There’s loads of opportunities for watching animals in captivity in Bangkok, and whilst this is a good way to introduce kids to nature, there’s nothing like seeing animals in their natural habitat to help young ones understand why we should look after the environment. It’s important not just for the sake of the environment, but for the sake of our kids too.
Whether you want to stick to the city or get out into the wilderness, here are four opportunities for you and your family to get your David Attenborough on. All can be done in a day, most are better suited to older kids.
Go and find some dragons
You don’t have to go far to Thailand’s biggest lizard and relative of the infamous Komodo dragon – the Asian water monitor. These powerful beasts can grow up to three metres long. They are likely to be prowling any Bangkok park with a body of water looking for dead fish, turtles, rats and snakes to eat. Lumpini Park is one of the top places to see them – hire a swan boat and spot them resting by the lakeside or swimming in the water. If your child is interested in photography they can make a great subject due to their size and a tendency to lie down absorbing the heat.
Seek out giants of the ocean
Wild Encounters Thailand runs a whale watching day trip from Bangkok with amazing views of Bryde’s Whales in the Gulf of Thailand. These gentle giants reach nearly 15 metres. They rise gracefully out of the water to swallow fish, showing off a pink underbelly. Tell the kids to keep an eye out for whale poo on the water – it looks like little fluorescent orange blobs and the boat crew are always looking for samples to study. Tours run eight months a year but the best time to see the whales is September to November. Pre-season tours (March to May) run on weekends and public holidays, and cost 1,800 baht per person. High season tours (June to January) run weekends and some weekdays and cost 2,300 baht for adults and 2,000 baht for children under 12. Promotions are available – keep an eye on the Facebook page. It’s a long day and can get hot on the boat so they advise a lower age limit of five years old. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
Seek out giants of the land
Heading north around three hours from Bangkok you’ll reach Khao Yai National Park, home to the world’s largest land mammal, the elephant. There’s wildlife everywhere you look in Khao Yai – whether it’s a giant tree squirrel, a team of howling gibbons or, fingers crossed, an elephant on the move. Going with a guide makes it easier to spot wildlife – there are a number of companies which run day trips from Bangkok, including Khao Yai and Beyond, and Withlocals. Watch a bit of Deadly 60 to get in the mood for exploring and discovering.
Some of the best snorkelling within a day’s reach of Bangkok is in Koh Samae San south of Pattaya, a marine nature reserve managed by the Thai Royal Navy. Snorkel the shallow reefs and you can see tropical fish, colourful corals and even blue spot rays. As you need permission from the Navy to access the island the easiest way might be to take a boat tour, such as this one with The Asia or Snorkel Pattaya. More information on how to get to the island is also available on the Tourism Thailand website.
Have fun going wild!
Photo Credits: Tanya Perdikou & Wild Encounters Thailand