Jonathan Ellis

Chiang Mai Zoo is better than many zoos in the region when it comes to animal welfare, and the setting, sprawled across the forested slopes of Doi Suthep, is gorgeous. As well as animals from across the globe, including penguins in their own refrigerated ice-house, the zoo has several special exhibits requiring separate admission, including an impressive aquarium (adult/child 225/175B), the panda house (adult/child 100/50B) and the snow dome (150/100B), where locals come for their first taste of the cold stuff.

You also stand a good chance of seeing giant bugs crawling out of the surrounding jungle.

The zoo monorail is dormant, but a shuttle bus (adult/child 30/20B) pootles around the grounds, provide access to the slightly neglected upper reaches of the grounds, which are a steep hike from the entrance. Many enclosures sell bananas and other healthy snacks for the animals; kids will love the ruckus of feeding emus and other exotic beasties.