Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang, Laos
Photo courtesy of Elephant Village
Elephant VillageLaos has a long history of wild and domesticated elephants—though few roam free these days—with the majority being used in the logging industry or for tourism purposes. A number of elephant camps operate around Luang Prabang, offering rides and photo opportunities, but only one, Elephant Village, has dispensed with the howdah, the platform-style seat that damages the elephant’s spine. Here, all guests must ride bareback, which is much better for the elephant and presents a more authentic experience. Located on the banks of the Nam Khan river, the camp rescues elephants used for logging in nearby Xayaboury province and offers them a relatively tranquil life—they only ferry tourists until lunchtime, after which they take a river bath before returning to the jungle with their mahouts.