5 Peaceful Spots in Busy Bangkok
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As a huge city with six million residents, Bangkok, Thailand is vibrant and frenetic seemingly 24 hours a day. If you're feeling overwhelmed and need a place to chill out, TPG International Contributor Lori Zaino suggests some quiet spots within the city that are perfect for soothing your jet lag or simply recharging after a day of sightseeing. (All photos are by the author, unless otherwise specified).
Bangkok can be an overwhelming city. It's large and hectic, and I don't blame anyone for wanting to find a spot to get a little peace and quiet. Even the temples, which in many other cities are quiet places for reflection, are touristy and often crowded in Bangkok. So here are five peaceful places in Bangkok that are sure to make anyone fall in love this bustling city!
1. Lumpini Park
Named after the Buddha's birthplace in Nepal, this 142-acre park in the center of Bangkok provides a haven of shade, peace and quiet — and no smoking. Dating back to the 1920s, the sprawling green space has plenty of trees, lakes and flowers, perfect for a peaceful midday stroll.
If you're up for a unique fitness experience, you can pay 50 THB (just over $1) to work out in the vintage outdoor gym.
You'll also find a lake where you can rent small paddle boats for 30 THB (just under $1) per hour. I highly recommend a paddle around the lake for great views of the park that is rimmed by the Bangkok skyline. Look out for the giant monitor lizards that swim or lazily lounge near the water's edge. These huge reptiles aren't particularly aggressive, but you should still avoid getting too close. Also keep an eye out for fish, beetles and giant turtles.
When you get hungry, there are street food vendors just outside the park entrance, and you can sit at the park's picnic tables to chow down on your Pad Thai and enjoy some people-watching. If you're lucky, you'll spot a Tai Chi or fencing class in progress.
Address: Rama IV Road, Pathumwan
Hours: 430am-9pm (bicycling only permitted between 10am-3pm)
MRT: Silom, Lumphini, Skytrain: Saladaeng
Asiatique is Bangkok's newest open-air shopping mall and quite possibly the most upscale night market in the city. Opened in 2012, its riverfront complex features more than 40 restaurants, lots of shopping and entertainment and activities — including Sky Asiatique, Bangkok's Ferris wheel.
Once you've shopped the busy, buzzing market to your heart's content, head over to the Sky Asiatique for a tranquil trip up to the clouds. Each gondola offers soft music and breathtaking, 360-degree views of Bangkok and the Chao Praya River. If you want to raise the romance factor, spring for a private gondola. Or, if the wheel isn't too crowded and you and your partner look happy and in love, you just might get your own gondola for free.
Address: 2194 Charoenkrung Road, Wat Prayakrai District, Bangkok Laem
Price: 300 THB ($8) for adults, 200 THB ($5.50) for children and seniors, and 1000 THB ($27) for a private gondola for two
Skytrain: Stephan Taskin — then can catch the free boat (running every 30 minutes between 5pm-11pm) down the river to the market
Formerly known as the Bangkok Rose Gardens and set an hour's drive from the city center, this 70-acre riverside spot prides itself on being more of a community than a tourist attraction. The garden dates back to the 1960s, started by a family that grew roses to sell at Bangkok's Pak Khlong Talat flower market. As word of these beautiful gardens spread, area people began visiting to see it for themselves.
Today, the property consists of a 4-star hotel, spa, six antique Thai houses overlooking a lake, a weekend farmer's market, a 10-acre farm, the Thai Village Cultural Center and, of course, plenty of roses. This serene landscape is a special treat for nature lovers, as there are some 100-year-old-plus trees on the property and several different endemic species of flowers, plants, trees and herbs.
Sampran Riverside Gardens
Address: Pet Kasem Road, Sam Phran, Nakhonpathom
Hours: 8am-6pm, daily
Price: Self-guided garden visits are free, or you can book various tours of the farm and the Thai Cultural Center
4. VIP Blue Ribbon Bangkok Airways Cinema at Siam Paragon
Feel like kicking back and watching a movie on a humid and rainy Bangkok afternoon? How about one complete with a massage, reclining bed/seat, a glass of wine and a VIP lounge?
Start off by enjoying the comfy velvet seating in the Bangkok Airways Blue Ribbon Lounge. Here, you can peruse an iPad and pick out a drink (wine, beer or non-alcoholic) and your choice of snack (anything from ice cream to cake to popcorn). Then, enjoy a 15-minute massage, ensuring that you're sufficiently relaxed enough to enter one of the individual screening rooms to enjoy your movie.
Anyone who loves the seats in the pointy end of the plane will love this theater's wide, cushy leather seats, each of which is trimmed in lacquered wood and comes with a pillow and blanket. Be sure to use that blanket, by the way, and bring a jacket or scarf, as well — the AC here can be really cold.
VIP Blue Ribbon Bangkok Airways Cinema
Opening Hours: 10:30am-12 midnight
Price: 1000-1250 THB (about $28-$30)
5. The Jim Thompson House & Museum
An American entrepreneur who settled in Bangkok in the 1950s, Jim Thompson's successful Thai silk company funded his construction of an elegant, graceful complex of houses that's now known as the Jim Thompson House & Museum. He lived here until 1969, when he took a trip to Malaysia with friends and mysteriously disappeared.
These days, the home's six traditional Thai houses, surrounded by jungle foliage, koi ponds and flowers, are open to the public. The property's traditional Thai teakwood buildings feature ornate carvings and arched ceilings, and house an extensive collection of art and antiques. Rest your mind and body in any one of the garden pavilions, and enjoy the sensation of being very far from home.
Jim Thompson House & Museum
Address: 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok
Hours: Open 9am-6pm, daily
Price: 150 THB ($4) adults, 100 ($3) THB for ages 22 and under (with ID)
Skytrain: National Stadium
Still stressed? Visit one of Bangkok's Infinity Spa for a rejuvenating Thai massage or kick back with a cocktail at one of the city's famous rooftop bars, such as under-the-radar Cloud 47
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For more on Bangkok, check out these posts:
Destination of the Week: Bangkok
TPG's own trip to Bangkok back in 2012
Hotel reviews of the W Bangkok, the Royal Orchid Sheraton and the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
5 Reasons Why I Love Bangkok Airways
12 Tips For Your First Trip To Southeast Asia
Have you got the perfect chill-out spot in Bangkok? Please share it!