I am sorry to be stuck on the theme of gardens. It must be a disappointment for those concrete and bitumen lovers out there.
I was on the internet prowl yesterday for information about a botanical garden which is situated next to the Chiang Mai zoo. We have driven past it a few times on the way to Doi Suthep and it looks lovely. As is often the case with the internet you are given more than you asked for. My search came back with details on the Tweechol Botanical gardens, about 10 km out of Chiang Mai on Route 118 the main road to Chiang Rai, and it looked worth a visit.
This is another of those “local” attractions as it’s a bit out of town and not on the tourist top ten list of things to do in Chiang Mai. In fact Trip Advisor rates it 2 out of 5 of things to do in the Doi Saket area, a “Balloon Adventure” being number 1. As Doi Saket (don’t get this mixed up with Doi Suthep) is the location of a good looking Buddhist temple on a hill with friendly monks overlooking the East of Chiang Mai, and doesn’t even get a mention, you do realise how many things visitors miss out on when relying on other people’s travel agendas and ratings. Mind you many people would prefer a balloon adventure to seeing a temple anyway and I have no problems with that.
Getting to the 118 is pretty easy for us via the 121, the outer ring road, which allows us to miss the worst of the city traffic. The trip to Tweechol only took us about 20 minutes. I need to apologise here to Gina and Andy, some good friends who visited over the Christmas period. I encouraged them to join us in the drive out to Doi Inthanon, a three hour outing each way to the South, only to find that the magnificent flower display I had seen in September wasn’t happening, which was disappointing.
We had a good day out but maybe the Tweechol gardens would have been a better option with less car-time. I still have my tourist guide L plates on! My brother and his partner are visiting in February. I will try to improve Richard and Sam.
You are used to me digressing from the main topic in my blog posts so I won’t disappoint you here. Almost the highlight of our Doi Inthanon trip this time was stopping at some local markets on the way down the mountain. As is often the case with Thai markets the presentation can be of a high standard, helped by the freshness and colours of the produce being offered.
It was surprising to come across a Doi Chaang cafe situated in the middle of this fairly nondescript market. The cafe itself was just a shack and nothing much to look at from the front facing a dusty carpark. The barista guy invited us to walk through the stall and there we found one of those Thai oasis moments out the back.
Coffee wasn’t super great maybe a 7/10. Latte served in a large cup when I prefer a smaller serving with a more intense flavour. Next time. Digressing from my first digression the best cafe I have ever seen was a Doi Chaang one I came across on the way to Isaan, South of Chiang Mai. The fit-out of this version was slightly different from the one at Doi Inthanon as you can see.
OK, back to the topic finally. Tweechol Botanical Gardens was established in 1997 by Mr Tweesackdi Sesaweech, a retired public servant whose last post was permanent secretary at the agriculture ministry, and his wife, Chalarng Sesaweech. The garden’s website link is provided at the bottom of this post. The stated purpose of the garden is for “display, education, research, conservation and enjoyment”, which seems like a pretty good combination. Thank you Mr and Mrs Sesaweech.
The garden consists of 114 acres (285 rai in Thai terms), so it was good to read that you could hire bicycles, take the free bus/tram or hire a golf buggy to explore the site.
At least we are keeping to the traditional in the bike colour selection, me blue and Gaun pink. Conditioning is alive and well over here:
It is winter here so the daytime temperatures are only in the high twenties with very little humidity. The bike option might not seem so attractive in the hot season.
Entry to the gardens is 80 THB – $3.00, a person. Bike hire is 70 THB per bike for two hours, although we had them for longer and they didn’t check the time back in. Not an expensive day out.
The first major stopping point of the way out from the entrance on the right is this lake with lots of topiary displays surrounding it:
Close to this point opposite to the lake there is a good sized maze. The fact that I am writing this blog entry post-visit is testimony to the fact that it isn’t super hard to navigate.
The gardens are beautifully maintained by 60 fulltime people and it shows. Impressive presentation laid out with lots of side paths to follow off the main circular route.
Garden decorations like these make the journey that much more interesting:
These is a small animal area included in the gardens, which is really unnecessary to the theme. The enclosures were pretty small but the animals seemed to be in reasonable condition. As always I hate seeing wild creatures locked up.
Gaun has never seen camels before except in movies so this was a big photo opportunity for her to show the family back home.
The gardens offer a restaurant if you want to have a meal here. You will be offered a buffet option when buying the entry ticket. I think it was 180 THB – $6.00 for the buffet and entry, which is a pretty good deal. If you just want to stop off for an ice cream or drink then this cafe looked like a welcome stop. Yes, hard to believe but I am off ice cream and didn’t have one.
Relaxation is offered at other places along the way too.
You can see from the map I provided above that water is a strong element within the garden. Lots of small lakes dot the gardens.
A nursery is located towards the back of the gardens supplying the place with plants. They do a lot of recycling here, which is good to see.
As always, except at Doi Inthanon this time of year, there are always brilliant flower colours to enjoy and fill up the camera’s memory card:
The main theme running through the gardens and appearing wherever you go are the amazing topiary displays.
There were even a few references to Australia especially in the palm tree section of the gardens. This was another. Almost brought tears to my expat’s eyes. Ah the good times I’ve had in Roma, likewise for many of you too I’m thinking:
This sign reflects the Thai nature to look for things to harvest and eat wherever they go:
My final photo is one of my favourites. Gaun initially thought this little guy was a teddy bear souvenir. Lots of laughter all round when the mistake was discovered. He’s wrapped up for the winter.
It was only when researching this entry and looking at the map that I have realised we missed a few major sights in our cycle around the park. A good excuse for a return trip sometime.
So there you have Tweechol Botanical Gardens, an unexpected delight. For anyone visiting put on your cycling legs because it will be on the list of attractions offers by this tourist guide.
The link to the garden’s site is HERE
Thanks for reading.