Whenever I visit a new city, I always make it a goal to enjoy an experience or check out an attraction that is not within the “Top Five” or “Top Ten” or even “Top Fifteen” popular things to do in that city.
Obviously, you can’t go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, etc. No visit to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum, and you can’t go to Chiang Mai without exploring the countless temples.
But, it’s always nice to do something a little different–something that not everyone does on their first visit.
In Chiang Mai, there are literally limitless ways to spend your time. Between visiting an elephant camp, taking a cooking class, hiking, meditating, rafting, zip-lining, and shopping you could easily make a week’s worth of plans and still miss out on some “top” activities.
However, one thing that I definitely recommend checking out that many people overlook is visiting the mysterious Terracotta Garden.
This “secret garden” is actually not all that secret. It belongs to the Baan Phor Liang Meun terracotta showroom, which sits across the street from the garden in a Lanna-style wooden house. All statues and figures can be purchased in the showroom.
Despite this, you will definitely feel like you have stepped into a lost, ancient city when you enter the garden.
It’s such a contrast from the city outside: stone walls enclose the garden, which houses broken, moss-covered clay figures of Buddhist and Hindu deities. Most of the figures are chipped and imperfect; some are simply fragments and shards of former sculptures. The garden is lush, green, cool and shaded due to the thick moss and plants that grow on the ground and walls of the garden.
There is such an interesting assortment of figures, and no two look the same. In addition to the subtle differences that come with handcrafted pottery, there are also differences in the defects, cracks, and moss on each and every piece.
It’s easy to get lost here as you wander among the piles of broken clay pieces.
If you’re looking to escape from the heat and crowds of Chiang Mai, this is a great alternative. You’ll only need an hour at most here, and can easily fit it in during a day of exploring the Old City.
It’s definitely a hidden gem of Chiang Mai, and one of my favorite places to relax and wind down in the city.
You can find the garden near the South Gate of the Old City. It is located on Phra Pok Klao Soi 2.