Suan Issaree is a certified-organic durian farm tucked up against the Khao Sukim mountain range in Chanthaburi Province.
It’s become famous in recent years as a hunting ground for Thai Ancient Durian Varieties, known as Durian Boran (ทุเรียนโบราณ).
The farm is also home to around 5 horses, who are clearly the love of Pa (Auntie) Wawsiri Rityotee’s life and fruit lovers themselves 😂
Her decision to open the farm for tourists in 2011 was almost just an excuse to get horses, which she convinced her husband could also be a tourism attraction along with the Durian Buffet.
They had the space, so why not? Suan Issaree is large. At 170 rai (67 acres) it’s possibly the largest organic fruit orchard in Chanthaburi.
Now the farm is almost as famous for its equine-therapy programs for children with disabilities as it is for Durian Buffets and Farm Tours.
That’s why Pa Wawsiri put horses at their driveway instead of durians. The horses are always there; the durians only during the right season.
But if you come in May or June, you can enjoy the horses, the green organic orchard, and a lot of old varieties of fruit grown organically under the gaze of the mountains.
The Organic Farm Tour at Suan Isaree ย์เกษตรอินทรีย์และฟาร์มม้าเมืองจันท์
When you arrive to the farm, you’ll climb aboard a small one-car “Farm Train” for a lumpy-bumpy climb up the small hill at the back of the farm.
You’ll notice right away that this is a lived-in farm. There are chickens and geese, rabbit coops and vegetable plots. There are tons of herbs and random kitchen garden trees that give fruits and leaves for home-cooking.
Everything is green, and tolerantly tidy in a “no-Round-up-allowed” kind of way.
At different points along the tour, Pa Wawsiri stops the Farm Train to let guests out for selfies and photo-opportunities, as well as to taste a bit of the fruit straight off the trees.
However the farm is definitely not self-pick, so you should be careful to get Pa Wawsiri’s permission before picking anything.
Jaboticoba องุ่นต้น (Plinia cauliflora)
One of the more unusual fruit trees you’ll spy on the farm tour are these small willowy trees covered in black-purple globes. These are Jaboticoba, which actually originate in Brazil but were brought to Thailand a long time ago by the Portuguese – like papayas and cherimoyas and soursops and other South American fruits.
Jaboticobas still aren’t super common in Thailand, but you can find them sometimes blended into a purple, anti-oxidant rich ice shake.
The family freezes these to use in smoothies year-round, so if you want to taste or see the whole fruit just ask Pa Wawsiri to pull out a bag for you.
Rambai มาไฟ (Baccaurea motleyana)
Rambai is a wild tree that grows throughout much of Southeast Asia, but isn’t commercially cultivated in Thailand, although its relative Ma fai (Baccaurea ramiflora) is commonly sold at markets.
Rambai is slightly more sour than it’s Ma Fai cousin, a sweet-sour like the American candy called Sweet-tart, with the same weird impossible-to-chew marshmallow texture.
You have to suck on these and just swallow them whole, including the seed, because trying to pull out the seeds will drive you crazy. Anybody who hates cempedak because of the slimy, strandy texture would not be a fan.
Not everyone is a fan, but I am. It’s at least a fun stop and chance to taste something that you’ve never tasted before.
Kinda like the durians on Suan Issaree: because if you’re a hunter of Durian Boran (ancient Thai durian varieties), Suan Issaree should definitely be on your treasure map.
Suan Isaree History
As you ride around, Pa Wawsiri tells the story of the farm’s collection of Old Durian Varieties. It started when her father purchased the farm back in 1954.
Thailand, and Thailand’s durian, was a lot different then. Monthong was new and wouldn’t get the attention of durian farmers in Chanthaburi for another 40 years (see a History of Thailand’s Durian).
In 1954, agricultural officers were recommending different durians for commercial success, like Kop Lep Yao, Kop Tha Kam, and Kop Med Tao.
Pa Wawsiri’s father planted 9 varieties: Chanee, Ganyao, E-mor, Kop Thong Kam, Thong Yoi Chat, Kampan Nuaei Luang, Chomphu Si, Thong Tae and Kop Lep Yiew, which is one of their best durians.
The durian comprised only small part of the original farm. Like most farmers in the 1950’s, the family planted mostly rambutans and rubber trees.
Today they still have over 7,000 rubber trees, which rim the perimeter of the fruit orchards. You’ll see them when you get on the farm train and head up the hill.
The rambutans are still there too: all 4 varieties.
And while they’ve boosted the number of durian trees to 1,000 and added more of the New Durians, like Nokyib, Puangmanee and Monthong, Pa Wawsiri didn’t chop any of the old ones down.
