The Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens
Not too far from the city of Chiang Mai, you can
find this spectacular botanical garden.
The road to Samoeng that winds up the Mae Sa
Valley was only completed in the 1980's, before then the journey could only be
made in a 4-wheel drive jeep in the dry season. There had, however, been Thai
villages scattered up the valley for over a hundred years, growing tea. There
were hill tribe villages, teak-logging camps and in the 1930's Dr Kerr started
a small botanical garden, as is the wont of Englishmen abroad.
The Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens, based on
this earlier one, were opened in 1992. The gardens cover an area of some 3500
rai and include a wide variety of vegetation ranging from dipterocarp to hill
evergreen forest containing over 10,000 trees as well as ferns, palms, herbs
and flowers - many of which are extremely rare. The gardens are working with
Kew Gardens to become a regional centre and contain research facilities,
accommodation for students and an information centre, well stocked with books
and facts about the gardens.
Even if you are not a botanist it is well worth
visiting these beautiful gardens in the mountains and wandering along the
nature trails that wind beside tinkling streams and under great shady trees.
The flowers are especially colourful in the cool season which runs from
November to March.
There are regular tours to visit the botanical
garden as well as surrounding tourist attractions in the Mae Sa Valley.