Cost: 10 – 50 baht, depending on if you would like a coconut (always say yes to a coconut)
Time: All day
Affectionately known as ‘The Park’ by us that live here, Buak Had Park is probably the most relaxing and affordable place that you can visit whilst you are in Chiang Mai. It is the only park in the old town, situated in the southwest corner of Old Town (the square), it’s a little haven amongst the busy streets and traffic.
What To Do in the Park in Chiang Mai
I have said that you can spend all day here, but the best time to come is in the afternoon. It is a popular meeting place for many meet-ups, including the Chiang Mai vegan group, and most importantly, the circus group. By ‘group’, I mean that people with a shared interest meet in this park in Chiang Mai to play. A few weeks ago, my boyfriend, friend and I decided that we would head down to the park with our slackline, hula hoop, and the other various circus equipment that we seem to have acquired. Whilst we were there, more and more people kept coming to join us, producing poi, juggling balls and so on from their bags. I thought it was such a weird coincidence that these people all like circus tricks, and happened to have their equipment with them, until we realised that there was a circus meet-up every afternoon, and they thought that we were part of it. We met some awesome people, some of whom live in Chiang Mai, and some of whom were just passing through, but the thing that we all had in common was that we loved messing around with toys, and all loved to travel. I would highly recommend seeking out the circus people (visible due to the slacklines), even if you don’t know how to juggle, of hula-hoop, or play Poi… traveling is all about new experiences, so why not have a go?
If you want a more relaxing experience, rent a barasti mat for 10 baht from one of the many vendors around the park, find a nice spot overlooking the lake, and read your book. You will see a lot of people doing yoga, so don’t be afraid to meditate or stretch out, it’s a very safe space.
My favourite thing about the park is that you can buy an ice-cold coconut for 40 baht. Watch the vendor cut the top off with a machete, and always say yes to the spoon. Once you’ve drunk the cool, refreshing, and highly healthy coconut water, use the spoon to scoop out the flesh. If I could live off coconuts alone, I would. There are also a few ice cream vendors scattered about, who sell coconut ice cream, which is always worth a try. The vendors also sell fish and pigeon food, but be warned that it appears the entire population of pigeons lives in Buak Had, so you will be mobbed.
If you are more of an active person, runners and walkers frequent the cement paths that lap the park, and there is some workout equipment near the main gates. You can do your run, and then relax in the shade with the coconut: dreamy.
You will want to leave as the sun sets, as it can get quite chilly (depending on the time of year), and the mosquitoes that start hanging out by the lake at this time look like some kind of genetically mutated version and are HUGE. This is the perfect time to head to South Gate market for your dinner, where there is a great selection of cheap but delicious Thai food (especially if it is a Saturday as the food market expands to become a walking market).
The park is probably one of my favourite places in Chiang Mai, as it is full of chilled out, relaxed people, who are open to talking to anybody, so it’s a great place to meet like-minded people and make new friends.