Bangkok’s Best Green Space
Bangkok might be hellishly hectic but the city boasts a surprising number of green zones where you can reenergise, exercise and chill out. Covering more ground than you could explore in a day is Chatuchak Discovery Garden – a whopping 112 hectares of lotus ponds, picnic grounds, al fresco gyms, a butterfly house and botanic gardens and more.
This mega green space begins on the northern edge of Chatuchak Markets, making it perfect for weary shoppers looking to chill out in the shade with some som tam and sticky rice while tiny Finlayson’s squirrels dart about in the trees above. If you have energy to burn, stroll or ride on to discover an insectarium filled with fluttering butterflies.
Where: Ride the BTS to Mo Chit station, the MRT to Chatuchak station, or from Khao San Road, head to Phra Sumen Fort and take either orange bus 3 or aircon bus 154 (14 baht).
Shake your Fortune Sticks
That gleaming chedi that crowns Golden Mount offers much more than awesome Instagram opportunities and 360-degree Bangkok views. At 80 metres high it begs to be climbed and once at the top, you can retreat from the heat and join the Thais making offerings to the Buddha whose relics are housed within, rattling cylinders to reveal their fortunes.
Shake one of the metal cylinders until a numbered stick falls out, and then choose the fortune card that corresponds to read what lies ahead for you. If you don’t get the fortune you deserve, get back on your knees, make another donation and pray harder!
Where: Golden Mount is located 500m east of Victory Monument in Banglamphu (a 15 minute walk from the backpacker district along Khao San Road). Entry costs 50 baht (8am-5pm).
Reclining Buddha & Real Thai Massage
Riding the Chao Phraya River feels far more cruisy than taking a taxi around Bangkok: it’s laidback, perfect for people watching and uber cheap too. Most of Bangkok’s big sights are within easy reach of the river – Khao San Road (Bangkok’s beloved backpacker hub), the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Chinatown, and you can easily connect to Bangkok’s mega malls around Siam Square via the BTS Skytrain.
Our new fave destination lies at the southern end of the line where an enormous reclining Buddha at Wat Worachanyawas watches over the river. Here, an hour-long Thai massage costs just 100B – that’s less than half the price of massages elsewhere in Bangkok (250-300B) and there’s none of the tourist hassle here. You’ll find this serene spot at ferry stop number 2 (one stop south of Central Pier on the orange line).
Here, an hour-long Thai massage costs just 100B – that’s less than half the price of massages elsewhere in Bangkok
When: Chao Phraya Express Ferries run from 6am until 7.30pm and tickets on orange flagged ferries cost a tiny 15 baht per seat (kids free).
MBK Muay Thai Fight Night
Head to MBK Center in the Siam Square/mega mall district of Bangkok to join the locals at MBK’s Muay Thai Fight Night. It takes place every Wednesday night from 6pm. BTW….MBK is THE place to bargain for cameras, phones, and too-cheap software and movies in Bangkok.
Where: Ride the Skytrain to National Stadium.
Sweat it Out
Al fresco aerobics on the Chao Phraya River kicks off at 5pm in breezy Santichaiprakan Park where the 18th century Phra Sumen Fort glows after dark. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the box step – the Thais rarely do – just sweat it out anyway and afterwards, pop a donation in the box up front.
You’ll find it just north of Phra Arthit ferry pier, conveniently close to Khao San Road for icy shakes or beers afterwards.
Where: Ride the Chao Phraya Express Ferry to Phra Arthit (stop 13) and walk 100m north along the river to the park.
Climb Wat Arun for Sunset
To shoot another same-same Instagram silhouette of sunset over Wat Arun, climb to one of the cool rooftop bars across the Chao Phraya River and indulge in a round of pricey cocktails. But for a fresh perspective on one of Bangkok’s most unique temples, cross the river and spend sunset AT Wat Arun, absorbing the scene as the sun dips low.
Arrive around 5pm and after strolling around the base of Wat Arun, climb the stairs as high as you can and linger until closing time (6pm) when you can walk a little north along the river and find your own sunset view.
Afterwards, ride the river ferry north to Phra Arthit (stop 13) and sip your cocktail (or Chang) on the streets of Rambuttri Road (the sister party lane that’s one street north of Khao San Road).
Where: Wat Arun is located on the Chao Phraya River (a special ferry stop between stops 7 and 8). Entry costs 50 baht and you’ll need to cover shoulders and knees to enter.
Where the Wild Kids are
Bangkok’s Children’s Discovery Museum (opposite Chatuchak Markets) is where Thai families hang on the weekends. It’s packed with things to do, ways to have fun and it’s all absolutely free. Outside there’s a water park and outdoor play gym, and a giant sand pit for digging up dinosaur bones.
Inside kids aged 0 to 12 years old can join cooking, craft and art classes, dress up, conduct mini science experiments, create with paint or play dough, build a mini city, and much more! For travelling kids it’s a dream day out and language is no barrier here.
Where: On the southern edge of Chatuchak Park (right opposite Chatuchak Markets), open 10am – 4pm, closed Mondays.