Chiang Mai night safari

by Guest

Located 10 kilometres outside the city, the Chiang Mai Night Safari is one of the best and biggest nocturnal zoos in the world. Spread across 300 acres, it is considerably bigger than the night safari in Singapore and opened its doors to the public in 2006. There are hundreds of species for visitors to see, but perhaps the highlight is the white tigers, of which there are only 200 left in the wild. It’s split into three distinct areas - the Jaguar Trail Zone, the Savanna Safari Zone and the Predator Prowl Zone.

Let’s start with the Jaguar Trail Zone. The route takes visitors on a 12 kilometre walk around the edge of a lake. Along the way, it’s possible to see hundreds of wildlife species including monkeys, horses, koalas, jaguars, tapirs, camels, leopards, wallabies, white tigers and much more. It’s the only part of the zoo which is open during the day. If the walk sounds like too much effort, you can always hire a Segway and a guide. The trail is open between 11 a.m. and 9.30 p.m. and costs US $4 for adults and $2 for children under 12. If you’d like a little more explanation of the wildlife, you can take a guided day safari which departs every 30 minutes with Thai and English language available.

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There are two different areas which are open only during the evening. The Savanna Safari Zone is also home to hundreds of species of wildlife including kangaroos, water buffalos, white rhinos, lions, hyenas, ostriches, zebra, giraffes, wildebeests and dingos among others. You will also pass the aptly named Predator Prowl Zone where lions, tigers, wolves, black bears, vultures, crocodiles, and African hunting dogs can be spotted. There aren’t many places on earth where you can see this many wildlife species housed within the same zoo. To view the animals, guests are taken around the zoo on a 5 kilometre tram ride which departs every 15 minutes. The journey takes around an hour and gives you the opportunity to learn and get up close to these majestic creatures (though many are fenced away for safety). The trams have open sides giving you maximum view of the wildlife. The tram stops often, and excellent guides, who speak multiply languages, shine lights over the species and give an explanation of them. It’s open between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. and costs US $20 for adults and US $10 for children under 12.

Chiang Mai night safari

Tiger seen during the Chiang Mai Night Safari. Photo by Lizhong

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The list of animals at the park is long but includes bearcats, servals, jaguars, flying squirrels, squirrel monkeys, palm civets, crowned cranes, eagles, crested porcupines, green iguanas, alpacas, albino racoons, Malayan tapirs, leopard cats, clouded leopards, sloth bears, smooth-coated otters, hornbills, golden pheasants, bat-eared foxes, desert foxes, macaws, cockatoos, camels, hyenas, vultures, nyalas, red lechwes, lions, white lions, sun bears, sambar deer, wild boars, wolves, oryxes, white tigers, painted storks, Asiatic black bears, pumas, Chinese gorals Sumatran serows, sheep, yaks, rusa deer, hog deer, gaurs, nilgais, red kangaroos, emus, white rhinos, red river hogs, zebra, impala, ostriches, waterbucks, giraffes, tapirs, hippos, watusi cattle, banteng, and Asian Elephants.

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There are many other events and exhibits going on at the park, some of which are great for kids. If you visit the park a little earlier before the trams depart, you can have you photo taken with the wildlife at Photo Corner. Depending on the season, the wildlife species changes, but it’s possible to have your photo taken with baby tigers, bears and crocodiles. You’ll be presented with several printed photos as well as digital copies. A great memento of the evening.

Between 6 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. every day, the park puts on a big cat show where you can see live performances from white tigers and white lions, and there is the Hunters of the Night show where guests can get up close to smooth-coated otters, porcupines, tigers and bears which starts at 5.20 p.m., 6.50 p.m., and 8.40 p.m.

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Chiang Mai night safari

Completely unrelated, but spectacular nonetheless, is the parks spectacular Musical Fountain and Water Screen show. The two nighty performances, starting at 8.00 p.m. and 9.10 p.m., sees an impressive show of 12 metre high water fountains which ‘dance’ to music and lighting spread over a huge area of the park. It may not be wildlife related, but it’s well worth watching.

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The wildlife if usually enough to keep kids busy, but the park also has a Children’s World which includes an amusement park and ball pool. It’s open throughout the day from 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. A great addition to the facilities in the park.

If you’d like to stay at the park, they also offering lodging in the form of bungalow villas. Nestled in the beautiful Chiang Mai countryside surrounded by forest, each of the villas is adorned with a unique safari-style decor including artwork of the wildlife. Each of the villas feature a living room, private bathroom, and a beautiful private garden.

If you are hungry, the onsite Giraffe restaurant offers delicious Thai and international buffet cuisine overlooking the wildlife. It’s open from 11.00 a.m. to midnight and is located on the second floor of the main building. They also have Corner Coffee, a cafe offering freshly ground coffee in a wonderful spot which also overlooks the wildlife and is open between 11.00 a.m. and 21.00 p.m.

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To reach the Chiang Mai Night Safari, there are several options. The first is to jump in a taxi, a journey which takes around 20 minutes and should cost you around US $5 per person. Tuk tuk taxis may be a little more expensive. Alternatively, the park offers a free shuttle service which departs from outside Chiang Mai’s night bazaar each evening. The shuttle bus will also bring you back to the same location later in the evening. To find out more or book your tickets, visit the Chiang Mai Night Safari website .

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