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Which Thai Zoos are Worth Visiting?

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by LaughingDove, 7 Nov 2016.

  1. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    So I am in the very early planning stages for a trip to Thailand in April next year; and by very early planning stages, I mean all I have done is booked flights to Bangkok, nothing else, so I've got 12 days in Thailand to plan. What fun! :D

    I've looked through the Thailand forums and there does seem to be quite a bit of information and I have looked at reviews and pictures of several zoos so thanks to the various people who posted those. Many of the reviews are quite old now though, and there doesn't seem to be a thread comparing the different zoos with which are more worth visiting than others. It seems like Dusit Zoo is one that is definitely worth a visit, and from what I can tell, that seems to be by far the best zoo in Thailand, but what other Thai zoos are particularly good?

    The main (Or should I say my main? I'm not sure my family would necessarily agree :p) purpose for the trip will be birding and looking for wildlife, and I have mainly asked on BirdForum about that, but if anyone has any suggestions for that as well, please do let me know. Zoos are definitely priority number two though, so any advice about that would be great.

    Thanks very much in advance! :)
     
  2. jwer

    jwer Well-Known Member

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    Contact tontantravel for amazing wildlife tours! We went with them to Huai Kha Kaeng and Kao Yai, both amazing experiences. Run by a very enthousiastic Dutch guy and his Thai girlfriend, we found it the best of both worlds.

    We visited both Chiang Mai Zoo and Dusit Zoo, I can recommend both. Decent zoo's with nice collections.

    Khao Kheow open Zoo is another major Thai Zoo, but we didn't visit it. Sounds good, but seeing animals in the wild is always better and there are opportunities a plenty.
     
  3. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions, I will look into them.
     
  4. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps @Chlidonias would be able to give you some more information? I know he has visited zoos in Myanmar and other places in Southeast Asia, perhaps he would know what the best places in Thailand are.
     
  5. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    The major zoos in Thailand are Dusit Zoo, Khao Kheow Zoo, Chiang Mai Zoo, Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo and Songkhla Zoo. All are well worth the visit!
     
  6. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I think he probably would, as many of the zoo reviews that I have read are his, but I believe he is travelling around India at the moment and hasn't been on ZooChat for a few weeks.

    I'll look into those and see which I can fit in! :)
     
  7. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    12 days is not a lot of time, especially if with non-birding companions and especially if you're spending several days in Bangkok.

    I had a look at the Birdforum thread. Nick Upton's site is the most useful for logistics (jurek's Bird Watching in Thailand link).

    In Bangkok, don't bother with Lumphini Park unless you have no choice. There are lots of common birds there but it is basically a city park. However I guess if your parents are late risers and you have early morning then you could get a taxi there to start off the day. I definitely recommend the fish/shrimp ponds at Muang Boran just outside/just inside the city - see my 2013-14 thread for information (I was there on 10 Feb 2014) and here on Nick Upton's site: Bird Watching at Muang Boran Fishponds

    There's a place just south of Bangkok where boats go out for Irrawaddy dolphins too.

    I don't like Khao Yai - it has been ruined by weekend partiers, backpackers, and apathetic staff, and a lot of local Thai birders avoid it now - but it does have lots of birds and large mammals, and accommodation of various options both inside and outside. They do (terrible) night-drives as well where you may see some nice mammals. If pressed, you can do it as a day-trip from Bangkok. Again, see my aforementioned travel thread (I was there late January 2014).

    Apart for Dusit Zoo which is good, you might like the Chatuchak Market (only on weekends) which has depressing bird/mammal stalls but a very very good aquarium section. Your parents could wander the rest of the market while you check out the fish. There are northern tree shrews and variable squirrels in next-door Chatuchak Park. The Siam Aquarium is really good although it has been some time since I visited as it is quite expensive.

    Kaeng Krachan National Park is easily reached from Bangkok and (for me) is far preferable to Khao Yai. It may be best for your family to rent a car, or maybe a car with driver, to get there. Camping is the only option inside the park (tents available for rent) but there are hotels etc somewhere outside. I was there April 2014 if you want info from my thread.

    In the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai is a nice city, the zoo is alright (there is also the night zoo, which I haven't seen). Doi Inthanon and Doi Chang Dao are both great for wildlife. The former is the best (you can see goral, for instance) but you may be able to see Mrs Hume's pheasant at the latter. I was at both mid-to-late March 2014 if you want to find them on my thread. The animal lists for all these places are in the 2014 Big Year thread but you'd have to search them out because they aren't linked together.

    With only 12 days I might suggest just sticking with the central area: Bangkok, Khao Yai, Kaeng Krachan.
     
