Surin Elephant Roundup
The Surin Elephant Roundup is held each year in November, normally in the third week of the month.
In 2016 it took place from November 18th – 20th. In 2017 it’s likely to fall on the 17th – 19th.
The Surin Elephant Roundup has become one of the most recognized events in Thailand. If you’re a lover of the flappy-eared behemoths, this is the festival for you; you’re unlikely to ever see more elephants in one place at the same time (as many as 300 take part).
The festival gets underway on Friday with a big parade, where many of the elephants are mounted by locals in authentic, historical battle dress. That’s followed by the renowned ‘Elephant Breakfast’, where the animals tuck in to an enormous buffet of fruit and vegetables.
The rest of the festival features a series of contests and shows. There’s fun and games, including football and polo matches, as well as displays of the elephants’ strength as they tug big logs around. There’s also a human vs. elephants tug of war contest, and even a recreation of a battle.
Besides those activities you’ll find the usual range of live music, cultural performances, beauty contests and food stalls.
The Surin elephant Roundup is actually a relatively new event on the Thai calendar, having only started in 1960. Still, it’s grown tremendously in size, spectacle and popularity since its inception.
Surin province is known around the country as the ‘Land of Elephants’. The locals’ connection with the animals stretches back for many centuries. For much of that time elephants were fundamentally important to construction, agriculture and so on. That isn’t the case any more, but the festival still recognizes the shared heritage between the people of Surin and their local elephants.
The province of Surin is located in eastern Thailand, or Isaan. It borders Cambodia to the south, and isn’t too far from the Laos border to the east.
Aside from the parade, all of the events in the Surin Elephant Roundup take place in Si Narong Stadium, which is located in the town of Surin.
Buses from across the country run to Surin’s bus station, which is located in the center of the town. Alternatively you can get a train there; several leave each day from Bangkok. Another option is to fly Nok Air to Buriram and then catch a coach to Surin operated by Surin Majestic Hotel.
It’s worth noting that Surin is a relatively small town, meaning when it comes to accommodation you won’t exactly be overwhelmed with options. Hotels around the area book up quickly for the Surin Elephant Roundup, so book well in advance if you want to attend.