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All photos: Phoebe Storm

A major expansion to one of Bangkok’s largest downtown parks has yet to open, but members of the public are already heading in for a look at what’s billed as the new “lungs of Bangkok.”

When the Benjakitti Forest Park opens – as soon as February – its 450 rai (72 hectares) will be significantly larger than Lumphini Park (360 rai) – and greener, too. Rather than more manicured lawns and topiary to satisfy bygone aesthetics, ecology and habitat are given space in what will be the city’s first “forest park.”

While species such as birds will rejoice in its wetland areas, humans will have plenty to crow about when it’s done. Visitors can expect a nature trail stretching nearly 6 kilometers, a 2.8-kilometer jogging trail and 3.4 kilometers of bike lanes alongside a large pond. There will also be an indoor gym and outdoor auditorium on the land which, like the original Benjakitti Park, was cut from massive tracts held by the Tobacco Monopoly. A building once used for tobacco production will be renovated into a museum. 

The 1.3-kilometer elevated walkway connecting Benjakitti and Lumphini parks known as the “Green Mile” is getting an upgrade as well.

Currently, the first phase of renovations are complete, with the second and third phrases near the old tobacco factory underway. 

Go early enough and find joggers and others already making use of the place – security has been ratcheted up lately due to the attention. 

Here are some recent photos to whet your park hunger.

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