First impressions can often be misleading. Upon arriving in Bangkok, you’ll likely take a taxi to wherever you’re staying. On the way, you’ll whizz along highways past seemingly endless high-rise towers of apartments, office blocks and hotels. Overall, you’ll probably get the idea that Bangkok is a jungle of concrete and glass.
The City of Angels is a bustling modern city; there’s no doubt about that. It’s often densely-packed, and large sections of it are high-rise. That being said, with a little effort, you’re never actually far from somewhere a little greener. You may be surprised by the number and quality of Bangkok’s parks, which are scattered liberally around the city.
Here are some of the best parks that Bangkok has to offer:
· Lumpini Park
This is probably Bangkok’s most famous park, and rightly so.
Despite being located in the city center, with tall buildings all around it, the noise and pollution of the city immediately seems to dissipate as soon as you walk inside. It’s spacious, but still compact enough to walk around in an hour or so. There are plenty of open spaces in which to simply relax, and also a huge variety of activities to do, from workouts, to swimming, to taking a paddle boat around one of the lakes.
Lumpini Park is extremely easy to get to. There are two MRT stations right next to it – Si Lom and Lumphini – and the Skytrain stop of Sala Daeng.
· Benjasiri Park
Benjasiri is a lot smaller than Lumpini Park, but it’s still crammed with interesting features. It was built in 1992, to celebrate Queen Sirikit’s birthday, and is certainly a worthy testimony to her popularity.
Most noteworthy are the fascinating sculptures which are spaced around the park, with the impressivefountain in the lake being the center point. It’s a popular place to exercise as well, with ex-pats and locals alike jogging around the paths, working out in the weights area, or playing football and basketball on the courts there.
Benjasiri Park is also in a fantastic location. It’s situated on Sukhimvit Road, right in the heart of the city, near the stunning Emporium shopping complex. Getting a taxi there from anywhere else in the city is easy enough, or you can simply go to the Phrom Phong BTS Station, which is right outside.
· Queen Sirikit Park
Like Benjasiri Park, Queen Sirikit Park was also created in honor of the Queen’s 60th birthday, back in 1992.
It is actually part of a three-park complex in the northwestern section of the city center, along with Rod Fai Park and Chatuchak Park. Of the three, this is the most beautiful.Between the lily ponds, the sculpted pond and the botanical garden, strolling around this park is an absolute delight for nature lovers.
The other two parks are also well-worth checking out, particularly at the weekend, when local families and groups of friends flock to the area to enjoy the ever-brilliant weather. Going at the weekend also gives you the chance to visit the famous, bustling Chatuchak Market, which is only a street or two away.
Queen Sirikit Park, and its neighbors, is a little further out of the city center than the first two parks we looked at it. It’s still easy enough to get there, though; just hop onto the MRT, and get off at either Chatuchak Park or Phahon Yothin.
· Rama IX Park
After looking at two parks celebrating the Queen, it’s time to recognize the King’s enduring popularity too!
Rama IX Park was built in 1987, in recognition of the late King Bhumibol’s 60th birthday. It is the largest park in the entire city, with around 200 acres for you to explore. In that sizeable area you’ll find a series of smaller, themed gardens, each representing a different country from around the world: Japan, China, England, the USA, and so on. There’s also a large lake which you can take a paddle boat onto, and some gorgeous classical Thai architecture sprinkled around the place.
Rama IX Park is a little more difficult to get to than the other parks we’ve looked at so far. It’s worth the effort, however; it has a lovely, quiet feel to it, more so than any of the others. It’s located to the east of the city center. With no train stations nearby, you’ll be required to take a taxi there from the central area, but even with traffic it shouldn’t take longer than half an hour to arrive.
· Santichaiprakarn Park
First-time visitors to Bangkok will spend plenty of time in the old city, to the west of the more modern areas. That’s where most of the major sights are located, including the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. The old city isn’t blessed with quite as many nice parks as the newer parts, mostly because everything is packed so tightly together, and space is at a premium.
That being said, there are still a few places you can head to. Sanam Luang Park is located right next to the Grand Palace, and is a historically significant spot, but… it isn’t the most interesting place to hang out, basically consisting of one massive field.
A nicer place to spend time, by far, is Santichaiprakarn Park. It’s only a small place, but it sits right on the Chao Phraya River, where you can watch water taxis chug by. You’ll also find the beautiful white Phra Sumane Fort there; one of the few remnants of the old city’s fortifications.
Exploring a new city, especially for the first time, is an exhilarating experience. When you’re exploring somewhere as bustling as Bangkok, it’s doubly exciting. It can also, however, wear you out pretty quickly. That’s why it’s a great idea to build some relaxation time into your itinerary, and there are few better places to relax in a city than at a park.