For some reason the Thais have a love affair with North American cowboys and the occasional Indian. When we lived in Chiang Mai our local area had a cowboy nightclub – well tin shed on the edge of fields truth be told – set up with straw bales and lots of people wearing cowboy hats. Mind you it was still loud Thai music and food so the theme was pretty limited in the extent of its application..
Here in our bit of Isaan in the North East of Thailand we don’t miss out as there is a place called the Cowboy Ranch, fifteen minutes drive from Nong Bua Lamphu, our local larger town.
Now for those of you expecting a Disneyland wow experience you might be a little disappointed but this place makes for a passable couple of hours break from visiting wats (temples) especially if you have young kids. Like many places in Thailand I do wonder about the business plan that places a significant investment so far from a major centre. We went on a Saturday and as is often the case the staff vastly outnumbered the visitors.
The turn off the 210 takes you 3 km through pleasant farm country currently being planted up with rice as we have had a little bit of rain recently. The road to the Ranch is narrow but sealed. Entry is 100 THB per adult and 50 THB for children up to and including 15 years old. The same price for Thai and farang, which is nice.
Turn left as you drive into the main area and this will bring you to reception. Here they will try and sell you a package of activities for 300 THB pp, which range from paddle boats to horse riding and a mini car race (I think). The restaurant is located here with an all farang menu. You can get imported steaks for 1,200 THB or A$48.00, which is pretty wild for rural Isaan, although they also offer burgers for a lot less.
Just outside reception you can catch a free shuttle bus, which takes you around the whole complex. This is worth doing because the place does spread out over a large area. You can also get a photo with the star of that classic cowboy movie Batman!
First stop is at this enclosure where you are provided with milk bottles to feed the goats and sheep.
Next stop is a “main street”, which has been set up for photo opportunities. There is a large undercover area where you can buy cold drinks and popcorn and also rent these peddle type animals for young children:
This part of the ranch leads into larger fenced areas housing a small range of animals. On a good day you can walk or the alternative is to wait for the shuttle to arrive and get a lift to wherever you want to get off. Immediately behind the shed are a few enclosures. Once again good for youngsters especially Thais who have limited experience with a broader range of animals.
At the back of “main street” are a couple of outdoor horse arenas. A horse riding exhibition was due to start at 2.00 pm but was too early for us. You will also find the stables here as well as this Indian village complete with VW combie.
A good range of horse type represented here. They all looked well looked after and each stable has an overhead fan, which was a nice touch.
After a brief heavy rain burst, which luckily happened just as we returned to the main shed, we picked up the shuttle to return to the reception area. Here there are a small number of enclosures with some more exotic animals in residence:
And to finish off…………………………………The ultimate cowboy transport.
For me the highlight of the visit were these exotic species of cars rather than animals, which for whatever reason had just made an appearance as we arrived. I wondered whether they were connected to the lunch set up in the restaurant. I presume they aren’t permanently on exhibition. My apologies for heading into boys only territory with the following photos but it has to be done.
This is a slightly weird mix of styles in true Thai fashion, which makes it pretty unique and quirky. Although the place had a almost deserted feel to it and some of the areas could do with more effort on the detailing (Thais are great at building things but maintenance is often woeful) there are new buildings going up and some attractions (the merry-go-round) are being rebuilt.
I doubt that we will return but it will be included in my post the “Hidden Treasures of Nong Bua”, which you can find HERE so its place in history is assured.
Thanks for reading.