Rama IX Park is the largest green space in Bangkok, with a beautiful botanical garden, large lake and gardens inspired by countries around the world. Built in 1987 to celebrate King Bhumibol’s 60th Birthday, a visit to this large park on the outskirts of Bangkok is a great break from the city and, despite all the interesting things to see, remains surprisingly free of tourists and offers a genuine experience of how locals spend their afternoons off.
Around 15km from the city centre, the easiest way to get here is by taxi, either directly from town or if the traffic is bad, taking the BTS to Udom Suk and hailing one from there. It costs around 150 baht and takes around 30 minutes in a cab from central Bangkok; there is no problem catching one back into town either. The park is open from 05:00 until 18:00 every day, and admission costs 10 baht. Early mornings most people are here to exercise, and in the afternoons families and young couples come to laze around on one of the hired mats. The best time to come is in December, when the park hosts a lavish annual flower festival, but even out of season there is plenty to keep you entertained.
The park is set out over 200 acres and it takes a couple of hours to wander around and explore. It’s split into different sections with the centrepiece of the park sitting on the edge of the lake. A dated building that wouldn’t look out of place in early episodes of Star Trek with a golden spire that can be seen throughout the park, it serves as a gallery in celebration of the life of the King and includes photos, paintings and information about the royal projects. There is not much in English, but the display is fascinating nonetheless, and half an hour wandering around gives you an air-conditioned rest from the sunshine.
Some countries, including England and Japan, are represented in gardens. The wooden pavilion that forms part of the Chinese garden is hidden in a walled garden, with a lily pond and miniature bridges behind it. The American garden is housed in a large futuristic dome and is reminiscent of the Nevada desert, sandy with plenty of cacti. The Italian Garden is represented by ornate fountains and perfectly manicured hedges, whilst the French garden is home to an impressive colonnade and a statue reminiscent of Rodin’s great works. If you want to learn more about Thai plants, the large botanic garden has a large variety of beautiful flowers and trees, with orchids and indoor plants found in colonial inspired greenhouses. Be sure to check out Thakon Phrakia Pavillion in the middle of a lotus pond, it is a picture-perfect representation of classic Thai design.
Apart from exploring the gardens there is also the chance of getting out on the lake on the reliable but slightly worn duck and swan pedalos that line the jetty. Those who arrive early in the morning can join the public Tai-Chi or aerobics class and there is also an outdoor gym with fun exercise equipment suitable for adults and children. If you’re looking for a more laid-back approach to discovering the park jump on the small train that shuttles visitors from the gates to popular sites and picnic spots. There are plenty of small stalls selling ice-cream and drinks around the park but if you are looking for something more substantial get here before lunch, when stall holders can be found at the entrances to the park, selling barbecued chicken, noodles and fruit.
Rama IX Park
- Location: 15 minutes from Udom Suk BTS by taxi.
Show this to the taxi driver: สวนหลวง ร.9, สุขุมวิท 103 (อุดมสุข) ข้าม 4 แยก ที่ถนน ศรีนครินทร์
- Address: Suan Luang Rama 9, Sukumvit 103 Road (Udom Suk)
- Tel: +66 (0)2 32813856
- Price Range: Entrance 10 Baht