The verdant hills surrounding cosmopolitan Chiang Mai have long been dotted with hill tribe villages of Thailand’s many ethnic minorities. Visiting one or more of these rural outposts has become a quintessential northern Thailand experience. Here’s what you need to know.
Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden
9 Mae Raem, Amphoe Mae Rim, Mae Rim, Thailand, 50180
Thailand’s first botanical garden comprises some 560 acres (227 hectares) of greenhouses, gardens, and plantations, all crisscrossed by nature trails. The greenhouses are particularly impressive, with collections of orchids, water lilies, carnivorous plants, and bromeliads. Since the gardens are so spread out, many visitors opt for a guided tour with transportation from one site to the next. If you’re pressed for time, it’s also possible to combine a visit to the gardens with a stop at a Hmong hill-tribe village (to learn about their sustainable agricultural projects) in as little as half a day.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden is popular for families and couples.
The gardens occupy a hilly site, so wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking on inclines.
Don’t forget to bring sun protection and insect repellent.
Give yourself two to three hours to explore the gardens.
It’s a good idea to carry an umbrella or rain poncho in case of an unexpected shower.
How to Get There
The gardens are situated about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) from Chiang Mai in the Mae Sa area. The best way to get there is to charter a tuk-tuk or other private transportation.
When to Get There
The best time to visit this sprawling botanic garden is during the cool, dry season between mid-November and mid-February. Be prepared for frequent showers if you visit during August or September.
Botanical Gardens in Chiang Mai
The impressive Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden isn’t the only botanical garden worth visiting in the Chiang Mai area. One of the most convenient to the old city is the Medicinal Plant Garden near the Chiang Mai University Art Center. The Chiang Mai Erotic Garden offers some irreverent fun for the adult crowd, while the Tweechol Botanic Garden is popular with kids and families.
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