Amazing Thailand Gardens & Cambodia’s Angkor Wat
(Including Chiang Mai Flower Festival)
January 28th – February 9th, 2011

6 Feb 2011

Our first visit of the day began with a trip to the Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm, a true gem of a place to see some exquisite orchids…and if you desire you can also take them home in the form of jewelry. They have perfected the art form of this and with them all edged in 24 carat gold, they truly make an affordable gift for yourself or your friends.

We then will visit an elephant camp for a for a first-hand look at the important role elephants have played in every aspect of Thai life, from ceremonial purposes to warfare, transportation and farming. See a fascinating demonstration of elephants at work and play. "Maesa Elephant Camp" flanks a rushing river in a beautiful lush tropical valley a mere twenty minutes scenic drive from downtown Chiang Mai. Having been open for nearly thirty years and currently home to seventy eight elephants, we have become leaders and experts in the field of elephant breeding, training, healthcare and sustainable tourism. Asian elephants have long been used as beasts of burden by man - transportation, timber logging or in war. In the early days of elephant camps these were the main abilities showcased, but it was the camp’s founder, Choochart Kalmapijit’s understanding of the deep intelligence of elephants that inspired him to establish Maesa Elephant Camp in 1976. Over the years Choochart purchased elephants from all over the country, and with their mahouts and other experts, worked and fell in love with the elephants, revealing one skill or fact after another about these pachyderms that have not only helped to develop Maesa’s reputations over the years, but help further the cause of the conservation and future of the Asian elephant. “The wellbeing and nourishment of our elephants are of prime importance and the total of six tons of grass, bananas and sugarcane that go to feed our elephants daily are self grown. We also grow special grasses and herbs which all combine to assure the health and well being of all our elephants. Being the first elephant camp certified by ISO 9001 version 2000, we are determined to offer visitors a new-age elephant camp which gives our visitors a real glimpse into the lives and facts about elephants. What they eat, how they live, their
biology, their future or plight as well as the continued development and promotion of their skills, intelligence and abilities are of utmost importance to our long term goals.”

This was a visit to remember. These wonderful animals are just so incredible. We were amazed at what they could do – even paint! The Chinese people who were here celebrating Chinese New Year could not believe the artwork. Then our group went on an elephant ride. Each elephant has their own mahout who cares for them and teaches them.

We enjoyed lunch at the Mae Sa Valley Resort Restaurant set amid thickly-forested hills and misty valleys. The cultivated area around the resort provides all the vegetables served fresh at the restaurant.

After lunch continue to Queen Sirikit Botanical garden, the first botanical garden of the country of international standards for which there are scientific basis and purposes for the collections, and the provision of botanical education and research. The main objectives of the Garden are to serve as a center of Thai flora for botanical study and research, to render services concerning biodiversity and environmental conservation, as well as to provide an aesthetic place for the general public. In the eleven years since Her Majesty gave her name to The Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, this northern oasis has become an internationally recognized centre for botanical study and research, providing services on biodiversity and environmental conservation, while creating an aesthetic place for the general public. Clinging to the foothills of Doi Suthep- Pui National Park, the gardens are about two kilometres beyond the Mae Sa elephant camp at the twelve kilometre marker on the Mae Rim-Samoeng road, some 27 kilometres to the northwest of Chiang Mai. From the roadside, visitors enter the gardens via a bridge over a stream, and are greeted by an explosion of colour from beautiful flower beds on manicured lawns. An information centre, manned by friendly and helpful staff, stands near the main entrance Along the trails one can see many of Thailand's flowers, tree, plants and herbs in their natural habitat. The four main trails are:

  1. The Arboretum Trail –along this trail the visitor will see trees grouped according to their botanical families, such as banana, palm, pine etc.

  2. Then there is The Climber Trail : A collection of vines or climbers (weak-stemmed plants which scramble upwards by attaching themselves to other plants or objects). This is a particularly beautiful trail lined with more than 200 species of climbers.

  3. Next comes the Waterfall and Ornamental beds Trail: Passing by the Mae Sa stream and Mae Sa Noi waterfall, this trail leads to the ornamental beds and eventually to the Thai orchid collection. Plants from a variety of families are featured along this trail.

  4. The Medicinal Plants Trail displays the value of importance attached by the Garden's staff to the indigenous knowledge in plants and their medicinal properties. This trail is designated specifically for the medicinal plants. In this collection, many native species with medicinal value are on show along the trail.

At the top of the hill lies the vast Greenhouse complex, opened in 2001 by HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, and comprising four exhibition conservatories and eight display glasshouses containing a myriad of indigenous and other exotic plants. The complex shelters plant species grouped according to their environmental conditions and uses. The atmosphere within each house is automatically monitored and controlled, with humidity, ventilation and light being constantly adjusted.

Emphasis is currently being given to exhibitions of the orchid and the lotus, firm favourites of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. Indeed, the orchid house here houses the largest collection of indigenous orchids found in the forests of the kingdom, with more than 350 species on display. Within the complex is The Tropical Rainforest House: The largest conservatory with a floor space of 1,000 square metres, and standing 33 metres tall. As the name suggests, it holds a large variety of tropical species from Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia, such as palms, bananas, and those of the ginger family.

The Arid House: features desert-dwelling plants such as cacti and agaves from America ; euphorbias and aloes from Africa, and the native euphorbes. Also located in the Arid House is a collection of Cycads, the most primitive group of seed plants.

The Orchids and Ferns House: Contains a variety of tropical orchids and ferns. Of the 177 genera that comprises 1,200 species, the garden has 80 genera of native orchids including 350 species in its living collection. The fourth conservatory is The Aquatic House: This shelters over 100 species of aquatic plants, which grow at the edge of rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and marshes. On display here are collections of beautiful water lilies, aquatic ferns and water hyacinths. The garden also provides facilities for researchers and students of all levels, and many joint-venture projects have been set up with a number of institutions and universities nationwide. Students and researches are welcome to make use of the excellent botanical library in the grounds of the garden.

Our last visit today was to Khamthieng Plant Market – this is a very different plant market than what you might expect. Street after street of small vendors selling all kinds of plant material. Some offer an assortment while others just specialize in one or two varieties.

Tomorrow we would be departing Chiang Mai and heading to Chiang Rai…


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row