Tiger Kingdom – Thailand
Another early morning was in store for us on day 7 – but it was well worth it! Today we were going to Tiger Kingdom just north of Chiang Mai town. Our hostel called a taxi for us and we set off on the hour long drive to Tiger Kingdom.
There’s some funky scenery on the way to Tiger Kingdom including going past a Thai army camp where we saw soldiers marching up and down the fields. Once you arrive at Tiger Kingdom you’re taken to a small building where you get to choose which Tigers you want to see. There are a range of options available at all different prices. We decided to go in with the smallest, small and medium sized tigers (1260 Baht). One of people in our group didn’t want to go in with the big ones so we thought it’d be unfair to split up the group.
Anyway, we paid our money, literally signed our lives away (we had to sign a form saying we couldn’t sue Tiger Kingdom if we were attacked by a tiger as we were willingly taking the risk) and then walked in to the ‘kingdom’. On the way in there’s a large gate that’s guarded by one of the workers there. You hand over your tickets and they unlock it to let you in. The smallest tigers are closest to the entrance so we went to those first. We had to wait a few minutes while another group was finishing up with the tigers and then we were able to go in.
It was still early when we got to the smallest tigers so they were still rather sleepy. A few of them were starting to wake up and become a little playful but they were mostly yawning and generally being cute. We had a tiger handler with us all of the time who was telling us to hug the cubs and then he put one of the cub’s paws around our neck. Thankfully he was still a little sleepy so didn’t decide to chomp on my neck. We got to play with the other tigers for about 15 minutes, one wanted to play fight and nibbled on my leg and then we were able to bottle feed another. The smallest tigers were by far the cutest things I have ever seen. Holding a tiger is one hell of an experience too! I don’t think I’d hold a tiger that was any bigger than this one was.
After the smallest tigers we had a look around until we found the ‘small’ tigers. These tigers were equally as cute as the smallest tigers but were a lot more active. We got to play around with them for a while; we played tug of war with a rope, got them to chase and pounce on to things you were dragging along the floor and threw a ball for them. It was like playing with a little puppy. I know it sounds odd comparing a big cat to a puppy, but it really was more dog-like than cat-like. One of the tiger handlers was kind enough to take some photos of our group for us too – so if you’re on your own don’t worry about not getting some great photos! The handler made me spoon with a tiger too… never in my life did I think I’d be spooning with a tiger! We were allowed to stay with these for another 15 minutes before moving on to the medium sized tigers.
We were looking around for a while before we found the medium tigers. We were walking for a while because we didn’t believe the medium sized tigers were actually medium sized… they looked huge! We didn’t have to wait around to get in with these ones so went straight in. The two males were having a bit of a fight when we first got in and it was clear to see that these were A LOT more active than the previous lots. The handlers had huge sticks with them at all times to move the tigers if they got too close or became too playful. We couldn’t play with these like we did the others for obvious reasons (they would eat us) but we did get to sit next to them and have photos. One of the tigers rolled over on to its back and we got to stroke its stomach but that’s the closest to playing that we got.
Out of all of them the smallest tigers were my favourite. If you’re in Thailand then this place is certainly worth a visit! It’s well worth the money!