Tiger Kingdom In Chiang Mai:
Chiang Mai’s Tiger Kingdom is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to interact with adolescent tigers and baby cubs. You can do every thing from bottle-feeding the baby tigers to bravely posing with and petting the big guys. A couple hours here will stick with you forever, and knowing that the tigers at Chiang Mai’s Tiger Kingdom are treated with great care will help to give you peace of mind. The tigers are not sedated like at other tiger places in Thailand and the facilities are extremely clean. The Tiger Kingdom assigns professional staff with each group of visitors to ensure everything goes smoothly and comfortably. Did we mention you can also hire your own on-site photographer so you can focus on the fun instead of your camera? If playing with tigers is on your bucket list, Tiger Kingdom is the best place we’ve found to do it.
General Visiting Information:
Location: 10 km North of Chiang Mai. Just past Mae Rim where Hwy 107 meets County Road 1096 (every driver knows where it is, but we detail it below). They also have a second location in Phuket near Patong Beach which is just as good. We added it on this map as Stop #18 just North of Chiang Mai.
Hours: Daily 9am-6pm. You should assume that it will take between 2 1/2-4 hours for a visit.
Cost: Smallest (2-3 Months) 700 Baht; Small (4-8 Months) 500 Baht; Medium (9-12 Months) 500 Baht; Big Cat (13-30 Months) 600 Baht. Some people complain about the cost, but we felt it was appropriate and there are discounts for visiting multiple areas. A full-time worker that specializes in each age group will be with you the entire time to ensure safety. Accident insurance is included in the price just in case, and discounts are available when viewing multiple enclosures.
Photographer: You can always bring your own camera or hire their photographer for 299 Baht per cage which includes a CD of 50-100 photos when you leave. We really like hiring their photographer, as it lets you focus on just having fun and enjoying it – plus they already know all the good angles.
Common Visitor Questions:
How do you get to Tiger Kingdom?: There is no need to book a tour since getting there is very easy and any cab driver in Chiang Mai will know what Tiger Kingdom is. Expect to pay 500-700 Baht for a round trip taxi for 4 people which includes the taxi waiting for you the entire time you are there. You’ll pay the taxi at the end.
How long do you get to spend with the Tigers?: You get to spend about 15 minutes per age group, but they usually stretch this to 15-20 if you have a group or get their photographer. A typical trip including round trip taxi and time in 3 enclosures will take about 2-3 hours.
Are the Tigers Sedated or Drugged?: No, the Tigers here are not sedated which is a huge problem at other tiger places, especially the Tiger Temple near Bangkok. The tigers here are very active, which is the most obvious sign they are not sedated. The second, less obvious sign is that 30 months old is the oldest tiger you’ll be able to interact with. Adult tigers are often too dangerous and unpredictable for even professional handlers and it would be unethical to let you in. Chances are, any place letting you get close to tigers aged 30 months or older are either drugging or sedating them.
Is Tiger Kingdom Safe?: No one has died…. yet. We found our experience to be extremely safe and the staff not only treats the Tigers well, but doe a great drop making both you and Tigers feel comfortable. The oldest Tigers you can visit are only 30 months old which helps to make it safer and they play with the bigger ones enough to keep them from being too wound up
The Tigers aren’t sedated so you do have to use common sense by avoiding fast movements or getting by their heads. Petting them firm helps too so they don’t think you are a fly. The safety training and constant re-enforcement was welcomed and better than we expected.
Our Recent Visit To The Tiger Kingdom:
Our group of four arrived in Chiang Mai around noon, checked into our hotel and headed straight to the Tiger Kingdom! Flagging down a taxi was very quick and he knew right where the Tiger Kingdom was, but we were shocked when he told us it would cost 600 Baht to go just 10 km which was almost more than double what we expected. Why so much? He quickly let us know that it included round-trip transport and that he would wait for us however long we wanted to stay. It seemed a little weird, but he said we can pay him at the end, so we got in. In only about 20 minutes we got to Tiger Kingdom as Chiang Mai traffic is not too busy. Along the way he pointed out other places he would take us and wait for us afterward such as the Snake Farm for 200 Baht or Doi Suthep Temple (more info) for 400 Baht.
