Elephant Village Sanctuary & Resort

Elephant Village Sanctuary & Resort

Elephant Village Sanctuary & Resort
4.5
8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
About
Elephant Village in Luang Prabang, Laos was set up in 2003 and is now owned by a group of passioante Lao nationals. Our sales office is located on the main street in town close to the National Museum and our beautiful elephant camp is located next to the village Ban Xieng Lom. Elephant Village focuses on three objectives:1. Saving Elephants 2. Community Support 3. Nature Preservation. We take elephants out of the very dangerous logging industry and provide them with an alternative way of earning their income. We try to help the elephants which desperately need help the most such as older elephants and elephants which have injuries due to accidents. We currently have 14 elephants in our care including 2 baby elephants which will never have to work in the logging industry. We are also home to a female elephant called Mae Uak, who was injured when she stepped on a 'UXO' (Un-Exploded Ordinance) some time ago, before we rescued her. She is now happily living in our herd.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Does not meet animal welfare guidelines
Tripadvisor does not provide bookings for this experience because it does not meet our animal welfare guidelines.

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(38 reviews)
(48 reviews)

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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4.5
1,858 reviews
Excellent
1,364
Very good
311
Average
91
Poor
45
Terrible
47

lynnblom
Plano, TX107 contributions
Aug 2020
Highly recommend going to the sanctuary. They are so kind to their elephants, treating them like a pet dog. The elephants are well trained and gentle. We rode bareback, which is better for the elephants. They let them roam free at night and they run back every morning. SOOOO much fun! They even trained the elephants to spray you with water!
Written July 12, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

THB123
Atlanta, GA10 contributions
Jan 2020
Got to spend a lot of time with the elephants even on the 1/2 day trip. They seemed very well taken care of and content. Going across the river with them to where they overnight and can forage was super fun and feeding them bananas and sugar cane was the best. There’s an elephant hospital, and the guides gave good explanations of how the place functions. Highly recommend!
Written January 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jessica W
London, UK48 contributions
Feb 2020 • Solo
Great visit to this wonderful sanctuary - the tour group couldn’t find my hotel so they sent someone on a motorcycle to find me! Great service.

The elephants are wonderful and cared for. Sad to see the one who had stepped in a land mine

The elephants are very friendly and curious. I loved it
Written February 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

shambolin
Manchester832 contributions
Jan 2020 • Couples
Having ridden an elephant in the past to my shame, I wanted to see somewhere that did not allow that anymore. This place is lovely, very tranquil and calm. Going over the river on a small boat and watching the elephants cross
was a great experience.
Written January 28, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Blandine B
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia11 contributions
Sep 2023 • Solo
I spend my all morning at the elephant village. All the elephant are so well treated. Our guide was great and interesting. I even could help them washing those huge animals. You really feel good the way the elephants live here.
The place is also very beautiful.
Written September 28, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tom_H_Travel
Perth, Australia12 contributions
Nov 2015 • Couples
We did the reading/research to see whether these places are genuinely caring for the elephants and with all the glowing reviews got swayed against our better judgement. I didn't want to ride an elephant as I think it is morally wrong to force such a great creature to lug me around, but the half day of feeding/bathing sounded nice. These places are NOT sanctuaries. They are wrongfully marketed circuses.

We got there 10am (our place was called PhoneTravel Elephants. Be careful as there are lots of different ones now and perhaps not all the same). The elephants were standing in the sun, chain on ankles, looking miserable. Somehow we got swooped up onto one to ride before we could back-out. It was a stomp in a loop through some bushlands and our mahout was kicking it's ears and at one stage poked it's eye! After 20 mins of feeling like we were going straight to hell, we got let off. We fed them a stack of bananas and tried to forget it. We then decided we didn't want to 'bathe them' as it was just more joy-riding and ear kicking.

Other people seemed to enjoy it and were desperate to get the 'perfect selfie' to post up about how great it was to ride these creatures. That made me feel even worse. It was one of those moments you think 'geez. Society is actually f---d'.

Anyway I can't recall writing a review before but this trip inspired me. If I can get one person on the fence to say 'yeah, maybe I won't belittle these elephants and support companies beating them into submission so I can snap myself on one with a gopro/stick extension' then it's worth it.

