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.

Tweechol Botanical Gardens. Topiary gone wild.

Tweechol Botanical Gardens. Topiary gone wild.

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.

Doi Saket on the outskirts of Chiang Mai to the East.

Doi Saket on the outskirts of Chiang Mai to the East.

The East of Chiang Mai from Doi Saket.

The East of Chiang Mai from Doi Saket. You can just see Doi Suthep in the far distance.

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.

Doi Inthanon in full bloom.

Doi Inthanon in full bloom.

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.

Strawberries being grown on farms in this area.

Strawberries being grown locally.

A beautifully presented selection of dried fruit and nuts.

A beautifully presented selection of dried fruit and nuts.

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.

Seating for eight people only overlooking this stream. Brilliant and in such contrast to the front of the cafe.

Seating for eight people only overlooking this stream. Brilliant and in such contrast to the front of the cafe.

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.

A glimpse of this amazing Doi Chaang cafe.

A glimpse of this amazing Doi Chaang cafe. It is huge with a lake out the back. I am going to get around to writing a blog entry about the drive to Isaan so will include more photos.

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.

Me thinking “Maybe I should I have done that?” Yes, it is a girl’s bike and set-up for a five foot Thai, so you’ll see no more photos of me on said bike in this post.

Me thinking “Maybe I should I have done that?” Yes, it is a girl’s bike and set-up for a five foot Thai, so you’ll see no more photos of me on said bike in this post.

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:

Pink for girls. "My Dog" - Gaun's handbag is along for the ride in the basket.

Pink for girls. “My Dog” – Gaun’s handbag is along for the ride in the basket.

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.

Not quite Canberra thank goodness.

Not quite Canberra thank goodness.

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:

Paddle boats can be hired here if you are feeling energetic. See the large dinosaur topiary in the background.

Paddle boats can be hired here if you are feeling energetic. Spot the large dinosaur topiary in the background.

That dinosaur close up. Note the motorbikes underneath in the shade. Gives you an idea of the size of this topiary.

That dinosaur close up. Note the motorbikes underneath in the shade. Gives you an idea of the size of this topiary.

Flipper. “My Dog” hedge hopping.

Flipper and “My Dog” hedge exploring.

Monkeys waiting for the chance to have a swim once the tourist leave.

Monkeys waiting for the chance to have a swim once the tourists leave.

Great balls of trees…we love you Jerry.

Great balls of trees…we love you Jerry.

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.

Exactly as I would have described it.

Exactly as I would have described it.

Gaun meets maze.

Gaun meets maze.

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.

This map gives you an idea of the size of the gardens and the meandering trails you can follow.

This map gives you an idea of the size of the gardens and the meandering trails you can follow.

An example of how nicely laid out the gardens are.

An example of how nicely laid out the gardens are.

Garden decorations like these make the journey that much more interesting:

I just love Thai pots like these and can't wait to get my hands on some.

I just love Thai pots like these and can’t wait to get my hands on some. Well I have here but you know what I mean!

Driving me potty - sorry!

Driving me potty – sorry!

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.

Bird enclosures on the left.

Bird enclosures on the left.

Gaun has never seen camels before except in movies so this was a big photo opportunity for her to show the family back home.

Friendly camel.

Friendly camel.

Working buffalo replaced by tractors these days.

Working buffalo replaced by tractors these days.

A reminder of home.

BIG bird.

Could almost be a Lake Burley Griffin scene, for those Canberra readers.

Could almost be a Lake Burley Griffin scene, for those Canberra readers.

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.

Tables and chairs provided in the shade and a pond out the back.

Tables and chairs provided in the shade and a pond out the back.

Relaxation is offered at other places along the way too.

Now that's the sort of sign I like to see. Might need a cushion or three to get the full benefit.

Now that’s the sort of sign I like to see. Might need a cushion or three to get the full benefit.

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.

More photo opportunities. Nice bridge or "saphan" in Thai.

More photo opportunities. Nice bridge or “saphan” in Thai.

Feel the serenity.

Feel the serenity.

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.

Great choice as long as you don't want choice.

Great choice as long as you don’t want choice.

A green theme.

A green theme.

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:

This is a furry thing.

This is a furry thing.

Orchid. About the only name I know out here.

Orchid. About the only name I know out here.

This is a differently coloured orchid!

This is a differently coloured orchid!

And this one is slightly different from the one above.

And this one is slightly different from the one above.

Boo. Gaun took heaps of cuttings of these when we visited Si Bun Ruang in November. As someone who has had disputes with roses and their thorns I am not looking forward to when these samples are replanted on our block of land in Isaan.

Boo. Gaun took heaps of cuttings of these when we visited Si Bun Ruang in November. As someone who has had disputes with roses and their thorns I am not looking forward to when these samples are replanted on our block of land in Isaan.

The main theme running through the gardens and appearing wherever you go are the amazing topiary displays.

Flying birds - well I had to write something. Great aren't they.

Flying birds – well I had to write something. Great aren’t they.

Cleverly done. Baby following Mum.

Cleverly done. Baby following Mum.

Getting Gaun not to be in a photo is difficult :-)

Getting Gaun not to be in a photo is difficult 🙂 It’s a Thai thing.

Roar.

Roar.

Can you see me?

Can you see me?

A love-heart hedge.

A love-heart hedge.

My artistic bicycle photo.

My artistic bicycle photo.

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:

Surprising to see Roma mentioned in a Northern Thai garden.

Surprising to see Roma mentioned in a Northern Thai garden.

This sign reflects the Thai nature to look for things to harvest and eat wherever they go:

Best to pay for the buffet.

Safer to pay for the buffet.

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.

You can pick up one of these at the shop on the way out.

You can pick up one of these at the shop on the way out.

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

You can find more garden stories HERE, HERE and HERE

Thanks for reading.