Drive past Phayathai’s Suan Santiparp in the middle of the day and it looks pleasant enough as a haven from the cities non-stop traffic and noise. It is a place to find peace, tranquility, green space and solitude. Visitors staying at the Siam City Hotel seeking relief from the hurly burly of the city will not be disappointed.
But at daybreak (and again at twilight) it's a very different story. When the gates open scores of locals stream in to take their morning exercise in every conceivable manner. The result is one of Thailand's most eye-catching and endearing spectacles that visitors should not be missed.
In the centre of the park is one of the largest and most active groups. An impossibly energetic and healthy-looking instructor leads a few dozen determined fitness devotees in dancing, jumping, bobbing, high-stepping, thrusting, twisting, gyrating and hopping in time with an unending stream of cheesy pop music. This spectacle takes place from 6:00-6:45 am every morning and is free to watch or join. For those not keen on such an early start, you can also take in an aerobic class in the evening from 6:00-7:00 pm or a more serene tai chi class from 5:00-6:00 pm.
Further into the park an unbroken procession of joggers, power-walkers and casual strollers circle the perimeter road around the lakes, some struggling, some sprinting, some shuffling and others engaging in prolonged preparatory stretching programs that put off any actual physical exertion. Either way, those wanting to work off last night’s phad thai and Singha beer will find this a nice spot to engage in a wee work out.
The park is truly a multi-tasking marvel, in the afternoon you will find some people seeking solitude in the shade, others reading, chatting, eating (a favourite Thai pastime!) or simply lazing on the grass. Then there are the more energetic teens perfecting their disco moves with stylish aplomb, svelte Casanova’s wiggling to an exotic rumba and wiry grannies twisting and stretching on hyper-coloured gym equipment. All set to a back-drop of soothing classical and pop music wafting in the air from loud-speakers [actually not as annoying as it sounds].
Getting there: exit the Siam City Hotel, head towards the BTS but immediately turn right into the first little soi, Lertpanya. Head straight up, about 1000m, until the very end and then turn right again, into the larger soi Rangnam. From here walk down the street about 500m and the park is on your left-hand side. Open daily from 5:00 am – 9: 00 pm, free admission.