Khlong Toei, Khlong Toei
Opening hours: Daily 4.30am-9pm
One of the newest additions to Bangkok’s green spaces, Benjakiti Park is a welcoming recreational and lifestyle retreat right in the heart of the city. Situated halfway between the ever-busy Sukhumvit and Rama 4 Roads next to the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, this 130 rai (21 hectares) sized oasis surrounded by the shiny modern office towers of Asok was opened in 2004 to celebrate Queen Sirikit’s 72nd (6th cycle) Birthday. Previously the land was the site of the Crown-owned Tobacco Monopoly of factories and warehouses, and now features a large artificial lake measuring 200 metres wide by 800 metres in length encircled by a 2 kilometre running and cycling path.
The park was designed to provide Bangkokians a rare open space in one of the city’s busiest areas to accommodate a metropolitan lifestyle. A combination of lush gardens and surrounding urban backdrop provides a picturesque setting for locals and visitors to relax and play in throughout the day, though the most popular time of day is the early evening when the sky and lights of the buildings are reflected in the water’s surface for striking photo opportunities. This is also the peak time when office workers from the nearby offices flock to the park to unwind and partake in some exercise.
With a designated cycling lane forming one large loop, the park is popular with those on two wheels from professionals on their work break to seasoned racers zooming around in packs. Bicycles are also available to rent by the boat pier, where patrons can also opt to glide across the lake in swan-shaped paddle boats. A boardwalk with benches can be found at the northwest corner facing the Lake Rajada office complex and the space-age looking Millennium Residence towers as an ideal spot to sit down and relax or feed the giant catfish and other species that lurk in the water. Joggers can also be found circling the perimeter of the lake alongside cyclists, with more asphalt pathways winding though the International Garden area. Statues and exotic plants that are presented as gifts from the various embassies for the Queen’s Birthday celebrations are featured here along with outdoor exercise equipment and pictorials for interval training. There is also a Buddhist meditation area, skate ramp, amphitheatre, several playgrounds, and pavilion with fountains.
Although many people come here to run, cycle, or simply chill, the ample area feels spacious and peaceful which makes one forget about the chaotic nature of Bangkok despite its central location and immediate proximity to a major road. Lumpini Park about a mile away by the central business district is probably the city’s most well known and visited park – which the two are connected by the so-called ‘Green Mile’ elevated cycling lane that runs straight across through Ploenchit from the northeast corner of Lumpini to the top edge of Benjakiti. Benjakiti Park on the other hand is much quieter with a simpler yet attractive layout and newer facilities for a pleasant respite from city life.