Bangkok is without doubt one of the most exciting cities in Southeast Asia and this city is known for its vibrancy and sheer diversity. However, there are times when I long to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while and just chill out. Luckily, there are plenty of great parks in Bangkok, all of which have something a bit different to offer.
Lumphini is Bangkok’s largest, oldest and perhaps best known park. The park is easily reachable from Saladaeng Skytrain station and covers an impressive 50km². Not only is Lumphini Park a beautiful green zone, it is also a great place to see Thai life at its best. Large extended families picnic on blankets under the trees, young couples walk along holding hands, stalls are set up for barbers to ply their trade and merchants to sells snacks, while all over the park you can see Indian men playing cricket and young Thais and Westerners cycling and playing football in the sunshine.
Lumphini Park really has something for everyone; there is even a swimming pool and outdoor gym, with a stage holding regular performances in the evenings. Originally named Sala Daeng, the park was donated to the people of Bangkok by Rama IV in 1925 and named after Buddha’s Nepalese birthplace. There are several entrances to the park, but perhaps the most convenient is the large main entrance marked by a majestic statue of Rama VI and located near Silom MRT station.
From Lumphini Park you can take the Skytrain straight to Mo Chit and explore Bangkok’s second largest green area. Located next to the famous weekend market, Chatuchak Park is extremely beautiful and features a large lake and tennis courts.
Cross the road behind Chatuchak, walk a few meters and you will come to one of Bangkok’s best kept secrets. Known as Suan Rotfi or Railway Park, this is one of Bangkok’s most beautiful and least visited parks, full of great facilities guaranteed to keep you coming back time and again.
The best way to explore this lush wonderland is by bike, and bicycles can be hired from the far end of the park. As you pass, pause to explore the Insectarium and Butterfly Centre, where you will find a colourful collection of butterflies, plants and insects. The park also contains a gym, swimming pool and some beautiful places to sit and relax.
When it’s time to make a move, take the Skytrain to Prom Phong station and walk to The Emporium Shopping Centre, which is located on Sukhumvit Road. Right next door to the gigantic shopping mall you will find Benjasiri Park, which was built to celebrate the Queen’s 60th birthday in 1992 and contains some magnificent Thai sculptures.
Romaneenart Park was recently built on the site of the city jail, near the Giant Swing and Wat Suthat. The park has some nice fountains and this can be a good place to chill out for a while after a heavy shopping session at nearby Chinatown and Little India.
Taking a ferry down the Chao Phraya River just as the sun is setting is a great way to end the day. Get off at pier 13, where you will find the inviting Santichaiprakarn Park. The park is situated on the banks of the river and there is always something interesting to see there, especially in the evening when the cool dusk air attracts jugglers, bongo players and Thai teenagers who gather to show off their break dancing skills or play takraw.