Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park, Chiang Mai

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek, Chiang Mai

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park, Chiang Mai

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek is a huge outdoor park on the western outskirts of Chiang Mai. Originally built for a flower festival and exposition to celebrate the King’s 60th accession to the throne and 80th birthday back in 2006, it’s open all year round and now hosts an annual flower festival from December until February. We hired a scooter and got there reasonably early, but even with a full day of leisurely walking around (and taking plenty of pictures..) we think we saw about two-thirds of it. Did I mention it was huge?

Map of the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park, Chiang Mai

Map of the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park, Chiang Mai

We started off with the Corporate Gardens, not quite sure what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised by their diversity and the effort that had gone into making them informative and interactive. We especially liked the groundwater department garden..

Julie and I pumping water by hand in the Department of Groundwater Resources garden

Julie and I pumping water by hand in the Department of Groundwater Resources garden

And of the other corporate gardens, we also liked the palm tree loop – as much for the palm trees as the water assault course it turned out to be – the sprinklers were on and we both got a little bit wet!

Palm tree garden collage

The palm tree garden, aka the ‘water park’

The ‘New Theory Agriculture’ area was fun because it had a pig pen, chickens and a wormery, but as all of the information was in Thai we didn’t really understand the ‘New Theory’ part – it just looked like rural Thailand to us: rice fields, animal pens and vegetable gardens!

Pigs at the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park

Pigs at the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park

Next up was the Orchid Park. Wow.

Orchid Park sign, Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park

Welcome to the Orchid Park. You’ll be spending some time here..

There were so many orchids, and they were all so beautiful that we spent a lot of time looking and taking photographs..

Orchids, Orchids, Orchids..

Orchids, Orchids, Orchids..

As well as the outside Orchid Park, there is a building which was housing a special exhibit of tulips grown in Thailand, and included a variety named in honour of the King.

Tulip collage

Tulips, Tulips, Tulips..

There was also another room full of orchids, and an exhibition upstairs on Dr Rapee Sacrick, who is known as the “Founder and Father of orchids” in Thailand. Behind the exhibition halls we found yet another outdoor area of orchids, this time the specimens on display were entrants in an orchid competition.

The contestant plants were lined up by sub-species, and the prize-winning plants had rosettes hanging from them. What struck me most was the sheer variety – style, colour and size – I hadn’t fully appreciated the heterogeneity. We took a lot more photographs..

Prize-winning orchid collage

Prize-winning orchids

Us in the orchid garden

Us in the orchid garden

The park’s central promenade leads to the focal point of the entire park and its main attraction, the Royal Pavillion. Built like a ‘wihan’ (meeting hall) of a Thai Wat, the pavilion is exquisitely decorated. Inside are murals of King Bhumibol travelling through northern Thailand, typically pointing at a map with a camera around his neck!

Us in front of the Royal Pavilion, Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park

Us with the Royal Pavilion in the background

Collage of the Royal Pavilion, Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park, Chiang Mai

The beautiful Royal Pavilion

After a little more wandering, we found the Shaded Paradise – a covered tropical garden with an elevated walkway that puts you up in the tree tops. I really like tropical gardens because the humidity carries the smell of earth and breathing that air feels clean to me, it feels purifying. Tropical gardens also tend to contain carnivorous plants such as Tropical Pitchers or Venus Flytraps, and I love that plants eat animals..

Collage of plants in the Shaded Paradise

Tree-top walkway; Carnivorous Tropical Pitchers and dark red leaves

Julie with a fellow photographer and Andrew ordering a beer stein

Julie with a fellow photographer and Andrew ordering a beer stein. There were lots of these painted statues outside the Shaded Paradise garden, each one different

As we worked our way back towards the exit, we found a series of country-sponsored gardens – The Netherlands, Canada, India, and Singapore to name a few. Sadly, we didn’t see one for the UK..

Japanese garden, Royal Flora Ratchaphruek park

The peaceful Japanese garden

We really enjoyed our day at the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek park, and for all we took our time, we still think there’s easily a days worth of things to see and do.

Julie and I on the seesaw, Royal Flora Ratchaphruek park

Julie and I on the seesaw, Royal Flora Ratchaphruek park

2 thoughts on “Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Park, Chiang Mai

    1. Andrew Post author

      Thanks Jo :o)

      The orchid competition was a lovely surprise, we spent a lot of time there and it’s probably the reason we didn’t get around the whole park!

      Reply

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