The hills are alive, with the sound of KoooooooohSpotttt! Yes, it’s that time of year again when Bangkokians drive out to witness nature and floral arrangements, but only if it’s kept as convenient as possible. You didn’t think we would scuff up our Gucci kicks did you?
Join KohSpot on a trip to see Flora Fantasia at Wang Nam Keaw and witness the inescapable trendiness of Palio near Khao Yai national park. Wang Nam Keaw is well known to Thais as a place to camp and enjoy organic vegetables. In recent years, a large phalanx of companies decided it would be a good place to plant a huge flower arrangement. Flora Fantasia features a pumpkin tunnel, viewpoint tower, nursery, and what it describes as a maze, which is actually just a huge flower display of petunias, vincas, impatiens and coleus rimmed by shooting stars.
The floral arrangement is a pleasant diversion for an hour and can be a fun, romantic place to take pictures. But if you have no interest in flowers, the 200 baht entry fee on weekends will probably put you off. KohSpot remembered how great the Royal Flora Ratchaphruek was in Chiang Mai, but this show is a fraction of that scale and is probably only worth seeing if you happen to be in the area.
If you continue northwest along the same road (Route 3052-see location section below), you will actually experience some natural beauty along the breathtaking Lam Phra Plueng Reservoir. This lovely body of water is fringed by hills and has a few eateries and guesthouses along the way.
Stay on target until you reach Route 2090, and you’ve arrived in the land ofwineries, golf courses, and its grand temple: Palio. A shrine to unabashed consumerism, this mall in the form of an Italian piazza is nonetheless a mild diversion to break up the driving. KohSpot was flabbergasted to see there is not only a 20 baht fee to park, but also a 20 baht fee for the privilege of walking around the mall. We can summarize that the experience at Palio is similar to paying someone to slap you in the face with rainbow trout
There is plenty to eat and drink and try on, but most of it could be found in Bangkok for similar prices. You’re just there for the novelty of a faux Italian piazza plopped down in the middle of a Thai forest, as well as the opportunity to take university girl cheese photos in the garden.
Keep driving along this road until you reach Highway 2 (Mittraphap), on which you can speed back to Bangkok, but not before stopping at fabled Chokchai Farm for a steak.
Location: All these venues are located on a loop, or you just cherry-pick the ones you want and return the same way you came back. Wang Nam Keaw is much closer to Route 304 via Nakhon Nayok, with a turnoff on Route 3052. Continuing on 3052 you border the Lam Phra Plueng Reservoir until you reach 2090, which ultimately connects to Highway 2 (Mittraphap). Highway 2 to Khao Yai is farther away from Bangkok if you are driving to Wang Nam Keaw, but it has more lanes and you can drive faster.
Wang Nam Keaw and Khao Yai
Mass transit: Buses go to Khao Yai and trains and vans travel to Pak Chong
Hours: Wang Nam Keaw 9 am-6 pm daily until Feb 28. Palio 8 am-8 pm Sunday-Thursday, 8 am-10 pm Friday, Saturday and public holidays.
Phone: Wang Nam Keaw 02-187-0295, Palio 044-365-899
Website: www.wangnamkeawflora.com, www.palio-khaoyai.com