Ever thought about sitting right beside a massive Tiger, patting one or even giving it a cuddle? I am sure the wild thought has crossed your mind at some stage or at least your considering it right now! For me i couldn’t wait to experience the sheer thrill of getting up close and personal with big cats at the Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai.
As you enter Tiger Kingdom which is located about 15km from the city of Chiang Mai, you are greeted by the staff members who will show you the different package options to choose from. You have loads of options, you can spend time interacting with a baby or a big one, a medium sized one or you can choose to encounter them all. You even have the choice to have a professional photographer come in and take some sick shots of you with the tigers at an additional cost of course. My parents and i decided to go for the Big boy, i though we might as well go all out if we are going to do it at all! Go big or go home as they say! Aidan and Anita choose big and small and i have to say them baby tigers are way too adorable and so full of life. I am super proud of my mam and dad for even getting in the enclosure with the tigers let alone rubbing them, its far from tigers you get in the countryside of Ballinamuck like! Just seems my parentals are getting braver with age!
The tigers here are trained from a young age by a process of repetition and trust from their trainers. To put you at ease, the cats are used to having visitors in their personal space on a daily basis. This is one of the main tourist attractions in Chiang Mai after all. However it is important to listen to the directions given from the staff. They will guide you on how to approach the tiger, which is usually from behind and how to pat and rub it. Our instructor told us to pat the tiger hard and my mom being a Little nervous which is only natural decided to just rub it lightly(as your instinct would), the tiger decided to flick her with its tail to let her know she wasn’t doing it right. So take note, no point in tickling the tigers, a nice hard rub is what they enjoy best. I have to admit i was pretty fearful approaching them myself, there was a total of three massive tigers in the one enclosure. Its such a surreal feeling being right beside this striped animal knowing that it has razor sharp teeth. Its hard not to think what would happen if they had an off day and flipped out…well you would be made mince meat off to put it in subtle terms……. Jokes. These tigers were very friendly and seemed really chilled around visitors. It didn’t take us long to ease into feeling completely relaxed around them. I even got stuck in for a squeeze with this big guy….
After learning about the ill treatment of certain animals in Thailand, i was apprehensive about this experience and had heard rumors about them being drugged( which i can only hope is not true). However Tiger Kingdom states that they do not drug the animals so rest assured Tiger Kingdom is all for the hugs not drugs. One of the tigers in the enclosure did seem to be doing a lot of sleeping but i suppose they are just like regular cats at the end of the day, its kind of the norm. And posing for pictures is tough work, even a tiger is gonna need its rest.
You will have the chance to play with and take snaps with all three massive tigers in the enclosure, just maybe not all at the one time. I love that the staff here don’t rush you and let you do things at your leisure. The tigers here are not chained up like you might have seen in certain pictures and that’s what i respect Tiger Kingdom for, giving the animals a huge space to roam round in. They even had a pool where the tigers can swim and mess around in, its amazing to watch them leap into the air playing with each other. This place is like a sanctuary for the tigers and that we love. We dined at the buffet restaurant on site after out tiger experience where you could have a mountain of food for 200 baht. Why is it every buffet i eat at, i over indulge up until the point i can hardly move? Anyway its a pretty darn good buffet, mostly Thai style food with an abundance of options.
The Kingdom is open Monday through to Sunday from 9.00am to 6.00pm. Price to encounter the big tiger is 600 baht and prices vary depending on how many tigers you want to come in contact with. While in the area why not pop into The Elephant POOPPOOP paper park(No i haven’t just made this place up..its legit) unfortunately it didn’t really appeal to my parents but my friend Chantal went and said it was an interesting experience, as i am sure it could only be. Next time…im there!
As for the Tiger Kingdom, i am pretty sure i will remember my time with the tigers forever, as will my parents. Its just one of those unforgettable moments you have to experience when in the land of smiles.