With thundering skyscrapers, frenetic strips of flashing neon and the chaotic kaleidoscope of fast-moving traffic, Bangkok is more go-go-go than gardens and parks. It currently only has 6.79 sq m of green space per person, but plans to increase that are already taking root. These are the 9 best parks in the city.
Editor's note: during COVID-19 there are restrictions on travel and opening hours may vary. Check the latest guidance in Thailand before planning a trip, and always follow local health advice.
1. Lumphini Park
Lumphini Park is the best outdoor escape from Bangkok without actually leaving town. Named after the Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal it is central Bangkok’s largest and most popular green space. Its 58 hectares are home to an artificial lake surrounded by broad, well-tended lawns, wooded areas, walking paths and startlingly large resident monitor lizards.
The best times to visit are early morning or late evenings when the air is relatively fresh (or pleasantly balmy) and legions of Thai-Chinese are practicing t’ai chi, or doing their best to mimic the aerobics instructor.
2. Saranrom Royal Garden
Easily mistaken for a European public garden, the Victorian-era Saranrom Royal Garden, a short walk from Wat Pho, was originally designed as a royal residence in the time of Rama IV. After Rama VII abdicated in 1935, the palace served as the headquarters of the People’s Party, the political organization that orchestrated the handover of the government. The open space remained and in 1960 was opened to the public.
Today a wander through the garden reveals a Victorian gazebo, paths lined with frangipani and a moat around a marble monument built in honor of one of Rama V’s favorite wives, Queen Sunantha, who died in a boating accident in 1880. The queen was on her way to Bang Pa-In Summer Palace in Ayuthaya when her boat began to sink. The custom at the time was that commoners were forbidden to touch royalty, which prevented her attendants from saving her from drowning.
3. Si Nakhon Kheun Khan Park
If you've been to any of Bangkok's rooftop bars, you may have noticed the rural-looking zone just southeast of the city center. The Phrapradaeng Peninsula, often referred to as Bangkok’s Green Lung, encompasses orchards, canals and lots of wet, unruly jungle – it’s also home to Si Nakhon Kheun Khan Park.
Worthy of a day trip, this vast botanical garden has a large lake and bird watching tower, and its wilderness is fantastic for hiking and cycling. To get here, take the BTS to Bang Na, then hail a taxi to the pier at Wat Bang Na Nork. From there, take the river-crossing ferry and a short motorcycle taxi to the park.
This 400-hectare landscaped park, found on the western fringes of Bangkok, contains sculptures representing the major stages in the Buddha's life. Its Sukhothai-style standing Buddha was designed by the Tuscan-born Thai sculptor Corrado Feroci. At 15.8m high, it is reportedly among the world's tallest. To get here take any Bangkok–Nakhon Pathom bus and get off at Phra Phutthamonthon Sai 4, where you can walk or flag down a sŏrng·tăa·ou (passenger pick-up truck) into the park itself.
5. Benjakiti Park
This 130-rai (20.8-hectare) park is built on what was once a part of the Tobacco Monopoly, a vast, Crown-owned expanse of low-rise factories and warehouses. There’s an artificial lake that's good for jogging and cycling around its 2km track (bikes can be hired for 50B per hour; 8am to 7pm).
6. Metro Forest Project
Certainly the coolest green space in Bangkok, the Metro Forest Project was created on the eastern outskirts of the city for reforestation purposes. Its observation tower and skywalk give visitors the best views of the 60,000 or so trees here, but there’s something wonderful in following its walled and wooden paths as the wilderness naturally takes up space.
With a small, man-made pond and waterfall as well as a roof garden, this is a lovely place to lose an hour or two. To get here, take the Airport Rail Link to Ladkrabang Station and grab a taxi.
7. Rama IX National Park
The best park for picnics
Built in 1987 to commemorate the 60th birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Bangkok’s largest park is crowned by the gold-and-white Ratchamangkhala Pavilion, a futuristic-like spinning top overlooking a shimmering lake.
Located 15km southwest of the city center, and easily accessible by taxi, it’s mainly locals who enjoy its vast green space and its manicured botanical gardens. There are seven in total, each designed to represent a different country such as China, Japan and England. The USA is the one with a dome protecting its plants.
8. Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park
The ingenious Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park has been deliberately designed to give local residents some much-needed green space and help counter the effects of flooding in the city. Capable of holding nearly one million gallons of water through its wetlands, pond and three water tanks under its green roof, this is a park with a purpose.
Located just north of Patpong Night Market, it’s worth visiting for the ingenuity of its design alone. The 11-acre park, which was created for Chulalongkorn University’s 100th anniversary, also has bicycle paths, an amphitheater and plenty of grass for relaxing on.
9. Wachirabenchathat Park
The best park for families with children
An oasis of calm close to the buzz and bartering of Chatuchak Weekend Market, Wachirabenchathat Park – also known as Suan Rot Fai (Railway Park) because it was once a golf course belonging to the State Railway of Thailand – is a huge green space that’s woven with bicycle paths and plenty of shaded areas.
It actually encompasses several green spaces, including Queen Sirikit Park and Chatuchak Park, giving visitors plenty to do. As well as the White Road Theme Park, there is a driving range, manicured gardens, a gym, Bangkok’s only butterfly garden and Bird Wave Bridge, a 50-meter long wooden bridge which is great for photos.
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