Plan for the day
Our plan was to visit five attractions, they were “Primo Piazza”, “Palio KhaoYai”, “Ban Tha Chang” spring, “The Chocolate Factory” and lastly “Khao Yai Art Museum”. Though “Secret Art Garden” was one of our pre-selected options but we felt that it was a bit out of the way and did not looked as interesting as the rest so we would forgo it. As for “Midwinter Green” it was a high class restaurant but since we had another locationon in mind for dinner we would also give it a miss.
We would start the day with a visit to Primo Piazza which was the furthest from our “stay” (13 km west) and while travelling back towards our “stay” we would stop at Palio KhaoYai, Ban Tha Chang spring, Chocolate Factory and lastly Khao Yai Art Museum. Khao Yai Art Museum was about 1 km from our stay and that was the reason we put it to the last because if we could not make it to the museum before its closing time, we would visit it the next morning without driving far.
Breakfast at Mont Blanc in Khao Yai
We ate our breakfast which was part of the stay package in a huge dining room on the ground level of our building. The dining room was just beside the pool. We thought of sitting in the outdoor section at one of the several tables by the pool. Unfortunately as I was about to sit down at an empty table, I was told by a staff that the table was reserved. Huh? Shouldn’t the table be taken on a first come first serve basis? After all this was a free for all (customer) dining hall! Too bad, I could not speak Thai and the staff could not speak English so we could not exchange information.
Breakfast was the “buffet” sort where we picked the stuffs we liked from a long table at the far side of the dining hall. There were egg, bacon, vegetable, thai curries (red and green), bread, coffee, tea and fruit juice. The food was pretty normal, nothing fantastic.
We drove westward to Primo Piazza which opened from 9am to 6pm. On the way we saw two elephants by the road side with their handler doing some “tasks” nearby. I just could not resist coming down to have a closer look at the animals. It was not everyday that we saw big animals standing by the side of the road! I walked as close on one of the animal as possible to take a near photo shot.
We reached Primo Piazza at about 10.30 am and parked in the carpark next to the entrance to the Piazza. There was only a couple of cars in the carpark so it looked like weekday was not “busy” time. The entry ticket to the park was 200 baht ($8.80 sgd) per person, which we felt was pretty pricy but since we were here in Khao Yai it seemed “not right” not to visit Primo Piazza. After all Primo Piazza was one of its more famous attractions.
The Piazza was an “Italian” theme huge garden with fountains, several pretty buildings, a tower and a barn with some live animals. The sun was bright and sunny so Primo Piazza became a nice colorful place for beautiful pictures.
As we walked from one building to another we hardly saw anybody around. The cafe and ice cream stores were closed. We entered some building and found ourselves in big rooms with high ceilings. Some rooms had tables and chairs, they looked like dining rooms but the tables were bare, no plates or cups or utensils. There was no waiter or staff around, there was no sign of food and a kitchen. So did we stumble into a restaurant whose staff was on strike! Puzzling…
The buildings surrounded a square with a “not working” fountain in the center and a tall tower at one corner. We went up the tower to have a look. It was not a clock tower, neither was it a bell tower but at the top of the tower we saw many “locks” locked on the railing. Were these lovelocks? So this was a “lover tower”. Or were these locks put there as a gimmick? We didn’t remember any stores selling locks in the Piazza so couples brought their own locks because they knew of this place? There was no writeup or notice anywhere so we could only guess the reasons for the lovelocks being there.
One thing we were sure, the view from the top was good. We could see the nice piazza below, we could see the surrounding layers of hills and we could see a barn behind the piazza.
It was a short walk to the barn behind the piazza. Before reaching the barn I could already smell it! Animal-shit smell drifted through the air. “Oh dear, hubby and Lin Ying can go that way, I am not!” When I was in the highlands of Italy/Switzerland a year before I was exposed to too many days of this smell and till this day I was still trying to erase it from my brain.
From afar I saw several children in the barn with their parents. They were excitedly feeding the animals with the “grass” food provided by the staff. The white animals certainly looked cuteeee…
Palio Khaoyai was about 7.5 km east of Primo Piazza. From the outside where the carpark was located, Palio Khaoyai looked similar to Primo Piazza. One thing different was there was no entrance charges!
