Bangkok isn’t the best city for kids who may have difficulties in appreciating the culture, and architecture, in the same way as older visitors. Parents need to give some thought to interspersing visits to the main attractions with activities that will appeal to a younger audience. Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo ticks all the boxes on this front and is a wonderful experience for the kids.
Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo is about 30km outside of Bangkok. The road journey takes about an hour. There isn’t a convenient rail link, so you need to either take an organised tour, your own private hire taxi, or a public bus. Bus number 123 from the Royal Grand Palace, or bus number 84 from the Krungthonburi BTS (Sky Train) station, will both drop you directly outside.
Alternatively, you can go with a tour group to Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo. Isango do a tour that takes in the Floating Market, the Elephant Ground and Zoo as well as the Rose Garden. They pick you from your hotel at 6.30 am and return you to your hotel at 6.30 pm. The tour includes lunch, all entrance fees and an English speaking guide. Click on the button below to find out more.
The Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo is open from 8.30am to 17.30pm. Entrance fees are 600 Thai Baht ($20) for adults and 350 Thai Baht ($12) for children under 130cm tall.
The three major attractions are the elephant shows, the crocodile wrestling shows and elephant rides around the grounds.
Elephant shows take place daily at 1.45pm and 3.30pm and involve dancing, races, football, games and ‘Yutha Hathi’ – which the re-enactment of a great battle with actors in traditional dress riding on the elephants.
The crocodile shows happen daily at 12.45pm and 2.20pm, which the Thai ‘crocodile wrestlers’ performing tricks and stunts with large crocodiles.
The facilities are set in 25 acres of land, and include a mini zoo, a restaurant, waterfalls and immaculate gardens. The zoo has baby elephants, monkeys and snakes amongst other animals. You can easily spend half a day here. There is also a decent restaurant with Thai, Halal and Indian food on offer, which is open from 11.30am to 2.30pm.
For those of you with concerns about the ethics of animal shows, or the treatment of the animals, our view is that the animals are fairly well taken care of and are in good health. The animals are expensive to buy, so the financial incentive is there to ensure they remain in good health. Do bear in mind also that elephants have long been kept as working animals in Thailand, and the first elephants at the Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo were purchased from a logging business which had ceased operating. To the best of our knowledge all the animals at the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo have been born in captivity rather than taken from the wild.