  8. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much for this Chli, this is exactly the information I was looking for!
    I will be sure to check out the information from your thread.
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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  10. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    and just an additional note - you can get overnight buses between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, so it is still possible to fit in, say, Doi Inthanon - or at least Chiang Mai itself - in your time frame.
     
  11. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that.

    Thoughts on Pak Thale? Worth a visit in April?
     
  12. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    Is the Pata Zoo still open? It is (was?) clearly pretty awful but in the very unlikely event of my finding myself in Bangkok, it is very much a place I would be (or would have been) interested to see.
     
  13. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    it is as far as I'm aware. I've never been there myself though (and have no intention of ever visiting).
     
  14. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I've never actually been to Pak Thale - it is difficult without a car but not totally impossible. I was going to try this January but now all my plans have been moved around. The waders are there up until late-March/mid-April so definitely worth a try. There are rice fields nearby which are also full of birds (i.e. the equivalent of the Muang Boran area I mentioned previously). You really would need to have a car for the day to get around the area though.
     
  15. GregOz

    GregOz Active Member

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    Pata Zoo was still open a couple of years back.
     
  16. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I think we might hire a car, at least for part of the trip, so it sounds like Pak Thale may be worth checking out then.

    From what I've heard, Pata Zoo does have some very interesting species that I would love to see, but I've heard some horror stories about that place and I'm not sure how much I would enjoy visiting it. I'm not sure I want to support a place like that by visiting it anyway.
    I'm currently thinking about maybe trying to fit two zoos into the plans - Dusit Zoo and Khao Kheow Open Zoo - but I'll have to see how things go with fitting those in with other stuff we want to do and with how plans are liable to evolve in the next four-or-so months before the trip.
     
  17. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    what are your current plans-in-making for the trip now?
     
  18. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    We haven't actually booked anything yet aside from the international flights because it will be very easy to book stuff in Thailand and I also have an aunt living in Bangkok who can help with booking things if necessary. However, I have tried to book into Baan Maka for four nights at Kaeng Krachan (the place has its own Thai birding page here: Bird watching & visiting Ban Maka and seems the second best thing to camping which my family is unwilling to do and they will also not let me stay by myself) but have struggled to get through, so hopefully we will manage to book in there.

    Anyway, the current plan which is still open to change is first a night near the airport because we land quite late, then go down to Kaeng Krachan and stay there for four nights/three days, then back to Bangkok (hopefully leaving early with a stop at Pak Thale on the way) and three nights/two days in Bangkok with a first day visit to Dusit Zoo and a second day birding at the Muang Boran fishponds and time/energy/willingness of family depending could also add on one or two of the other sites around Bangkok mentioned here: Central Thailand Bird Watching Sites

    The last four nights and four days are not yet as definite but what I'm hoping to persuade my family to agree to is a one night, two-day visit to Khaow Kheo Open Zoo and Bang Pra for birding and then a two-night, one full day + morning and evening at Khao Yai. Not sure if we'll end up managing both of the latter two places and we could end up visiting somewhere else entirely for the last 4 nights, but I think the first 8 nights are fairly certain.
     
  19. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure if anyone here can help, but I'm wondering if anyone can give advice for Khao Yai National Park and staying inside the park. I have read in various places about there being accommodation available, e.g. Thai Birding mentions bungalows for two available for 800 baht, but I can't really find anything about that.

    Also I am concerned that Khao Yai will be very busy at that time because it is Songkran, so I'm wondering if anyone has alternative suggestions to consider for the final two nights as mentioned on the outline of the itinerary above.
     
  20. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    there are bungalows inside the park. You should be able to book them through the park website - I just turn up if I go there, so I'm not sure but generally that is the case. The price is higher on weekends and public holidays. There are also a couple of campsites but I guess those are out if you aren't able to camp at Kaeng Krachan. The problem with the campsites is that they aren't anywhere near the restaurants (as in, many kilometres away from them). The bungalows are reasonably close to the restaurants.

    There are loads of hotels and guesthouses lining the road right before the park though. You need to pay each time you enter but if you only have a couple of days that's not a big deal. From the gate you can just hitch to the park HQ - lots of buses and trucks go through because the road through the park goes to various villages, and the guards at the gate will flag down vehicles for you.

    A possible alternative might be Doi Inthanon in northern Thailand. You can get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on an overnight bus, and reach Doi Inthanon that morning. Spend a couple of days there, then bus back to Bangkok. It would depend on your parents willingness of course. But the birds up there are different to what you'll be seeing at Kaeng Krachan. And Chiang Mai is a nice city if you have time to look around a bit.