If you are visiting Chiang Mai and heading up to the mountain temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, you can also combine this with a trip to the nearby Bhuping Palace. Built in 1961, Bhuping (also written as Phuping) Palace was a favourite location for King Rama IX to visit during the cool season months. Although the royal buildings are off-limits to the public, the photogenic botanical gardens make this an attractive location to visit.
Bhuping Palace was built in northern Thai style and sits on stilts. Foundation stones were laid at the auspicious time of 10.49 on August 24, 1961 and five months later construction of the palace was complete. All of the other buildings in the grounds were added at later dates. Bhuping Palace has been used as a winter residence by Thai royalty and has also hosted prominent State visitors from overseas.
Bhuping Palace gardens
The collection of royal buildings are attractive in their own right, but it is the gardens which make Bhuping Palace such a pleasant place to visit. Even if you are not into gardening or horticulture, the gardens and grounds make for an enjoyable way to relax and spend a few hours. One of the rose gardens, Suan Suwaree, commemorates the former lady-in-waiting, Thanpuying Suwaree Taepakam. The garden was planted under the instruction of HM Queen Sirikit in 1999.
Royal log cabins and water reservoir
In amongst the Thai-style buildings there are three Alpine inspired log cabins. Two of these cabins (built in 1991 and 1993) have been made with eucalyptus wood under a building project directed by HM Queen Sirikit. The log cabin known as Phra Tamnak Payak Sathit was built as a seasonal residence for the late king’s only son.
Providing a scenic backdrop to the log cabins, the fountains and water reservoir are as practical as they are attractive and provide the water used in the palace grounds.
Royal guesthouse and shrine
The royal guesthouse (Ruen Rab Rong) is used for royal visitors, senior palace aides and members of the royal entourage. Built in modern Thai style, the guesthouse also acts as a waiting place and meeting room for visitors attending banquets or a royal audience.
Hor Phra is the private royal shrine housing a Buddha image for royal prayer. Constructed in modern northern Thai style, the shrine is on stilts just as the main palace is.
Good to know
Visitors are not allowed to enter the royal buildings, but you are free to explore the grounds and take photos. When entering any royal grounds in Thailand you should dress and behave respectfully. When visiting Bhuping Palace, shoulders must be covered at all times. It is also forbidden to wear shorts, skimpy clothing and figure-hugging costumes. There has previously been a clothes rental service for visitors at Bhuping Place who arrive without suitable attire, but this service is/was due to be removed.
- Ticket prices: 50 Baht for non-Thai people, 20 Baht for Thais
- Ticket office opening times: 8.30am-11am and 1pm-3.30pm
- Grounds open: 8.30am-4pm daily
The grounds are quite large, but can still be covered on foot via the well-laid out paths and trails. If you aren’t up to walking around the gardens, a trolley car service with driver is available. The cost is 300 Baht for a maximum of 3 people.
How to get to Bhuping Palace
Bhuping Palace is located just beyond Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. From central Chiang Mai it’s approximately a 45-60 minute drive. Any tour agent in Chiang Mai can arrange transport or you can book online with a company like TakeMeTour*.
Alternatively, you can hire a songthaew and driver privately which would cost around 800 Baht. This is a good option if there are a number of you in your group because the cost of hire is for the vehicle and not on a per-person basis.
You can also take a red songthaew from outside of Chiang Mai zoo on Huay Kaew Road. These songthaews stop at Doi Suthep from where you catch another one to Bhuping Palace. In each case drivers will usually wait until they have a minimum number of ten passengers.
The fares below are per person in a shared songthaew:
Chiang Mai zoo to Doi Suthep = 40 Baht
Doi Suthep to Phuping Palace = 40 Baht
Phuping Palace to Doi Suthep = 40 Baht
Doi Suthep to Chiang Mai zoo = 40 baht
Doi Suthep to Chiang Mai university = 40 baht
Doi Suthep to Chiang Mai Old City (North Gate) = 60 Baht
Doi Suthep to Chiang Mai Thapae Gate = 80 Baht