Tom
Written November 23, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Danielle
Manchester, UK14 contributions
What I saw here was absolutely disgusting. If they are supposed to be looking after the elephants then they have failed. I went with my boyfriend and his friend as a morning break from a SEasia tour we were doing. I got out of the car and after 3 seconds I knew wheat kind of place this was. The elephants were covered in cuts and all chained very tightly to the trees. My boyfriend and his friend proceeded to ride them. Where I decided that I didn't want to be a part of it. One of the men carried a very sharp pickaxe type object around with him whilst they forced the elephants around a very steep strict path for people to ride them. If they so much as turned their heads off the paths, the men would hit, kick and threaten the elephants. I saw the man stab one of the elephants with the object and when I asked him why they all laughed and ignored me and continued to do it. The elephants were very frightened of the men. I fought for my money back here and eventually got it back because I don't want to give to a cause like this. I would advise any travellers to instead visit the elephant reserves in chiang Mai instead because it was a completely different story there. The people from this place were a disgrace to society.
Written June 22, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nancy T
Palo Alto, CA2 contributions
Jan 2014 • Family
On January 8, 2014, the day before we were reserved to visit the Elephant camp and ride an elephant, my 14-year old daughter and I were hiking across the river from the camp, near its grazing ground. We watched three elephants get ridden across the river and up onto the bank. The mahout on the first elephant (while only 15 feet from us) suddenly began to yell at the animal and strike her viciously with a machete. The elephant screamed and went down on her front knees, trying to lose her rider. Suffice it to say we lost all faith in the "rescue" and "sanctuary" pitch of the camp, and did not ride any elephants the next day. We did do the tour for the single purpose of getting pictures of the mahout (see below) we had seen. Not sure if there is lack of oversight -- Mr. Peschke is nowhere near this property-- or if this is sanctioned behavior to keep these majestic animals submissive, but it was devastating.
Written January 17, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Marie B
Phnom Penh, Cambodia2 contributions
Apr 2012 • Couples
We just got back from the one day "mahout experience", and i feel sorry to say that this was quite a disappointing experience.

We went through several travel tours agencies in LP, looking for the best deal to ride and bathe elephants. We settled down on the Elephant Village, because of all the wonderful reviews we read and because of all the "we save elephants from terrible logging industry" background, which i thought was a great thing. We booked through the Elephant Village agency.
For that, we had to pay $79 each (low season), which is very, very expensive in Laos (average monthly wage for a local is about $200). We kinda accepted to pay this amount of money because we thought that, by paying more than other avalaible elephants tours (we could have got a very similar trip for $50), we would get the best of the best, and we would contribute to the wellfare of mistreated animals and the support of local economy.

The package is sold like this: pick-up from guesthouse, 1h riding elephant on a chair, 1h "mahout" experience where you learn how to "drive" your elephant sitting on his neck, lunch, 30minutes bathing with your own elephant, going to the waterfall, drop-off at your guesthouse, the whole day with an english speaking guide. It is highlighted that you'll have 2,5 hours on elephants.
Well. What happened today was: pick-up at GH, arrival at the camp, sit-down with a cup of free coffee and our guide (who is very nice and very king by the way) who explained us a few generalities about elephants, some of them fairly untrue. For example, he said that there are about 500 000 elephants remaining in Laos, when there's only 1600 of them according to the boards on the grounds of the camp itself, or again like they live on average 100 years old, which is more of a rarely reached maximum age limit. I don't blame him for that, of course, he was so friendly, but i really think that the management people could make sure to teach their own guides a bit better. After this little speech, we had to wait for elephants to be avalaible for us, so our guide showed us the dunk paper fabric system, the food storage place (a little shed) and the "hospital", basically just an open shed with a cupboard containing a couple of medecines and a few sheets hanging down the hall certifying that each elephant was "good" every day of the month.
Came the time for the "mahout experience part". One after the other, we hopped on the neck of an elephant (high but so cool!) with a mahout sitting behind us, did a loop of 50 meters, got off and that was it. About 3 minutes each. This was the "mahout" experience of one hour we got sold. Very disappointing, i felt sad and ripped off.
We wait a bit more after that, which wasn't unpleasant as the surroundings of the area are really beautiful, there is no doubt about that.
Then elephant riding on chairs through a loop going through the river. 30 minutes instead of 1h. The tourist riding the elephant in front of them actually refused to get off as he felt quite ripped-off too, so our guide made the mahouts take us again down the river for another 15 minutes, which was good (but on the same path as before!).
Lunch time. The food was not overly fantastic, but it was good.
More waiting (not too long though). And that's when we are told that we can go to the waterfall if we want, but they are not running as it is the dry season (don't you think they could have told us that when we booked the tour?). We are offered instead to go for a swim in their swimming-pool, which we did. That was nice, but quite a very expensive swim and not a very lao typical experience.
Our guide came to get us, time for bathing elephants!! Everyone of us got his own one, and we went down the hill, sitting on the neck; and then splashing in the water. No doubt, that was the highlight of the day, awesome experience, we loved it. And during the expected 30 minutes for a change! ;)
End of the day.

