May 2022 update: I’ve expanded this Green Mile Bangkok guide to cover the fantastic new Benjakitti Forest Park which is an incredible new green space in Bangkok. See the end of the article for details on this new urban wetland.
Before we start – The Green Mile Bangkok is an overpass and not to be confused with the other, much more famous Green Mile where the big guy is on death row and he does magic on Tom Hanks (film critic sub-blog coming soon). The Bangkok green mile is, unsurprisingly, a lot more fun than the one that connects a prison cell and an electric chair. And whilst it’s generally difficult to get excited about an elevated walkway unless you are – I dunno – really into civil engineering on reflection, I would say that the green mile is well worth exploring in its own right.
The Green Mile connects two of Bangkok’s prettiest central open spaces – Lumpini Park and Benjakitti Park – the latter of which has had a very exciting expansion in 2022 (details below). I’ve known about the Bangkok green mile for quite some time as I run in Lumphini a fair bit, yet we’ve never ventured onto it for two reasons – first, I’ve never been totally certain where it is. Second, I am far too lazy to add extra distance into my running route. But the green mile here in Bangkok is as much about the journey as the destination(s).
As it slices through the heart of the city, you get to see a cross-section of Bangkok daily life carrying on below and around you, from the tightly packed, wood and corrugated iron shacks along the klongs to the insta-happy photo crowds snapping away around you. Coupled with the lush beauty of the parks at either end, the Bangkok Green Mile has enough more than enough points of interest to make it worth an afternoon out.
First things first though – where is it?!
Where is the Bangkok Green Mile entrance?
A question which flummoxed me for a shamefully long time – how do I get onto the green mile? From Lumpini park, you have to exit the park at the north-eastern gate by Suan Lumpinee school and through the main gates. You have to go out of the park itself and turn left up the main road for about 100m. You’ll see the overpass in front of you and go through a gate next to the building with the blue roof to the left, up the distinctive green steps and onto the main walkway. During the day there will be a fair few people around to follow!
At the Benjakitti Park green mile entrance is a little easier because there are signs (in Thai) to Lumpini Park. These are green signs with arrows that read ‘สวนลุมพินี’.
This is in the northwest corner of Benjakitti park, so the lake and the big multi-lane Ratchadaphisek road are off to your right. If you’re walking with the lake and major road behind you, you’ll hit the fence and turn right, then follow it to the exit onto the green mile. During Covid it looks closed off but don’t worry, this is only to make sure you go through the temperature check at the entrance, you can join the green mile path just a few metres further up.
By mid to late 2022 there will also be entrances from Sukhumvit Soi 4 and the Benjakitti Forest Park to the Green Mile which will make access even easier.
Walking the Green Mile
We walked from Benjakitti to Lumpini, having taken time to enjoy the beautiful blooms and views of Benajkitti first!
From the start of Benjakitti the start of the path looks so-so, just a long straight green line off into the distance.
It quickly gets more fun. This part is a little nondescript because they are currently building a large new forest park extending from Benjakitti. The Benjakitti Forest Park is now partially open and is a superb addition to Bangkok and to the Green Mile Bangkok – see the end of this article for more.
You’ll soon start to hit some sets of pretty vertiginous stairs though which will bring you up above street and often building level. There are people all over the place – photo shoots, games, cycling, running – but at a typically Thai, ambling kind of pace.
Once up above the street, you start to pass the ramshackle, densely packed houses around Soi Polo. The walkway itself is wide and well-maintained. I was worried it might feel closed in but it’s really not, it feels airy and open and it’s genuinely just a fun place to stroll along and watch life happening below. Along the path, the local restaurants have cleverly stuck up signs advertising their goods below, should you want to pop down for a snack. There are also signs encouraging you to head down into the community below.
There are certainly a host of delicious smells wafting up from the street restaurants and with a range of communities – a mosque and a church sit just a few metres each side of the green mile – you’ll likely find something great to eat around here.
It’s really interesting to have a glimpse into this side of Bangkok life in what is often seen as an urban jungle of glass skyscrapers. The contrast is literally in front of your eyes on the green mile – old houses here for decades and more recent shacks in varying states of disrepair, backdropped by the looming, gleaming spires of modern Bangkok.
The green mile is literally in touching distance and at the height of some of the houses with two floors. One particularly enterprising family have used this to their distinct advantage and set up a really cute little cafe on their top floor which they have attached to the walkway.
At this spot – Kimono Cafe – they serve fresh orange juice, fruit, drinks and some snacks as well. They’ve set up some tables outside for you to enjoy a well-earned rest and a cold drink. The fresh orange juices we had were only 20 baht (50p), so you won’t be out of pocket
The green mile isn’t particularly long, not much more than a kilometre end to end, but with a stroll around the beautiful parks of Lumpini and Benjakitti we stretched this into a good 2.5-3hr jaunt, more if you include the Benjakitti Forest Park. There are a few exits along the way where you could hop down for a bite to eat and make it even more of an adventure. Time spent exploring the parks is also a great way to spend a day here, even if in mid-March it was slightly on the warm side!
We’ve lived in Bangkok a fair while now and still the green mile surprised us with a unique view of this amazing city. If you’re visiting Benjakitti or Lumpini you should definitely take a stroll down the green mile while you’re at it.
2022 Update! The Benjakitti Forest Park: a brand new urban oasis for Bangkok
Bangkok isn’t a particularly green city, but steps are underway to change that, and the biggest, most central example is the Benjakitti Forest Park.
An extension of the original Benjakitti Park, but much greater in size, the Benjakitti Forest Park is a beautifully designed urban wetland, with skywalks and paths running through and over effectively a manmade nature reserve, and it is stunning.
At time of writing in May 2022, it isn’t fully open or complete, but is still vast and very impressive. There is already a decent amount of wildlife colonising the space – especially birds. A family of cranes soared overhead and a blue roller, which I’ve never seen in Bangkok, flashed past at one point.
There are dedicated and segregated bike and pedestrian paths so it’s a great place to come for exercise. The Benjakitti Forest Park is also quite unknown for now, so it’s very quiet and peaceful, you would honest struggle to believe you’re in the middle of one of the world’s busiest cities here.
The park is a truly stellar addition to Bangkok, and if you’re doing the Green Mile Bangkok this should certainly be on your itinerary.
Getting to Benjakitti Forest Park and the Green Mile
As of May 2022, the Benjakitti Forest Park cannot be accessed from the Green Mile BUT this will soon change. There is an entrance on the right hand side of the Green Mile just as you cross the main highway. It’s currently fenced off but looks close to being ready.
The Skywalk Map in the park also suggests that there will be a direct link to Sukhumvit Soi 4.
At present, the Benjakitti Forest Park entrance is from the original Benjakitti Park or that end of the green mile. Alternatively, you can get off at Khlong Toei MRT station and walk through the Benjakitti Park hospital grounds into the park.