Dusit Zoo or Khao Din (meaning dirt mountain in Thai) as we call it is the first animal park with full-functional facilities including animal hospital, zoo museum, sightseeing train, activity grounds, cafeteria and education center.
The zoo is receiving an upsurge of visitors, both Thais and foreigners lately, after the government announced its plan to relocate the zoo to the donated plot by His Majesty the King Rama X in Pathum Thani.
I can’t say how long ago since I last visited Dusit Zoo but after the news, I’ve already been there 3 times with different groups of family and friends. The first time was with the Animal Sketch Group, second with my family and the latest one with the Bangkok Sketchers Group.
Established about 8 decades ago, the zoo is surrounded by landmarks such as the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, the Parliament House, Dusit Palace and the King Rama IX’s official residence or Chitralada Palace.
The zoo was initially built by King Rama V as his private garden adjacent to the Royal Palace. After his passing, the garden was left unattended for years until the government asked King Rama VIII’s regency council to donate the park to the Bangkok City Municipality in 1938 to be open as a public zoo. It stands on a total of 188,800 sqm area on the intersection of Rama V and Ratchawithi Roads.
The zoo is expansive. As small as it may seem, one day might not cover the whole ground (as I realized). If you have limited time for the zoo, it might be wise to pick out certain areas from the map and just go straight for those places or take the 25 baht tram ride that goes around the zoo with plenty of stops along the way. One ticket is good for one ride around the zoo. You can disembark and jump back on the tram along the way without having to buy the tickets again. But if time is not a big factor, a stroll along the paths throughout the zoo would make for a good full day’s trip.
The zoo’s layout features a large man-made lake in the middle surrounded by animal zones. There are paths snaking throughout the zoo through manicured greenery and resting areas. Visitors will receive a map detailing all the attractions and facilities at the gate.
The zoo houses almost 2,000 domestic and international specimens including rare finds like the white Bengal tigers or animals that might have been extinct from the wild such as the albino barking deer. It houses animals from far and wide including different breeds of monkeys, hippopotamus, alligators, crocodiles, tigers, lions and some animals that aren’t native to Thailand such as penguins, wallabies, kangaroos and camels.
Another highlight is the African Savanna where giraffes, zebras, meerkats and ostriches are housed. There are the Reptile House, Nocturnal House, Pheasants Aviary, Hawks Exhibit and Elephant House. For families with small children, the Play Land and the water park are must visit places inside the Dusit Zoo as well.
There’s a World War II underground shelter near the hippopotamus exhibition which is an interesting diversion from spying on the animals as well.
Since it is located in the center of Bangkok, Dusit Zoo is also within walking distance of many attractions such as the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, the Statue of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and more.
There are numerous food stalls inside the Dusit Zoo compound. The zoo has its own cafeteria where a variety of simple local dishes and desserts are available in an air-conditioned building. On one wall, visitors can enjoy their meal while watching the birds where the Pheasants Aviary is located. The cafeteria uses the cash coupon system.
The Wang Wana (meaning Water Palace in Thai), that sits right on one side of the lake offering rather pricey Thai dishes. Diners can enjoy their meals while looking out onto the lake and see the local birds and Thailand’s famous monitor lizards lounging around in the sun on the small dirt mound in the middle of the lake.
Also available are 7-Eleven, KFC, an instant noodle stand, ice cream booths and carts, refreshment kiosks throughout the zoo. People are welcomed to bring food to the zoo and practically have a picnic under the zoo’s shady gardens as well. I’m not sure how many zoos in the world would actually allow this but Dusit Zoo obviously does, as long as you pick up after yourself. There are plenty of trash cans dotted about the zoo.
The park features an impressive lake. For a small fee, visitors can rent a peddle boat to roam around the lake while feeding the fish at the same time (the fish food is a loaf of bread is only B20 per loaf).
Opens daily from 8am – 6pm
50 baht per child
100 baht per adult (Thai)
150 baht per foreigner
71 Rama V Road, Dusit, Bangkok 10300. 02 282 7111-3 ext 128. www.dusitzoo.org