Phuping Palace is the Royal winter residence of the Thai Royal Family. It is located in the mountains outside Chiang Mai where temperatures are lower than in town and the atmosphere is more moist. The Palace that was completed in 1961 is also used to receive guests of the Royal Family.
The Palace that is officially named Phra Tamnak Phu Phing and also known as Bhubing Palace is found on Doi Buak Ha, a mountain close to Chiang Mai near Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of North Thailand’s most important Buddhist temples. Getting there means a scenic ride on a steep and windy road across the forested mountain.
The Palace gardens
As the Palace buildings are not open to the public, the main attraction are the landscaped gardens that can be visited when none of the members of the Thai Royal Family stays at the Palace.
Although the very well maintained gardens are worth a visit year round as different flowers bloom in each season, they are at their best during the winter months when many colorful flowers are in bloom. During the monsoon season the mountain can be covered in clouds, which is an excellent time for the Palace orchids.
One of the main attractions is the rose garden named Suan Suwaree. Besides the roses, the spread out gardens contain many species of flowers and plants such as several species of camellias, ferns, giant bamboo and colorful orchids.
A number of well marked paths lead through the large gardens. Wear comfortable walking shoes, as it can be quite a walk and the paths can be steep at several places. At the time of writing (April 2013), Phuping Palace is under renovation. While the gardens are open to the public, a number of buildings are obscured from view.
The buildings of Phuping Palace
The main Palace building is the Phra Tamnak Phuping Rajanives. This was the first structure to be build, which was completed in 1961. The Ruen Rob Rong is the Royal guesthouse, a two storey building used as a guesthouse for visitors of the Royal Family. The Phra Tamnak Sri Nagarindra is a two storey building on top of a small hill that was the Royal Residence of Princess Sri Nagarindra, who was known as “The Royal Grandmother”, the mother of the current King.
There are 3 log cabins build from eucalyptus wood. The Ruen Peek Mai is the Royal Residence of HRH Princess Chulabhorn. The Tamnak Payak Sathit is the Royal Residence of HRH the Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. The third is the Phra Tamnak Siri Song Phuping.
The Pha Mon pavilion is a teak wood pavilion build for recreation and diner for the Royal Family. It was build on a small hill in the fern garden in which several species of fern grow, some of which are up to 100 years old. The Hor Phra is a small Northern style building containing a Buddha image. It is a shrine for prayer used by the Royals.
A large water reservoir with fountains provides water for the Palace complex during the dry season.
How to get to Phuping Palace
The Palace is located on Doi Buak Ha mountain, about 20 kilometers North West of the city of Chiang Mai. It is along the same road as Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple, that is about 4 kilometers closer to the city.
There are many ways to get to the Palace. The most comfortable way is by private taxi. A half day trip visiting Phuping Palace and nearby Doi Suthep temple will cost around 1,000 Thai Baht. Taxis or minivans can be booked by most travel agents in town. Chartering a tuk tuk for a full day will cost around 500 Baht, which enables you to see a few other sites in the area.
A popular way of getting around in Chiang Mai is by songthaew, a kind of converted pick up truck used as a taxi with benches in the back. You can hire one private or share it with other passengers. Shared songthaews leave from the market at Manee Nopparat road, just North of the Chang Puak gate (the North entrance of the old town). A trip to the Palace will cost around 80 Baht per person. The driver will wait until there are enough passengers before setting off. Chartering a songthaew for half a day to see Phuping Palace and Doi Suthep temple will cost between 500 and 600 Baht.
Opening hours & admission
The Palace grounds are open daily from 8.30 am until 4.30 pm. The ticket office opens from 8.30 am until 11.30 am and from 1 pm until 3.30 pm. The grounds are closed during Royal visits, usually between January and March. The Palace buildings are not open to the public.
Admission is 50 Baht per person. Please follow the Palace dress code: long pants or skirts, no bare shoulders. Suitable clothes are for rent at a small fee at the entrance if you need them. Trolley cars are available for rent at 300 Baht that take a maximum of 3 people. Food and coffee are available on the Palace grounds as well as outside the grounds.