In ancient times, before the air conditioned malls Chiang Mai folk had a spot to cool off. They would walk up towards Doi Suthep and enjoy the cool shade under the trees of what is now known as the Huai Kaeo Arboretum.
The park is not as picnic friendly as in the past as it has been fenced off with barbed wire, apart from the entrance near Puping Police station, rubbish bins have been removed and little seating remains.
But the shade remains and some of the trees have labels with Thai and Latin names so I would suggest a visit by members of the newly formed Facebook group “Botanical Chiang Mai”.
The few interpretation signs are only in Thai.
The study of trees is often difficult because of their height, and flowers, fruit and leaves may be too distant to see with clarity. So early morning visits are recommended before the sweepers have cleaned away what has fallen over night, as some of the trees’ secrets may be lying in wait on the ground.
The park is largely dominated by trees of the Dipterocarpaceae family – Hopea odorata and Shorea roxburghii, both local to the area and the introduced Dipterocarpus alatus (Yang Na), two giant specimens of which grace the entrance.
Behind the park across the ancient moat many more tall Yang Na trees grow and there is a tree nursery which includes a small section where Gum Hak Doi Suthep grow a few trees. Trees in the nursery are grown for reforestation and should be available free on request.