Bangkok Post reviews
They just want to be your teddy bears
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: April 25, 2013 at 8:18 am
Super furry animals lure visitors to Ratchaburi's Suntree Land of Dolls
A bear community.
If you dream of hugging big fluffy teddy bears, your dream can come true at Suntree Land of Dolls in Ratchaburi.
Soft launched last April, Suntree Land is like a fairy-tale setting where you can play with many large-sized teddy bears, each wearing a different style of clothes and accessories.
"I personally like dolls. I also love it when people cry out, 'Oh, wow!', when they see our bears," said owner Sunthree Aiamnu.
The idea of Suntree Land of Dolls was initiated after Sunthree opened her doll factory to the public visit five years ago. The factory was founded in 1984 to design and produce dolls of her own brand called Tiger Toys. In 1997 she opened a shop on Phetchakasem Road in Photharam district to sell the dolls and customise patterns of dolls according to each customer's requirements. Her creations were widely shipped to wholesale markets until regular customers asked if they could visit her factory in Ratchaburi. She was proud of her work and the factory, especially after the facility was certified with an industry standard.
"Five years ago, I opened my factory for educational tours. I never asked for an entrance fee. I am always willing to be a guide if I'm free," she said.
Through word of mouth, more and more groups of visitors came to her factory including students of all levels.
Sunthree in front of Suntree Land of Dolls.
"Many children wanted to touch or play with the bears when they visited. Although we have a souvenir shop, some students did not want to buy. They just wanted to play with the dolls. That prompted me to arrange a small doll corner," she said. She selected bears because they are the best-selling product among both children and grown-ups.
"I wanted to make the bears our friends so I created life-sized bear dolls," she said. She dressed the bears in clothes she designed herself.
"Although it was a small corner, it made our visitors happy. I still remember the happiness in their eyes, especially the children. That led to the idea of opening this land of dolls," she said.
Located on a 12-rai plot, Suntree Land of Dolls sits next to the factory. Sunthree invested about 30 million baht making her dream come true. Suntree Land of Dolls consists of 15 zones. Before you go in, there is a gimmick _ a corner with animal costumes _ to transform you into an animal doll. The idea is just for entertainment.
"You can choose to be a giraffe, a lion or a chicken so when you take pictures inside the Land of Dolls you will blend seamlessly with the bears," she said.
At the entrance, you will see a huge polar bear in a Santa Claus outfit with a large heart-shaped pillow you can sit on. There are two life-sized bear dolls standing in front of the gate to greet visitors.The first zone inside the doll land is a bear community, followed by themed rooms such as the AEC room where bears sport the national costume of each Asean country together with greetings in various languages. The Egypt room boasts a pyramid and bears dressed as mummies, while the Japanese room has bears in cute kimonos.
There is also a cowboy zone, the North Pole area where you can hug a big polar bear and play with seven bear dwarfs plus a magician's corner, a safari and a little maze.
Another highlight is the Thai-way zone which shows riverside shophouses where bears are posed like they are about to float their krathong during the full Moon night of the Loy Krathong festival. There is also a children's room with an upper floor for visitors to have a top view.
After you exit the exhibition hall, there is also another zone where you can join doll-making workshops. You can opt for a workshop where you dress a ready-make doll in your favourite costume and accessories, or you can join another workshop where you can select many types of materials and use your imagination to create your own unique doll.
"My career is making dolls, so I want to make the utmost effort to make people happy with them. I have the capacity to do it and also have a passion to turn my imagination to something people can touch and enjoy," she said.
"I'm always happy when I see my visitors getting excited about our bears. Sometimes they even forget their belongings because of their excitement at seeing lovely bears that they've never seen anywhere before," she said. "This is worth every baht of my investment."
- Suntree Land of Dolls is located on Phetkasem Road. Once you reach Km 84, turn left on to a local road leading to Ban Sing and drive for another 4km following the Suntree Land direction sign. The place is on your left.
- It is open from 9am-5pm on weekdays and 9am-5.30pm on weekends, closed on Wednesdays. Outdoor activities and games are also available during weekends and public holidays. The place has a restaurant, a coffee shop and a souvenir shop selling its own dolls — Tiger Toys, R-Room-D, Mo-E — and dolls from other manufacturers.
- Entrance fee is 80 baht for adults and 40 baht for children. A factory tour is available for a group of at least 50 visitors and advanced booking is required.
For more information, visit www.suntreelandofdolls.com, or call 082-024-2888 and 082-021-7888.