Don't Miss The King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament

Don't Miss The King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament

Prepared by Harold Stephens
Travel Correspondent for Thai Airways International

The highly popular King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament will be celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and will be moving to the royal seaside town of Hua Hin in Thailand. The event, which will bring the best of the last decade of the popular sporting event, will take place from September 5 to September 11 and promises to have nail-biting action both on- and off-field. 

The event will see a number of teams go trunk to trunk to win the coveted King's Cup trophy. The tournament was introduced to Thailand from Nepal in 2001 by Anantara Resorts and is a charitable event that raises money for the benefit of all Thailand’s elephants.

Now in its tenth year, the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament has gone from a small two-day event with six teams into a week-long extravaganza which in 2010 featured 12 teams from four continents, encompassing 40 players from at least 15 countries.

To date the tournament has raised over US$300,000 primarily for the National Elephant Institute which provides medical care, sustenance, employment, and mahout training to Thailand’s elephant population. In recent years, the funds were used to custom build and run an elephant ambulance as well as provide housing at the Centre’s elephant hospital allowing it to offer free accommodation as well as medical treatment to any sick elephants in Thailand; these funds also provided a mobile veterinary service for their mobile elephant clinic. Proceeds from the 2009 and 2010 tournaments have been used to ‘rescue rent’ five street elephants to be trained in occupational therapy as part of a joint Thai Elephant Conservation Centre/Chiang Mai University project investigating the benefits of using elephants to treat Autism.

It is estimated that Thailand has around 3,600 domesticated elephants and 1,500 wild elephants. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) fully endorses the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament, having identified it as one of the country’s prime annual special events. It will take place on grounds adjacent to Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa, and spectator entrance is free.

For more information on King’s Cup Elephant Polo, please visit, Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa is a distinctive Thai village-style resort located on the Sunrise Coast of the Gulf of Thailand. Hidden amidst 14 acres of luxuriantly landscaped mature gardens and lagoon pools, the picturesque resort enjoys a beachfront location at the quiet end of Thailand’s historic royal seaside town. For more information please visit

For hundreds of years throughout Thailand, people would leave a jar of water outside their house to provide refreshment and extend a welcome to the passing traveller.  Anantara is taken from an ancient Sanskrit word that means 'without end', symbolising this sharing of water and the heartfelt hospitality that lies at the core of every Anantara experience.]

The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is not to be confused with the Elephant Roundup that takes place at Surin, southeast of Bangkok, every November. Overnight trains take visitors up to see a show that includes pre-hunt rituals, a demonstration round-up, tug of war between elephants and soldiers, and elephant races. In between there's traditional dancing and singing.

As a reminder, November is an exciting month in Thailand for its Loy Krathong, the enchanting festival of lights. Although the festival is celebrated all over Thailand, Chiang Mai is the best place to go.  Streams, rivers and canals everywhere flicker with the lights from thousands of krathongs, banana-leaf boats containing flowers, candles and incense sticks. There's singing, dancing and general merriment.


Q. Dear Mr. Stephens, Could you remind your readers that Pokhara Lodge, Tiger Mountain Nepal, is engaged in the programme called Responsible Tourism Verification. As part of its commitment, and as a pioneer for other Tiger Mountain Nepal companies, Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge has just completed its Responsible Tourism Verification Report.

We are only the second company in Nepal and third worldwide to have completed this rigorous process. This is akin to an audit where an independent third party examines our documents, actions and records, as well as interviewing senior and junior staff to ensure that what we say, we do with regard to the natural environment, with commitment to local communities and stockholders.
A postgraduate researcher from the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, Leeds Metropolitan University, Jennifer Bobbin, made several visits to Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge and has verified (audited) our Responsible Tourism Policy and Responsible Tourism Report. Download the report here:
Next in line for the Responsible Tourism Verification process is Karnali Lodge in Bardia and then Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge on the edge of Chitwan National Park. It has been a good challenge for us all and has had a powerful motivating effect with enthusiasm from all the staff to achieve even better results next year. Thank you, Marcus Cotton, Chief Executive.

A. Dear Mr. Cotton. I will certainly mention your Responsible Tourism Report, as I am very much in favour of it. Also, I might add, I very much enjoyed a trip I made to Chitwan National Park two years ago. I wrote about it in detail in my Weekly Travel Feature. Keep up the good work. —HS. 

Harold Stephens
E-mail: ROH Weekly Travel (

Note: The article is the personal view of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited.

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