Jun 07 2011
You know a place is something special when you stumble upon it by accident, realise its awesomeness, and subsequently cancel the rest of the day’s plans in order to stay and enjoy. This is what happened to me at Suan Rot Fai. I really had every intention of making it to the largely talked about Rot Fai market, but while on my way I was so taken by the park that I forgot all about my shopping intentions. I had no idea that my Bangkok Sunday would involve walking through grassy fields, riding bikes around a lake, or hitting golf balls at the driving range, but that is just what I did.
Officially named Wachirabenchathat Park, the area is more commonly known as Suan Rot Fai or Railway Park. Once belonging to the State Railway of Thailand, the grounds were eventually turned into a golf course (which makes sense when you take in the landscape), and then a public park.
Set on a few acres of gentle hills and towering trees, the park is abuzz with nature, a real treat in the midst of this sweaty city with a million other things to do. Birds galore, lounging monitor lizards and turtles, picturesque lakes and tons of shade, the park has enough natural beauty to make even a random wander interesting.
The park also offers sporting activities. A winding 3 km track is filled with joggers and bike riders and the north side of the lake has a small stand where you can rent kayaks and paddle boats for 40 baht. Bicycling around the park can be done easily by renting bikes near the north entrance, from 20 baht. Places to stop including playgrounds, a butterfly garden, a small cafe and even a mini-Bangkok featuring tiny versions of the city’s most famous sites. Alongside the park is a small driving range where you can rent a club and 50 golf balls for 80 baht.
Suan Rot Fai is a gem in this urban rough. I plan to get a picnic basket, some supermarket grub, and spend another day outside enjoying a new side to this city. But this time it will be on purpose.
Suan Rot Fai is located on Kampheng Phet Road 3 about a 20-minute walk from Chatuchak Market. While taxi is the most direct route, the park can also be reached by taking the BTS to Mo Chit or the MRT to Chatuchak Park. From there walk through Chatuchak Park (also pleasant!) and Suan Rot Fai will be on your left. The park is open from 05:00 until 21:00.
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