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Thailand Fly & Drive – Part 42 (Khon Kaen)
Baan Khok Sa-Nga or the King Cobra Village is famous in Khon Kaen because of the unique practice of the villagers in keeping strange pets. Not just the iconic King Cobra, for which the village gets its name, but also giant lizards, squirrels, and turtles, among others.
The King Cobra Village is about an hours drive from Khon Kaen City, but only a half hours drive from Aura Farm, which is where we traveled from.
The village is quite a distance from the main road, but there are road signs around the vicinity to guide you in the right direction towards the village.
Thank goodness for the signs because we make a couple of wrong turns even though we were guided by Google Maps :P. Finally, we reach the interesting arch that welcomes us to the village.
There is a ticket booth, where I pay THB40 for entry as an adult, and THB20 for the car. The kids managed to get in without charge. I couldn’t understand a word of what was on the ticket, but I believe that’s what it said. The timings given are for the Cobra Show, I think…
This is definitely a sign that I need to start learning Thai. So shameful, year after year, driving from Singapore to Thailand, but never ever learning the local language. 😛
We park the car, and get out to take a look. The whole place seems rather deserted, and there is no clear signage to tell us where to go or what to do. There was a shed in the centre of the village which was probably where they held the cobra show, but there was no one there at that time.
We then found the impressive looking display at the side of the car park, and we took a walk along the path behind. There were some small huts at the side of the path, with openings protected by metal grills.
We peered in. Lo and behold, that’s where they keep the live snakes. Some were impressive looking, like this python below, but there were others that just looked quite sad and bored.
At another hut, we are treated to an impressive show of a python feeding on his lunch, swallowing a strip of raw chicken whole, curling its body around the carcass for grip. It was rather mesmerising i must say. We stood there for some time watching his progress.
Moving to the next hut, we see a different kind of reptile:
The alligator (or crocodile?) was all alone in the hut, looking kind of bored, with nothing there to entertain himself with. Maybe if they had at least put in an iPad or something, he wouldn’t be looking so bored, just staring at the four walls.
At the end of the path, we reach the row of shops, and they waste no time in wrapping a snake around the neck of our boy like a garland. At this point, my big boy is the only one of my kids brave enough (or foolish?) to agree to get entangled in this reptilian mess. Of course, this was the perfect strategy that the villagers use to lure us to their shop and make us feel compelled to at least make some sort of purchase. To be fair though, they never actually insisted that we buy, and the stuff that they sold were actually quite reasonably priced. I purchased a massage oil and fragrance set which was apparently made from snake oil. Smells very much like traditional ointment that my grandparents used to enjoy applying on their body to soothe their aching joints.
There were other pets at the shop… giant lizards and squirrels in cages, and tortoises in a big basin. These villagers really love their exotic pets. After making the purchase, I round up my kids carefully counting 1 2 3, lest I leave any behind, and they get adopted as another of the pets on display.
If the area around this lake were better maintained, it could actually look quite pretty! These pretty birds were one of the few lucky animals around the village that were not caged up.
We make our way back to the village centre along the other path on the opposite side of the lake.
There were other caged animals there, like monkeys and civet cats. You can buy food from the shops to feed the monkeys.
You have to be careful though, if you spend too much time with these monkeys, you risk losing your values…. 😛 heed the warning signs!
We get back to the village centre, and there were Thai voices giving announcements over the Public Address System. We didn’t understand a word of what she was saying, but we assume that it meant the King Cobra Show was about the begin.
We take our seats at the square, and we were the only ones in the audience. This is like we are getting a private viewing!
The show begins with a trio of village women dancing what seems to be an ethnic dance in their traditional garb. Nothing really spectacular, but I guess this serves as a filler item while the crowds (what crowds? :P) take their time to assemble.
Finally we get to the main event, MAN VS. SNAKE…
Whatever you do kids… DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME…
These old timers have spent their whole lives perfecting the art of trolling snakes, incited them to take up a posture of self-defense. The snakes don’t seem very amused at the antics of these crazy humans, but there is a limit to what they can do to retaliate, because they are fighting with their hands tied behind their backs. In snake terms, that means their jaws have been tied shut with only space enough for them to stick out their tongues at us like a disgruntled little kid.
