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From March 13, Thais payed tribute to elephants for their contributions to mankind during Thai Elephant Week at the National Elephant Institute, a refuge for healthy and invalid elephants in the northern province of Lampang, 160km southeast of Chiang Mai city.

Respected and revered, elephants hold great significance in Buddhism and are symbolic of monarchs and the nation.

In the past, these intelligent beasts have worked alongside man, provided transportation and even played a crucial role in times of war.

During Thai Elephant Week, visitors can learn about the traditions and practices inherent to maintaining an elephant's health and well-being.

And one of the highlights of this celebration is feeding elephants a Northern Khantok dinner - an ancient royal tradition of the Lanna Kingdom where sticky rice and traditional dishes are served on a wooden tray to the accompaniment of Northern music and classical dances.

As the National Elephant Institute aims to develop the conservation of elephants sustainably while preserving local traditions and improve the tourism business that involves elephants, the institute also offers a variety of eco-tourism activities for guests that maybe enjoyed throughout the year.

For more info, visit www.thaflandelephant.org.