At least once during your time in Bangkok, set your alarm for early o’clock and visit one of the city’s parks at sunrise. At dawn, you’ll see groups of retirees line-dancing to booming music, fit locals lifting weights in outdoor gyms, men playing spirited games of chess in patches of shade, and people practicing tai chi and yoga on the lawns.
If you can’t make it for sunrise, the scene in the afternoon is another look into the capital’s culture: After work and class let out, the parks fill with kids playing football in their school uniforms, young mothers supervising children on jungle gyms, and after-work professionals running along the trails. Whenever you need an escape from the city, here are the Bangkok parks to visit.
Lumpini Park — If you visit one park in Bangkok, make it Lumpini (also spelled as “Lumphini”). Filled with trees and lakes and surrounded by towering skyscrapers, Lumpini is Bangkok’s answer to Manhattan’s Central Park.
Lumpini is the best place to exercise in downtown Bangkok. Join a free tai chi, yoga, or dance class in the morning or go for a run along the trails, but be warned: In the evening, there are so many joggers you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled across a marathon. Those with kids should beeline for the jungle gyms, the open, grassy areas, or the Lumpini Children’s Library. Dubbed the “Ladybug Library ” due to its bright red-and-black exterior, it has books, games, and reading areas (in a delightfully air-conditioned building).
Lumpini hosts concerts and events throughout the year. On Sunday evenings during the winter months, musicians — including the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra — perform at the bandstand.
Bang Kachao — Bang Kachao, nicknamed “Bangkok’s Green Lung,” is an oasis in southern Bangkok more akin to rural Thailand. The best way to explore this area is by cycling along the quiet roads and narrow bridges, all neatly tucked into a bend of the Chao Phraya River.
To visit Bang Kachao, rent a bike at the Khlong Toei Pier, take a boat across the river, and pedal around the forested grounds, stopping to visit the Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery, Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Garden, and the Bangkachaoland floating market. Check out some of the Buddhist and Hindu temples that dot the peninsula, too.
If you need a break from the heat, grab an iced coffee at one of the numerous cafes and casual restaurants in Bang Kachao. If you can’t stand the thought of returning to busy Bangkok, you can stay the night at the eco-friendly Bangkok Tree House.
Chatuchak, Queen Sirikit, and Vachirabenjatas Parks — Officially three different parks, the interconnected parks of Chatuchak, Queen Sirikit, and Vachirabenjatas (also spelled Wachirabenchathat) make up the largest green space in Bangkok. The parks are adjacent to the sprawling Chatuchak Weekend Market — one of the largest in the world, with over 15,000 stalls — and offer an escape after a busy day of shopping.
If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to visit the Children’s Discovery Museum while you’re here. The free museum has hands-on activities, a playground, and a water park. For adults, the parks’ highlight is the peaceful botanical garden at Queen Sirikit Park. Four miles of trails loop through the three parks, making it one of the best places for joggers.
Chaloemla Park — Of all the Bangkok parks, this one is a must-visit for photographers. Surrounded by walls covered in vibrant street art, Chaloemla Park is also known as Graffiti Park. The park and surrounding neighborhoods were painted during a street art festival in 2018, making it one of Bangkok’s most vivid spots.
The park has two courts for Takraw, a popular sport in Southeast Asia that looks like a combination of volleyball, soccer, kickboxing, and gymnastics. In the afternoon, you’ll often see acrobatic locals playing Takraw on the colorful courts.
King Rama IX Park — Located somewhat inconveniently in the eastern suburbs, King Rama IX Park is the largest of the Bangkok parks. Given the park’s large location and size, you should plan to spend a half-day or more at the park, and bookmark it for when you’re needing a serious escape into nature. The park has an extensive network of trails, several lakes and canals, restaurants, museums, and memorials. In the winter, the park hosts a flower festival with colorful blossoms from all over the region.
The best way to explore the expansive park is to rent a bike and slowly pedal along the shaded trails and around the adjacent lake, refreshing your lungs.
Benjakitti Park — Centered around a rectangular lake encircled by a nice running and biking trail, Benjakitti Park is a great spot to take an active break from the hectic downtown. Run along the 1.4-mile trail or rent a paddleboat and cruise along the water. There’s ample shade and plenty of benches perfect for a picnic or coffee break, too. Benjakitti is most photogenic at sunset when the surrounding skyscrapers’ reflections glow in the lake like a second city in the water.
Rommaninat and Saranrom Palace parks — Rommaninat and Saranrom Palace parks are the only two located in Bangkok’s Old Town. Both parks are filled with trees and have fountains, flower gardens, statues, playgrounds, and paved trails. Visit either one to get a break from the crowded streets of the Old Town while visiting the temples and palaces in the area.
Benchasiri Park — One of the few greenspaces in downtown Bangkok, this compact 12-acre park — near the luxury malls of Sukhumvit — is an excellent place to do some people-watching. The park has a small pond, green lawns perfect for picnics, and lots of trees. There are multi-purpose courts for basketball and takraw and a small skate park, most of which buzz on evenings and weekends.