Safari World near Bangkok is a zoo for those who don't like zoos… Of course, like any animal park, it has some good and some not so good sides, but the animals here certainly do have a huge amount of space where they can roam free.

Opened since 1988, Safari World is divided into 2 distinct areas. The open space of Safari Park is where you can drive through in your car or in the park bus. The open zoo is nearly 200 hectares and the bird park about 72 hectares. Marine Park is more of a traditional zoo mixed with many shows, lots of food stalls and plenty of souvenir shops.

Safari World Zoo and Park - one of the highlights of 10 Best Group Tours in Bangkok (Read all about Bangkok here)

The safari experience at Safari World

The open-air Safari Park is where you can enjoy an impressive 8-km journey through an area where animals wander free and where humans in vehicles 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 like 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 you'll need to respect a few simple rules: drive slowly, don't feed the animals, and 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.

The mood changes a bit as you reach a couple of massive metal gates and above them is a security lookout tower that easily reminds you of the Jurassic Park entrance.

Before opening the first gate, a voice firmly invites visitors to get back inside their cars and close all windows, then only the first gate slowly rolls sideways 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 insure 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 is brought to the felines, pulling them out of their lazy routine.

Other highlights at Safari World Bangkok

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 animal performances. Check the timetable when entering as there are no less than 7 shows, including the inevitable elephant show.

Other shows set in huge amphitheaters include a bird, sea lion, dolphin and the controversial orangutan Thai boxing show that might not be to the taste of adult visitors but children often love it. Less impressive is Egg World, 'Thailand's only egg discovery center' 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 the 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 2 meters long.

Don't miss the best attraction of the zoo: the giraffe feeding platform where you can feed bananas to these friendly giants – and possibly being licked 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 favorite of families and kids, Thais and tourists, and a great way to spend the day away from the city as well as share with the kids the rare pleasure of getting really close to amazing animals.

Safari World Zoo and Park

Location: 99 Panya Intra Road, Samwatawantok, Klongsamwa, Bangkok 10510, Thailand

Open: Safari Park: daily from 9am to 5pm. Marine Park: daily from 9am to 6pm

Phone: +66 (0)2 914 4100

Willy Thuan | Compulsive Traveler