A palace garden
Chiang Mai (Thailand) is a good destination for garden lovers due to the many different gardens and the national parks. One garden which is often overlooked by the many foreigners who go to the Doi Suthep temple is the Puphing palace (Bhuping, Bhubing, Puping, Pu-ping or Phuping are other spellings). It is situated just a few kilometers beyond the famous temple, uphill on the mountain.
There are several reasons to go there. One is to escape the heat of the valley. Another is to see a contemporary royal palace. For Thai tourists, this is a rare chance to see many exotic temperate species, such as Browallia, Fuchsia, Antirrhinum and roses. Any settler with a sudden rose abstinence may want to go here in April. In addition there are native high elevation species such as Mahonia nepalensis and orchids. This is also a place to understand the contemporary Thai garden taste. There will be loudspeakers outdoors with spa music, the sound of waves and bird calls (European nightingale and tree sparrows). Do not expect an abundance of signs or English-speaking staff, this is a garden for the Thai royalties to enjoy, and they share with you when they are absent.
Visitors should be aware it is a royal garden and so it might be closed when the royal family is there. Enquire ahead at your hotel. Also, be aware that the lunch break is between 11.30 and 13.00. Recently there is a regulation that men and women must have long trousers or long skirts (tights are not accepted), so either you rent such clothes at the spot or you dress up in advance.
Parts of the Seehamongkol family under the protective shade of a Ficus elastica (Moraceae). This species is often grown in western homes where it reaches about 1 m. It is nice to see it outside its cage. Mounted on this fig was also a heavenly fragrant mandarin orchid (Dendrobium cariniferum), emitting fumes of mandarin and chocolate. To enjoy this palace garden we suggest a visit to Dokmai Garden first, where you will learn about tropical plants. Then you can use that knowledge to understand other gorgeous gardens where information is not a priority.
Text: Eric Danell
Photo: Sakchai Seehamongkol