When it’s time to take a break from the beach, get a taste of Thai culture with a visit to the Secret Buddha Garden high in the hills. A relaxing wander through this peaceful garden will reveal a collection of curious statues representing Buddhist folklore.

It may look ancient, but the Secret Buddha Garden is actually the work of a fruit farmer who began sculpting statues for his garden in 1976 and continued his passion until he died 14 years later at age 91.

Set in lush jungle surrounds with a waterfall and stream running through it, the cool and shady garden is now home to temples and an unusual collection of Buddhist deities, humans and animals, each with a local legend to accompany them. Some statues pose in large groups and others alone, and there’s even a statue of Nim Thongsuk himself – the durian farmer who created the garden – sitting on a rock. Steps and pathways meander through the garden, and it can be a meditative experience if you get lucky and arrive when few other tourists are here.

The Secret Buddha Garden is also known as Heaven's Garden or Magic Garden; it lies on a hilltop about two hours’ drive north-west of Lamai Beach. The road up to the garden is steep and rough, but there are spectacular views to take in along the way, as well as from the garden at the top. Although many visitors make their own way up by car or motorbike, the easiest way to get there is by joining a tour aboard a four-wheel drive. The Secret Buddha Garden is one of many stop-offs you’re likely to make on a daytrip before heading off to other sightseeing opportunities and activities. Exploring the garden with a guide also ensures a more enriching experience – you’ll discover the stories and meaning behind many of the garden’s handcrafted 

Route 4169 (ring road), Baan Saket, Thailand