|The butterfly-themed garden at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden|
I was a bit surprised that quite a number of Thai locals I had short conversations with told me that Nong Nooch Tropical Garden should be the first on our list of places to visit in Pattaya. Seriously? What’s in that garden anyway? I am not really a fan of botanical gardens, although I get fascinated with flowers sometimes, especially the rare-looking ones. Nevertheless, visiting Nong Nooch wasn’t on top of our list. Actually, it wasn’t even part of our itinerary! But with a little more persuasion from our song thaew driver, we finally agreed to check out the popular attraction.
|With an entrance as extravagant as this, something good must be waiting inside!|
|This way please.|
|Colorful wall near the ticket booth|
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden is actually located in the municipality of Jomtien and not in Pattaya. It is about 20 kilometers from Pattaya City center. But with the attraction’s proximity to Pattaya, it is categorized as a Pattaya tourist destination. The ‘garden’ is an astonishing 600-acre private property originally meant to be a fruit plantation, but was transformed into a tropical garden in 1980. From year to year, the owners added more features in order to encourage more guests to visit the place.
|Giraffes past the ticket booth. How I wished they were real!|
|An army of colorful giant ants|
For an entrance fee of just 500 baht, I must say the place is indeed worth visiting. Giving in to persuasion has its perks sometimes, eh? The day never ends at Nong Nooch because the place is packed with so much sights to see and activities to do. The place which was once a simple garden with ornamental flowers and plants now has a lot of themed gardens to showcase. Spend a few hours strolling along the French Garden, European Garden, Cactus Garden, Bromeliad Garden, Butterfly Garden, Floating Garden, and even a garden inspired by the Stonehenge. There is also a skywalk where guests can view the garden from a different perspective. The skywalk also connects one attraction to the other. What’s more interesting is that the place holds a botanical collection that aims to preserve several plant species that are in danger of extinction. Nong Nooch collaborates with institutions to promote ex situ conservation programs, plant documentation, and preservation of highly endangered species.
Take time to feel at one with many animal species in their mini zoo. I don’t think it’s mini, though. The zoo actually showcases a large collection of different birds, reptiles, monkeys, butterflies and other wild animals. And don’t forget the elephants! My sisters got to enjoy a short elephant ride for 400 baht per person. There are also aquariums filled with lots of different fish species.
|Kuya, don't text while driving! lol|
|Interact with the animals|
At specific times within the day, there are several cultural and traditional shows, martial arts, and elephant shows that you can watch while resting your tired feet. A car fanatic? The owner so loves cars that a car display is also now up for viewing at the Nong Nooch Garden. Take a look at his collection of rare sports, performance and touring cars.
|The skywalk provides connections between attractions|
With all that’s in store for you throughout the day, you will definitely look for something to eat to keep you energized. Nong Nooch Garden has a number of restaurants serving Western, Indian, Chinese, Thai and other cuisines. The manager in the resto where we dined even asked me about my Nationality and surprisingly took me and my group to the buffet area where Asian cuisine, including some Filipino dishes, were served. Amazing. Haha.
|Take a rest under this giant umbrella|
Once you get to visit Nong Nooch, you might feel you haven’t explored the place enough. Worry not because it has a lot of themed rooms available for overnight stay so you can continue your strolling the next day.
Well, I am actually running out of things to say as we had explored the place in just less than 3 hours. Though I haven’t explored the entire attraction, I guess every acre deserves some appreciation. I’ll just leave you with some more pictures taken at Nong Nooch Garden to tell you the rest of the story of our visit. Enjoy viewing!
|Posing with mom. Shot taken by Sir Glen.|
|I wished these were real, too!|
|And also these.|
|Di umubra sakin 'tong tigre na 'to, ayun, tulog! lol|
|Ang tatapang sumakay kuno!|