Dokmai Garden is a new venture that has recently opened it’s doors in Chiang Mai, Thailand and aims to offer a gastronomic feast for both your body & mind!
Situated in southern Chiang Mai (in the Hang Dong district), Dokmai Garden covers 24 rai (4 hectares, 10 acres), and displays 800 tropical plant species,130 edible plant species, and a pond containing 25 types of Mekong fish.
The garden itself is the brainchild of the Seehamongkol family, and on any given day you could bump into members of at least three generations of the family around the gardens.
One of the things that sets Dokmai Garden apart from most other similar ventures not only in Thailand but also Asia is the individual labeling of species with the interesting facts being provided in English, Japanese & Thai!
The 800 plant varieties have different origins. Some are indigenous, some were collected from the surrounding lowland savannahs, some were bought from nurseries, some were gifts from villagers, some were brought from the family’s hometown in Esan and some were derived from germination of seeds collected in the mountains. “We have a fruitful collaboration with the Queen Sirikit Botanical garden, as Dokmai Garden is considered a complement in terms of pedagogy, rather than a competitor”.
As you venture into the restaurant immediately there is a feel of quality about everything around you, instead of the commonly seen plastic plates and tin cutlery, the owners have selected fine Thai bone chinaware and heavy Thai cutlery. The design of spoons is important, as a spoon should give a smooth and tasteless sensation in your mouth, and the shaft must not hurt your hand. The chinaware is white & simple, but sets the background for the explosion of colors & the attack on your tastebuds that each of the bespoke dishes creates. To compliment the tastes of the Thai cuisine a selection of Thai beers, imported Chilean or Australian wines are on hand to further enhance the degustation.
A look at the Dokmai Garden guest book echoes the exclamations of surprise and amazement from all over the world, already visitors from almost every continent have found their way to the garden, many of them returning a second time within a couple of days, for the food, for the plants, for the chats and for the tranquility!
On a practical note it is impossible to grasp 800 species in a day, and for this reason Dokmai Garden offers a VIP-card with unlimited entries during a year for just 600thb.
Eric Danell, a biologist with a PhD in plant physiology from Uppsala University, Sweden, helps the family with scientific texts and identifications. He is also quite often available to answer questions about tropical gardening and biology in general or just offer tips & guidance to help you select the varieties most suitable for your garden.
The “Connoisseur’s Club” is a small nursery within the Dokmai Garden which offers more unusual varieties of plants for sale, these typically are varieties not generally found for sale in northern Thailand.
Dokmai Garden does not try to maximize income by adapting to the mainstream taste. People who appreciate brightly colored flowers arranged in the shape of a heart, loud music, cheap food and plastic souvenirs, would not find that at Dokmai Garden. To save such people from disappointment, the entrance fee (300thb) is equal to the cost for a beer and a pizza, which some consider too much of a sacrifice for gaining a cultural experience!. Indeed the admission fee only covers the costs for the maintenance of the garden, the family has sponsored the overall investment.
One British visitor recently remarked that “ANYBODY who either listens togardening programs on radio or watches them on t.v., would love Dokmai Garden”, but it’s not just avid gardeners, the garden also attracts young backpackers, as they wish to know what they see on their tours, what they should not touch, where they can go trekking and how to cook the vegetables they collect in the garden.
Dokmai Garden also offers a “Garden Tour” which is a small scale tour to a local market, to the Dokmai Garden and to a mountain village. Some guests have remarked that the Garden Tour has more jungle trekking than many ordinary jungle tours. The tour lasts for 8 hours & the cost of the tour is 1,600thb/person which includes collection & drop-off at your hotel.
The site of Dokmai Garden was not randomly selected. Chiang Mai is the centre of knowledge and culture within northern Thailand, it’s blessed with seven universities, the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, lovely forests, an international airport, an amazing assortment of restaurantsand luxurious shopping and plenty of educated tourists!
Dokmai Garden is located only 20 minutes from Chiang Mai city center, it is a very quiet spot, far from the traffic noise,for directions to
Dokmai Garden just click the link.
The garden is open Tuesday to Sunday inclusive 10am-5pm
Daily Admission: 300thb
Visitors wishing to spend the full day at Dokmai Garden can arrange complimentary travel to & from the garden – please contact the garden for further information on +66 (0)89- 4339045 or by E-mail: [email protected]