Thailand // The northeast: Isaan //

Surin elephant round-up

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Surin’s elephant round-up, held every year on the third weekend of November, draws some forty thousand spectators to watch four hundred elephants play football, engage in tugs of war and parade in full battle garb. These shows last about three hours and give both trainers and animals the chance to practise their skills, but if you arrive early (about 7.30am) you can watch the preliminary street processions when locals set out long trestle tables filled with pineapples, bananas and sugar cane so the elephants can munch their way into town. Note that however well controlled the elephants appear, you should always approach them with caution – in the past, frightened and taunted elephants have killed tourists. Tickets cost B500–800 and can be booked through TAT, the provincial government website or Saren Travel, who can also arrange accommodation and transport if you contact them three months ahead; alternatively, you could join one of the overnight packages organized by Bangkok travel agencies.

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