One of the criticisms sometimes directed at Bangkok compared to other large cities is the lower amount of greenery around. This can sometimes get to you when you’re out and about, but we’ve still found several places to get some peace and quiet when it’s time to escape the concrete and bustle of the big city.
Probably the most central place is Lumphini Park, located in downtown Bangkok near the business district. Right by the skytrain, underground railway (MRT) and any number of bus routes, you can easily wander around the pagodas and pathways that surround the local lake, looked down on by skyscrapers in most directions. With the park surrounded by office buildings, it’s a common spot for exercise. If visiting in the early morning or evening, it’s possible to join in (or watch!) one of the public exercise groups run by energetic instructors near the park entrance. So far, we’ve preferred the late afternoon as a time to wander, looking out for large monitor lizards and followed by dinner at the popular food stalls nearby.
Closer to residential areas, Benjakiti Park is a smaller, 10-minute stroll around a pretty lake, and a site for the occasional wedding on the weekend, while north of downtown, Chatuchak Park – conveniently, right next to the huge Chatuchak weekend market and right on the skytrain route – has a pond and butterfly garden.
But we’ve found the best place to feel like you’ve escaped the city is Phra Pradaeng, a wide green area just across the river that feels like a different world. We’ve found visiting Phra Pradaeng like stepping suddenly from Bangkok into the outskirts of a thai village, with condo developments replaced by palm trees, sleeping dogs and narrow pathways through the jungle. From the pier at Wat Khlong Toei, a short bus ride from our apartment on Sukhumvit Road, a small wooden ferry runs trips across the river for 3-4 people at a time. At the pier on the other side we found bikes for hire ($3-$4 for the day), and a couple minutes later we were off exploring.
The Phra Pradaeng area is easily large enough for several hours exploring (or more if you get lost) with the winding pathways tending to be a little disorienting at times. We came across a few bike tours while there and I can see why, although with google maps and GPS we managed ok (except for the few times where the local dogs objected to us mistaking someone’s driveway for a shortcut).
There’s also a floating market in the area on the weekends (which we just missed, unfortunately) but we made up for that by having a relaxing drink at the very comfortable Bangkok Treehouse, a new, eco-friendly boutique hotel nestled in the greenery and looking out over the river towards the city.