The Royal Project initiatives were started way back in 1969 and to date total approximately 4000 different projects throughout Thailand. Initiated by the late HM King Bhumipol Adulyadej and the rest of the Royal family. Its purpose was to provide an alternative agricultural crop to opium farming in the northern Thai regions and improving the livelihoods of the minority hill tribe communities, provide a self-sufficiency economy for Thailand, to promote sustainable natural resources and to optimize land fertility through organic agriculture.
Chiang Mai is one of the five provinces that has the most Royal Project initiatives that not only provide an agricultural food basket to the nation but also a unique experience for eco and agro tourism. Visitors can now get an insight into the late King Bhumipol’s workings of the Royal Projects through visitations to some of these Royal Project sites.
These Royal Project villages consists of farming experiences, in-house restaurant where one can try the fresh produce from the many farms in the village, and special Royal Project stores that you can purchase items directly fresh from the farm. Some of the Royal Projects also have opportunities for yo’u to experience genuine home-stay environments where you can also participate in some of the farming activities and learn from these Royal Projects.
One of these Royal Projects is the Royal Rose Garden, which is known as Houy Pak Pai Rose Garden and situated in Ban Pong, Hang Dong District, Chiang Mai and the Thung Roeng Royal Project also in Chiang Mai but is one of the newly opened projects for tourist visitation.
The Thung Roeng Royal Project is where you can experience the various methods of organic farming from vegetables to avocado trees. A popular green vegetable that is of demand here is the various species of kale and the “Hass” avocado. Most of the produce sourced from this place are sold to restaurants and hotels in Chiang Mai and also at the OTOP (Royal Project) retail stores throughout Thailand. Other produce include pumpkins, mustard and a variety of salad vegetables. The kale (which is a leafy green vegetable) is specially served as a refreshing cool drink which surprisingly does not taste much like a vegetable drink when mixed with lime and soda. The kale is also made into delicious kale and pumpkin pies which are such a delightful dessert.
The Royal Project initiatives also experiment with unique flavored dishes made of the fresh produce from the farms and have produced some of the most interesting cuisine not often found in the Thai restaurants elsewhere.
The Houy Pak Pai Rose Garden on the other hand is a more popular attraction and well-established over time. Specializing in edible and scented rose varieties, this rose garden produced a variety of scented roses which are harvested for making rose oils and some of the varieties have edible petals used in Thai cuisine.
This venue also has a unique cafe and restaurant that serves cuisine and drinks unique to the place including dishes with produce from other Royal Projects. Two great specialties here are the very aromatic herbal tea that is a must try. Made of 9 different herbs and flowers, it produces an aroma that is unique to the royal Rose Garden Project and it is a fresh tea meaning that the ingredients are not dried and the very special avocado ice cream. The creamy texture of the avocado ice cream is not only flavorful but also a delight to the palate. These are the two must try items when you visit this place.
Other interesting dishes are the Northern style sausages, avocado shake, wild duck curry and more items from their vast menu. Most people visit this project to admire the beauty of the variety of roses grown and to savor the delightful cuisine.
Mornings are a good time to visit these places when the air is cool and refreshing. One can get some interesting items from their retail store but most people purchase an extra portion of their fresh herbal tea as it is quite difficult to get it elsewhere and it can last for up to a week in the refrigerator. To get to these places, one can join a tour or hire a private van to bring you there and explore other places along the way.