Bangkok is known for many things – the parties, the temples, the food. But its parks do not rank too high on many tourist bucket lists. I went on a quest to explore more of Bangkok’s (hidden) green gems and visited one of its most famous parks. Lumphini Park, right in the city’s centre is not only an oasis amongst the many skyscrapers but also home to some very interesting Bangkokians: the giant monitor lizards.
Information about the Park
Lumphini Park is one of the green lungs of Bangkok. It is located between the main downtown areas Sathorn/Silom and Sukhumvit. It used to be famous for giant monitor lizards.
The term “monitor lizard” refers to a type of lizard common in Asia. Lumphini Park is home to a subgroup, the so-called “water monitors”.
Because of their size (between one to up to three metres), they have become a major attraction and visitors come to Lumphini Park to spot the “dragons”.
In 2016, it was estimated that around 400 monitor lizards lived in Lumphini Park. But as the population kept growing rapidly and as they were considered to have become a nuisance (sometimes even attacking passer-bys if they did not feed them), the city of Bangkok decided to relocated them to wildlife centres outside of the metropolis.
The park is located between two bustling areas of Bangkok: Sukhumvit and Silom/Sathorn. It is a popular place for runners. Locals have their breakfast or lunch breaks at the park, meet for the latest gossip or just come to the green oasis to relax and read a book.
My Personal Experience
I planned a visit to the park to explore the park itself and its architecture and art installation rather than meeting some of the giant lizards. After entering through a gate right between the main gates near Lumphini and Silom station, I started to walk towards the Eastern part of the park. I passed by groups of retirees meeting up for breakfast or doing their morning workout together. Runners were passing by.
My first destination was the Chinese pagoda right by the lake. And this is were my adventure actually started. I took a picture of some details inside of the pagoda, when I suddenly heard a sound. I looked to my right and was startled: a giant lizard – about 1.5 metres long – was sitting right next to me and was probably as startled by my presence.
The lizard turned around and walked towards the lake. I pulled myself together to take pictures and a video of it. My unexpected encounter slowly walked towards the shore and elegantly slid into the lake and swam away.
I have to admit, I was excited but as soon as I left the pagoda and realised what had happened, I also got a bit scared. Those lizards are big. I guess the picture does not do it any justice.
I walked on towards the East end and discovered a beautiful tower – which also has a “pagoda-feel” to it with pastel tiling. Throughout the park, there are very pretty buildings.
Furthermore, you can also discover some sculptures and art installations. My stroll went along most of the walking paths of the park. After my first encounter with the giant lizard, I avoided the greenery and stayed on the path – just to be save.
I made my way to the bigger lake in the Western part of the park and saw a police officer take a picture with a big smile. I walked over and saw another lizard sitting right by the shore.
I spent about 1.5 hours in the park and saw five lizards in total. I watched one eating “breakfast”, another one spotted me when it was walking through the high grass and one was swimming in the lake and walk out of the water when I walked by.
How to React when You See a Giant Lizard
First and foremost, stay calm. These lizards may look scary – especially because of their size. But all the lizards I saw that day where calm and completely unimpressed by humans. Even if you manage to get really close to them, please do not touch them.
Most importantly: please do not feed the lizards! As I mentioned above, there was a time when the lizards at Lumphini Park associated humans with food and became aggressive if visitors did not feed them.
How to Get There
Lumphini Park is located directly between to MRT stops: Silom and Lumphini. If you come from Sukhumvit, there is also Ratchadamir station, which is about a 5-minute-walk from the North gate of the park.
The nearest BTS (sky train) stop is Chidlom.
If you come by car or motorcycle taxi, I recommend having them drop off at the entrances near the Silom or Lumphini MRT stations.
The park is open daily from 4.30 am until 9 pm.
More about Bangkok
All information as of the date of publishing/updating and based on the personal visit of Elisabeth Steiger and the information provided at the location and the official website of Tourism Thailand. We cannot accept responsibility for the correctness or completeness of the data, or for ensuring that it is up to date. All recommendations are based on the personal experience of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the recommended places above.