This bordering district of Ratchaburi would have fallen off the travellers’ radar had it not been because of a string of Mediterranean-themed resorts dotting its mountainous landscape. Most are destinations in themselves, complete with a horse ranch, sheep farm, trickling streams and European gardens. But securing a room at one of these resort farms requires advance planning, as each has only a limited number of rooms and, believe it or not, they fill in very fast.
Apart from the destination resorts, Suan Phueng has a handful of natural attractions that would make a pleasurable one-day excursion. These include Bo Klueng Hot Spring, Som Maew Rapids inside the Sirikit Forest Garden, Phawothai Local Museum and Pong Yoop, a curious geological feature caused by a rift in the ground, similar to the Grand Canyon in the United States only much smaller.
Suan Phueng is about 160km (two hours) from Bangkok and is a very popular weekend destination.
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Suan Phueng Map
Ratchaburi, 80km west of Bangkok, is a scenic provincial town with a wealth of natural and cultural attractions – the most popular being Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Running along a network of canals just off the Mae Klong River, Damnoen Saduak is abuzz at early morning with wooden rowboats selling all kinds of fruits, vegetables and ready-to-eat snacks.
Suan Phueng Attractions
Besides a handful of themed destination resorts with whitewashed Mediterranean villas and sheep farms, Suan Phueng has a few but interesting natural attractions. Pong Yoop (Highway 3087, open only on weekends), with its curious geological formations caused by sudden collapse of soil thousands of years ago, is a quick stop.
Not far from Pong Yoop is Bo Kleung Hot Spring (15km north of Suan Phueng) where you can have a dip in a well-landscaped pool and enjoy the picturesque scenery. Gao Jone Waterfalls, slightly north of Bo Klueng, is ideal for hiking. The 2.5km trail, crisscrossing a dense, forested jungle and coving nine levels, takes about two-and-a-half hours to complete.
Suan Phueng Dining
More of a destination resort than a tourist hotspot, Suan Pheng is not big on the dining scene, but those few places that exist are very good at what they do best. Krua Karieng (opposite the district office) is a good place to sample local specialty dishes. For a quick meal, you might want to stop at a noodle hut located just before you enter Suan Phueng (Highway 3087, Soi Tessaban 9). This roadside eatery (look for the red sign that says “ก๋วยเตี๋ยวไข่”) offers a range of barbecued pork egg noodles and curry over rice dishes, prepared according to the original family recipes.
Further west of the city area, but before entering the ‘resorts zone’, Baan Hom Tien is actually a shop selling handmade scented candles but it also has a small, atmospheric eatery offering tasty Thai dishes.
Suan Phueng Nightlife
Suan Phueng is a daytime destination. As soon as the sun sets, the whole town basically shuts down. Apart from the activities provided at your resort, nightlife is nowhere to be found here.
Suan Phueng Shopping
Many resorts in Suang Phueng operate an on-site small souvenir shop, but the collection of crafts you find may not be unique to the area. Baan Hom Tien is perhaps the only full-scale specialty shop in this sleepy border town; even so, it caters to a specific niche – that is, people who love scented candles. Besides Baan Hom Tien, The Scenery has a cute souvenir shop selling a hip and creative collection of knick knacks that’s not found in the mainstream, such as woven panama hats, stuffed sheep dolls, off-the-beaten-track travel books and hand-painted jute bags.
Suan Phueng Activities
To really appreciate Suan Phueng’s natural scenery, it’s best to get out of your resort and explore waterfalls, kayak in a river, or take a dip in a natural hot spring or cool stream at Som Maew Rapid (25km southwest of the city). Many resorts also offer a range of activities to keep you entertained, including feeding the sheep (the most popular), pony riding, bicycling and archery. At Baan Hom Tien, you can also try your hand at candle making and bring home a piece of candle art.
Getting Around Suan Phueng
The best way to get to Suan Pueng is by private car. Driving from Bangkok takes about two hours. You can take either Phetkasem Road (Highway 4) or Rama II Road out of Bangkok, both of which go all the way to Ratchaburi City. Then take Highway 3208 to get directly to Suang Phueng or Highway 3087 for a detour to visit a few caves before getting back on track at a junction right before you reach Suan Phueng Town.
As a border town, public transportation choices are rather limited. The farthest the train will go is Ratchaburi City, then you have to hop on a public bus to get to Suan Phueng.