouth is a common enough elephant activity. They amuse themselves making squeaky noises.

      I tried to get a teaching post in Seoul a few months ago. No Go. It seems when you reach a certain age only the knackers yard is interested.

      I will pop back to your hub.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image
      Author

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      dohn121 - When I was up in Laos the other week the hotel I stayed in was on Lan Xang road....so yes I am familiar with the word and its meaning. I love all elephants. Wonderful animals.

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      theglobalspirit 8 years ago

      Amazing. I want to feed and ride an elephant one day. I have no idea why. It's just something that's always been on my bucket list. I love animals.

      Stacey & Bobby

    • i scribble profile image

      i scribble 8 years ago

      Is it just a coincidence that you publish a hub on an elephant museum this week? Elephants are such intelligent, fascinating creatures. I love to watch documentary programs about them in the wild. I used to prefer African elephants, mainly because of the big ears, but I am rethinking that now. I found another talking elephant! This one in the Everland zoo in Seoul, SK. Have you ever been there? This elephant is apparently still alive & about 19 yrs. old. I put a short section about him on my Batyr hub, along with a YouTube video. Have you ever worked much with elephants? I wonder if they routinely put their trunks in their mouths to make elephant sounds, or is it only talking elephants that do this? I'm guessing it's the prehensile finger on the trunk that makes speech possible? Check out my hub again, and you may want to plan a trip to the zoo in Seoul!

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I really enjoyed this hub, Peter. The elephant is probably my favorite animal of all. Of course you know the term, Lan Xang? Asian elephant are beautiful aren't they?