One of the best non-tourist activities you can do in Thailand is Kite Flying. In Bangkok, kite flying is very popular, and enthusiasts try to outdo each other with extravagant kite designs. However, you can join the amateurs for even a day and enjoy the kite flying sport at one of the many parks or beaches in or near Bangkok.
Where to buy your kite
Hundreds of vendors sell kites in Bangkok. You can get a cheap amateur kite package from Tesco Lotus, many sports outlets in the malls, or from any local seller on the street. Some street vendors sell them for as little as 300 baht ($10). For a more sophisticated stunt kite or higher quality kite go to SKT (Sport Kite Thailand) in Bangkok or shop their inventory online. They sponsor the Siam Kite Team. They sell dual-line kites, too, which are the most popular stunt kites in Thailand. I’ve seen some kites up to 25 feet long. These can run from $40 to as high as $115.00 Sharks, goldfish, squid, dragons and manta rays are especially popular dual-line kite designs in Asia. Elsewhere, Power Kite Thailand has a selection of foil kites. You can also buy kites at Sanam Luang park across the street from the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Where to fly your kite
The center for kite flying in Bangkok is Sanam Luang. This is the large oval park in front of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), west of the city toward the Chao Phraya River. This park has lots of wide open spaces and a stunning skyline as background. The skies above Sanam Luang are filled with kites in the early evenings. This park is not far from Tammasat University, too. There are several areas in and around this park where you can also buy kites. Sanam Luang should be your first destination for kite flying.
Queen Sirikit park to the north, next to the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market, will lure you with its incredible flowers and beauty, but there are too many trees, koi ponds, fountains and other obstacles for kite flying. Lumphini Park, just east of the Lumphini subway station, is better for kite flying. It has two lakes and plenty of green space. Just be careful if your kite lands in the water, as there are large lizards roaming along the lake shores.
If you can spare a couple hours to ride in a bus outside the city, you can visit the beaches of Samart Prakarn and fly your kite over the ocean. An even better option is Hua Hun. A four hour bus ride (or train ride) from Bangkok will take you to Hua Hin beach, the most famous beach for kite flying in Thailand. You can join thousands of other kite lovers you’ll see along the beaches and wading into the ocean.
Working model helicopters
As an alternative, helicopter models are also popular. Shopping, centers such as Mabukrung Tower (MBK) in Bangkok sell small scale helicopters that fly quite well. You can fly these by remote control in the same parks and areas where kites are flown. I’ve seen some that can fly up to 100 yards in any direction. These typically run from 900 to 3000 baht ($29 to $95).
Funny note: Do not try to ask about flying a kite in the Thai language, unless you are proficient. If pronounced wrong, “flying a kite (chak joo la / chok wow)” is close to one of their euphemisms for a certain sex act. In a kite shop, they’ll laugh at your mistake, but certainly they’ll know what you mean. You’ll still get your kite and a few smiles too.
There is a Thailand International Kite Festival every year in Hua Hin, along the beachfront. The beaches of Malaysia also feature many international kite festivals annually, just south of the Thai border. The website for more information on each year’s events is: Thai International Kite Festival.