First of all, let me tell you that we have a very poor track record with bringing our kids to the zoo, any zoo, for the past 21 years.
We go in the afternoon when all the animals are sleeping. On rainy days when none of the animals are out. Days that are too hot for even the reptiles to go outside. We decide to let the kids walk instead of bringing the stroller or bring the stroller and the kids don’t need or want it and then we have to drag it up and down stairs.
You get the gist.
Anywho, last year we brought Sebastian to the Los Angeles Zoo. He was almost 1 year old. We went at Noon (after his nap so he’d be awake and in a good mood). We brought his stroller. It was one of the hottest days of the summer. We didn’t know thst a lot of the exhibits we’re closed for repairs. And…Sebastian was cranky because i didn’t carry him in his carrier. Also, no animals we’re to be seen.
We are in Chiang Mai currently and wanted to try the Zoo experience again. Sebastian loves animals and we decided to really THINK things through and plan appropriately this time.
*You can Scroll to our Review Videos all the way down if you don’t want to read!
Planning for Optimal Animal sightings
Be there first thing in the morning. Like 5 minutes before the Zoo opens. Pick the coolest day you can (not freezing and not scalding hot) in the week.
It was only 150 Baht per adult ($5 USD) And our 2 year old was FREE. The Panda Exhibit is 100 Baht, Snowdome is 150 (we didn’t go in) and the Aquarium was an additional price as well but we couldn’t go in as we were in that area at 9 am and it didn’t open until 10 am.
We took a Tuk-Tuk from just outside the Old City for 100 Baht (total of $3.30 USD). We didn’t have to pay for parking but I believe it is a super reasonable price to park.
We paid for the Zoo entrance and then paid for the Panda Exhibit inside. In total we spent 500 Baht for Entrance Fees. That is $16.50 USD. TOTAL. For our Family!
Food and Drink in the Zoo
I’ve seen other reviewers state that the food at the zoo isn’t that great but what I haven’t seen is that it’s CHEAP and so are the drinks. Also, you can bring your own food and drinks into the zoo no problem so – there is zero problem, right? We got large Ice Lattes for 50 Baht ($1.70 USD). It’s 3 times that price at Starbucks. The food was just a bit of street food and then some cafeteria-style food we saw. We didn’t purchase anything other than a bag of chips for 25 baht… Again, a steal for being at a Zoo in America.
Animals health and well being
I know this is a big deal to us and it is to many of you as well. We’ve had amazing as well as horrible experiences with captive wild animals.
All the animals we saw looked good. All but the Tiger. He was in a very small area and was pacing with his mouth open. He didn’t look happy. The Male Lion also seemed like his mane had seen better days but he might just be elderly. We didn’t get to see him move around but he was in a bigger area.
We “think” there was a small dead Shark, or other animal, in the water at the Aquarium. We didn’t go into the aquarium but there is a small body of water between it and the main Zoo walkway. I spotted it floating sideways in the center of the pond. We zoomed in with my husbands camera and it looks like some sort of shark, to us. We aren’t experts though and didn’t have anyone nearby to verify this. Just our opinions and what we could discern. We have a photo in the gallery below. Let us know what it is if you can figure it out. I’d love to find out it wasn’t an animal.
This is our favorite Zoo we’ve ever visited. And we’ve been to a good amount of zoos. Most of the animals we wanted to see were out and about and they looked healthy (to us at least) and in large quarters.
Layout of the Zoo
The map (see above) was great and there were markers along the entire path to tell you where to go as well as where NOT to go. You just follow the road or take some of the paths. Like I mentioned… we Walked, with a stroller.
The Chiang Mai Zoo has a really well thought out layout. Sometimes we are in zoos that are more like mazes and we go into one exhibit only to come out at a place where we have to backtrack a lot to get back to where we entered so we don’t miss what’s on the other side of the pathway.
There are lots of toilet stops, food areas and just when you need to sit down and chill for a bit in the shade, there are benches waiting for you.
Walking, Trams or Vans Oh My!
We needed to walk. We brought the stroller. We had our good walking shoes on. I had on sunscreen and we were ready to roll.
Here is my advice… If you don’t want to walk up or down several large hills – pay the 40 Baht for the tram or even a bit more for the Van Service.
There are a LOT of stairs as well as steep walkways/paths (like in the Reptile area) that a wheel chair or stroller won’t traverse well. We are adept at picking up the stroller (me in back, Shawn lifts the front) and sometimes we were like… Okay, these stairs gotta stop or…damn…this hill is STEEP. We both had to hold the stroller going down 2 hills…just in case.
Speaking of the reptile area…
Wasn’t that Turtle a total jerk?
There is a LOT of shade in the Zoo so you aren’t in direct sun the entire time. Just for short periods if you walk. We also had the zoo to ourselves most the time but I can see where on a busy day,y having all the vans and trams schlepping people around, might be a bit of a hazard for walkers like us – especially if you have a stroller. If you don’t have a stroller then you can take a lot of the paths off the main road.
I can’t comment on the full safety of the Zoo but it felt safe to us in terms of cars speed limits and caution, animal enclosures and even just the vibe of the park. There was one small fencing issue where people (especially little people) could easily slide through the fence to go play with Zebras, Ostrich and Giraffe.
We hope you Enjoy our Photo Gallery of Shots that both Shawn and I took at the Zoo. The amazing animal shots were all Him! Isn’t he a great photographer?
We highly recommend the Chiang Mai Zoo as a fun family activity if you happen to be in this part of Thailand.