One of the largest theme parks in Thailand is Safari World, on the northern outskirts of Bangkok . According to their brochure it is " Thailand 's greatest and most popular open zoo and show park". They also claim to have "world class shows" and an "oasis for animals" which is probably going a bit too far. It is certainly a great day out for the family and that is where I took Nong Grace yesterday as her school has now broken up for the summer holidays. As she is only four years old I didn't think she would survive the entire day. However I think I collapsed from exhaustion long before her. But, then she spent most of the day being pushed around in a stroller.
Safari World is split into two sections. Namely Safari Park and Marine Park . You don't actually have to visit both as there are separate tickets for each. However, a combined ticket costs 700 baht for foreign adults with another 200 baht for the boat ride which we didn't do. For an average sized family, that works out to be an expensive day out. We decided to first visit Safari Park which was probably the highlight. This is an open park area with hundreds of wild animals roaming around. If you don't have your own car like us then you can join coach tours. However, having your own transport means that you can take your time and stop anywhere to take pictures. You can also wind down your windows to get better pictures.
Nong Grace loved this area. It was a great opportunity to get up close to some of the animals. Though, after an incident with a group of ostriches that tried to eat the car she was a bit nervous about winding down the window. But, she enjoyed taking pictures of animals such as Zebras, camels, storks, rhino, giraffes, deer and bears. We then passed through double gates to the area where the tigers and lions lived. However, as it was quite hot they were lazing away in the shade of a distant tree so we couldn't get really close. These are mainly nocturnal animals so you would have to visit a night safari to see more action.
We then drove back to the main entrance where we parked the car and walked into the Marine Park . Here you can rent dolphin shaped strollers for young kids that cost 120 baht for four hours. This is when we realized that we had made a mistake by doing the Safari Park first as we had already missed the Orangutan Show that had started at 10.20 a.m. We were also late for the sea lion show which had started at 11 a.m. and was about to finish. I asked when the next show would be and they surprisingly said that there was only one showtime per day! For the bigger shows I could understand this, but surely for the smaller ones they could repeat throughout the day like at other parks. We next had the option of the Bird Show or the Cowboy Stunt Show that both started at 11.40 a.m. We opted for the bird show. To be honest I wasn't that impressed and I think the show I saw at Jurong Bird Park in Singapore was far superior. This was mainly in Thai, though a few times they spoke some pretty bad English in order to get some foreigners to hold up a 500 baht note for the bird to fly to and bring back to the show's host. Nong Grace enjoyed it though I was a little bored. When we finished she said she wanted to see the cowyboys but I had to tell her it was too late.
We next strolled around the park to visit some of the attractions while we waited for the Dolphin Show to start at 1.30 p.m. One of the first we visited was a new attraction called Mini World with many birds. The budgerigars here were very friendly. If you buy an exorbitant priced envelope of bird seed for 20 baht you could then easily attract the birds to your outstretched hand. You will soon find half a dozen birds on your hands, arms and shoulders. Nong Grace was a bit scared of this but she enjoyed the little birds. when we later went into the bird aviary the birds there were much larger and when they came swooping down at us it felt like we were on the set of Hitchcock's horror movie The birds. Take a look at the bird in the top left picture for an idea how scary this was. For obvious reasons we fled this deserted aviary as we feared for our lives. Though I am sure it wasn't really that dangerous. From here we went to see more animals such as monkeys, kangaroos, crocodiles and giant fish. Here we could buy food to feed the fish. Nong Grace enjoyed that though I wasn't happy the price was double compared to other parks.
Nong Grace was excited when she saw a poster advertising polar bears. But then she said, "polar bears like cold". Maybe someone should have told the park management that as the bears didn't look that happy. They had set up a fine mist to spray on them but it was doubtful it was having much effect. It is good that Thai children can get to see animals from around the world in real life, but it shouldn't be at the expense of the animal's health. Our next stop was the Safari Terrace which I think was my highlight. Here we went up a ramp which brought us to the same height as the giraffe's in the neighbouring Safari Park which we had toured earlier. For 40 baht, you can buy a small bucket of leaves to feed the giraffes. Luckily, Nong Grace didn't want to feed them, as this was quickly turning into an expensive day. We had just bought a bottle of water that was 100% more expensive than the regular price.
So, we just sat there and watched a group of school children feed the giraffes. Nong Grace said she had never seen tongues so long.
Our next destination was the Beluga and Dolphin Show which started at 1.30 p.m. This was going to be the highlight for Nong Grace as she had never seen a dolphin before and was really excited to get a chance to see them jumping in and out of the water. The day before I had shown her a brochure for the park that showed the dolphins jumping through hoops, shaking "hands" with the trainers, and jumping up to hit a ball with their nose. Unfortunately, apart from swimming around the pool a few times we didn't get to see much action. The dolphins refused to cooperate and several times the trainers had to dive into the pool to retrieve the hoops and then the balls. It looked like this was then cut short and they brought in the next act which were the more cooperative beluga. These are small white whales. I am not sure how often this happens, but I must say the place is looking very rundown. The backdrop desperately needed a paint job. It is nice they have been adding new attractions, but they should spend time renovating some of the older and more established shows.
Our next show was Spy War which started at 2.30 p.m. Like all the shows, everything was in Thai. Which of course is strange as the foreigners are paying a lot extra. You would think they would cater for this market if that is where most of their money is coming from. However, as it was an action show based on James Bond it didn't really matter too much about the plot line. It was pretty thin anyway. Nong Grace sort of enjoyed it though she spent most of the time with her hands over her ears. The last show at 3.30 p.m. was more enjoyable for her. It was the elephant show. They did the usual stunts such as tightrope walking and playing football. She did like it but by this time she was starting to get a bit tired. I think Safari World is a good day out for the family if you are not too concerned about the costs. For me it was an expensive
day out and we certainly won't be coming back in a rush even though Nong Grace said she wanted to come again. The shows certainly weren't world class and I don't think we got good value for money. Not only is the entrance fee expensive, but they take every opportunity to take more money from you. Like the 200 baht for the boat ride and the photo opportunities with the animals. I believe Singapore is cheaper as they don't have the two price system for foreigners.
From Bangkok you can join tours to Safari World. There are no direct buses, but you could try and catch a bus first to nearby Fashion Island shopping mall and from there maybe a taxi. From Samut Prakan, I drove on the outer ring road to Ram Intra Road and in total took me less than one hour. With the bad traffic in central Bangkok , it could take you much longer than that by bus. It is basically a full day of your holiday so you will have to decide whether it is worth it. My sister is coming to Thailand in July with her family and I doubt she will take them there. With four of them we will be looking for places with better value for money. I will talk about the planning for this trip later.