We were looking for activities in Chiang Mai of the "non-bungee jumping" variety and came across Dokmai Gardens and Eric. We spent an entire day with him and truly enjoyed the botanical and cultural education we gained. Eric is a PhD botanist by training, and he is sought after by tropical plant experts worldwide. As a long-term expat who is married to a Thai woman, he offers a great interpretation of Thai culture as well.
Our day with him began with a thorough tour of a real Thai market without tourists or t-shirt sellers. Eric can explain all of the plant and animal products being sold which may seem odd to western eyes. This is NOT like any type of tour you might get with a cooking class; Eric knows the English terms for everything and can explain which fruits and veggies are comparable to their western counterparts. You will sample, smell, feel, taste, and learn beyond comprehension. This experience alone is worth the price of the day.
We then went out to Dokmai Garden to see his work. The welcome hibiscus drink is amazing. The garden itself is gorgeous and well-planned. Eric explains the hows and whys of everything, and we tasted and smelled more fruits and plants as he pulled random things off of trees, etc. It was fascinating. The food cooked by his mother-in-law was outstanding. The work he does in his orchid hospital is impressive. After lunch we visited a small Thai village up in the hills.
Again, Eric is a true plant expert. Anyone who wanted to spend a day or week or month with him discussing only bananas or bamboo or orchids will not be disappointed. Eric can take visitors on treks into the hills to discover new plants or visit hill tribes. Any of these experiences can be tailored to the visitor's interests.
We truly enjoyed our time with Eric and felt that our money supported a worthwhile endeavor. This experience really gave us a greater context for the rest of our experiences in Thailand.
I would recommend a day with Eric to anyone who is looking for a deeper understanding of Thai plants and culture.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.