Khao Yai in Central Thailand is a true treasure trove of stunning natural beauty. It’s a popular tourist destination for its various man-made attractions and themed parks. But what really captured my heart was the quaint tranquility of its nature parks, amid all the commercial cafes and borrowed European architecture.
Our first stop? A tropical vineyard owned by a local family — GranMonte Wine Cottage.
I was absolutely fascinated by the fact that they could grow a whole variety of wine grapes right here in Southeast Asia, given our rather humid and tropical climate.
Granted, the weather in Khao Yai is somewhat cooler and drier than the rest of Thailand, but to see rows and rows of these succulent bunches of Syrah grapes growing on these vines, was just such a delight!
We hopped on a little tram where we were given a quick tour of the vineyard and we even had some time to just enjoy walking among the harvest and see for ourselves how different grapes were grown.
Then it was on to the processing part of the vineyard where they explained how the juice from the grapes were extracted and how the wine was aged in barrels to bring out the best in the flavours of the grape variety grown here. We learnt so much in that afternoon!
Then came our favourite part — a special tasting session where we sampled the best GranMonte had to offer. And I must say, while i’m not a connoiseur by any stretch, there were some very interesting flavours in the wine — including a delicious tropical hint of mango and banana which to me was very unique!
And look at all these awards they’ve won! They are truly the gem of the region, clinching multiple prizes and awards nationwide and around the world.
All in all, a beautiful day out in the vineyard!
Another highlight for us were the Manee Sorn Sunflower Fields.
We were so lucky to have visited in December which was exactly the only time of year these gorgeous gigantic sunflowers would bloom!
How amazing are these beauties?
They were literally as big as our faces! And stretched as far as the eye could see. I was absolutely overjoyed to be surrounded by an entire field of sunshine.
Truly an unforgettable sight, and such an uplifting experience to be surrounded by so much warmth and beauty.
There were also a great many themed parks like Primo Piazza, which as its name suggests was modelled after an Italian town somewhere in Tuscany.
It was pretty cute and does put one in a somewhat whimsical mood, but to be honest, I felt like it was rather contrived like it was trying very hard to be somewhere else. Which as a pity because Khao Yai was so beautiful the way it was!
The highlight there was definitely being able to feed some animals like my favourite alpacas, sheep and even a donkey!
And for that perfect insta-worthy princess shots or wedding shoots, Midwinter Green is modelled after towering German castles. There’s a restaurant here that serves up a European-inspired menu with an extensive wine list that opens till late for dinner.
If you love perfectly manicured gardens and a beautiful view of the meadows, here’s a hidden gem for you — Toscana Valley Country Club.
It actually boasts a beautiful golf course, but the view there overlooking the valley is just absolutely breathtaking.
It was also lovely to take a stroll in the immaculate garden filled with colourful flowers, butterflies and birdcalls. Definitely a beautiful way to spend the evening and watch the sunset.
All in all, Khao Yai has much to so much to offer. It really isn’t what you’d think though. Most flock here for the cafes, restaurants and themed parks. But its real beauty lies in whatever it already had — wonderful, friendly people, and quaint natural beauty.