Downtown Bangkok is synonymous with traffic congestion, modern shopping malls and skyscrapers, but the area is also home to Lumphini Park, Bangkok’s first public park.
In 1925, King Rama VI donated an area of royal land which he designated would become a public park. It was Rama VI who gave the park the name Lumphini, named after the birthplace of the Buddha. When the king died the plan for the park was developed by his successor, King Rama VII. At that time the park was on the outskirts of the city, but modern development now means that Lumphini Park lies very much within the heart of the metropolis and provides a welcome oasis of peace and quiet amongst the bustle of Bangkok. A statue of King Rama VI has been erected at one of the entrances to the park in honour of the man who gave the area to the people of Bangkok.
The landscaped grounds and gardens are set around two lakes where visitors can feed the fish or hire a pedalo or rowing boat (approximately 30 Baht for 30 minutes). If you visit early in the morning or early evening you will see joggers, aerobics classes and people practicing t’ai chi. In the pavilions and pagodas you will probably see locals playing chess or chequers. During February to April kite-flying is popular and during the same months the Palm Garden hosts music concerts every Sunday afternoon. Naturally, this being Thailand food is never far away and as well as the small food centre, vendors set up outside the entrances to the park especially in the morning and evening.
In addition to the obvious sights you may expect to find in any public park, Lumphini Park also has a few surprises. The park is home to a library, an advice centre for homeless children, a youth centre and an apprentice school offering vocational courses. Lumphini Hall (open 08.00-18.00) is where you will find the Bangkok Senior Citizens Club, but at the weekends you can also see youngsters demonstrating ballroom dancing and traditional Thai dancing.
From December to February, the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra perform free concerts in Lumphini Park on most Sundays as part of the Concert in the Park series. It makes for an excellent evening of entertainment with a lovely atmosphere.
For fantastic views of Lumphini Park and the Bangkok skyline, stay at Sofitel So Hotel or pay a visit to the hotel bar and enjoy views like the one below over a drink.
Open daily from 04.30-21.00, Lumphini Park is a great place to spend a couple of relaxing hours. Please note, smoking and drinking alcohol are not permitted in the park. The nearest MRT metro station is Silom which will bring you to the main entrance and the statue of King Rama VI.