There are plenty of elephant-themed attractions in Phuket, such as elephant shows or safaris. However elephant sanctuaries are gaining popularity thanks to their animal-friendly approach. These places are not about tourists, but about elephants, many of whom have been rescued or retired from animal exploiting industries. Elephant sanctuaries will let you get to the animals up-close without disturbance or harm.
One of the biggest elephant sanctuaries is the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary near in Paklok. There you can watch elephants and walk with them. You can also volunteer at the sanctuary for six days.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary near Naithon Beach allows to touch, feed and photograph the elephants, as well as wash them in a mud bath and then follow them in the river.
Elephant Retirement Park Phuket at Bangtao Beach also allows some interaction with the animals, such as a mud bath and a wash. There are volunteer programmes for three days.
Phang Nga Elephant Park (outside of Phuket Island, about a two-hour drive from Phuket Town) is the only one that allows riding on elephants' necks while other sanctuaries consider this practice harmful.