Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Dusit Zoo - Bangkok

A white tiger in the Dusit Zoo, Bangkok

Located in the Dusit neighborhood of Bangkok, a little ways behind Parliment House you'll find Khao Din Park, home of the most popular zoo in Thailand - the Dusit Zoo.  The name Parliment House may sound familiar to some of you who followed the social unrest a year or so ago as a number of large public demonstrations were held in the large open area in front of it.

The Dusit Zoo is part of the Royal Zoological Park Organization, which also maintains zoos in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nongkla in addition to the Khao Khiao "open" zoo. Having not been to any of the others so far my guess is that the Dusit is the most popular because of it's easy access to so many people. As of now the zoo's been open for 65 years.

The grounds cover around 47 acres (118 rai), and there's a lot to see.  There's a tram train that'll ride you around the place for an overall view, or you can pick up a map when you buy your entrance ticket.  Fees for the Thai are 50Bt for adults and 10Bt for kids. As is often the case farang pay a little more than that: 100Bt for adults, 50Bt for kids.

The organization estimates an average of 2.5 million visitors come to the zoo each year to see over 1,500 animals, birds and reptiles.

A map showing features of the zoo

There are the normal souvenir shops, restaurants, exhibits and informational displays - even a 7-Eleven, should memory serve.  There are demonstrations and shows and plenty of places to sit, rest and people-watch.  Naturally there are all manner of school field trips going on during the months when the weather's likely to cooperate and schools are open.

While my friend and I were strolling around one time three school girls came up to me and asked if they could interview me. [As an aside for those of you who haven't been places where students are often learning English any time you're around students in Thailand you're likely to have them come up and ask to speak with you. It's nice to be of help, and frankly sometimes it's more attention than I get back home some days!]  They asked me about a dozen questions - why am I in Thailand, what kind of work do I do, what did I like best about the zoo - and one videotaped me and the girl with the microphone, while a third girl took notes on a clipboard.

The zoo is open from 08:00 to 18:00, and can be reached by BTS, taxi, or bus. I've gone the entire way by taxi once, but usually I'll take the BTS to the Victory Monument stop (noted in blue on the map below) where it's easy to catch a taxi to take me the rest of the way. If you want to try the taxi route you can print the Thai map at the end of today's post that's gotten me there once.

Once I went by bus with someone who knew the routes. If you can find your way that way you can take bus 18, 28 or 108, or 528, 515, 539 or 542 if you want one with air-con.

Somewhere I have more photos of the place, but maybe not. If I find them I'll do another post.

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