Deciding which ages of tigers we wanted to see was a harder task than we thought. After some debate, our group settled on a 3-Cage package which included Smallest (2-3 Months), Medium (9-12 Months), & Big Cats (13-30 Months) which worked out to under 1,400 Baht a person. We also decided to hire their photographer for the Smallest and Big Cat enclosures at 299 Baht per cage, although we also had our own professional camera with us. Our rationale was that they know the tigers better, we may only get to do it once in our lifetime, it let us focus more on having fun, and with our group of 4 it was only $2.50 American dollars to get the photographer for each cage.
After getting our package purchased, there was a couple minutes of down time until our group was called, but then we were off to see the Smallest Tigers (2-3 Months)! For the health of the young tigers, we had to wash our hands and switch from our shoes/sandals to their flip flops before entering, a step not needed for the older cats. The anticipation mounted as we moved to join the 2-3 other groups already in the large enclosure. Inside were about a dozen young cubs, and it was remarkably clean.
As the worker assigned to our group walked us to our first set of cubs I got worried as one of them looked like we was sick or drugged. Another worker quickly checked on him and he was totally fine, playful, and he had just been sleeping. All of the cubs were very lively and loving, which was a relief as it was a big concern of mine going into the visit (most other tiger places in Asia, most notably the Tiger Temple near Bangkok, constantly drug their tigers to keep them calm, which is horrible). Playing with the cubs was awesome and they were very vocal, would pounce each other, and seemed to go from sleepy to play-mode within a second. The biggest highlight was when we asked our worker if we could bottle-feed a tiger, and he mixed up some formula right away.
Next up we choose the Big Cats (13-30 Months) cage which was a little intimidating as they were absolutely huge for only being 13-30 months old adolescents. While entering, our worker took us through a double gate to ensure the Big Cats don’t get out and he went through safety instructions. All four Big Cats were just lounging around and we dove right in petting them and taking pictures. It was fun using their tails as makeshift mustaches although we operated very cautiously so we didn’t get our heads bit off. The worker and photographer made both us and the large cats feel at ease, and reminded us if we got too close to a tiger’s head or front paws. It was surprising when they encouraged us to firmly pet the tigers as petting too light may feel either like tickles or flies to the Big Cats. To help keep the larger tigers in a good mood, the workers would toss toys into the pool from time to time which the tigers would spring up for and chase. If you ever needed proof that the Tiger Kingdom doesn’t sedate their tigers you just have to watch how fast they spring up and run for their toys. The Big Cats loved swimming in the pool and climbing the trees inside the enclosure. We always felt 100% safe and comfortable during our time with the Big Cats and I’m glad their size didn’t scare us away.
The last of the 3 enclosures we checked out was the Medium Cats (9-12 Months). Just like the Big Cats, they were bigger than we expected for their age. They were the size of huge full-grown dogs. The coolest thing about the Medium Cats is that all they wanted to do was play, play, play. They are too big to directly play with, but the trainer had a long pole with a palm tassel on the end, which he used to play with them just like you would have a string on a stick with a house cat. The Medium Cats seemed to love running up the trees and diving into the tiger pool! Because the medium sized cats were more rambunctious and running all over the place, it created a great contrast with the other ages we spent time with and really made it worth it.
Looking back on it we always felt safe, always felt that the tigers were treated great, and the workers really seemed like they loved what they do. Our visit to the Tiger Kingdom will stick with us forever and we hope you get a chance to make it there as well. Just after spending a day at the Patara Elephant Camp (more info), the Tiger Kingdom is our second biggest must-see Chiang Mai attraction. Tiger Kingdom is close to the city, only takes a couple hours, and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you have no excuse to not visit the Tiger Kingdom while in Chiang Mai. Maybe you’ll get lucky on your trip and they will even have a new little lion cubs to visit in addition to all the wonderful Tigers. Have fun and bring your camera!
Other Sights Near Tiger Kingdom:
The coolest thing to add on to a trip to Tiger Kingdom is the Baan Tong Luang Village which features a 5 Hill Tribe exhibition village. The exhibition village isn’t as authentic as the more rural stand alone villages, but it will give you a great opportunity to learn about the different Tribes. Three of our favorite Tribes to visit here are the Hmong (Meo), Big Earring (Akha) and the Long Necks (Karen). You’ll be able to take photos with the women and we encourage you to buy unique souvenirs from them. There is also a snake farm nearby, but it is a little cheesy. These sights are all just a little further down Hwy 1096 just West of Tiger Kingdom.