Buak Haad Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand: A Visitors' Guide
Situated just inside the south-west corner of the city moat that surrounds the original 'old city' of Chiang Mai in north Thailand is a pleasant, free to enter, public park called Buak Haad (Sometimes spelt Buak Hard). It's well known to Chiang Mai-based Thais and expats but virtually unknown to tourists. It's understandable that it's unknown to tourists; there are no elephant shows to watch or tigers to get up close to. Its name isn't plastered across taxis or bill boards or mentioned by any of Chiang Mai's travel agents. It's just a public park like you would find in any city, where people enjoy visiting to have a picnic or walk (or jog) around.
If you're visiting Chiang Mai and find yourself at a loose end with no plans for a day, it's a pleasant and relaxing place to spend a couple of hours.
Feeding the Fish
The ornamental pond is well-stocked with fish including large catfish that you can feed with fish-food pellets which are available in 5 and 10 baht bags from several stalls in the park ($1 =32 Baht).
There are also many pigeons in the park that will flock around you expecting to share in the feast, and won't leave you until the last pellet is gone.
Kids' Play Area
The kids' play area in the west side of the park wouldn't win any awards, but kids enjoy the swings, climbing frames and roundabouts.
In the east side of the park, there is an area for ball games such as takraw and basketball.
Takraw is a game where two or more people keep a wicker ball in the air by passing to each other and, when the chance presents itself, to launch it through a suspended net. This is recreational takraw, not competitive takraw which is fast and furious. Recreational takraw is slower and far more graceful, and all the players cooperate with each other rather than compete against each other. Players keep the ball aloft by using any part of there body apart from their hands and those who have been doing it for a long time develop some very impressive skills.
Take a look at the video below to see how its done.
The most important facility, of course, is the public toilet on the north side of the park. it costs 3 baht to enter, which you pay to the attendant. To help keep the place clean, you're also requested to take off your shoes or sandals and put on a pair provided by them.
Also on the north side is a massage service.
There's a small cafe on the south side near the entrance and there are some stalls dotted around the park edges selling snacks and where you can hire a mat for sitting on if you're having a picnic - costing 10 baht with no time limit. There are also a couple of mobile ice cream sellers pushing their carts around.
Note* Smoking and drinking alcohol is not allowed in the park.
Buak Haad Park is also the final destination of the Chiang Mai Flower Festival - a parade of ornately decorated floral floats, marching bands and dancers that makes its way across the city. The festival takes place on the first weekend of the month of February every year. All the floats end up at Buaak Haad Park where countless stalls are set up selling anything and everything but with a focus on flowers and plants. There are also orchid and bonsai competitions held. It's a very festive time with lots of food and drink available, and well worth seeing if you're visiting Chiang Mai at this time.
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