Located on a mountain right above the famous Wat Phratat Doi Suthep, the Phuping Palace is the winter residence of the Thai Royal Family. The Palace was built in the year 1961 along with several other prestigious buildings. Today, the palace serves as the Royal Guest House for prominent State visitors from abroad.
Visitors are only allowed to roam around its extensive grounds but many of the royal buildings can be seen from the outside. The well-kept palace garden with its ravishing landscaped flower garden is certainly astonishing to see, most especially the Fern Garden being planted on a small hill. Another outstanding point of scenery is the Suan Suwaree Rose Garden that was planned out under the strict instruction of Her Royal Highness Queen Sirikit herself. The air is much cooler than that of Chiang Mai, which makes walking around the garden a pleasant and relaxing experience. Visitors will be even more pleased to know that trolley car services are available to those who wish to tour the grounds by vehicle.
Perhaps the most attractive feature of the Palace is the Fountain of Celestial Water of the People. This stunning musical fountain placed on a water reservoir provides water for the entire palace. The banks of the reservoir are actually planted in both formal and informal styles with the accompaniment of temperate flower plants.
Other buildings found within the Palace include the Ruen Peek Mai which is the seasonal residence of Her Royal Highness Princess Chulanhorn; the Phra Tamnak Phuping Rajanives, the Phuping Palace; the Ruen Rab Rong, which is the Royal Guest House; the Phra Tamnak Payak Sathit, the seasonal residence of His Royal highness Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn; and the Hor Phra or the private Royal Shrine.
Another attraction located near the palace is the Doi Suthep National Park with its lush green hills and an abundant pine forest. The park is situated up in the high mountains of the ridge system at 1,658 meters above sea level. The high altitude of the park grants its cool and refreshing climate all year round with amazing and sharp views of the landscape during crisp and clear days. Monkeys, macaques, deer and over 200 species of birds can be found within the forest grounds, including cagles, orioles and woodpeckers.
The palace is located on the same road as the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Drive a little bit further from the temple to reach it as the palace is about a 20-kilometer drive from Chiang Mai. The gardens of the palace are open from 8:30 to 11:30 in the morning and from 1:00 to 3:30 in the afternoon. Make sure that the Royal Family is not in residence during your scheduled visit as no visitors are allowed during that time. This usually happens during the months of January to March. It is also important to know that wearing of shorts, skirts, rubber slippers and other unsuitable clothing is not allowed inside the Palace premises. Garments can be rented at the nearby kiosk outside the palace.
If you want to check out royal living at its finest, then this is the place to go when in Chiang Mai. With its prominent architectural finish and manicured landscaped gardens, the Phuping Palace is a credit to the Thai people and their royalty.