Suan Santiphap – Park of Peace
There are several larger and more famous parks in Bangkok, but what Suan Santiphap (or Peace Park) lacks in size it more than makes up for in beauty. This hidden oasis spreads over 20 rais (about eight acres) between Ratchawithi and Rang Nam roads, just a few minutes from Victory Monument BTS station.
It was named “Peace Park” for a variety of reasons. For instance, it was opened to the public on August 16, 1998 – 53 years to the day since World War II ended. Birds and tranquility are the dominant theme here – with a statue of the Picasso-inspired dove of peace placed in the park’s central pond. In line with the peace theme, the entrance sign is a facsimile of the much-revered Buddhadasa Bhikku’s handwriting. Buddhadasa Bhikku was known for his philosophy of peace.
I first visited the park several years ago, and today it retains much of its charm. It’s a delight for ornithologists, with many species of birds filling the air with their unique song. Sightings of more than 30 species have been recorded over the years, ranging from magpies and turtle doves to warblers and mynas. The lush peaceful surroundings offer an instant getaway from the traffic and pollution that awaits Bangkokians a just few yards from the gate.
No park is complete without flowerbeds, and Suan Santiphap boasts of a lotus pond, a beautiful display of orchids, manicured lawns, an elaborate fountain, decorative gardens, cute statues, and a gazebo.
There are plenty of benches under welcome shade to escape the searing heat and contemplate the slow life. Better yet, you can always bring along a blanket to spread out on the grass for a picnic. Alternatively, you can take a stroll down one of the many paths and breathe in the serenity.
For the energetic, there are plenty of exercise facilities and play areas for children. You can take a few laps round the 700- meter jogging track, participate in a free aerobics class or join Tai-Chi practice.
Fish food is available if you feel like feeding the inhabitants of the two small lakes, though when it comes to human food and drink, it’s probably best to buy some from the many street stalls near the park, as there are limited facilities inside.
Suan Santiphap also has a laid-back community ambience, with local residents flocking to the green lawns in the late afternoons. Visit then and you’re likely to hear jazz or traditional music playing softly as people relax in the verdant surroundings.
There is also an area with books and magazines on shelves in a small, wooden-shaped house, where people can actually peruse print on paper, instead of browsing the net on their smartphones.
If you’re in need of rejuvenation before heading back to the urban grind, this is certainly the place to be. As the American writer Marty Rubin once said, “Parks and playgrounds are the soul of a city,” Bangkok’s little park of peace is as soulful as they come.
Between Ratchawithi 1-3, Phayathai
Open 5am – 9pm daily.