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Wild Elephant Valley, Xishuangbanna

Wild Elephant Valley, Xishuangbanna

Written by Sunny XieUpdated May. 19, 2021

Wild Elephant Valley (a.k.a. Gajah Liar Valley) is 40 kilometers (24 miles) by road north from Jinghong, the major city of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture.

The valley is located at the junction of the east and west areas of the Mengyang Nature Reserve, with a network of rivers and dense rainforest. Wild elephants are more prevalent there, making it one of the few places in Xishuangbanna where you can see wild elephants. It is also a paradise for other protected animals such as bison, green peacocks, and macaques.

Scroll down and find out things to do in the valley and other travel tips, or contact our Xishuangbanna expert for more information. 

Wild Elephant ValleyWild Elephant Valley

Basic Facts about Wild Elephant Valley

  • Chinese: 野象谷 Yě Xiàng Gǔ /yeah-sshyang-goo/ ‘Wild Elephant Valley’
  • Area: 3.7 sq km (1.4 sq mi)
  • Recommended visit duration: 2–3 hours
  • Open: 8:00am to 6:00pm
  • Popular activities: wandering in the rainforest, discovering the natural habitat of Asian elephants
  • Must-sees: Elevated Observation Walkway, Asian Elephant Museum, Butterfly Garden
  • Suited to: anyone, especially animal and nature lovers
Wild Asian ElephantsWild Asian Elephants

Why Visit Wild Elephant Valley

Wild Elephant Valley is the only place in China where Asian elephants can be closely observed in a comparatively safe way. You can walk in the tropical rainforest and track the elephants, discover the natural habitat of Asian elephants, and have close interactions with the elephants.

Elephant Valley is also one of the main host venues for the annual Water Splashing Festival in Xishuangbanna. The festival takes place every year from April 13 to 15. Feel free to contact us to attend this big event.

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Best Times to Visit Wild Elephant Valley

Wild elephants are more likely to be seen at dawn or dusk.

The best time to visit Wild Elephant Valley is during dry season, from October to April. From November to February, wild elephants have the highest probability of congregating in the valley bottoms due to the lack of water elsewhere.

Asian ElephantsAsian Elephants

4 Things to Do in Wild Elephant Valley

Map of Wild Elephant ValleyMap of Wild Elephant Valley

1. Rainforest Sightseeing Cable Car

The semi-enclosed cable car route is 2,063 meters in length and takes around 35 minutes for a one-way ride.

On the cable car, you can enjoy a bird’s-eye views of the vast tropical rainforest and wild animals. When the wild elephants appear, you can clearly see them roaming and foraging in the forest.

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2. Elevated Observation Walkway

The elevated observation walkway is built close to the ponds where elephants like to play and forage, hence it is the best place to observe the wild elephants.

The walkway is 2,280 meters in length and is divided into 2 sections. The first section is 920 meters long, from Bird Park to Asian Elephant Museum; and the second section is 1,360 meters long, from Asian Elephant Museum to Elephant Observation Platform.

Most people end their walkway walk at Asian Elephant Museum, but China Highlights highly recommends you continue on the second section to Elephant Observation Platform where there’s a watering hole. Wild Elephants often go there to drink and take a bath. If you are lucky enough, it would be a great fun to capture these delightful elephant moments.  

Elevated Observation WalkwayElevated Observation Walkway

3. Asian Elephant Museum

It is the first themed museum focusing on Asian elephants in China. If you are an animal lover, it is worth taking a visit there to learn more about Asian elephants and their current survival crisis.

Asian Elephant MuseumAsian Elephant Museum

4. Walking with Elephants

Walking with elephants is a program offered in Wild Elephant Valley. It is a lovely experience of interacting with elephants without disturbing their daily life. You can join their daily walk in the rainforest and feel the harmony between human beings and animals. You will also have a chance to feed the elephants carrots after the walk.

Note: This program currently is not open to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Walking with ElephantsWalking with Elephants 

Planning a Wild Elephant Valley Tour

There are two gates at the Wild Elephant Valley: the south gate with more things to do and see and the north gate close to Asian Elephant Museum.

At the south gate, there’s an Elephant School with elephant performances, the Rainforest Theatre with local folk dances, the Lizards Garden with some nationally protected animals, Butterfly Garden and Lotus Garden, etc.

To fully use you time there, we recommend you enter the south gate in the early morning, take the cable car to Elephant Observation Platform, then walk down the Elevated Observation Walkway, and either finish your tour at the north gate or return to the south gate if there’s anything further that attracts you there.

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Touring Wild Elephant Valley with China Highlights

China Highlights can help you customize a tour to visit Wild Elephant Valley and other highlights in Xishuangbanna. Here is a sample tour plan for inspiration:

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