After the performance was done, he approached our kids to offer them another photo opportunity with the snake wrapped around their necks. My youngest boy picked up his courage to try, but my girl was still firmly saying: NO WAY JOSE…
All in all, we all enjoyed our visit to the King Cobra Village. Sure, there were a lot of rough edges, and there is much room for improvement. However, considering the amount we paid, I believe it was well worth the price of admission.
- Value for Money (9/10): THB40 entrance fee for me and the kids got in free of charge. THB20 for the car I think.
- Quality of Exhibits (6/10): There were certainly a lot of exotic animals there, besides the snakes. The display huts could have been done up much better though. It all looked very sad and dull.
- The Kids Loved It (9.3/10): Little Lioness Cub (8/10) “I was scared of the snakes” ; Little Lion Cub (10/10) “I liked the feeling of carrying the snakes. The snake skin felt very smooth.” ; Little Baby Lion (10/10) “I was scared at first but I became brave and carried the snake”
- The Adults Loved It: (6/10): I’m glad the kids enjoyed the visit, but I was a bit underwhelmed. I think it definitely had the potential to be much better. I think the animals could have been kept in better conditions. Throughout the visit I was questioning myself over the ethics of keeping these kinds of exotic animals as pets.
- Memories Created (7/10): Something out of the ordinary. How many other places do we get to carry snakes on our shoulders?
- Crowds (9/10): There was a handful of other visitors but the village was practically deserted.
- OVERALL RATING: (7.5/10): It might not be worth driving for an hour out of Khon Kaen just to see the village, but if you happen to be on the way, then it is an interesting and unique place to drop by.
- 2019 Thailand Fly and Drive
- Off to Bangkok
- Review: Ibis Styles Bangkok Sukhumvit 50
- Sara Jane’s @ the Empire Place
- Amazing Young Musician on the Streets
- Drive from Bangkok to Khao Kho
- Review: Tonkho at Home, Khao Kho
- Sunrise at Khao Takhian Ngo
- Temple on a Glass Cliff
- Tea @ Pino Latte
- Visit to the Weapon Museum
- Amazing Dinosaur!
- A Tale of Two Dinners
- Drive from Khao Kho to Chiang Mai
- Review: Ibis Styles Chiang Mai
- Chiang Mai Tribal Museum
- Wacky World of Insects!
- Driving the Mae Hong Son Loop
- Drive from Chiang Mai to Pang Mapha
- Pai Historical Bridge
- Pai Canyon
- Pai Land Split
- Review: Ban Keawmora, Pang Mapha
- Drive from Pang Mapha to Mae Win
- Long Neck Village
- Car Woes on the Way to Mae Win
- Day Trip to Doi Inthanon
- The Royal Twin Pagodas
- More Vehicle Misfortune and an Angel on a Motorbike
- Review: Mae Win Guesthouse and Resort
- Another Flat?! Drive from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khan
- Review: Phu Chiangkhan Hostel
- Chiang Khan Walking Street by Day
- The Majestic Mekong
- Chiang Khan Walking Street by Night
- Drive from Chiang Khan to Khon Kaen
- Review: Pullman Khon Kaen Raja Orchid
- The Problem of Laundry
- Birthday Day Out!
- The Nine-Storey Stupa
- Aura Farm
- King Cobra Village
- Khon Kaen City Museum
- 2019 Thailand Fly & Drive (Bangkok, Khao Kho, Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son Loop, Chiang Khan, Khon Kaen, Khao Yai, Pattaya)
- 2019 Cameron Highlands Brothers Drive
- 2018 Bali Drive
- 2017 Hungary Winter Drive
- 2017 Hokkaido Winter Drive
- 2019 Drive from Singapore to Thailand (Krabi, Phuket)
- 2018 Drive from Singapore to Thailand (Bangkok, Rayong)
- 2017 Drive from Singapore to Thailand (Krabi, Phuket)
- 2016 Drive from Singapore to Thailand