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ALUN RHYS GRIFFITHS

A GUIDE TO

LUMPINI PARK, BANGKOK

INTRODUCTION

 

 

Anyone who visits Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, for more than one day, will return home with memories to last a lifetime. It is a city unlike almost any other. Think Bangkok, and you think of shiny gold-leaf adorned Buddhist temples, bustling street markets, and of course the nightlife. The temples are all fascinating, the markets are of constant interest, and the nightlife is, well, eye-opening. Bangkok is colourful, vibrant, exotic, entertaining, and I like it.

 

It is also noisy, hectic, stiflingly hot, and rather too full of exhaust fumes. If your visit is for just two or three days, the memories will usually be good. If your visit is for longer, well, the good thoughts may fade as weariness sets in. The culture shock and climate shock can be too much for a quiet, slow-paced foreigner or 'farang', and you may feel a need for a break. And perhaps surprisingly there are places in the centre of Bangkok where you can take a break. One such sanctuary is an expanse of greenery called Lumpini Park.

Lumpini Park lake and fountain. The tranquil boating lake is the life-blood of the park and the main attraction for many park visitors - a total contrast to the hectic city beyond

Greenery and flowers in Lumpini Park

The fragrant Frangipani flowers

WHAT FACILITIES ARE THERE IN LUMPINI PARK ?

Lumpini is an entirely man-made park consisting of extensive lawns and a large boating lake with paddle boats for hire. There are trees, of course, though sadly not enough to provide much real shade. What there is, is plenty of grass, and plenty of paths - 2.5km - to walk, and plenty of water.

It's a place where you can relax and walk in peace and tranquility. It is also a place to "people watch"—mostly just local Thais and tourists getting a bit of almost-fresh air away from the city fumes whilst pursuing their various pleasures (picnicking on the lawns, practicing tai chi, or jogging . . . but why anyone would want to jog in the heat of Bangkok is beyond me). There's a play area for children with climbing frames and you may also see small groups of Thai children or adults having informal dance or music lessons. There's also a keep fit area with a few bench presses and other equipment.

Refreshment facilities are limited, but you may be able to get a drink or snack at one or two slightly run-down little outlets as well as at stalls sited near each of the entrances. Better to take your own food and drink. Weekdays are the best time to visit, as the park is more crowded on the weekends.

The Lumpini Lake, with skyscrapers beyond. In the park you only have to look to the horizon to see that the bustling city of Bangkok is never very far away

WHAT IS LUMPINI PARK?

If you need a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, Lumpini Park is one place to find it. Lumpini Park is an oasis in the heart of the city's business and commercial centre, and remarkably, it is just 400 metres from the famous night market district of Patpong.

The park was opened in the 1920s by King Rama VI and it comprises 58 hectares or 142 acres of parkland, ornamental lakes, and walkways, and that makes it the oldest and largest of all Bangkok's open spaces. It's name is in honour of the birthplace of Buddha in the Rupendehi district of Nepal where he is said to have grown up and lived until the age of 29.

Lumpini Park is a place for recreation and relaxation, and access is free. Noted for its wildlife and flowers, the park also features classical and other concerts in one of the gardens.

Crepe Myrtle, a small flowering tree, common in Lumpini Park

Boating on the lake

Exercise - for those who want to do it in a climate where temperatures regualrly reach 35C !

Another popular way to exercise is to cycle round the park - or to cycle to a place where you can forget about exercise and just rest

Sometimes it's just too hot to even think about exercise. This is more the kind of way the author of this article would spend his day in Lumpini Park - if he wasn't too busy taking photographs like this one !

THE ARCHITECTURE AND MONUMENTS OF LUMPINI PARK

There are a few ornamental gazebos and pavilions and similar architecture in Thai or Chinese style, such as the Pavilion and the Clock Tower depicted below. These are quite attractive, and also offer some shade from the mid-day sun.

There are also buildings of more prosaic form, yet important function, including Lumpini Community Hall, a cultural centre, a public library said to have been the first ever opened in Thailand,  and several administrative buildings.

 

Finally, the southern entrance to Bangkok's Lumpini Park is guarded by a quite imposing statue of the founder of the park, King Rama VI. The monument was erected in 1941, and a photo is included below.

The Thai Lanna Pavilion. Built when the park opened, in the architectural style of the Lanna Kingdom of medieval Northern Thailand

The Chinese-style Clock Tower in the southeastern corner of the park

A statue of King Rama VI - the reigning monarch when the park first opened

The Black-Collared Starling - taking advantage of a patch of grass turned into a cool and refreshing pool by a water sprinkler

NATURE IN LUMPINI PARK

The relative sparsity of trees in this park means that wildlife is not quite so easily found as one might expect. Squirrels are the most conspicuous mammals, but the main attractions are unsurprisingly birds and - more surprisingly - giant lizards.

 

The Birds

 

Many fairly tame and colourful birds live in the park among the ornamental trees and flowers, and wherever there is food or puddles of water to drink from.

 

Exotic mynah birds and related starlings are particularly common and so is the oriental magpie robin imaged here. And if you are lucky you may see a flash of brilliant blue as an Indian roller flies past.

Of course in a park where the emphasis is on fresh water lakes, water birds such as egrets and herons, cormorants and openbill storks, are also prominant.

Many other species can be seen, and to get the most out of the experience, a guidebook to Thai birds is recommended.

The Oriental Magpie Robin

Water Monitor Lizards

But even colourful birds have to play second fiddle here to the most famous of Lumpini Park's residents. The park is home to truly impressive lizards - the Asian Water Monitor. This is a seriously big animal - two metre long individuals can be seen quite easily swimming in the lake or basking on the banks. It is related to the notorious Komodo Dragon, but these water monitors are seemingly quite harmless. They can be approached almost to within touching distance before they scurry quickly away or slide gently back into the water.can be approached almost to within touching distance before they flee to safety in the water. Despite the aversion that many people have towards reptiles, the water monitors of Lumpini Park are an unforgettable sight well worth seeing

I have written a separate article about these monitor lizards, linked to below.

The Little Egret

The Asian Water Monitor basking in the sun

Emerging from the water

Access

 

Lumpini Park can easily be accessed by taxi, tuk-tuk or bus, but for most tourists the train service is probably the most convenient. The MRT Metro stations of Si Lom and Lumpini are very close and the BTS Sala Daeng is within walking distance

Getting down nice and low to the lizard's level can create the opportunity for dramatic close-ups

IN SUMMARY

All cities need a breathing space—somewhere to get away from the noise, the pollution and the stress of urban life. But no city needs a breathing space more than Bangkok. Lumpini Park and other similar parks are the lungs of the city and a valuable sanctuary of calm for all who live here. All residents of Bangkok are different and all have different priorities for a park like Lumpini. Some go there to keep fit and jog or cycle. Some go there for fun and recreation. Some go there for communal events. Some go there just to rest and breathe. But all need Lumpini Park and the other green spaces of Bangkok.

 

And so do tourists. If you are ever in the city, I think a brief visit to the park may be well worth your while.

 

I hope you enjoy this little photo-essay about Lumpini Park, Bangkok. Thank you.

Lumpini Park

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I’d Love to Hear Your Comments Thanks, Alun