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The serene beauty of the Royal Park Rajapruek in Chiang Mai, Thailand

It was a truly unforgettable experience to explore the serene beauty of the Royal Park Rajapruek, a breathtaking tropical garden nestled in the picturesque landscapes of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, during my visit in 2019.

Chiang Mai is located about 700 kilometers north of Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. Chiang Mai is situated in a mountainous region and is known for its rich history, culture, and natural beauty. It is a popular tourist destination in Thailand and is known for its beautiful temples, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural scenery. Our exploration included visits to Celadon factories, an experience detailed in a previous post. Chiang Mai also hosts two beautiful gardens: the Royal Park Rajapruek and the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden.

The first must-visit for garden lovers is the Royal Park Rajapruek, originally created in 2006 to host the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek exhibition. This international flower show was held to celebrate the 80th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the former king of Thailand.

The Royal Park Rajapruek covers an area of about 200 acres and features a wide variety of plant species from Thailand and other countries. The garden is divided into different zones, including outdoor and covered spaces, with beauty all over.

The floral park boasts both outdoor expanses and sheltered sections. I was pleasantly taken aback by the breathtaking hydrangea showcase!

The orchid paradise

The park is renowned for its extensive orchid collection, encompassing numerous rare and exotic varieties. The orchid garden, protected from the harsh sun and heat, is found beneath a shade structure. It showcases a diverse array of colors, shapes, and sizes. Visitors can delight in leisurely strolls along the paths, appreciating the stunning blooms amidst tropical greenery and decor. During our visit, the majority of the displayed orchids were cascading Phalaenopsis hybrids, creating a genuine orchid paradise.

From Japan to Turkey

One of the main attractions of the Royal Garden is the International Garden Zone, which presents garden styles from all over the world, including a Japanese-style garden and a Chinese-style garden. These are remnants of the international flower show. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through this zone and admire the beautiful flowers and trees from different countries as well as many pavilions, fountains, and sculptures. Another section includes corporate gardens, sponsored by Thai companies.

The bonsai collection

The garden also houses a bonsai collection. My knowledgeable bonsai husband was enthusiastic about the diversity of tropical species. He was also interested by the influence of both Japanese bonsai and Chinese penjing in creating a unique Thai-style of miniature trees.

David Easterbrook in the miniature tree collection

The water lily collection

The park features a delightful collection of water lilies, exhibited in a pond as well as in various pottery, some crafted in the shapes of water lilies.


The park is located on the grounds of the Chiang Mai Royal Agricultural Research Center, which was once a royal palace called the Wang Suan Dok. The palace was built in 1909 by the order of King Rama V, and it was later used as a residence for members of the royal family, including Princess Dara Rasmi, the consort of King Chulalongkorn.

Built on a raised mound over 32,000 square feet, the Royal Pavilion proudly displays the glory of traditional Lanna architecture. This magnificent structure, designed with meticulous attention to detail, serves as a focal point within the park, capturing the essence of Thai heritage and aesthetics.

It showcases the country’s cultural diversity and historical significance. It is a visual feast for visitors whether they admire the exterior adorned with traditional Thai patterns or explore the interior spaces that may house exhibitions, cultural events, or informational displays.

Akha traditional house

The Royal Park Rajapruek also boasts a typical house of the Akha people. The Akha are an indigenous tribe primarily found in the mountainous regions of Southeast Asia, including countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and China. Known for their unique culture and traditional way of life, the Akha people are recognized for their distinctive clothing, intricate silver jewelry, and vibrant festivals. The typical Akha house introduces visitors with a glimpse into the architectural style and lifestyle of this fascinating ethnic group.

The golden shower tree

The Royal Park Rajapruek is named after the Rajapruek tree, which is also known as the golden shower tree (Cassia fistula). This tree, from the legume family, typically blooms during the hot and dry season in Thailand, which is from around February to May. During this time, the tree produces large clusters of yellow flowers that hang down from the branches like shower curtains, giving the tree its common name. As we were there in early March, we unfortunately did not see it in full bloom.

The bug house

Tucked away in a secluded corner of the park, the Butterfly and Bug House welcomes a variety of live creatures, including freely flying butterflies and, thankfullly, safely enclosed spiders. The space also features educational displays.

How to get there

From Bangkok, you may take an hour long flight or take the train. As we were on a 6 week Asian tour, we flew from Cambodia to Bangkok and then to Chiang Mai. We took the night train with sleeping cabins on our way back to Bangkok, which was an experience all on its own.

The Royal Park Rajapruek, nestled in the mountainous Mae Hia sub-district approximately 10 kilometers southwest of Chiang Mai’s city center, offers various transportation options. Opting for a taxi, which can conveniently pick you up after your visit, proves to be the easiest choice, taking around 20-30 minutes for the journey. Plan for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours for your visit.

Best time to visit

The best period to visit the garden is during the cool season, which is from November to early March. The average temperature during the cool season is pleasant at around 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius), which is perfect for walking around the park and enjoying the scenery.

If you plan to visit during the hot season, spanning from March to May, anticipate high temperatures and humidity. Nonetheless, this period highlights the peak bloom of numerous tropical flowers, offering an excellent opportunity to witness a dazzling array of exotic plants and blossoms. When we visited on a weekday in early March at opening time, we were among the few visitors. As we departed around 1:30 p.m., the temperature had risen, and we found ourselves somewhat exhausted due to the increasing heat and having walked a lot!

Wear good walking shoes and a hat and do not forget your bottle of water along with your sunscreen. Supposingly, a free tram service takes you around in the park but we did not see it. At one point, staff on a cart took us graciously to another section that we were looking for.

Another great time to visit the Royal Park Rajapruek is during the Flower Festival, which usually takes place in early February. During the festival, the park is decorated with colorful flowers and there are various cultural activities and performances that take place.

The rainy season, from June to October, is the least popular time to visit the park due to the wet and muddy conditions. However, if you don’t mind the rain, it can also be a good time to see lush greenery and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the park with fewer tourists.

To learn more

Visit the official Royal Park Rajapruek website for information on opening hours, fees, and programming. Please be aware that the entry fee is higher for foreigners; however, seniors are eligible for a discount.

Overall, the Royal Park Rajapruek in Chiang Mai is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in nature, culture, and history. Its serene atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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