The one thing I did with my time away that seems to have captured most people’s interest is spend time with tigers in the sanctuary ‘Tiger Kingdom’, not far from Chiang Mai, so I thought it would be worth a blog post.
I must admit initially I had no plans to visit it, in fact I hadn’t heard of it before going to Chiang Mai in early March, however one doesn’t need to spend more than five minutes in Chiang Mai and you’ll have already seen a number of advertisements, mostly on the side of tuk-tuks, for Tiger Kindom. Most guesthouses and hotels carry brochures in Chiang Mai for so many places and activities, and you’ll always find one for ‘Tiger Kingdom’. Ask at reception and they’ll be able to organise pickup and return for you at around 100 baht. Both ways included – well they were for me.
Another confession – I just thought the photos would be really cool, which is why I decided to go for it and take the transport out to Tiger Kingdom, around an hour from Chiang Mai. It’s a nice place, the tigers seem to have a bit of room but if I had to criticise what seems to be a fairly well-run and legitimate establishment, I’d say they could have had bigger enclosures.
There must be at least 20 – 30 tigers if not more at Tiger Kingdom, and one experience in an enclosure with a few tigers ranges from 420 baht (around 13 bucks) to 640 ish baht (21 bucks). You get 15 minutes and you will get to pet probably about three or four tigers. You can pay extra for photos, but the keepers were more than happy to take plenty of photos for my wife and I.
The cost depends on the size of the tiger, and I went with ‘medium’ – yes the equal cheapest. There are baby tiger cubs which are ever so cute and for the really big cats you pay a bit extra as well, but to be honest there was no significant size difference. If you want more than one experience, you get a package. I don’t really think it’s a lot of money, and it’s really a special experience.
The tigers, they stress to the patrons, are not drugged in any way but hand reared from birth which is why they are so placid. That and the tiger spends on average 18 hours a day asleep! Don’t pat the head, approach from behind. In the cage next to us there was a little growling and play fighting going on between two tigers, but ours were very peaceful. And, they appeared to be in excellent health, not that I’m a vet! The colours of the coats were really vibrant, they seem to receive plenty of TLC.
At the end of the day, people only care so much about endless photos of temples, but when they see you next to a tiger, they double take and ask ‘are you PATTING that tiger’. Yes, yes I was.
This was a pretty special and unique experience for me. I was glad I did it – very worthwhile. I felt all tingly! May the journey never end!