Pattaya, located in under two hours from Bangkok has a reputation for nightlife, bars and some of the less salubrious aspects of life but there's also a beautiful side of Pattaya with Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, an impressive and imaginative tropical garden that brings quirkiness and fantasy to life. It's a great place to spend a day so come along with me and take a closer look at the Nong Nooch Botanical Gardens!
There's something very quirky about Thailand. It's a place where rules can be bent to fit a creative fantasy and nowhere is this more apparent than at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, located 18kms south of Pattaya. The gardens are owned by Kampon Tansacha, a descendent of a wealthy Thai family and collector of exotic plant species.
Nong Nooch Botanical Gardens was named after his mother Mrs Nongnooch Tansacha and were established in 1954 after his parents purchased the land. The original intention was to create a fruit plantation but it gradually transformed into a sprawling botanical garden and entertainment complex. There's a dizzying array of topiaries, animal sculptures and water features and then there's the animal sculptures all seen by foot or via the hop on and hop off sightseeing bus that trundles along the pathways.
There's a lot to do here and it's a bit like Disneyland for the gardening enthusiast or horticulture student and you want to put aside at least 3 hours or half a day for a look around. There's a shooting range, massages and a tour of the 500 acres (2 km2) site with a truly impressive range and number of plants from enormous, bulbous Chinese cacti, cycads, palms, orchids, heliconias and over a thousand varieties of palms. Surreally, giant sculptures of almost every animal line the drive (even koalas and kangaroos make an appearance).
The Thai Cultural show features Thai dancers but these are also inexplicably followed by Chinese, Greek and Indian dancers. And while much of Thailand is proud to move away from elephant rides and shows in favour of elephant sanctuaries that care for these beautiful animals rather than exploit them, they offer elephant rides and a show here.
There are many restaurants on site but word is that the pick is Plubplueng restaurant which is a buffet style restaurant but in the style of a food court. Separate stalls cook the food fresh and you can help yourself to anything that you want from som tum salad, fish maw soup, noodle soups, Thai roast chicken as well as salads using organic vegetables from their garden. It's a solid meal with good flavours in an outdoor setting and I particularly enjoy the roast chicken and the som tum salad.
If you are looking to snap that incredible Instagram shot at the garden you'll have to traipse almost the entire length of the skywalk to arrive at the golden Angle pavilion or “Pavilion of the Deva”. While the walk seems daunting especially as the afternoon sun saps your energy, it takes about 15 minutes each way and affords you a view of both French gardens, Stonehenge garden and the Valley of Dinosaurs.
And yes it is absolutely worth it for that view!
So tell me Dear Reader, what do you think of these gardens? Have you been to Pattaya?
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
34 Na Chom Thian, Sattahip District, Chon Buri 20250, Thailand.
Open 8am-6pm 7 days a week.
Phone: +66 81 919 2153