With year-round hot weather and endless sunshine (minus the rainy season), Bangkok is an ideal metropolis when it comes to amazing outdoor activities. Here are the best.
Many Bangkok visitors only spend a few days in the city, scoping out the major sites, before scramming to the islands and beaches beyond. But if you look past the Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha and buzzing nightlife, you’ll find a bevvy of exciting outdoor activities, from cultural landmarks to adrenaline-pumping adventures. Bangkok, like any major city, is home to amusement parks, racetracks, open-air markets and much more. If you want to get beyond the major tourist attractions and discover what the city’s residents already know and love, let this list steer you in the right direction.
Covering 57.6 hectares (142 acres), Lumpini Park is the largest park in central Bangkok – it even has an artificial lake. For running and biking enthusiasts, there’s a 2.5-kilometre (1.6-mile) loop that’s ideal for marathon training or just a daily workout. Getting to the park is a breeze, with metro stops on the southeast and southwest corners and a Skytrain station at Sala Daeng less than a block away. Bangkok can be a smoggy and crowded place, but inside Lumpini, the sounds of traffic simply drown away.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the biggest, most overwhelming and slightly claustrophobic flea markets in the world. The labyrinthine mix of stalls both inside and out features everything from home goods and live animals to rare art finds. There are two metro stops at the market, making it easy to reach. The market doesn’t just run on the weekend, though, with some parts operating in the week. The plant section is available for consumers on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7am to 6pm, and a wholesale market is open on Fridays from 6am to noon.
One of Bangkok’s nicknames is the Venice of the East, owing to its intricate network of canals that snake their way through the city. Two of the main canals worth exploring are Khlong Saen Saep, which slices through the centre of Bangkok running east to west, and Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem, which runs north to south and intersects with Saen Saep at the Bobae Market (Bangkok’s largest wholesale clothing market). At around 20 Thai baht (51p), it’s incredibly cheap to zip through these canals, and you’ll see a side of Bangkok that few tourists ever experience. Just mind the water as it’s pretty mucky.
Siam Amazing Park is Bangkok’s largest amusement park, with around 30 rides that include rollercoasters, a Jurassic safari with animatronic dinosaurs, a log flume, water slides and even a sandy beach. The park holds the Guinness World Record for the largest wave pool, features multiple restaurants and has free Wi-Fi throughout. Siam Amazing Park is on the eastern edge of Bangkok and is accessible by public bus or minivan from areas around the city centre.
If you’re looking to get your heart pumping while basking in Thailand’s lush rainforests, there’s nothing quite like a zip-line excursion on the outskirts of the city. Flight of the Gibbon is a zip-line company that will pick you up and drop you off in Bangkok, escorting you south to Pattaya where they have three kilometres (1.9 miles) of zip lines that rise above the Chonburi forest canopy. Guides also teach visitors about the merits of eco-tourism and the state of the jungle in today’s hectic world.
For lovers of animals but not necessarily zoos, Safari World on the outskirts of Bangkok hits the sweet spot. The amusement park features two sections: Marine Park – which is like SeaWorld – and Safari Park, where you can drive your car to see all the animals. The Safari Park has hundreds of species, including zebras, rhinos and giraffes, in addition to more predatory animals like lions, tigers and bears. The animals all roam free, and you can get very close to the action in your vehicle or one of the park’s shuttles. Getting here requires a car, bus, minivan or taxi as there’s no rail service to this area of the city.
One of the best ways to see Bangkok’s most famous sites is to cruise up and down the Chao Phraya River while dining on authentic Thai cuisine. A typical river cruise slowly moves up the water around sunset so you can see the glistening temples against the low light. This experience allows you to enjoy a two-hour dinner, along with traditional music and Thai dancing.
For the thrill seeker, there’s a racing experience in Bangkok that is not to be missed. Experience Formula Renault driving at the Taki Racing School, where you can achieve speeds of up to 230 kilometres (143 miles) per hour. The costs here are not cheap, with a half-day running in the 15,000 Thai baht (£379) range and a full day at 35,000 baht (£884), but this experience is unlike any other racing opportunity you’ll ever get.
There’s an island in the middle of Bangkok called Bang Krachao; it’s a jungle with bike paths, markets, canals, no cars and a botanical garden. Inside this incredibly biodiverse space are more than 600 different animal species and so many trees that the area can absorb 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Getting to the island, however, is the tricky part. Go to the Khlong Toei Pier by taxi or tuk-tuk, and from there, you can hail a boat that will take you to Bang Krachao, where you can rent a bicycle. The botanical garden is inside the Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park, where you’ll find endless flora and fauna.