On Sunday, I went into Bangkok to visit the newly opened Siam Paragon shopping mall. In particular, I wanted to see the much publicized Siam Ocean World which is supposed to be the biggest in South-East Asia. My previous experience of a large aquarium was at Underwater World in Singapore. I was curious to see whether this new tourist attraction could live up to their claims. In brochures, they say that they have 30,000 marine animals and 400 species. This is a lot as the one in Singapore apparently has only 2500 marine animals. Even the new Underwater World in Pattaya has more as it has 4000 marine animals.
Before I arrived, I wasn’t too sure how popular Siam Ocean World would be. The price is relatively expensive at 450 baht for adults and 280 baht for children. There isn’t a foreigners price which makes me really appreciative. Two thumbs up from me. However, I now feel sorry for local Thai people who won’t have an opportunity to experience Ocean World because of the price. Maybe they could do a discount for Thai people? (Woops! It looks like I am suggesting a two priced system! I’d better retract that before anyone gets any ideas.) Underwater World in Pattaya is cheaper at 360 baht. However, I am boycotting that place as they have a two-priced system. Thai people are only 180 baht there. Funny that I’d rather pay more money to go to Siam Ocean World only because it charges Thais and foreigners the same price.
At the ticket office there were no queues at all. I went straight up to the cashier. She gave me a brochure in English and I then entered the aquarium. The place was packed! There were so many people that I had difficulty in approaching any of the glass windows. I was really surprised. There must be more affluent Thai people than I first thought. I had seen a report in the papers recently that speculated that 20% of visitors would be foreigners. I laughed and said it would be far more. I was wrong. The majority were indeed Thai people with their families.
Siam Ocean World takes up two floors in the basement of Siam Paragon. According to my map, the journey took me through seven different zones: Weird and Wonderful, Open Ocean, Deep Reef, Rainforest, Rocky Shore, Living Ocean, and Sea Jellies. Some of the marine animals that could be seen included: Seals, Blue Ringed Octopus, Ragged-tooth sharks, Stingrays, Leafly Sea Dragons, and Giant Spider Crabs.
It is very difficult for me to compare this to Underwater World in Singapore. I was last there quite a few years ago. A visiting friend from Singapore told me that Ocean World here in Bangkok is far better. That could be true. There was certainly plenty to see and do. Apart from gazing at the fish as they swam by, you could also look up information about the marine animals on various computers. There was also opportunities to see sharks being fed (1.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m.), and have lectures in amphitheaters about the different fish you could see. At one place, you could ask questions to a diver on the other side of the thick glass (see top picture).
The highlight of any visit to an aquarium these days is the glass tunnel. As you walk down the tunnel you are surrounded on three sides by sharks, stingrays and schools of fish. I must admit I was a little disappointed at first. In the first part of the tunnel the water was brightly lit from above. This was for the benefit of the people who had paid an extra 150 baht to have a ride on a glass-bottom boat. All good for them but it made it difficult for us to see. However, a bit further on it was far more impressive. Though I am thinking that Underwater World in Singapore had more fish swimming around. I remember being impressed by the stingrays and sharks swimming above my head. Not so many here. Also, at Singapore they had a 83-metre-long moving travelator which made it easier for you to have un-obstructed views. The tunnel here seemed shorter as it was over all too soon. Though, of course, you could fight the crowds and walk back to do it again.
In conclusion, I would suggest you make a visit to Siam Ocean World if you are in Bangkok. The location is convenient (you can walk straight in from Siam Square sky train station). When you have finished you can then go shopping or eat in the large food court. You can easily spend a couple of hours here.
UPDATE: Siam Ocean World in Bangkok has now gone down the road of a two price system. I said before that 450 baht was relatively expensive for a tourist attraction in Bangkok. It is now a whopping 850 baht for foreign adults. 650 baht for foreign children. This is NOT worth the price any more. I suggest you stay clear.