Saranrom Royal Garden

Bangkok's secret garden

What we say: 3 stars

Despite being tucked right behind Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, Saranrom Royal Garden (aka Saranrom Park) is one of Bangkok’s most overlooked green spaces. This distinguished patch of trees, ponds, flowers and gazebos once hosted Thai royal gatherings. Now a public park, Saranrom is a pleasant and convenient spot for a morning stroll, a picnic lunch, an afternoon of reading or a relaxing sidetrack from sightseeing.

Who said Bangkok is all traffic and pollution?

Who said Bangkok is all traffic and pollution?

The garden was established by King Rama IV in 1866 as a reception area where the king and his family would entertain guests and enjoy private dinners. In the late 1800s, King Rama V added a pond, three teakwood guesthouses, elegant high-roofed gazebos, ornate fountains that wouldn’t look out of place on the Champs Elysees, a three-tiered Chinese-style pagoda and a glass-roofed villa that for decades hosted an exclusive Bangkok club. At that time, only those in the highest echelons of society strolled through Saranrom.

Once queens and princesses, now school children.

Not a bad place to chill after school.

All of these structures remain in excellent shape today, but the park’s most noticeable landmark is a marble monument tower dedicated to a wife and daughter of King Rama V — Queen Sunanda and Princess Kannabhorn — who drowned in a boating accident in 1880. Fittingly, a decades-old inscription is now partially obstructed by flowers and leaves; it explains how the royal garden was chosen to memorialize the Queen and Princess’ remains “because it was their favourite place.”

It's not difficult to imagine how the queen and princess would have adored this place.

It’s not difficult to imagine how the queen and princess would have adored this place.

In 1960, King Rama IX (Thailand’s current king) ordered Saranrom to be given to the people of Bangkok and turned into a public park. Instead of kings, queens, princesses and hi-so guests in top hats, the space is now enjoyed by giggling uniformed school kids, lunch-breakers enjoying a few minutes of rest, young couples off for a romantic afternoon and the occasional wandering tourist.

Brick footpaths meander over bridges, under centuries-old banyan trees and past shady lawns complete with pond-side benches. Saranrom is just large enough to go for a jog, but an afternoon nap under a tree seems to be the favoured activity here.

More details
Sanam Chai Road, near the Grand Palace
Opening Hours: Daily sunrise to sundown
How to get there: The garden is located across Sanam Chai Road from the southeastern corner of the Grand Palace compound and the northeastern side of Wat Pho. From Tha Tien express boat pier, walk straight out of the pier and head east on Thai Wang Road (you'll pass Wat Pho on your right), cross the street at the roundabout, continue straight east, and the main park entrance is on the left.
Last updated: 13th May, 2014

About the author:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.
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