For many, it's been a staple activity on their Southeast Asian travel bucket list for years. For others, it's a blatant mistreatment of animals and a clear case of wildlife abuse.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum above, the authorities at Angkor Archaeological Park have spoken, and they want to make the elephant riding at Angkor Wat a thing of the past.
Early 2020 Ban
As of November 15, at least two of the 14 elephants that can usually be found within the vicinity of the temple have already been moved to nearby forest areas. Park officials are hoping to have every elephant removed from the tour circuit by early 2020.
Elephant rides have been an option for tourists in Angkor Wat since at least 2001. The 2019 ban comes after years of pressure from animal activists and thousands of signatures on online petitions.
Elephants as Tourist Attractions: an Animal Welfare Issue