Benjakitti Park - Queen Sirikit Convention Center - Ratchadapisek Road
Note : Reconstruction at Benjakitti Park, around Lake Ratchada, still creates a bit of a mess in 2021. The works are obviously a bit delayed. You can certainly still walk and jog around most of the lake (not full circles), but not bicycle. There are some jogging and cycle lanes open on the premises of the Tobacco Monopoly, but they provide only for a short track. It looks like the lake is being developed as an aid to control flooding in Bangkok.
The good news is that end 2020-beginning 2021 there are serious developments at the Tobacco Monopoly. Lots of buildings are being taken down, it looks like Benjakitti Park is going to get a major extension.
View of Queen Sirikit Convention Center. The building behind the center houses the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
Benjakitti Park, located around Lake Ratchada, opened officially in 2004. Not clear who officially owns it (the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly, the Bangkok municipality or the Thai governmen) at present, but it is located on the grounds of the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly, along Ratchadapisek Road (or Asoke Road) between Sukhumvit and the Queen Sirikit Convention Center.
The Thailand Tobacco Monopoly operates on a large plot of land, encircled by Rama IV road, Ratchadapisek road and Sukhumvit road. At present there are still a lot of facilities there. The buildings rather look mostly like storehouses. Since many years, it has been said that the Monopoly would relocate its facilities outside Bangkok, but implementation of this plan seems to be rather slow.
In any case, Benjakitti Park is there. It presently covers about 130 rai (0.2 square kilometers ; 51 acres), but a second phase covering an additional area of 300 rai is planned.
Close to sunset - View of Lake Ratchada and buildings along Ratchadapisek Road.
The present park is mostly occupied by Ratchada Lake, which we understand used to be a water reservoir for the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly). However, to the west of the lake shade is provided by trees, with pavillions, Buddhist artefacts, playing ground for kids etc.
You are likely always to see worshippers at Phra Buddha Wisuthimongkol Image, located 50 meters to the west of Ratchada Lake.
Most interesting are the jogging and cycling paths around Ratchada Lake. Living in Thailand for a while, one could be mistaken to think that the last thing on Thai people's mind is breaking a sweat or getting into shape. However, every afternoon till sunset (and presumably also in the morning, we did not check it out), there are hundreds of people, young and old, jogging and cycling around the lake. The jogging track should be about 1,200 meters long (judge by the time it takes us to run around it), while the cycling track measures about 2 kilometers. The surroundings are pleasant enough for outdoor exercise, though cycling fast is a bit difficult, since many youngsters (with their parents) actually use it to learn how to cycle. Brakes and mindfulness are necessary.
Jogging track around Ratchada Lake. Many people carry water bottles along while jogging.
Security seems to be a big issue, since there are many uniformed guards walking and cycling around the place, and at the entry gates. In the early morning and from 4 P.M. till 7 P.M. there is a large gate open on Ratchadapisek road, within walking distance from Sukhumvit and the Asoke BTS skytrain station. So you do not have to go all the way to Queen Sirikit Convention Center to enter, though nowadays that is also an option, because the MRT subway has a station there.
View over Lake Ratchada, from the 'Sukhumvit' side of Benjakitti Park.
What would be an interesting add-on to the park, is an outdoor resting area with refreshments and a coffee bar. Surely, Queen Sirikit Convention Center has such a facility, but it probably is too upmarket for sweaty joggers and cyclists.
'Foundation Stone' at Benjakitti Park. Notice people cycling around the lake.