My point is: not worth the money, soo not worth the money. And you can actually pay lot cheaper if you get there by your own means, as we found out once over there ($22 for "one hour" ride, $15 for a bathing elephant session). So, sure, you don't get the guide and the pick up, but, trust me, these are not worth the $32 difference).

Another point too, the "saving the elephants" aspect of the whole industry. So misleading.

When we got there, we were really surprised to learn that there was only 10 elephants on the camp. We were expecting way more. Charging every person so much, and having between 40 and 100 people everyday (if you do the maths, you come to millions of $ a year), you'd think they'd make enough money to save more than 10 elephants (don't tell me it is very expensive to buy food for the beasts, they get it from the local villages for peanuts i guess).

Moreover, they sell their business as a place to save elephants from the difficult logging industry, by rescuing retired, old, or sick elephants and offering them a place to live and food in exchange of a few hours of work a day.
What a joke.

Elephants there don't work only a couple of hours, they go pretty much all morning long and early afternoon, going over and over again on the same loop, barely stopping a few minutes in between to eat a bit. Of course, this is not exhausting work for them (neither exciting), but i don't like the fact that we are being lied to. And 10 elephants for more than 50 people a day...?!

Secondly, this is meant to be a place for retired elephants from logging. Hmmm. The average age retirement for them is about 50.
Out of the 10 elephants there, none of them was that old. Most of them were around 35, and two were "kids", about 10 years old. How can these be "retired" or "old" elephants from logging?? Where do they come from? Once again, i feel like they lied to me.

And, finally, another interesting fact. Our guide told us that they hire more elephants during the high season to cope with the higher number of tourists, up to 15 or 20 he said. I was curious to know where these fellas were kept during the low season. Well, very simply, they are sent back to work with their owners (which means for some of them back to logging). How ironic isn't it.

At the end of the day, this place is only about making money, the elephants don't really matter, they are just an instrument of their greed.

