Having lived in Chiang Mai now for more than a year, we finally made it to Chiang Mai Zoo. The zoo is perhaps not on everyone’s must-visit list when travelling to Chiang Mai but it’s an interesting alternative if you had your fill with cultural and historical sites.
The animals at Chiang Mai Zoo
Located at the slopes of Doi Suthep and in walking distance to Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai Zoo covers a large area of forest terrain which reminds one more of a safari park rather than a tradition zoo. It houses numerous species of animals including elephants, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, orang-utans, flamingos, koalas an interesting aquarium and one panda who is sort of the zoo’s star at the moment. In addition to the animals, the zoo’s location offers some superb views over the city. The zoo is divided into several themed areas such as Australia or Africa representing animals native to their home; it even features a dedicated compound for penguins.
Chiang Mai Zoo clearly aims to create a natural environment or better, the feeling that you’re out in the wilderness ready to encounter the animals up-close. One of the downpoints however were that some animals seemed to be quite lonely: on the one hand they have a vast amount of space and their compounds are anything but small but on the other hand most species seemed to consist of max. three of their kind, speaking the aforementioned compounds looked quite empty. Another minus were the options to sit on some of the animals like horses or elephants just for photo purposes (of course charged extra). A nice plus was the possibility to feed some animals especially the giraffes seemed to love getting fodder.
The aquarium is one of the latest additions to the zoo and features numerous creatures such as turtles, stingrays, several shark species and various fishes in all shapes and sizes. Its glass tunnel is undoubtedly one of the aquarium’s major attractions and seemed to especially attract kids. Furthermore, you can see several reptiles like snakes and iguanas along an aisle which connects the first zone with the second one.
Other popular attractions at Chiang Mai Zoo include the koalas and the aviary, a large exhibit which houses several hundred bird species.
Getting around Chiang Mai Zoo
To get around, we recommend taking the open-air buses – which look more like supersized golf buggies – as you can easily hop on and off at every station (20 THB per person). Just note that these drivers won’t drive at a slow ‘’sightseeing-speed’’ but will rather hurtle up and down the steep roads. They do explain about the surrounding animals however only in Thai. We would have loved taking the monorail but the service has been suspended last year until further notice. Alternatively, you can opt for a golf buggy which sets you back at 300 THB per hour. Don’t try to walk around the entire zoo as the area covers approx. 200 acres.
Along the roads are many restaurants and snack bars, speaking you won’t have to worry if you should feel hungry or thirsty from exploring. Just don’t expect the best food quality, our chicken fried rice consisted of semi-raw meat (45 THB per person) and was more of the really-tiny-portion variety.
Allow yourself at least 4-5 hours to explore Chiang Mai Zoo.
Other things to do at Chiang Mai Zoo
A zipline-company operates numerous obstacles around one of the lakes in addition to mini ATV rides offered for kids. There are also animals shows at specific times, we suggest you to look-up the timings on their website before you go, as we either missed them or they were scheduled too late for us (we already came in the morning).
Chiang Mai Zoo
Open: daily, 08:00-17:00
Entry: 100THB/adult, 50THB/child
We have been thankfully invited by Chiang Mai Zoo. Opinions are as always our own.
Kian & Sri
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