Treat the children to animal encounters and other kid-friendly activities at Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chonburi.
Located on the way to Pattaya, an easy 1.5 hour drive east from Bangkok on the motorway, Khao Kheow Open Zoo is situated within the Khao Kheow National Park. Designated as both a national forest reserve and wildlife sanctuary, the park spans an area of 145 square kilometres, encompassing mountainous terrain covered by dense rainforest.
The zoo occupies an area of about 8 square kilometres. It houses some 8,000 animals from around 300 different species. Many animals, including Eld’s deer, mouse deer, boars, langurs, civet cats, gibbons and hornbills, are indigenous to the region.
What’s wonderful about this zoo is its focus on conservation, education, research and tourism. The animals live in spacious enclosures; some are housed right on the mountainside in various zones. It is also amazing how close kids can get to them, hand feeding tapirs, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, camels and more. And a grassy deer park allows visitors to be in the midst of a family of placid deer.
Other highlights include a huge aviary on multiple levels where visitors can walk right in and observe lots of tropical bird species up close, as well as a unique wild animal show featuring tigers, hornbills, macaws, binturongs, otters and more — without staged tricks.
Khao Kheow Open Zoo is large, and can easily make for a full day trip from Bangkok (or Pattaya). Visitors can drive their own cars around freely, or rent golf carts by the hour, which is both fun and convenient. At the entrance, vendors sell bags of fresh vegetables and fruit for the animals – stock up or buy smaller bags of food in the zoo.
For an enhanced experience, stay the night in an air-conditioned tent at the on-site Es-Ta-Te Resort. Tents range from basic, with use of a communal bathroom, to fancy, with their own private sitting room and bathroom. With verdant mountains as the backdrop, the resort offers wonderfully fresh air, open areas children to run and play, and the chance to experience the wondrous sounds of nocturnal animals.
In addition, Es-Ta-Te houses its own herd of free-roaming deer and an open-air restaurant overlooking a large lake. Accommodation packages include a private zoo tour, all meals, use of mountain or tandem bikes, a 45-minute night safari tram excursion, and/or a rainforest zipline adventure with Flight of the Gibbon. Advance bookings are required.