Elephant Race Festival. Image courtesy of the Viet Nam National Administration for Tourism.
The ground shakes, the dust from the earth rises, and a herd of elephants rush past you—it’s an incredible sight and it makes the Elephant Race Festival one of the most unforgettable cultural celebrations in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam. It is held in Don Village of the Buon Don District in Dak Lak Province, home to the M’Nong ethnic group who are known for their tradition of hunting and training wild elephants. The large mammals hold a significant place in their spiritual and cultural lives and the festival is supposed to reflect the martial spirit of the M’Nong people.
During even numbered years, normally in March, Dak Lak turns more than just a destination for tourists to ride elephants. It’s a time when elephants from different villages compete in a race and participate in a series of different competitions—swimming across the Serepok River, and playing football and tug-of-wars, among other games. People from near and distant villages come and watch in their colourful costumes. You can book a hotel in the capital Buon Ma Thuot, which is around two hours away from Buon Don.
The race starts at the sound of a tu va (horns made into musical instruments) and as the elephants charge ahead, the thunderous sound of beating drums and gongs rival the cheers of the crowd. Find yourself amidst this spectacular festivity and you can’t help but get swept by the exuberant atmosphere. It also doesn’t hurt that the Central Highlands provide a magnificent natural backdrop of pine forests, beautiful waterfalls, and bucolic sceneries.
For a similar elephant-focused festival, visit the Boun Xang (Sayaboury Elephant Festival) in Laos. For alternative March festival stops, visit Thailand's Bun Luang and Phi Ta Khon Festival, and Cambodia's Mekong River Festival.
The Mekong River Festival promotes eco-tourism along this iconic river, with cultural programs, sporting competitions and wat...
Sojourn through Laos, Viet Nam, and Cambodia mostly on board a luxurious boutique cruise ship along the Mekong River.VIEW DETAILS
Bookended by Bangkok in Thailand and Siem Reap in Cambodia, this epic tour of two Kingdoms in Southeast Asia must be experien...VIEW DETAILS
Yangon in Myanmar; Chiang Mai in Thailand; Luang Prabang in Laos Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia; and Ho Chi Minh City (...VIEW DETAILS
Curated Kids Activities and safety-essentials to keep your kids safe and occupied so you can enjoy your well-deserved holiday...VIEW DETAILS
Relax between a lush jungle and white sands in captivating Koh Phi Phi.VIEW DETAILS
Resorts World Sentosa Singapore 3D2N Hotel & Multi-Attractions PackageVIEW DETAILS
Go on an epic Asean journey with AirAsia Asean Pass, a travel pass that allows you to book our base fares at least 14 days or...VIEW DETAILS
Rent a car for 2 days or more at participating locations in Asia and enjoy up to 15% offVIEW DETAILS
Park Hotel is one of Asia Pacific’s best hospitality groups. Whether it is a business trip or a leisure getaway, P...VIEW DETAILS
Stay 2 Nights Get 3rd Night Free Discover the Deluxe Main Room that revolves around you at Miri Marriott Resort & Spa. E...VIEW DETAILS
Hotel location: MakatiVIEW DETAILS