The elephant is a symbol of good luck, might and longevity to the Dai people of Xishuangbanna. Wild elephants congregate in the aptly named Wild Elephant Valley (Yěxiàng Gǔ 野象谷) at the juncture of the western and eastern part of the Menyang Nature Reserve (Měngyǎng Zìrán Bǎohù Qū, 勐养自然保护区). In the valley, there are observation towers and walkways built in the trees for visitors to watch the elephants without disturbing their natural habitat. The best time to see these impressive beasts is at dawn or dusk.
Though there are currently about 300 elephants living in the dense forest of Xishuangbanna, though there are another 20 that have been domesticated and are subject to providing entertainment (shows at 11am and 2pm daily) and tourist-friendly photo ops (RMB 10 per photo).
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Xishuangbanna on the China Travel Blog
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