Which is how you can still find this taste of Thailand Fifty Years Ago.
The Durian Buffet at Suan Issaree
Suan Issaree is open during the main durian season for a Durian and Fruit Buffet for 400 baht per person, including the tour. It’s an all-you-can-eat style of buffet, with mangosteens, rambutans, snakefruits, longkongs and whatever is in season.
A random assortment of durians are included every day, including Monthong, Ganyao, Chanee, Kop Lep Yiao and four or five Boran varieties like Thong Yoi Chat, which is available later in the season.
If you’re after a specific variety, make sure to make a booking ahead of time.
Kop Lep Yiao กบเล็บเหยี่ยว
Kop Lep Yiao, literally translates as”The Hawk Talon Frog” –which sounds super confuing until you realize that Kop (“Frog”) is a family of around 50 durians. You can see my collection of Kops here.
Kop Lep Yiao is a special durian. Each pod has a strangely deflated shape, each pale pinky-salmon pod sitting low in the shell. The super thin skin punctures easily under your teeth, releasing the fiberless rose-tinted cream. It’s silky with just a touch of red-wine-tannins or chocolate, just enough that the sweetness and creaminess has a depth to it and isn’t just fruity and sweet.
Everyone who tastes it is reminded of Red Prawn, another silky, delicate durian that rosey bitterness. Kop Lep-Yiao is consistently a favorite on the Durian Tours.
Kampan Neua Lueang กำปั่นเนื้อเหลือง
This huge durian’s name means “Treasure Chest of Yellow Meat.”
In contrast to the delicacy of Kop Lep Yiew, tree-dropped Kampan Neua Luang is a heavy, drippy-soft, unctuously DURIAN flavored durian that is so fleshy its own gravity pulls itself apart as you try to neatly nibble. It has a richness with a hint of berry-sweet and another hint of metallic tang.
If you would like a fleshier, softer Black Thorn, you might love this.
From the biggest durian we moved to the smallest durian in the pile, the petite “E-mor” or “Little Miss Cooking Pot.”
It’s not only cute; it’s super sweet! Its cheerful yellow flesh is firm and dense even when tree-dropped from 60-year-old trees, with a smooth dense texture like cream cheese that tastes like fermented honey and butter.
That honeyed flavor was striking and unusual for Thailand! Not a hint of metallic bitterness, but I think if it was much riper you might be able to get drunk off of this little sweetie.
I was very reminded of the durians we have eaten in Jepara, Indonesia.
Kop Thong Kham กบทองคำ
Kop Thong Kham is a really old variety. It’s mentioned in the 1884 poem about durians – yes, there was poetry about durians already in 1884!
The name Thong Kham is a hybrid of two languages. “Thong” means golden in Central Thai and “Kham” means golden in the Northern/Laosian language.
Thong Kham was incredibly pleasant, in a satisfying “This Is Good Durian” kind of way, while not managing to stick out in any flavor direction. It wasn’t too bitter, or too sweet, it wasn’t too soft or too sticky. It was Just Right, a balanced, quintessential duriany durian.
Kob Suwan กบสุวรรณ
“Suwan” is an old and kind of dated word that means “gold” or “shining.” It’s the same root word used in Suvanhabumi Airport, if that helps you to remember.
Kob Suwan is another very distinct durian in this list. Its flesh is dry and sticky, bordering on pasty, and it’s not terribly sweet. I found it most pleasant tree-dropped, like a mild hazelnutty marzipan.
Let’s just say Suan Isaree can provide a good feed for any hungry durian group 😜
It’s a rare treat to be able to find so many Old Durian Boran varieties in one Durian Buffet, and even greater treat to find so many of them tree-dropped!
And an even greater treat to find them growing on a certified organic durian farm. It’s a triumvirate of Durian Epicness!
So don’t forget to add Suan Isaree to your bucket list for the next durian season.
How To Get To Suan Issaree Organic Durian Farm
Suan Issaree Fruit and Horse Farm is located along Highway 3322, about 25 minutes north of Chanthaburi Town on the road to Wat Khao Sukim. You’ll know you’ve reached the farm when you spot two large golden horses guarding the driveway.
GPS: 12.72588, 102.05185
Call: 092-5574643 / 089-9909141
Use the map below to get directions to Suan Issaree, or to navigate to other durian points of interest in Thailand! Click the pin to pull up the link to the blog post with more information.
Arthur Aguila says
OnwantbtonvisitbWhys best time for durian
I am in chanthaburi right now and wanna visit