Once we entered Palio Khaoyai we saw many shops with products for sale. Unlike Primo Piazza, this place was more lively and vibrant. We moved from one store to the next picking up souvenirs to bring home. Some on these items allowed customerisation like adding a name etc etc.
I definitely preferred Palio Khaoyai to Primo Piazza but hubby differed. Maybe it was my woman’s shopping instinct that colored my view! It was definitely more exciting to enter rooms that were full of colorful items on display. Even if Lin Ying and I did not buy them it was fun to look at them.
There several eateries and cafes at Palio Khaiyai and they were open for business. We walked into a restaurant after looking at its menu placed at its entrance. The desserts and drinks looked “inviting”. Even though we were in a nature park the weather still got pretty hot in the afternoon and we were in need of something long and cold. It was nice chilling out at the restaurant. The cost for two drinks and two desserts came up to 215 bahts ($9.50 sgd)
Ban Tha Chang Spring
We could see the spring from the road. It was about 2.6 km east of Palio Khaoyai. We parked our car at a carpark beside the spring and walked through a store (a small house) to get to the spring. There were many locals swimming/playing in the water of the “spring”. The name “spring” always invoked a picture of clean and transparent water but this “spring” was not. The water was greyish green and looked murky. The ground leading to the spring was also slippery, wet and muddy and we had to navigate slowly to get closer to the water.
Ban Tha Chang Spring was a disappointment but across the spring the road side food stalls seemed interesting. We bought some barbeque chicken on sticks and they tasted pretty good. It was a 20 minutes wait for the guy to barbeque the chicken meat! Each sticks costed 30 baht ($1.30sgd). Yummy…yummy.
At about 2 pm the rain started, the rain did not affect our visit to the next destination which was Khao Yai Chocolate Factory, an indoor place. Just outside the “Factory” was a huge carpark and once the rain lightened we got out of our ran into the “Factory”
The Chocolate Factory was a pretty nice place. We could see through a huge glass partition a “chocolate making” kitchen. There was also a large display of chocolate products on the many shelves for sale. There was a cafe counter where customers could order cakes and drinks. At the far wall of the room was a stairs leading up a floor.
The upper level was a nice surprise, it had a huge garden and a lovely large restaurant. In the restaurant it also sold the same cakes and drinks as the coffee corner on the level below.
The pricing of the drinks and cakes at the restaurant was the same as that in the cafe corner on the lower level so we decided to chill out at the restaurant for our second coffee break of the day. We ordered two types of chocolate cake, a lava cake and three cups of cafe latte and the total cost came up to 671 baht ($29.30sgd) which was relatively inexpensive compared to the price back home. We especially liked the ambience of the restaurant which was enhanced by the surrounding greenery of the garden outside.
Khao Yai Art Museum
It was close to 4 pm when we arrived at Khao Yai Art Museum, we still had about 1.5 hour to explore the museum before it closed at 5.30 pm. We parked our car just at the side of the main entrance and walked into the ground of the museum, there were no entrance charges. On the way in we saw many large art pieces on display on the green. Some pieces were pretty straight forward while others were complex… full of “every things”, The artist was clamping everything in one piece!
After the outdoor displays we moved indoor, there were three display halls and the display pieces ranges from simple, to weird to exagerrated to exotic and to beautiful.
Dinner at Kua Kampan
For dinner we decided go to Kua Kampan. It was a restaurant which served local food and it also had good reviews on tripadvisor. The distance to Kua Kampan was about 6 km and the journey took only 10 minutes. Along the way we passed a night market and made a note to visit it on the way back after dinner.
We reached the restaurant at about 6.45pm. It was a huge restaurant and lucky for us there were not many customers, I guessed we must be early. The restaurant looked pretty rustic and cosy. It certainly looked like a nice place for dinner. We waited and a staff guided us to a table.
We ordered two dishes and one thai red curry to go with white rice. The food was quite tasty and the dinner cost came up to 705 baht ($31 sgd).