When I was taking the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, the guide told us, “You’ve not been to Bangkok if you haven’t visited the Grand Palace”. Whether it’s a true statement or not, we made it a point to visit the place while we were still there. Taking the boat, we had to alight at the Maharaj Pier, and walked a few hundred metres to the entrance of the Grand Palace. Along the way, you’d see plenty of stalls selling souvenirs, guide books and so on, so you would know that you’re on the right track.
Map to Grand Palace
Walking towards the Grand Palace
Tuk tuk if you’re not a fan of walking
After about 15 minutes of walking, we spotted a huge guarded area from afar, thinking that must be it. I’ve read from plenty of forums saying that there would be touts nearby attacking foreigners by charging them an exorbitant entrance fee that included a guided tour of the palace. Thankfully, we were not approached by any, perhaps we looked like locals? 😛 One thing to note though, one should wear long pants or skirt and covered shoes in this area. If you are wearing short pants or skirt, you would be given a sarong to loan (for a deposit fee), but it would be troublesome since you’d have to walk all the way back to the entrance to return it later.
First sight of the Grand Palace
Towards the Visetchaisri Gate entrance at the Outer Court
The entrance fee is 350Baht per person, including the entrance to The Pavilion of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coins and Vivanmek Mansion.
Tickets at 350Baht per person
The Grand Palace is a majestic structure consisting of several buildings, guarded by a rectangular wall with mostly golden paint and statues. What used to be the official residence of the Kings of Siam, is now a popular tourist attraction, with several royal ceremonies held here annually.
Map of Grand Palace
It is so huge within the palace grounds that it’s easy to get lost or confused without a map. The first building structure we came across was the Phra Maha Montien building, located at the heart of the Grand Palace facing north. Apparently, this was once the residential and sleeping abode for the kings, and therefore the most important group of halls within the palace.
The Phra Maha Montien buildings (Great Residence)
Thotsakhirithon – giant demon guarding an exit of Grand Palace
The most popular building of all in Grand Palace is without a doubt, the Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Wat Phra Kaew is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist Temple in Thailand, housing the Emerald Buddha that’s made from beautiful jade stone. Walking around the temple area left me in awe especially while admiring the great detail on the construction of the buildings. Most of the buildings were gold in colour and if you look closely, they’re actually golden tiles instead of paint. Amazing!
Phra Si Ratana Chedi – enshrining ashes of the Buddha
Another view of the Phra Si Ratana Chedi – look at the golden tiles
Looks like General Kwan
Mythical figure statue
Phra Mondop (The Library)
Decorations surrounding a monument
Closer look at the detail of the building
Model of Angkor Wat – as a memorial of the reign of Siam over Cambodia
Phra Wiharn Yod – complex to house Buddha images
One of the Eight Prangs (Chedis) dedicated to certain Buddhist concepts
- White : The Buddha Sakayamuni
- Purplish Blue : The Teaching of the Buddha
- Pink : The Community of Buddhist Monks
- Green : The Buddhist Female Monks
- Purple : One who has attained nirvana but who is not able to preach the knowledge to men
- Dark Blue : The Universal Monarchs
- Red : The Buddha in his Former Lives
- Yellow : The Buddha Maitreya, the Future Buddha
Prasat Phra Thep Bidon (The Royal Pantheon) with Two Golden Chedis
Another facade of Prasat Phra Thep Bidon
The Golden Chedi beside The Royal Pantheon with demons supporting it
Another Thotsakhirithon / Guardian guarding the exit
Wat Phra Kaew – Temple/Ubosot of the Emerald Buddha
The pillars around Wat Phra Kaew
Entrance to Wat Phra Kaew
The Emerald Buddha
Moving on, we reached the green grounds surrounding The Chakri Maha Prasad Hall, which also happens to be the largest building in the Grand Palace. The building itself is a fusion of Italian Renaissance influence and Thai architecture, with the bottom being Italian and the roof being Thai. This is where the throne room was, and the place to welcome foreign dignitaries. However, only the reception area is open to public now and we saw a display of various firearms used in the old times.
The Chakri Maha Prasad Hall
Green grounds around the halls
One of the soldier of the Royal Guards
Closer look at the Chakri Maha Prasad Hall
Phra Thinang Aphonphimok Prasat – for the King to get off a carriage before entering the audience hall
Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall side view
Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall
The Grand Palace is indeed a place that one should visit at least once in Bangkok. It was such a huge area that we couldn’t finish the whole tour after an hour or so of walking. The attention to detail, the elaborate designs and the fine craftmanship of all the buildings were nothing less than impressive.
Getting to The Grand Palace, Bangkok: Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin and walk to Sathorn Pier. Take the Chao Phraya Express Boat Service and alight at the Maharaj Pier. Follow the signs and walk towards the Grand Palace entrance.
Entrance Fee: 350Baht per person
Opening Hours: 8.30am to 3.30pm daily
Attire: Shirts that cover shoulders, long pants/skirts and covered shoes
*Note: Read the rest of my Bangkok Escapade here!