for Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Province, Outdoors / Adventure Travel
You can ride at most of the elephant camps without going to the show. Mae Sa and Chiang Dao Elephant camps both offer rides. Chiang Dao only has rides in the morning, while Mae Sa has both morning and afternoon options. Both camps work their elephants only a half day, but since Mae Sa employs some 70+ elephant/mahouts, they have enough for several "work" shifts each day.
Both camps treat their animals well, with in house food gathering crews and in house veterinarians. And contrary to the PETA propaganda, the elephants are not tortured, squeeze caged or abused.