One of the compelling reasons why I wanted to visit Bangkok was because I wanted to fulfill my lifelong dream of riding an elephant! I was so near in finally ticking this item off my bucket list as we were supposed to ride the elephants in Samphran during our last day in Thailand. BUT… (yes, buts at the start of a statement could get pretty dangerous) BUT because I overlooked and miscalculated our remaining days left and still added an extra day in our itinerary, it was too late already when I realized that we’re not going to have that last day for elephant rides anymore. (insert heavy, heavy sighs here)
And yes, there is no use in crying over spilled milk. I tried to channel all the positive vibes that I could despite the very frustrating situation as I tried my best not to burst my bubble. Instead, I searched for the next best possible alternative! Hence, I tried to make a last minute stop to the Dusit Zoo to at least be able to feed the elephants as it may be the considerable next best thing. I was looking forward to riding the elephants even in Dusit Zoo, but I learned that they only allowed elephant rides during the elephant shows which were scheduled beginning 12 noon that day. I would’ve rode one if I could, but we were pressed for time because we had to head to Chatuchak after Dusit Zoo. Feeding the elephants was rewarding but of course it was not as exciting as riding one, but nevertheless, it was a good experience to cap off our last day in Bangkok. I promise, the next time I go back to Bangkok, I would put Samphran Elephant Show as the first event in our itinerary.
Dusit Zoo, locally known as Khao Din, is the oldest zoo in Thailand. It was built by King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V) and was part of the Dusit Royal Garden, the king’s private garden adjacent to the Royal Palace.
Visiting the Zoo was relatively okay, not a zoo that I would give my 5 stars to, but of course, like most Asian countries, the zoo has yet to experience a period of “animal enlightenment” where animals may be given a habitat similar to their natural habitat. If you are open to seeing animals enclosed in their cages, sometimes performing animal shows, with visitors being given plenty of choices with wide range of food and game booths, then you may practically have a good time in Dusit Zoo.
We did not stay too long to explore inside Dusit Zoo. I was too focused on my goal to have a last minute interaction with the elephants. Though we were able to stroll around the area of the zoo, we did not anymore explore the other amenities and services because we were pressed for time. But that short time inside Dusit Zoo was well spent as I got to feed elephants who were too playful as they ate food from my hands. And through this experience, I just found out that monkeys were not the only animals who loved bananas, elephants go crazy over them too!
However, I was deeply saddened with the manner that the elephant caretakers handled the elephants in Dusit Zoo. The elephants can be likened to slaves who needed to follow every command of their masters, and with their every failure to follow a command, comes a reprimand and a kick from the master. I felt bad for the elephants, who were supposed to be in the wild, walking free in their natural habitat, without having a master who does not feel much appreciation towards them. Elephants in Dusit Zoo (disclaimer: at the time of my visit) are so different from the ones in Siem Reap Cambodia, where animals are given much more freedom and independence to enjoy their natural environment and are given the treatment that they deserve.
If you plan to visit the Royal Palace of the king, you may intend to make a side trip to Dusit Zoo. For just 100 baht, the zoo can offer you entertainment, especially for the enjoyment of the children.
Opening Hours: 08:00 – 18:00
Location: Intersection of Rama V, Ratchavitee and U-Thong Nai Roads (entrance on all three sides)
Tel: +66 (0)2 281 2000 ext. 128, 129
Price Range (Foreign): Children 50 baht, adults 100 baht