The Lumphini Park Monitor Lizards are Jurassic Park IRL
On the surface, Lumphini Park is like any other green space in Bangkok. But look a little closer and you’ll find it’s hiding a very unusual set of residents: monitor lizards!
Imagine the scene
It’s another hot day in Bangkok. You’ve done the tourist trail and seen the sights. Your feet are sore and you’re a bit templed out! You want somewhere to relax and chill out, but you still want it to be an interesting experience.
If this all sounds very familiar then you need to head to Lumphini Park, in eastern Bangkok. Not only is it a cool place to spend a bit of leisure time, it’s also popular with some very unusual locals.
What’s the deal?
Lumphini Park is a 140 acre park in the east of the city. Big enough to draw a crowd of nature-loving locals but still relatively unvisited by tourists, this place is famous for some very bizarre inhabitants: a gang of huge, free-range monitor lizards.
Yes, we said monitor lizards! These throwbacks to the prehistoric age live in the bushes and undergrowth of the park, frequently emerging to bask in the sunshine and unintentionally pose for photos. Don’t be fooled into thinking these guys are like geckos though. The average adult is between 1.5 to 2 meters long, and the really big specimens at Lumphini can measure up to a huge 3 meters in length!
Recent news reports have talked about the authorities moving in to clear the lizards from the park but don’t worry, they haven’t all gone. There are still plenty of these awesome animals to see on your visit and you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot a few whenever you pop in.
A Full Day Out
You’ll probably spend a lot of your time at Lumphini marveling at the lizards, but if you fancy a break from your new animal tracking career then there’s plenty else on offer. Take a walk around the grounds to appreciate the landscaping, or if you’re particularly brave then jog it. This is best attempted at dawn or dusk due to the heat!
If water is more your thing then get out onto the park’s lake in one of the kitsch swan-shaped boats on offer to hire. At just 40 baht for half an hour it’s a really cool way to get a new perspective on the city skyline. If that all sounds too energetic then just grab a blanket and hang out in the sunshine. Keep your eyes peeled for approaching lizards though, they like to walk in a straight line and don’t always ask before stepping over you!
A Word of Advice Approaching Monitor Lizards
Although these modern-day dinosaurs look cool and can appear to be slow-moving, be sure to keep your distance. They can be very aggressive (especially during breeding season) and they have extremely powerful jaws. A nip from these guys can leave you with a very painful wound and their mouths are full of bacteria. You have been warned!
Did you know?
The word for monitor lizard in Thai is ‘hia’. Good to know, but use it with caution. It’s also one of the rudest names you can call a Thai person so be careful how you announce your trip to the park!