Since we arrived in Chiang Mai we have been working hard. Other than dinners and the odd class or socialise, we haven’t done anything too touristy, just knuckled down and tried to complete some of our jobs and projects.
Our current apartment is fantastic, Chiang Mai itself is wonderful, however being a bit city it lacks in tranquility and nature. Today we decided to take the day off, get out of town and explore Royal Park Rajapruek.
Royal Park Rajapruek is just out of Chiang Mai, up behind the airport. It is a large expanse of land (181 Acres) dotted with different themed gardens, exhibitions and generally beautiful things to look at. From what I understand, this park is managed by a research centre, and is used as a national learning centre for botanical agriculture.
We paid 650 baht to get there and back in a red songthaew
(from nong hoi) and probably got terribly ripped off – I suspect with good negotiating you could get somebody to take you there, wait for you, and bring you back for much less than this. On this particular day, we weren’t too bothered by extravagant transport fees, and just wanted a relaxed and enjoyable day in nature.
Royal Park is an excellent way to escape the city, it is so big that even with a large amount of tourists
looking around, you still feel like you have a lot of space to yourself. There is a tram that runs a circuit around the area, and claims to run every 15 minutes (we found it ran far more
frequently, maybe more like every 5 minutes) and it costs 20 baht per person for an all-day ticket to hop on and off as you please. Other options are hiring a bicycle for 20 baht, or a golf cart for 600baht per hour (4 people). The golf cart was incredibly tempting.. but this time we chose the tram.
The international gardens were beautiful – different gardens for a large number of different countries. My favourite was holland, full of fragrant lilies and bright, bold tulips set on a background of kitschy windmills and seating. Other highlights were the Royal Pavilion and learning about all the giant creepy crawlies that inhabit Thailand in the ‘Bug World’, the orchid pavilion is also worth a stop.
I would allow a full day to explore this place – it is huge, and we still didn’t see everything (unfortunately missed the desert/cactus area and the flower carpet – but maybe we will get back and visit again) but It was a wonderful day of walking around, enjoying the sun, smelling beautiful flowers and really enjoying getting back to nature.