Photo: Khao soi in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Aviary

4 1

Along with the excellent aquarium, the aviary is another of our favourite spots in the vast Chiang Mai zoo.

It’s actually one of the older parts of the zoo but was completely renovated in 2004 and now incorporates 2.5 acres of a steep valley on the lower slopes of Doi Suthep. Indeed the entirety of the small valley has been enclosed, including the cliffs to the side and a stream at its foot, which certainly gives the 800 or so birds plenty of room to manoeuvre within.

Welcome to the bird house

Welcome to the bird house!

The original vegetation — probably a mixture of dry dipterocarp forest on the slopes and mixed deciduous by the stream — has been replaced by a lush, more ‘jungly’ flora so natural it isn’t, but a great tropical park it is.

Jungle path

Jungle path.

It makes for a very pleasant spot for a stroll and you’ll usually have the place pretty much to yourself, too. Despite it being one of their best and oldest attractions, and covering such a large area, it is surprisingly difficult to find. It’s badly signposted and not adjacent to either the overhead railway or ‘bus’ stops. The aviary entrance, located at the lower end of the valley, is actually only a 5- to 10-minute walk from the main zoo gates; head for the pandas and take the right fork opposite. There’s no extra entrance fee for the aviary, so once you’ve bought your zoo ticket you can head for the birds with empty pockets.

Great place for a stroll

No trolls.

Apart from the great setting and sumptuous vegetation the aviary of course has a lot of birds too! We weren’t quite sure what they all were, since most seemed to be African and South American rather than native Thai species, but there were plenty of brightly coloured and rather squawky things that looked like variations on a parrot theme and seemed very at home among the tropical flora.

Parroty things

Um, parroty things.

If you are interested there are plenty of explanatory signs, in both Thai and English, which are really good for impressing your friends. Discreetly look at the sign out of the corner of your eye, walk on a few yards, then say, “Oh look at that neat Violet Turaco up there!”

If you've always wondered what a Violet Turaco looked like.....

If you've always wondered what a Violet Turaco looked like ...

You’ll also see plenty of larger birds formatted for the stream environment: ibis, flamingos, storks and even this rather large spot-billed pelican. Most of these are to be found in Southeast Asia (well apart from the flamingos) …

Big birdy

Big birdy.

… plus lots of large, generally well-rounded varieties that seem to have been introduced with the sole purpose of standing in the middle of the path you want to take, forcing you to shoo them away and causing panic attacks in those who don’t like to get to up close to our feathered friends.

Best places to stay in Chiang Mai

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Chiang Mai.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Mai.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Chiang Mai.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Chiang Mai.
 Read up on how to get to Chiang Mai, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Chiang Mai? Please read this.

Best Thailand tours

 Browse tours in Thailand on


Chiang Mai Aviary

Chiang Mai Zoo, 100 Huay Kaew Rd, Chiang Mai
Daily 08:00 to 17:00

Location map for Chiang Mai Aviary

Like what you see? Then you’ll love our newsletter

The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.