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Suan Rot Fai

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You know a place is something special when you stumble upon it by accident, realise how great it is, 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, a large park in Bangkok’s northern reaches. We had no idea that our Sunday would involve walking through grassy fields, riding bikes around a lake, or hitting golf balls at a driving range.

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Officially named Wachirabenchathat Park, the area is more commonly known as Suan Rot Fai or Railway Park, which joins with the Children's Discovery Museum and the neighbouring Queen Sirikit and Chatuchak parks to collectively form the "Chatuchak Discovery Garden." 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.

This is Bangkok, I swear.

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.

A Jane Austen novel would complete the afternoon.

The park also offers sporting activities. A winding three 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 include 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.

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