Baan Ta Klang

A village of mahouts

Photo of Baan Ta Klang, , Surin

What we say: 2.5 stars

This tiny village in the northwestern corner of Surin province was historically home to a small ethnic group known as the Kui, who were employed by Ayutthaya kings thanks to their skills at capturing and taming wild elephants. Their legacy lives on in Baan Ta Klang, where today there are practically as many elephants as people.

At the village centre you’ll find a fairly large elephant training area, a small museum and the Surin Elephants Study Centre. Visitors have the opportunity to feed, bathe and ride elephants, or just watch and photograph them being trained. There’s also an elephant show held on most days at 10:00 and 14:00. The museum features an ancient elephant skeleton along with examples of tools used traditionally by the Kui to capture and handle elephants. A great deal of information on the Kui people, the history of elephants in Thailand, and the biology and prehistory of elephants is provided in English.

The Elephants Study Centre is a large-scale project that functions as a centre for training, research and care of elephants. It's also something of an orphanage or nursing home for elephants. Animals that have been abused often end up here. In fact, the local government has an ongoing policy in place that is attempting to "bring the mahouts and elephants back to their hometown", and they hope to become the "largest village of elephants in the world".

Admission to the elephant centre is 50 baht per person. Note that during the elephant festival there's very little happening in Baan Ta Klang as most of the elephants and mahouts are doing their thing in Surin.

More details
58km north of Surin
How to get there: Baan Ta Klang is 58 kilometres north of Surin on Route 214 (the road to Roi Et). Songthaews depart regularly from the bus station; we were quoted 60 baht per person. It's a manageable motorbike ride if you want to go on your own. Head north on Route 214 and take a left, following clearly marked blue signs the whole way (if you reach Tha Tum village you've gone too far). Once in Baan Ta Klang, take a left right after Ta Klang school and you'll see the elephants straight ahead.

Last updated: 4th August, 2015

About the author:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.
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Baan Ta Klang
58km north of Surin
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