Travel and Gamble

Tiger Kingdom: a rare encounter with the beasts of Northern Thailand

The best and most unique part of our experience traveling to Chiang Mai, Thailand has defnitely got to be the visit to the Tiger Kingdom.

It was our last day in Chiang Mai and we had a plane to catch in the evening on the way back to Bangkok, where we would start our overland journey to Cambodia the following day. The day was jampacked with activities. We started with a visit to the Maesa Elephant Camp, long neck village, insect camp, king cobra camp with the Tiger Kingdom being our last stop.

Are these tigers drugged?

We had read a pamphlet about Tiger Kingdom from our hotel which explained that the tigers in Chiang Mai are not drugged in defense to some online reviews that say so. I must admit, I was curious to see what the truth was and when we got inside the Tiger Kingdom that afternoon, we saw the tigers were very active and appear well-fed. They were playing and sometimes fighting with each other, jumping in the pool, playing with coconuts. These tigers were definitely not drugged. Some of them were just lying around feeling lazy ,which we were told were quite normal because these animals are nocturnal. They are more active in the night time for hunting food. The tigers looked healthy and active inside the cages and we didn’t see any sign of abuse anywhere. In fact, these are the healthiest tigers i’ve seen anywhere in Asia. The cages are extremely clean and wide enough for the tigers to wander around and play.

Going inside the tiger cage

You have the option to choose which cage you would like to go to (i think there were around 4 choices, from the cage of the smallest, newly born tiger babies to the largest ones). Matt and I decided to visit the young(toddler type) tigers and the largest ones. You also have the option to have a professional photographer go inside the cage with you and take your photos, or you can have a friend do it on your own, but all within a certain time limit (if i remember correctly, around 10 to 15 minutes for each cage). There was a queue for each cage and we were advised to leave our belongings outside (such as my scarf, as the tigers may think it’s a toy to play with).

The tiger keepers were quite alert and attentive. They are trained to focus on safety and were quite interactive with the tigers and tourists, teaching us different poses that would look great for a shot. At one or 2 points in our photo shoot, the tiger growled back at us, to which the keeper lightly tapped the tiger with a stick

The best and most unique part of our experience traveling to Chiang Mai, Thailand has defnitely got to be the visit to the Tiger Kingdom.

It was our last day in Chiang Mai and we had a plane to catch in the evening on the way back to Bangkok, where we would start our overland journey to Cambodia the following day. The day was jampacked with activities. We started with a visit to the Maesa Elephant Camp, long neck village, insect camp, king cobra camp with the Tiger Kingdom being our last stop.

These tigers are used to tourists touching them and Matt and I didn’t feel scared at all to get inside the cage, sit next to the tigers and pet them during our time inside the cage. In fact,  tourists are encouraged to touch them comfortably. We were advised to rub the tiger bellies roughly, rather than lightly, as light touch would be ticklish for tigers and would irritate them. A rough belly rub on the one hand is quite nice and comfortable for them. We were advised to avoid touching the head and the paws.

A professional photographer snapped  a total of 141 beautiful photos over our 30 minute experience in the 2 cages. We had to wait a few minutes (10 to 15minutes) before we got our CD, but to our delight, the photos look amazing! The cost was a bit expensive. I think we paid roughly around $60 for the whole CD, but it was worth it. We think this was part of the tourist experience and because we saw how well treated the tigers were in this camp, we had no problem supporting this campaign. After all, the money from this would eventually go to supporting the tigers.

The facilities inside the camp look good and well maintained. The bathroom was nice and clean.  The cages are quite spacious and there were many tigers inside the camp. There’s a restaurant inside the Tiger Kingdom where we had our dinner. They served good food there. The best part about it was the cages were right next to you, so you can see the tigers up close, playing or sleeping, or taking photos with the tourists, while you are eating.

One funny thing we saw while eating was one of the tigers after playing in the pool actually pooped in the pool (so it was a play pen and toilet as well, haha). We thought it was funny because i almost touched the water in the pool when we were inside the cage. Thank goodness i was able to keep my curiousity intact. hehehe

Should you go?

Absolutely! This camp offers quite a unique experience for people: a rare close encounter with these big, beautiful beasts, something that we won’t dare do out in the wild.  Even though I would like to see them out in the wild, we’d probably never get the chance to really be able to be close to them and touch them like we did in this camp.  At least the camp takes good care of them and feeds them well.

Those wanting to visit, here’s the camp’s address and web info:

Tiger Kingdom
51/1 Moo 7 | Rim Tai, Mae Rim 50180, Thailand
053 299363

http://www.tigerkingdom.com/

Have you been to the Tiger Kingdom? Tell us why you love it!  Leave us a comment below.