Looking for somewhere to sneak away from the city life routine? Want to go somewhere that fulfills your holidays, somewhere with bright sunshine, blue sky, cool winter breeze, fresh air with delightful atmosphere, yet still get a glimpse of Thai culture in a natural environment?
Just head towards Nakhon Ratchasima, a few hours by car northeast of Bangkok, and you will be in the land of beautiful nature and a culturally-rich region. Especially during December and January, at the time of the year when the weather is most pleasant and several attractions are at their best with beautiful flowers and lush greenery.
And it is only this time of the year that the Jim Thompson Farm in Pakthongchai and Flora Park in Wang Nam Khiao will be open for visitors. The practice has turned the open season at the two attractions into highly-anticipated annual events, attracting a large crowd daily throughout the opening period.
This year, Jim Thompson Farm opens from 5 December, 2015, to 10 January, 2016. Under the theme “Mang Mun Bun Khao’ (rice merit making), the farm aims to demonstrate how rice culture is strongly interwoven with the Isan people’s way of life. The age-old ceremony is showcased along with several other subjects of interests across the over 600-rai area of the farm.
The Jim Thompson Farm tour will expose visitors to several subjects related to the rice tradition; such as, a 14-metre-tall castellated rice hall, a multi-coloured rice paddy, a buffalo sculpture as well as several rice products used in merit-making ceremonies. There is also a comprehensive showcase of Isan traditional architecture; such as, Thai Yuan house, ‘Sim’ or temple, Tripitaka hall, belfry, and the award-winning Korat-style house.
Other highlights also include the picturesque field of pink cosmos, the impressive pumpkin patch and colourful flower fields, the ‘Jim village’ where visitors can see and try a hands-on experience in silk production processes of the renowned Jim Thompson brand, and the ‘Jim market’ where visitors can shop for fruits, vegetables, pot flowers, and fresh produce from the farm. So there are plenty of joyous activities that can delight visitors throughout the day.
From the Jim Thompson Farm, it takes about one hour by car to Wang Nam Khiao where you can also visit a splendid floral garden – the Flora Park Wang Nam Khiao. Here, following the tremendous success of the 2011 Wang Nam Khiao Flora Fantasia, the event has become an annual affair to showcase the wide variety of beautiful flowers and flower species breed and grown only in the Wang Nam Khiao area.
Open in November 2015 and running until 28 February, 2016, the Flora Park showcases the world of thousands of beautiful flowers artfully designed to present the architectural wonders of the flower garden.
Here you will be amazed with the panoramic birds’ eye view of the floral garden designed to look like a labyrinth of thousands of colourful flowers, which is really a feast for eyes. Do not just look, but do walk through the exotic garden which features more than 2,000 English roses and a wide variety of ornamental flowers in full bloom. If you are there with your lover, the romantic atmosphere will sweeten your love even more.
Apart from the Flora Park, there are also the educational zones where visitors will get to learn of ‘Fah Prathan’ learning centre for sustainable agricultural development. The area is divided into different zones which visitors can tour around the farm to visit each zone including a grape ozone, greenery coffee ozone, rubber ozone, veggie ozone, and eggie ozone. After finish the tour, visitors can also shop for organic and agricultural products, fruits, and vegetables fresh from the farm at the Farmers Market.
If you have some more time, it is a good idea to stay overnight. Plenty of accommodation is available in the Wang Nam Khiao area or you can combine the trip to these two farms with a trip to Khao Yai, where there are plenty of natural wonders to cherish.
Jim Thompson Farm opens daily between 09:00 – 17:00 Hrs. Farm tour ticket is available at 180 Baht for an adult and 135 Baht for children on weekdays, and 220 Baht and 180 Baht, respectively on weekends. There is an exception of 30 December – 3 January when the ticket price will be 280 Baht for adults and 220 Baht for children. Tickets are available at www.thaiticketmajor.com/travel or any of the Jim Thompson stores in Bangkok. Visit www.jimthompsonfarm.com for further details.
Flora Park Wang Nam Khiao opens 08:00 – 18:00 Hrs during weekdays and 08:00 – 18:00 Hrs during weekends. Admission fee is 150 Baht per person, 50 Baht for children. Free entrance for small kids.