With Peng, my fourteen year old step-daughter, visiting us on holidays from Isaan the Chiang Mai zoo had to be on the to-do list.

I am not a huge fan of zoos but I have to say that this one was a pleasant way to spend half a day. What I hadn’t realised firstly is how big it is at around 200 acres and secondly that you can drive through it rather than rely on the internal bus system, which you have to pay for. Because it is so spread out the driving option allows you to park at the areas that interest you and take your time rather than be tied to the bus timetable. I am not sure that they allow motorbikes inside because I hardly saw any, a most unusual situation in Thailand.

An option to drive through the zoo grounds.

You can drive through the zoo grounds.

The zoo also has a monorail track, which I think is 20 THb a person but it moves slower than walking pace so it is more of an attraction in itself rather than an option for getting around.

Quicker to walk but you get a good view.

The world’s slowest monorail but you get a good view, which is basically the idea of it.

The zoo itself is probably not world class but it is located at the base of Doi Suthep in a beautiful park/natural vegetation setting with glimpses of Chiang Mai. Ignoring the animals and just spending time in the gardens would be worth the time and entry fee in itself.

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The entry to the zoo cost us 350 THB for three, 100 THB each person plus I think 50 THB for the car, so not expensive – A$12.00. Once in special attractions such as the pandas, the aquarium, the snow dome and the 3D theatre cost extra. The rest is free.

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The animals are mostly kept in reasonably sized enclosures. Zoos are always a compromise and never ideal but this one is probably a lot better than many Asian examples. One of the nice features was the ability to feed some of the animals. The giraffes, deer, elephants and a few others all had the option to buy food and contribute to the zoo’s upkeep.

For a small fee 10 or 20 THB you can buy these little baskets of vegetables and feed the animals at that enclosure.

For a small fee 10 or 20 THB you can buy these little baskets of vegetables and feed the animals at that enclosure.

Peng meeting a giraffe for the first time.

Peng meeting a giraffe for the first time.

A lone elephant on display for feeding and that photo moment.

A lone elephant on display for feeding and that photo moment. There was a separate elephant enclosure plus rides available too.

Peng feeding deer. A good time was had by all.

Peng feeding deer. A good time was had by all.

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Thais are into photo opportunities and the zoo is set up to maximise the filling up of digital media.

Peng meets horse. Another first.

Cowgirl Peng. Another first.

Australia was well represented.

The koalas were an obvious must see.

The koalas were an obvious must see for an ex-Aussie. Gaun had seen them before at Taronga zoo in Sydney.

You will note that Gaun was wrapped up against the cold as the temperatures had dropped below 30 that day as we head into the cooler season.

An essential Thai clothing item bought in Sydney.

An essential Thai clothing item bought in Sydney.

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No shortage of ways to spend extra money on the kids.

No shortage of ways to spend extra money on the kids.

The real thing - I think.

The real thing – I think.

Thai girl meets sheep.

Thai girl meets sheep in the Australian section.

The kangaroos section was quite small and they had no space to hop, which was a bit sad but the male had obviously been filling in time in other ways:

A reminder of home.

A reminder of home.

A joey in the pouch.

A joey in the pouch.

One of the main attractions has to be the pandas, an animal I hadn’t seen before. Their enclosure is large and they are probably the star event of the zoo. Foreigners are charged a higher entry fee than locals, not an unusual situation. If you are a resident you can present your Thai driver’s licence and get in for the same price as a Thai. Always give it a go if an expat. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. No big deal.

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Laying back having a snack.

Laying back having a snack.

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The other one was fast asleep high on a rock.

The other one was fast asleep high on a rock.

Some of the other exhibits are as follows:

Plenty of monkeys obviously.

Plenty of monkeys obviously.

This was a single orangutan who literally rolled out of his enclosure to have a look at us.

This was a single orangutan who literally rolled out of his enclosure to have a look at us.

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A decent enclosure but only one animal. I hope he gets company soon.

A decent enclosure but only one animal. I hope he gets company soon.

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No feeding option for this guy. Leave spare kids?

No feeding option for this guy. Leave spare kids? Sadly in a very small and unkempt enclosure.

You will find Chiang Mai zoo on Huay Kaew Road on the left just before the road starts to climb up Doi Suthep, the hill overlooking the city. You can do as we did and schedule a trip to the famous temple on Doi Suthep, which I wrote about HERE and an afternoon at the zoo. If you are into gardens skip the temple and head straight to Bhubing Palace gardens, covered HERE and HERE further up the hill. The Thai website for the zoo can be found HERE with a schedule of events.

Say g’day to the koalas and roos from me.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. The penguins section is closed so don’t bother walking to their enclosure at the moment.