Sunday, 2 October 2022

Blooming flower farms brighten Central Thailand and Isan

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.

Sunflower Field at Khao Chin Lae, Lop Buri

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.

Sunflower Field at Khao Chin Lae, Lop Buri

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.