Thailand’s fields are alive this time of year, but not with the Sound of Music. More often than not, they are full of endless sunflowers and other blooming annuals; such as, the recent addition of marigolds and sun hemps. For a Thai local experience, sunflowers are the best. Because visitors can bet all the attractions highlighted will be in full bloom with heaps of local Thais taking photos of themselves, their family, friends and of course lots and lots of flowers.
Native to North America, the history of the sunflower plant is extraordinary. The plant was cultivated by Native American Indians in an area, which is now present-day Arizona and New Mexico from about 3000 BC. Then around 1500 AD, the sunflower was brought to Europe by Spanish explorers.
Sunflower cultivation in Thailand has a much more modern history. Thais started planting sunflowers as a commercial crop in 1988 with a total area of 12 square kilometres. Last year, the area of sunflower fields increased to about 800 square kilometres nationwide and yielded over 60 thousand tons of sunflower oil. Generally, the plants are in full bloom from early November to the end of January.
It is a beautiful sight to behold and well worth the trip as most of the more spectacular pastoral settings are located just a short drive away from Bangkok.
Sunflower season starts in Central Thailand
The sunflower season starts in its traditional hub of Central Thailand. Lop Buri offers the first spots to see the sunflowers in bloom around the Phatthana Nikhom, Chai Badan, and Khok Samrong districts. The most famous location is in the fields of nearby Khao Chin Lae, where limestone mountains provide a dramatic backdrop for the vast landscape of beautiful yellow flowers. Traditionally, sunflowers turn their bright faces towards the sun.
Sara Buri is another traditional home to sunflower fields in Thailand. Travelling by road is recommended as visitors need a car to reach Khao Din Phattana in Amphoe Chaloem Phra Kiat; Nayao in Amphoe Phra Phutthabat; Hinson in Amphoe Kaeng Khoi, Salaengpan in Amphoe Wang Muang, Ban Kluai in Amphoe Nong Don or Mittraphap in Amphoe Muak Lek.
Central Thai farms in Lop Buri and Sara Buri provinces alternate planting cycles, so that there are always areas in bloom. As mentioned, it usually starts the beginning of November and runs until the end of January.
Each sunflower field blooms for about 10 days, and most farms offer free entry. Some might provide extra entertainment including pony rides or a small tractor to explore the fields, but why be lazy? There is no better way to experience a sunflower field in bloom than to go on walkabout. Farms generate income from selling sunflower oil, seeds as well as fruit, food and beverages.
Flower and farm tours in Isan
Jim Thompson Farm Tour 2017
The annual Jim Thompson Farm Tour runs from now until 7 January, 2018, under the theme of ‘Rushing Water, Life Force of Isan’. Its objective is to inform visitors about the importance of water to Isan’s agrarian way of life and about the region’s culture and traditions while they enjoy the picturesque natural surroundings of the farm.
A Jim Thompson Farm Tour includes both ‘agro and eco’ tourist attractions offering more unique Thai local experiences. Attractions and activities include the picturesque pink Cosmos field, a giant pumpkin patch and other colourful flower fields, as well as, of course, a radiant yellow sunflower field. The ‘Jim Village’ allows visitors to get hands-on weaving experience in the famed silk production processes of the renowned Jim Thompson brand. While the ‘Jim Market’ offers farm fresh vegetables, produce, fruit and garden pottery. Click here to see more pictures.
The Jim Thompson Farm is located in Pak Thong Chai District, Nakhon Ratchasima province.
Flora Park Festival 2017
There are over 100,000 flowers of numerous plant and tree species set in five themed zones. Among the key highlights are all kinds of roses. Visitors can stroll along many beautiful gardens of auspicious plants, winter plants, a rose zone, an orchid section, a flower seeding nursery, a 90-metre-long bamboo tunnel, a vertical garden and much more. There’s a farmer’s market, selling organic vegetables and plants. The annual Flora Park Festival runs from now until 28 February, 2018. Click here for pictures of the park.
The Flora Park is located in Wang Nam Khiao district, Nakhon Ratchasima province.
Sunflower fields of Rai Manesorn
Enjoy the vast golden landscape of sunflowers and sun hemps, covering some 700 rai (about 1.12 million sq. m) of hilly fields at the Rai Manesorn, which is fast becoming a must-visit attraction for Thais and foreign visitors to capture the majestic panoramic view of the radiant yellow flowers.
The sunflowers in the first field, about 200 rai, are expected to be in full bloom during the weekend of 9-10 December, 2017, but the farm has already opened its doors for the first visitors at the end of November. Meanwhile, the two sun hemp fields, spanning in total 300 rai, are already in full bloom, adding to the breath-taking hilly landscape. The farm will open its remaining sunflower field, another 200 rai, during the New Year period.
For maximum photo experience, use the raised platforms at various spots throughout the fields for 10 Baht per person as an add-on to the entry fee (40 Baht for adults, 20 Baht for children). There are also shops selling sunflower seeds, fruit, food and beverages, as well as a small petting zoo. Click here to see more pictures.
Rai Manesorn is located in Pak Chong district, Nakhon Ratchasima province.
PB Valley Khao Yai Winery Flower Park
The floral park boasts 9,999 marigolds in the shape of the Thai number nine to honour the much-revered late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (as the ninth King of the current Chakri Dynasty). These marigolds are now currently in bloom plus there are over 60 other types of flowers and trees that explode in colour across the 16-rai park.
PB Flower Park, open from now until the end of February 2018, is just a short walk from the winery’s Great Hornbill Grill Restaurant. A convenient tram runs through the complex for 20 Baht per person as an add-on to the PB Valley Khao Yai Winery’s regular vineyard and winery tour. For wine-lovers, the winery’s annual grape harvest festival is always a joyful occasion and scheduled for 4 February, 2018. Click here to see more pictures.
The PB Valley Khao Yai Winery is located in Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima province.