We met up with some friends at Nic’s Restaurant, a great Chiang Mai restaurant for kids, which is on the same road as the Night Safari. The restaurant has an amazing bamboo playground built by a skilled builder in the area who also built a nearby school.
Ella’s crawling on the plank, where she jumped off on to the netting below.
The big “ship” also has a bird’s nest for bigger kids only!
Thankfully, the bottom level is a big sandbox, so Ethan happily played below without even thinking of climbing up the ladders until the end (when we could pack up and go—whew)!
The restaurant is open-air, and allowed us to easily scream at watch over our children!
As night fell, we decided to head over to the Night Safari Zoo. The cost for was 800 Baht for adults ($25 USD), and 400 Baht for kids ($12 USD). We decided to opt out in that case, and just do the cheap self-guided walking tour for 100 Baht for adults, and 50 Baht for kids.
Half of the fun was had just at the main entrance where there was a large roundabout with sculptures that were lit up with changing colors, and a cool occasional misting feature.
Inside the gate we waited for an advertised show to begin, and Ethan enjoyed looking at the fish. This is so typical of him!
We also saw the room where they charge for tourists to take a photo with a white tiger.
While we were waiting a paying customer showed up, and we watched the process of how they do the tiger photo shoot. The tiger was first put in his cage, while the customer sat down. Then, the two tiger handlers pulled him out very tightly (one person gripping his legs and the other his arms) and stuffed a bottle in his face, which he very eagerly took. He was sucking the bottle in the photo.
I couldn’t help but wonder what was actually in the bottle to get such a strong reaction from the tiger. As soon as the photo was taken they whisked him back into his small cage. It took perhaps 2 minutes, max!
I have to admit I didn’t like the whole process at all.
The show began, and we found it to be very odd. It kind of felt like we were in a men’s club…as the dancing had absolutely nothing to do with the zoo, and could have been done in skimpy clothes without those leotards underneath.
Afterwards Jared was talking with our friends about the show and the “ladyboys” that were in the back row. My head flipped around, “WHAT?! What are ladyboys?!” Apparently I was the only person that missed the memo that Thailand has a 3rd gender…socially acceptable ladyboys who think they are simply in the wrong body. Now that I’m aware, I’ve started to spot them more often…although since the Thai have very delicate features, sometimes the only clue I have is a deeper voice or an adam’s apple!
Next, we took off on the walking path through the zoo. It wasn’t very well-lit, which perhaps is a good thing, considering animals also need their night time! The kids had a great time, keeping each other company (and keeping each walking) as they went from enclosure to enclosure.
The “Forbidden” translation made us snicker. And some of us just had to step on the other side of the sign!
So…what is it like to walk around in a zoo at night? Well…just like it sounds. You walk through the same paths people would walk during the day, but squint to try to find the animals hidden in their caging.
Overall, I didn’t think the enclosures looked nearly as nice as the Chiang Mai Zoo, and I didn’t like the abundance of tigers at the entrance who were waiting in small cages for their photo to be taken. It just looked so inhumane!
What we did enjoy, however, was being with friends and enjoying a nice little light show on the lake to top the night off!
I don’t think I could highly recommend the Night Safari Zoo. It served as simple and cheap entertainment for the evening, but that was about it.