When the wife and I knew that we would be going to Thailand to celebrate our ten-year wedding anniversary, I immediately began working on her to include a quick side trip to the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden. The palm tree lover in me could never be forgiven if I missed the Mecca of palm tree botanical gardens. A visit involved having to go out of our way and stay in Pattaya, which neither of us were too thrilled about. But Nong Nooch really is a must see, so some sacrifice to our schedule had to be made. Thankfully my wife gave her stamp of approval.
A quick caveat before I begin. This tour is going to be broken up into two blog posts. Had I left it to one post, it most likely would have been the longest blog post I would ever do. One of the challenges is that I had to somehow file through over 400 photographs and then filter that number down. I managed to get it reduced to 71 photos for my two post in the tour. I figured 72 would be too many and 70 just wouldn’t be enough. Anyway, not wanting to make a marathon blog post, I broke it up. The place is just too unique to jam into one post, as you will soon see. This week’s post will cover a general overview of Nong Nooch. Next week’s post will focus on the plants.
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden was founded by Pisit and Nongnooch Tansacha when they purchased the 600-acre plot of land in 1954 with the intentions of developing the land as a fruit plantation. Not long after, a decision was made to move towards planting tropical plants and flowers with a focus on conservation. Nong Nooch opened to the public in 1980 and with the help of their son Kampon Tansacha, the place has become one of the top spots in the world to view palms, cycads and tropical plants all in one location.
The first thing you notice outside the heat and humidity is the perfectly crafted use of the terrain to offer amazing views of their manicured, topiary masterpiece.
This photo is looking down on a Stonehenge replica. Behind it are four different temples showing the different architectural styles found throughout Southeast Asia. From left to right you see representations from Myanmar (Burma), Southern Thailand, Bali and Northern Thailand/Laos.
The second thing you will notice touring Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden are the herds, flocks, colonies, packs and troops of clay animals integrated throughout the various garden themes. Depending on whom you talk to, there are mixed reviews in regards to the use of the many artificial objects found throughout the garden. There can be no doubt that the Asians love this sort of thing and the majority of visitors are of course Asian. However, some people you talk to will tell you it takes away from the natural beauty plants offer by themselves—even in a cultivated environment. Personally I found the use of all these clay animals did give Nong Nooch somewhat of a childish feel, but they also gave it something quite unique and refreshingly new.
Here is a photo of my beautiful wife Brenda hanging out with an “embarrassment” of Pandas. Really. That’s what a group of pandas is called. Google it.
This one I like to call “The battle of the five armies.” Yes, the Hobbit reference means I am a nerd.
Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden does have some live animals as well. Their elephants are one of the attractions that draw visitors in from around the world. When you first walk into the gardens you must pass by their enclosure. If you are not paying attention, one will reach his trunk out and actually tap you on the shoulder. They are asking for food. Just looking into their eyes—you can sense how intelligent they are.
While I stuck to feeding the elephants, many are there to ride the elephants. This mom actually works giving rides while her baby follows in tow.
Each day more than 2,000 visitors from around the world visit Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden. This includes Buddhist monks and Thai Girl Scouts.
My wife and I spent six hours touring the gardens. The heat and humidity caught up to us and we headed back to our hotel in Pattaya earlier than we wanted. If you plan on visiting and you are a plant lover, let me give you a huge piece of advice—give yourself two days and stay at the resort onsite. Even with six solid hours we missed so much. My wife and I didn’t even have time to watch the Thai cultural show or elephant show. Ideally you would break the day up with a nap to recharge, but that would involve staying there.
Before I close out the first part of the tour, I wanted to share a few of the scenes around Nong Nooch. Some of it doesn’t make much sense, but they sure make for great photos. In what other botanical garden can you find old English phone booths a short walk from a Thai temple with three camels out front?
The Pottery Garden has various displays made out of nothing but clay pots. Most of the more than 100,000 pots used throughout the Pottery Garden are made onsite.
This ends the first part of the tour. My wife and the meerkats thank your for making it this far and hope you will join us next week when the tour moves to the plants of Nong Nooch Gardens.