While in Chiang Mai, we decided we wanted to check out the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens. These gardens were the first international standard botanical garden opened in Thailand. In 1994, the gardens were renamed after the Queen of Thailand. She is known for her love of plants and flowers and provides the Thai Botanical Garden Organization resources so that they can continue their research and education. While the gardens are being visited by tourists, the primary function of them is education and research. There are an estimated 22,000 plant species that are native to Thailand, some of which are endangered. Since I love flowers, I was excited to explore this massive complex.
The gardens are about 45 minutes outside of the city. It is possible to hire a car for the day to take you or you can rent a scooter and drive yourself. We rented a motorbike. Having the motorbike was nice because there are a lot of places that you can stop to explore along the way. There are several waterfalls that you can hike to off the main road as well as places to see monkeys, elephants, cobra shows, orchid farms and more.
The tickets were about 180 baht for the scooter entrance fee and our tickets. Exploring the gardens can take quite some time, as the garden grounds are quite large measuring about four square miles. This is also another benefit of having a motorbike or vehicle. There are several trails and small hikes that you can explore depending on what you would like to see. Check out the website, http://www.qsbg.org so that you can develop a game plan for which areas you would like to see before you go. That way you can see everything you want without feeling rushed.
I would highly recommend having a scooter or a car, I had read the pamphlets about the place, but they didn’t really prepare us for the amount of time we would need to see everything. Once we arrived, we made a game plan of the things we wanted to see and hikes we wanted to take. We were a bit limited when it came to the hikes as we didn’t arrive until 1 pm and the gardens closed at 5 pm.
Areas to Explore
The Glasshouse complex is made up of 4 exhibition conservatories and 8 glasshouses holding various themed plant collections. The collections include:
- Tropical Rainforest House
- Arid House
- Orchid and Fern Houses
- Aquatic House
- Limestone House
- Carnivorous Plant House
- Ariod House
- Variegated Plant House
- Water Lilly and Lotus House
- Medicinal House
- Bromeliad House
This area was one of our favorite places to explore. The Rainforest House had such a beautiful waterfall and gorgeous ferns! Our only disappointment while visiting this portion of the gardens was that the Carnivorous Plant house was closed for renovation.
There are several hikes through gardens that you can do on the grounds.
- Waterfall Trail
- The Arboretum Trail
- Climber Trail
- Ornamental Garden
- White Flower Collection
- Banana Avenue
- Fern Garden
Our favorite hikes were the hike through the fern garden and the waterfall trail. Sadly, we were disappointed that the climber trail was closed for maintenance. We actually tried walking it a bit, but soon came across some downed trees across the trail and decided to turn back.
- I would also suggest bringing a small lunch to eat somewhere on the grounds. There are a few cafes, but the selection was pretty limited and a bit pricey for what you got.
- Wear hiking shoes. The pathways are steep in areas and the jungle is quite wet. Flip flops will work, but shoes would be better.
- If you have your heart set on seeing or hiking something specific, it might be good to give them a call to be sure that your exhibit or trail is open. Otherwise, just go and enjoy!