Safari World is a zoo for those who don't like zoos… of course like any animal parks it has some good and some not so good sides but here animals certainly do have huge amount of space to roam free.
Opened since 1988, Safari World is divided in two distinct areas: The open space of Safari Park where you can drive through in your car or in the park bus represents 480 acres for its open zoo and 180 acres for its bird park, then the Marine Park which is more of a traditional zoo mixed with many shows, lots of food stalls and plenty of souvenir shops.
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The open air Safari Park is a very impressive eight kilometres long land where animals wander freely and where human are just tolerated. The first part is home to many species of herbivores: zebras, camels, antelopes, gazelles, rhinos and an amazing amount of large birds: ostriches, pelicans, cranes, and nightmarish marabou storks. As you drive through, you can stop your car as you please to admire this large display of animals but need to respect few simple rules: drive slowly, don't feed the animals, don't honk or make loud noises. You can even open your windows as long as you don't step out of the vehicle. Further, an astonishing amount of giraffes gracefully walk around the feeding area, supposedly the largest herd in the world. It's a really different experience to drive in the middle of free and healthy animals which are obviously not paying much attention to human visitors. The wilderness of Safari World is not something you could expect so close to a big frantic city.
But the mood changes a bit as you reach a couple of massive metal gates and above them a security lookout tower reminding of the entrance of Jurassic Park.
Before opening the first gate a security guard voice firmly invites visitors to get back inside their cars and close all windows, then only the first gate slowly rolls sideway and vehicles can move into a safety area. Once the back gate is safely closed behind you, the one in front starts to open and you may enter the predators den. Even though you know animals are well fed and appear to be napping in the tree shade, rolling in the grass or even bathing (tigers seem to love bathing), you cannot remain indifferent to the size of the many tigers, lions and massive Himalayan black bears.
Here and there camouflaged security cars ensure that nobody gets into trouble, willingly or not, and signs clearly state that 'if you have car trouble, do not step out: honk and help will be sent to you'. Considering that the smallest of any tiger is much taller than you and probably twice your weight, the idea of facing one is intimidating enough… not to mention outrunning one. Note that the best time to visit the lion's den is in the morning when food it brought to the felines, pulling them out of their lazy routine.
Once done with the Safari Park, you can walk to Marine World which is more of a traditional zoo merged into a giant theme park with many animals performances.
Check the time table when entering as there are no less than seven shows, including the inevitable elephant show. Other shows set in huge amphitheaters include a bird, sea lion and the controversial orang utan thai boxing show that might not be to the taste of adult visitors but children infallibly love it. The dolphin show is always the most popular and spectacular. Less impressive is the 'Egg World', 'Thailand's only egg discovery centre' as stated in front of a not so popular building proudly displaying… eggs.
As Safari World wants to be more than just an animal park, you can also watch a western cowboy stunt show or even more incongruous, 'Spy War', a hollywood-like performance with explosions so loud they can be heard across the entire zoo. Some less visited part of the zoo shelter amazingly large fish, some of which can be more than two meter long.
However, don't miss the best attraction of the zoo: the giraffe feeding platform where you can feed banana to these friendly giants and possibly being like by their very long and slimy black tongues. Definitely an unusual photo to take back home.
Despite some of the animal not-so-friendly entertainments, Safari world is a big favourite of families and kids, Thais and tourists alike, a great way to spend the day away from the city and share with the kids the rare pleasure of getting really close to animals in the wild.
- Opening Hours: Safari Park: 09:00 - 17:00, Marine Park: 09:00 - 18:00
- Address: 99 Panyaintra Road, Samwatawantok, Klongsamwa
- Tel: +66 (0)2 518 1000
- Price Range: Safari World: adults 400 Baht, children 300 Baht Marine Park: adults 700 Baht, children 450 Baht Both combined: adults 900 Baht, children 550 Baht