A few weeks ago, Logan and I had the distinct pleasure of spending several days as spectators at the Anantara’s 12th King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Hua Hin. This is such a cool event for a number of reasons. Let’s start with the fact that the annual tournament supports the Anantara’s community and charity-based initiatives, including the Thai Elephant-Assisted Therapy Project – a ground-breaking initiative that provides autistic and down syndrome children with an opportunity to develop their social and emotional skills by interacting with specially trained, rescued Thai street elephants. Second, it is ELEPHANT polo. That’s right. Competitive polo matches played on elephant-back. Pinch yourself, because an opportunity to see elephant polo doesn’t present itself every day. Third, the tournament takes several dozen elephants off the street (a stressful environment for the nature-loving gentle giants), during which time they are well-fed, provided with a native forest environment, and receive essential vitamin supplements, full veterinary checks and care for the duration of the event. Fourth, the event is packed with star-studded celebrities and VIPs. The famed Miss Tiffany Universe even has her own team at the event!
Now, to the part you’re really reading this for. Is it worth a special trip? Does it make sense to take the kids? Well, let me break it down for you.
It is a cool event. It is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. But, there are a few problems. On the pitch, it’s hot – VERY hot, and there is very little shade. Children – especially the little ones – will melt in the heat after an hour or two. Elephant polo, while extremely special to watch, is also an EXTREMELY slow game to watch. The kids will get bored pretty quickly. There are some activities provided for the little ones on the pitch – a baby elephant camp on-site, elephant sculpture painting, and a giant blow-up slide with a Dairy Queen alongside. So, here is my recommendation.
- Don’t plan a special trip around the event. If you do, don’t expect the little ones will be kept entertained at the event for very long.
- Do pay a visit to the event for an hour or two if you are planning on a Hua Hin or Pranburi beach weekend. That, in my opinion, is the best way to do it.