Cheer On to Boat Races for Elephant Charity This February

Photo: Elephant Boat Race and River Festival / Courtesy
Photo: Elephant Boat Race and River Festival / Courtesy

BANGKOK — Cheer for your favorite paddlers and munch on street food riverside as kites swoop through the air this February, with some benefit going to our pachyderm friends.

The second Elephant Boat Race and River Festival will take place from 28 Feb. to March 1 at the Anantara Riverside, where visitors can view boat racers duke it out in an open-air fair atmosphere.

Paddling teams from nationwide will try to topple last year’s champions – the Royal Thai Navy SEALs, no less – in elephant-themed boats in 400-meter races. Winners will get a royal trophy bestowed by His Majesty the King.

Organized by the Anantara hotel chain, the three-day fest will also include open-air concerts, fair rides, kids’ activities, and food and drink. There will also be a special exhibition of traditional kites from around Thailand. See their full schedule here.


Admittance is free for kids under 15, adult tickets cost 200 baht. Ticket sale proceeds go to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, a nonprofit elephant welfare and conservation organization.

The boat race is a reboot of an elephant polo tournament held by the same hotel in 2018. Organizers faced criticism for the event after mahouts were seen hitting and jabbing elephants with bullhooks.

In response to protests from animal welfare groups, organizers dropped the polo event and use of animals, switching to a charity boat race in 2019 instead.

Anantara Riverside Bangkok can be reached via a short taxi ride from BTS Krung Thon Buri or on the free shuttle boat from Taksin Pier next to BTS Saphan Taksin.


Related stories:

Elephant Polo to Continue Despite Abuse