Over the weekend, a group of us went down to Pattaya for the Music Festival. This is turning in to be an annual event now where you can see some of your favourite Thai bands for free! I am now happy that I have now seen Labanoon, Taxi, Playround and Lucks Music in concert. A great experience not to be missed if you are in Pattaya this time next year.
Anyway, whilst I was down there I took the opportunity to visit some tourist attractions. The first place we visited was Khao Khiao Open Zoo which is about halfway between Bangkok and Pattaya. I have passed the sign to this zoo a number of times but this was the first time I decided to go and check it out. I am glad I did.
The first pleasant surprise was that the owners of the zoo had decided not to use the two price system – so Thais and foreigners are both charged the same admission price. This is a very reasonable 50 baht for adults and 15 baht for adults. People over 60 can get in for free! They also charge 50 baht for cars.
I didn’t realize how big the place was. There is apparently more than 1000 acres. In some ways it is a bit like Safari World in Bangkok. Both places you can drive around seeing some of the animals close up in their ‘natural” habitat. However, Khao Khiao Open Zoo is a little different as you can actually park the car and get out! They also encourage you to feed the animals with appropriate food sold on location. Of course, it is not advisable to get out of the car at Safari World as you might get mauled by the tigers. The animals here were a bit more gentler like deer.
Other animals were in large fenced off areas to protect members of the public. These animals included: giraffe, ostrich, zebra, rhino, hippo, bears, crocodiles, tigers etc. Of particular interest was the walk-through aviary which apparently has over 2000 different species of birds! Well, I can’t say I saw that many, but they were certainly very vocal.
One area of the open zoo I didn’t like so much was the “Cats Complex”. Here they have different members of the cat family – including cheetah – locked up in much smaller “rooms” with glass fronts for us to observe. I was about to give the zoo five stars but this area was disappointing in its treatment of the animals.
However, overall, the visit to Khao Khiao Open Zoo was well worth the diversion from the main road. The zoo is beautifully laid out and the views from the road was just as interesting as the wildlife. They apparently have a night safari here as well. I saw one like this in Singapore a number of years ago. Many of the animals are nocturnal and they are much more active at night. I saw in the newspaper today that Chiang Mai too will be opening a night safari soon.
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