I know this review is harsh but i think it's important to point out all these "particularities" of the camp. I wouldn't recommend anyone to go there.
Written April 12, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Dear Marie, We're at Elephant Village shocked by your post. Shocked because you wrote on a base which lacks any basis, and simply calls and presupposes things without knowing the facts. At the end of your review, we are even called "Greedy," a very provocative insult, which in our case is just absolutely untrue. Nowhere, so our opinion is this term as little true as in our project. You should be certain, dear Mary B., that in our operation, the possible profits are to be reinvested exclusively in the company in order to provide the customer in the future with a worthwhile destination and to secure the livelihood for the elephants and employees through the following years - despite increasing competition and costs involved for the care of our animals. I believe that every customer is able to convince about it on our terrain with their own eyes, which would be beneficial at the same time for themselves. THIS IS verifiable! Customer numbers: You are talking of 40-100 customers a day, which was apparently your own assumption, but is not correct. Your "income statement" is absolutely wrong. We live here in South East Asia with a so-called High & Low Tourist Season. About 6 months a year we have to provide a livelihood for our elephants, horses and nearly 60 employees with a fraction (approximately 20%) compared with the number of customers coming during the tourist high season. A constant number of customers over the year is not possible. Right now, with ten elephants, we take a maximum of 60 customers per day. Do your Maths; 10 elephants which can carry 20 people during the first hour do usually not more than 3 rounds of 1 hour a day. We want to stop at around 1 pm, after the bathing activity, the elephants going back to the forest where they can rest and feed. Expenditures: But what about our expenditures? Except that you believe that we pay "Peanuts" for the food of the elephants and that an employee's salary is $ 200 a month, you seem not to bother much about the other expenditures. For example Salary (59 staff), Elephant Rental, Land lease, Office rental, Elephant Food, Maintenances, investments, etc. Your other complaint: Overpriced: Priced higher than what it is really worth. Question: Have you ever visited one of the camps of the competition, have you ever been looking at their concept or even their practices on business, goals and ideas? Only then you could see clearly namely, why there is need for a significant price difference. Our investment, location, concept, its implementation, transportation, community support is just absolutely incomparable etc, without talking bad about the other elephant camps. The other elephant camps - by the way, from us implemented concept in 2003 - just keep a few elephants (2-3) as their main business is a travel agency who likes to get some additional income. Even worse, they shamelessly publish our goals and objectives as their own. So what exactly makes this trip "not worth his money"? The food was good, the location of the Camp is "really beautiful" (no doubt), you have enjoyed the bathing, well, the 30 minute ride, we cannot understand here in the office because it is technically impossible that an elephant can walk the circle in this time frame. This testimony is questionable, as well as your claim that it would be 2.5 hours contact with elephant "highlighted", please tell us were exactly it is highlighted? We fear that you, with your statements "mislead" the reader. You only need to look at the positive reports of the Trip Advisor and you will see other opinions. This leads us to your next accusation: Mislead: What makes you believe that we "mislead"? It is our slogan: "Saving Elephants is our mission"? But yes, it is our mission! ".... You'd think they'd make enough money to save more than 10 elephants." Unfortunately you have to say, that you have apparently never been intensely busy with the husbandry and care of elephants, because then you would see what huge expenses are involved. We would love to have more than 10 elephants saved (by the way; we are the biggest camp in all of Laos!), that is correct, but since we are without any donations, must indeed do without bank loans as foreigners, it's just smart here to proceed very cautiously, because the fluctuating customer numbers and the very high costs involved, one animal can also drive us very fast to ruin. In the long run, say in the future, if our finance situation allows it, we will have certainly more animals. However, the maximum number of elephants depends on the carrying capacity of the surrounding jungle where the elephants feed themselves and we fear that 15 animals would be the maximum we could ever have. Besides our 3 owned elephants we have rented other elephants. We would like to make contracts for as long as possible. However, the owners like to have contracts with a maximum of 1 or 2 years only. Unfortunately, some of the owners would like to send their elephants back to logging after the contracts expire, but this happens on a very exceptional basis. Our concept is no "Joke" Marie. The elephants make a maximum of 3 rounds per day, e.g. 3 times 1 hour, some of them not that often. We also have - this apparently escaped your knowledge again - other routes in the jungle. Where we have been "lied" to you? Please provide us with the name of our tour guides and all the other "liars". We cannot confirm many of your statements, as we don’t know where it comes from! Yes, we also have younger elephants, one is actually 10 years old - but what luck for him, that we could save him from the cruel logging work in the jungle. In fact, we also accept younger animals - they are for us just as valuable as the elderly and other elephants we believe to protect with our project. They, too, can live at our camp, as the young animals suffer just like the old, in very particularly in the hard work of pulling the wood as you can imagine all too easily. I think so "misleading" we no customers .....
Written May 31, 2012
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sofie D
Trondheim, Norway1 contribution
Apr 2014 • Friends
All I can say about Elephant Village is that the elephants were not happy and free animals. They were chained, and when we were supposed to ride them, they didn't want to walk. The men that was "guiding" us had to threaten them to make them move and the elephants were clearly very scared of the stones they were threatened with. It seemed like they knew what pain of the rocks felt like. Sometimes I thought the guide were about to throw rocks at the elephants, and we told them to stop, but they just laughed. Do not support this kind of animal cruelty!
Written June 2, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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