The Magnificent Rose Garden

The Rose garden is an oasis of calm

The Rose garden is an oasis of calm

By Andrew Bond

Located beside the lovely lush Ta Chine river near Bangkok is the complete Thai experience, designed to give tourists an unforgettable introduction to Thailand. The Rose Garden is a lot more than the name suggests, offering 75 acres of tropical gardens, a Thai cultural centre and show, golf course, accommodation in traditional lakeside Thai teak houses and six restaurants to suit all budgets.

Not surprisingly it’s a popular destination for day trips from Bangkok and is included on itineraries to the touristy Floating Market West of the city. First-timers to Thailand are given an intriguing and charming first impression of the Kingdom with a visit to this well maintained attraction.

The Rose Garden is just one hour’s drive from Bangkok, though most visitors arrive after an early morning visit to the popular Floating Market on the canals of Damnoen Saduak, 40kms to the Southwest. It began as private rose garden in the weekend retreat of a former Bangkok mayor in the sixties. His wife whose visionary interest in creating a landscaped tropical garden, laid the foundation for one of Thailand’s more famous estates.

Over the years it has expanded, adding a golf course, and Thai cultural village to attract tour groups. Ironically, the rose garden after which it is named is now only a minor attraction given that the climate and soil eventually proved unsuitable to sustain a world class collection. However, it was host to the world Orchid exhibition in 1978 and over the years the coconut and other palms have grown lofty and provide the shade for all sorts of tropical varieties that can be wandered among.

But the main reason the tour buses stop by is for the Thai cultural village, elephant show and culture show. Here visitors can witness first-hand the various Thai traditions such as cooking, weaving, rice planting and milling, pottery, silk weaving, music and dance. You can even get involved and learn the basics of these ancient arts, but they are all demonstrated in the popular 45-minute culture show. Another highlight for many is the brief elephant show and a chance to ride these native beasts.

Traditional Thai silk weaving

Traditional Thai silk weaving

The Rose Garden is also a great place for a wedding, be it your first or a reaffirmation of vows. Apart from magnificent teak pavillions on the edge of a pretty lake, they can arrange a night in one of their luxury villas, as well as someone to officiate. The Gardens provide a pretty backdrop for a ceremony.

The Golf course, located across the highway, is an award winning links with narrow fairways and some challenging bunker placements throughout the 7,115 yard course. A hotel on site also offers standard accomodation and exercise facilities, making it an excellent conference venue.

If all this activity leaves you hungry then you can pick from Inn Chan, Vanda Pavillion, Asuka (Japanese), Rim Nam and Pae Suan Sampran restaurants or Pae Pikul sundowner cruise boat. Several are situated besides the lovely Ta Chine river which is as broad and important as the Chao Praya but without the ugly commercial river banks. The air conditioned Inn Chan is particularly interesting as it is built and named in memory of the famous Siamese Twins of the same name who were born nearby in the mid 1800s.

Guests staying over also get to visit the excellent spa, situated in a traditional Thai teak house which was uprooted from Ayuthaya and rebuilt. It offers a range of soothing packages using various materials which are sold on site in the gift shop.

Most significantly the attention to detail is noticeable here, and the organisation and presentation can be described as world class, from the friendliness of the staff to the manicured gardens, food and activities in the cultural show. Over four decades the owners have worked hard to impress the many visitors who get their first and often only full impression of Thai culture here.

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