As a living icon with important symbolic connotations and historical associations in Laos, the elephant is an animal dear to the hearts of the Lao people. Unfortunately, it is no exaggeration to say that the elephant, one of the defining components of Asian heritage, is today under threat. Due to the loss of its forest habitat, the Asian elephant is endangered in the wild. Because economic and technological change has limited the number of elephants needed in traditional occupations, the continued well-being of the region’s large number of domesticated elephants is also of concern, as is the future of mahouts and their families.

In response to these concerns, the Elephant Festival has been organized to raise awareness of the need for action to protect the Asian elephant as part of the vital cultural and natural heritage of Laos and the countries of the region.

Sayaboury Province has always been famous for elephants. The expert training and handling capabilities of local mahouts have made Sayaboury the focal point of Lao elephant-lore. In Sayaboury, elephants are sacred. They have been man’s best friend since time immemorial. Traditionally used for work in the forest, these magnificent animals are now looking forward to giving you the chance to discover the riches and marvels of the cultural and natural world surrounding them. Who could pretend to have visited Laos, the “Land of a Million Elephants”, without meeting one of these superb animals?

Since 2012, the festival will be hosted annually in Sayabouri, and will not be managed by Elephant Asia as it was before. In February 2020, there were 68 elephants taking part in this event.

The festival includes elephant shows, Baci ceremony, a beautiful elephant contest, an area of showing how elephants are trained, elephant bathing and the most special feature is elephant riding which gives you a chance to ride a real elephant. There is also the presence of some active conservation group in the festival associated with the main purpose of the festival.