There are a number of zoos in and around Bangkok that are ideal destinations for people on holiday in Thailand with their children. One of the better zoos is Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chonburi Province. It is about half way between Bangkok and Pattaya. The journey took us about 90 minutes and so it makes it an ideal day trip from either Bangkok or Pattaya. However, it is not easy to reach there by public transport so you might have to rent a car or hire a taxi for the day. But it is certainly worth the effort. I went there yesterday with Nong Grace and she had a really great time. She certainly wants to go back again.
In some ways Khao Kheow (sometimes spelled Khao Khiew) is similar to Safari World in Bangkok. It has all the regular animals that you would want to see such as giraffe, elephant, tiger, lion, chimpanzee, camel etc. It also allows you to get up close to these animals. There were many opportunities where you can feed the animals. Food was available for the animals at a very reasonable 20 baht a bunch. Like Safari World you can also drive through the park. However, at Khao Kheow you can get out of the car at most places and get quite close to the animals. You wouldn’t want to walk around the whole park as the animal exhibits alone cover an area of 400 acres.
If you don’t have a car you can always take a guided tram ride or rent a bicycle or even hire a golf cart for 300 baht for two hours. When we go again we might just do that. There are several places within the park where you can rent golf carts. We spent most of our time feeding the giraffes so next time we could park the car there first. Then when ready to explore more, we could go and rent a golf cart. The advantage of a golf cart is that you will see a lot more. Also, we were sometimes a bit lazy to keep getting out of the car to see all of the animals. Having said that, we did spend an incredible six hours at this zoo!
In the afternoon we went to see a Bird Show which was quite good but the parrot named “James Bond” didn’t always want to perform on cue. But, it was an enjoyable show for the youngsters. At the end of the show, Nong Grace wanted her picture taken with a parrot which only cost 20 baht. Nearby there was an adventure playground and a Children’s Zoo. Nong Grace spent several hours here playing and feeding the animals such as rabbits and goats. In fact I think we probably fed most of the animals at the zoo several times over. Luckily this wasn’t as expensive as at Safari World. Nong Grace wanted her picture taken with some of the animals such as tiger like she did at Sriracha Tiger Zoo. But, we didn’t see any opportunities for that which was a shame.
When we went to Safari World, the price of the tickets for foreigners was a really expensive 700 baht. This was mainly due to the shows. Nong Grace said she wants to go there again but I have told her it is too expensive. In contrast, Khao Kheow Open Zoo is far cheaper though obviously more challenging to get there. They have a two price system but the difference is very minimal. Thai adults are 70 baht and foreign adults 100 baht. Thai children 15 baht and foreign children 50 baht. Nong Grace is only four and they let her in for free. I then had to pay another 50 baht for taking my car into the zoo which was also very reasonable. As there wasn’t much difference between foreign and Thai price I didn’t bother to ask for local price. But they gave it to me anyway. It is nice when they do that without asking.
If you are a parent with children, you will probably find Khao Kheow Open Zoo much better if you have your own transport. This meant that Nong Grace didn’t have to walk around so much and we had a mobile base where we were able to keep drinks and snacks. The reason we ended up staying there six hours was probably because we drove around the zoo twice! Which is something you cannot do at Safari World. On the first round we skipped a few places which were too near to each other. Then saw these animals on the second round. We also went back to see some of her favourites like the giraffes and elephants. She also liked throwing cucumbers into the open mouth of the hippos. They apparently have a night safari here which might be worth investigating. I also noticed that they have a camping ground though I am not sure if that is mainly for schools.