Singha Park, Chiang Rai was opened to the public in December 2012, following the decision of Boon Rawd Brewery, the company who produce Singha Beer, to transform its beer barley fields into a sustainable tourism project. Note in Thai the name of the park and beer is pronounced as Sing.
It was on my list of places to visit, so I didn’t complain when the Chiang Rai Marathon organisers had to change registration for the local city hall to the park, which is about eight miles north of the city. There isn’t usually any public transport to the park but the race organisers provided complimentary shuttle buses from my hotel to Singha Park and return which I took advantage of.
The park covers an area of 3163 acres, almost nine times the size of Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park, and although now a major tourist attraction it is still a working farm with fruit orchards and tea plantations now joining some of the original barley fields. Although, the barley grown here is now mainly used for producing malted drinks and health foods.
The tea plantations produce the famous oolong tea and visitors get the chance to see how the tea is grown and picked and get to pose in traditional tea picker’s clothing.
Much of the park has been transformed though with cycle paths, trails, lakes and meadows all making it an attractive, safe and non-polluted place to walk, run and cycle.
You don’t even need to take your own bike or helmet as there are plenty for hire at a cost of 100 Baht per hour. There is a range of different cycle routes and maps are provided too as well as coffee stops, clean toilets, showers and bike cleaning and parking stations.
Still struggling over my manflu and with the hot sun beating down on me, I wasn’t up for cycling, running or even much walking, so I took advantage of one of the electric buses which tour the park stopping at various points of interest along the way, although I fear that I missed out on some of the experience as the announcements are only made in Thai.
I enjoyed the free watermelon and tea the trip to the small zoo with its Zebras, Giraffes and Shetland Ponies.
I declined the opportunity to zip line across some of the park at a cost of 800 Baht. Maybe the next time.
There are plenty of options for eating and drinking in the park and I’ve heard great reports on the Bhu Bhirom Restaurant which, I’m told, has great food and wonderful views at low prices. There’s a choice of Thai food, including northern Thai specialities, as well as Western options. The restaurant uses freshly grown fruit and vegetables from the farm a popular weekend and evening choice for Chiang Rai locals. There is also a Pizzeria and a number of coffee shops too. When I was there, there was a coffee market taking place with loads of coffee stalls providing an even larger selection than usual.
There is a range of other activities throughout the year, with an annual balloon festival, various cycling and running events throughout the year and a number of musical concerts too. If you’re in the Charm of The North you should definitely give it a visit, even just for your morning run.