The Queen Sirikit Botanical Park is an urban oasis
Visiting Bangkok’s famed Chatuchak weekend market is an amusing diversion, but it is also an exhausting one. After a few hours strolling the myriad of stalls looking to find the perfect present, while roasting under the hot sun and battling the consumer crowds, it’s high time to stop for a rest. So why not to take a relaxing break at the nearby Queen Sirikit Botanical Park? Here visitors can mix together the pleasure of seeing flowers and plants in a manicured environment while learning about the flora of Thailand.
The park is one of the largest in Bangkok and stretches over 22 hectares. It is located in the back of Chatuchak market, and next to the Children Discovery Museum. It was given the shape of a map of Thailand, creating corners, ponds, islands, and narrow areas which all replicate the boundaries of the Kingdom.
The Park was created in 1992 to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 60th birthday, and was inaugurated by the Queen in 1996. It not only offers visitors a welcoming rest under the shades of its many trees, but also it has the ambition of being a centre of learning with over 2,000 plants on display. Signage and informative plaques provide detailed explanations about Thailand’s vast array of flora.
The garden is well known for its extensive collection of lotus flowers, orchids, hibiscus, and plumeria (members of the frangipani family). The park also boasts a bauhinia tree, famous for the colour of its leaves, which look like gold. This unique species is found in Narathiwat Province, in Thailand’s deep south, and here in the park.
The Queen Sirikit Botanical Park also includes a special trail dedicated to swamp and mangrove flora, and another dedicated trail for certain tree species. Meanwhile, sculptures of animals in the park show the relation between fauna and flora and their environment.
The park also has a dedicated area for blind visitors, wherein a recorded voice explains to the visually impaired everything about the plant itself, its location in Thailand, and its special characteristics. One particularly peculiar exhibit is the ‘Cord Sculpture’, which produces high and low sounds reproducing the noise of a bamboo, as well as coconut shells, when it is touched.
Also of note is an exhibition which shows all the achievements of HM Queen Sirikit, especially her efforts to bring income and education to local communities across the Kingdom. And, last but not least, the park is free for all visitors—locals as well as foreigners.
IF YOU VISIT: The Queen Sirikit Botanical Park is open every day from 5am till 8pm. From the Chatuchak Park MRT, or Mo Chit BTS stations, visitors can access the park from behind the JJ Mall.
By Luc Citrinot