Chiang Mai Zoo, Aquarium & Night Safari
Chiang Mai Zoo Thailand doesn’t have the best reputation for animal welfare, but Chaing Mai is one of the better zoos in Thailand. It is spread out across a large area of hillside, and a fair summary of the animal enclosures would be a zoo of contrasts. There is a wide variety of animals here including elephants, giraffes, hippos, big cats, penguins, monkeys, emus, meerkats, goats, crocs and the zoo’s prize attraction, pandas. A highlight of most people’s visit is feeding many of the animals mentioned above (10B or more donation). A visit to the Panda’s is an extra 150B (50B child), which probably goes towards funding their super air-coned enclosure. If you visit at a weekend or on a Thai holiday the wait for the Panda enclosure might be excessive. Regarding the enclosures, some of them are a pretty good size and well-kept, such as for the monkeys, lions, deer and goats. Then some like the crocs are tiny, and the elephants are chained in small spaces waiting for the next rider. The zoo is very spread out and so requires a fair bit of walking, or you can pay an extra 100B to be able to jump on the shuttle buses that run between attractions. If walking you will need a good few hours to get all the way around. There are places to get food and drink scattered around the park. You can also drive around if you have a car. Other non-animal activities include go-carts, rolling around the lake in an inflated plastic ball, a snow-dome area (extra 150B and not particularly interesting), and an odd but amusing adventure railway. The zoo also has an aquarium and aviary within its grounds. Aquarium The aquarium (extra 500B/400B adult/child) has a decent variety of fresh and sea-water marine life, along with some reptiles and snakes. The highlight is a long underwater tunnel walk-through tank. The first 66m of tunnel models the Mekong River and also has other river fish from around the world, such as giant catfish, piranha and the massive Arapaima (up to 2.5m!). The next 66m is a tropical seascape containing Eagle rays, various sharks, Giant trevally, Sting rays, tropical fish and colourful coral. You can even do scuba diving in the tanks! It’s a decent aquarium, but if you are choosing between this one and SeaLife Aquarium in Bangkok, we would recommend SeaLife over this one. It is located about half-way round the park. Aviary The aviary is one of the zoos better offerings and is actually included in the ticket price. It’s a large canopied area on the hillside and has been landscaped into a lush bit of jungle with some nice walkways through it. There are a lot of colourful tropical birds in here and some larger birds such as flamingos and pelicans. It’s beautiful to walk around and also gets you out of the baking sun. It’s not particularly well signposted, just head for the pandas and follow the right fork opposite. Night Safari Essentially this is just a quick summary of the night safari to say it has had a fair bit of bad press regarding animal welfare. In addition to this, it doesn’t seem good value for money; you pay 800B to see less of the animals than you could just see at the Chiang Mai zoo in the day.