Chiang Mai’s Hidden Gem – Tweechol Botanical Garden
When you come to Chiang Mai you will hear plenty about the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden or the Rajapreuk Royal Flora Garden: what you may not have discovered, however, is the hidden gem called the Tweechol Botanical Garden. Opened in 2005, the garden was built as a showcase for a horticulturist enthusiast couple to showcase their work and passion. It is located out of town, on the Doi Saket-Chiang Mai highway, which places it as a considerable distance from the town center. So while you may not want to stay at the resort attached to this garden, you might want to consider taking a trip there to look at the garden itself.
Divided into various sections, the center of this garden revolves around four domes: orchids, wild orchids, anthurium, bromeliads, cacti, and succulents. Of particular note is Dome 2, which features ferns, palms, and various other plants which combine with the artificial waterfall gives you the ambience of adventuring through a tropical rainforest. Dome 3 is also another worth visiting, as it brings you some of the most exotic flowers and plants rarely seen outside documentaries. All domes are contained in artificial ecosystems, with temperatures and humidity regulated to best provide the flora with an optimum environment in which they can flourish with minimum interference. In total, more than 300 different species of flora are on display in this section. The palm garden contains more than a hundred varieties.
The topiary features bushes sculpted into dinosaurs, giraffes, camels, rabbits, peacocks and more-fantastically done and fantastically cute, just the thing to amuse the kids. Another option for the kids would be the pedal boats they let you rent to explore lakes within the complex, and then of course there’s the petting zoo. Said petting zoo requires no admission fee, but you can donate toward keeping the critters fed: on display are deer, camels, ostriches, cassowaries, iguanas, water buffaloes, several kinds of foxes, and albino peacocks.
Since the garden covers a fairly large area, golf carts are provided at a fee for you to go around without having to strain your calf muscles. There’s also plenty of room for bicycles if that’s what takes your fancy (and, naturally, bicycles to rent). Not to be missed are the camping area (with complete facilities), the organic farm, and rice paddy fields to provide a full range of diverse attractions. Last but not least is the museum, which lets you look at items representing ancient Lanna culture: this area contains traditional houses, each rich with history and folklore.
The museum proper is partitioned into five rooms, each containing respectively photographs and silverware belonging to a Lanna princess who married into the current dynasty, antique spears and swords in a room that pays tribute to the present king, a room featuring religious relics dedicated to Buddha, earthenware, and cutlery and utensils from Asian archeological sites. Out in the garden is a hedge maze displaying items and depictions of life in feudal Chiang Mai in all its diverse ways.